2 Kings 18:1-37, Brief History of Israel and Judah (8/3/2009)
After King David came his son, King Solomon. After Solomon came his son, a foolish young king named Rehoboam. He managed to alienate 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel right off the bat, and they seceded, taking with them more than half the area of the kingdom. God appointed a king for the 10 northern tribes, but let's just say that a fairly normal way of coming to the throne was by assassination, and a fairly normal form of worship was idolatry. Under several of the kings, Baalism was an official co–state-religion. So all in all, the northern kingdom, Israel, didn't work out. Hoshea was the last king of Israel. The Assyrians came in, defeated Israel, and deported all the people. These are the "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." So now you know.
Meantime, the kings of the southern kingdom, Judah, were all descended from David. Assassination was not the norm. Although their relationship with God had ups and downs, at least they maintained that relationship as official state policy. Unofficial state policy was that most of the kings and many of the people worshipped other gods at least off and on. King Hezekiah, the 12th-great grandson of David, was a notable exception who made a concerted effort to rid Judah of the worst forms of idolatry. Even a right relationship with God won't save you from the woes of this world, however, and Judah was also invaded by Assyria. Tomorrow we'll see what happened then.
2 Kings 19:1-37, Hezekiah goes to the Temple. (8/4/2009)
Do you remember 9/11? For a brief period, the churches in this country were packed. I'm sure you've known people who grew up in the church, never darkened the door as adults, and hastened back to pray when some crisis occurred in their lives. Many young people who did not grow up in the church nevertheless choose to be married in one. And every pastor has had the problem of what to say at the funeral of a deceased person the pastor has never seen before.
We can take some cold consolation in the observation that this is an ancient tradition. I'm not saying that King Hezekiah wasn't devout, because he was. But the writers of Kings do take special pains to point out that when a crisis came, Hezekiah went to the Temple to talk to the LORD. Not only that, but he brought along a nasty letter from the king of Assyria to make sure that the LORD would see it. In his prayer, he brings not only his own situation before the LORD, but also the Assyrian king's situation. He also points out that the LORD has an opportunity to show his power to the nations.
I absolutely think we need to pray to the LORD in a crisis. It doesn't even hurt to go to church to pray. We just need to remember that we are in a constant state of crisis, and thus we should be in regular attendance at worship.
2 Kings 20:1-11, Hezekiah's Reprieve (8/5/2009)
Note: the following study tip comes from your fellow reader Daryl L.
Hezekiah has been an icon of mine since I was eight years old (almost 55 years ago). 2 Kings 20:1-11 is repeated in Isaiah 38:1-7. When I was 8, my mother fell gravely ill, and the best medical advice in the state of Texas was that she would not live more than six months. My younger brother was 3 years old at the time. On Christmas Eve my father had all four of us boys kneel with him at her bedside and he read the Isaiah version of Hezekiah's deathbed prayer. Then he prayed, "Lord, I'm asking for what you gave Hezekiah, fifteen more years, so I'll have some help raising these four boys." I thought to myself, "Wow! He's asking for what God gave a king of Israel!" (I was too young to know about Judah – it was all Israel to me then.) We didn't get the sun going back up the stairs, but in the Fall of the year after my younger brother graduated from high school fifteen years later, she finally went home. People have often asked me if I believe in prayer and its corollary question, does God take an active role in the affairs of mere mortals? You can imagine my answer.
2 Kings 20:12-21, Learn from history. (8/6/2009)
Probably most of us are too young to remember September 30, 1938, personally, but we do know that British prime minister Neville Chamberlain was pleased to get "peace for our time" in an agreement with Adolf Hitler. Germany invaded Poland less than a year later. Chamberlain should have paid more attention to the story of Hezekiah.
More Bible Stories for Grownups
Copyright 2009, 2012, 2021 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
The illustration showing the Pool of Hezekiah is from the Thomas family Bible, now in a private collection of a family member. King Hezekiah built the pool in Jerusalem and the conduits to it, as described in 2 Kings 20:20.
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