2 KINGS 19:1 – 21:26 and JOHN 13:1–38
2 Kings 19
King Hezekiah immediately goes to prayer after hearing the report from Eliakim and Shebna. He then sent the same men to Isaiah the prophet to convey the vicious threats of Sennacherib. This was an impossible situation in the natural with the king being visibly shaken. The reply of Isaiah is seen in verses 6-7. The whole of the matter concerning Sennacherib and the Assyrians is contained in those two verses. It needs to be noted that the Lord took strong exception to the words of Rab-shakah.
This is a truth that Nehemiah came to know later on (Neh 4:5). He came to the place where he knew that the mocking words were against God and not himself. He learned to not take the threats of the enemy personally. The key is to be doing the Lord’s work and to be in the place where He wants us to be; we can then trust in His ability to fight on our behalf. Hezekiah, while petitioning Isaiah made a similar mention in verse 4 where he said God was being reproached. The Assyrians besieged the Northern Kingdom due to their excessive idolatry and turning from God. There was not one righteous king that the Lord could work through to help stem the assault of Assyria. The Assyrians in the end became the arm of judgment against the Northern Kingdom. The Lord now is looking to bring judgment upon the Assyrians and He will do it through a righteous king. We saw earlier that God spoke to Rab-shakah to come against Judah to destroy it. It was God that was leading Assyria to come against Judah; not for their triumph but for their judgment. This helps us to understand how God operates in the affairs of men. We saw something similar when Ahab and Jehoshaphat were considering whether to go to Ramoth Gilead to battle ( 1 Kings 22:20).
Rab-shakah did briefly return to fight alongside the King of Assyria but again sent messengers back to Hezekiah to inform that they were not to put their trust in the Living God. He then boasts of all their victories against other nations and the gods of other nations and he was equating the Living God to those others (vs 12). We now see that the iniquity of the Assyrians is rising to even greater heights. King Hezekiah, upon hearing the renewed threats from Rab-shakah takes the matter to the Lord. We should note his prayer because it provides a window in how we should approach the Lord at such times. He acknowledges to God of all that they had done to other nations but he also inquires of the Lord to hear what they were saying about Him. He is modelling his prayer after the response Isaiah gave the first time (vs 6). Hezekiah also attributes Assyria’s victories over nations that served gods made of the hands of men (vs 18).
Isaiah returns word to Hezekiah the second time (vs 20-34). Once again the prophet makes clear that the Assyrian’s threats are a reproach against God Himself. The fullness of pride is evident in their boastings. There is a picture of the heart of Lucifer when he challenged God in heaven.
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
One wonders if Isaiah gained insight into the rebellion in heaven by the account of the Assyrian movement against Judah. The verses above do provide a picture of the boasting and pride being seen in both Sennacherib and the Assyrians. Finally, the prophet Isaiah declares that the Assyrians shall not come into the city nor even shoot an arrow. The Lord will defend the city for His servant David’s sake. What a powerful testimony concerning David. God is going to move against the Assyrians as a result of the righteous foundations established by David. God has allowed Assyria to become an unstoppable force but their iniquity has now reached its peak. The cup is full and the wrath of God is about to be poured forth. We saw this with Pharaoh in Egypt. The Israelites were subjected to cruel bondage for a number of years and the time had come when God was going to move in judgment on HIs people’s behalf. The cup of iniquity had become full.
We see another similarity in that God had a righteous and upright leader (Moses) whom He could use to be his arm of deliverance; a man who paid a price in allowing God to prepare him as a leader. Hezekiah likewise was a righteous king whom God could work through in bringing judgment against the Assyrians. In both instances (Egypt and Assyria) the Israelites did not have to engage in battle, the Lord fought on their behalf. In both instances we see the angel of the Lord as the instrument of judgment (vs 35, Exo 12:23). It is a picture of the ripeness of sin that will be seen in the last days and the means through which God will judge. There will need to be godly kings, priests and prophets whom God will be able to intervene through. Will we be such a people? Will we be a people whose prayers will ascend before God and be heard? The template is clearly established through these Biblical examples so we will be without excuse. We need to be men and women of prayer who know how to approach God in these volatile days.
2 Kings 20
The accounts in this chapter are also covered in Isa 38 and 39. Hezekiah the righteous king contracts a sickness that brings him to the brink of death. The prophet Isaiah tells him to put his house in order since his death is imminent. The response of Hezekiah was to beseech the Lord for healing. In verse 3 he reminds the Lord as to how he served Him faithfully walking before Him in uprightness in truth and with a perfect heart. He was adamant in coming to the Lord for his healing. The Word of the Lord comes to Isaiah; he is told to inform Hezekiah that his prayer was heard and that he shall live. He gives specifics concerning the healing including the duration of his extended life of 15 years (vs 5-6).
The question is whether it was truly the Lord’s will to heal Hezekiah. He had some very legitimate concerns to contend with in crying out for healing. First, the Assyrians were not yet totally disposed of ( vs 6). It is hard to say with certainty exactly when this word came to Hezekiah. It could have been days before the Assyrian assault or right when it had occurred. Hezekiah would have had concerns on behalf of Judah if they were not yet removed. Secondly, he had no sons at this juncture which would jeopardize the coming forth of The Lord Jesus Christ through Judah lineage. It does seem that Hezekiah was justified in crying out for healing so then why did the Lord allow him to be brought to the brink of death? Was it to motivate him to pray in greater earnest given the dire situation? Hannah was allowed to suffer in many areas which resulted in her consecrated prayer for a man-child, being Samuel (1 Sam 1:11). The other side of this argument will be picked up a bit later in this chapter.
Hezekiah yet required a sign that would confirm to him to go up to the house of the Lord on the third day. The Lord responded by giving him two options. The shadow of the sun could go forward or backward 10 degrees. Hezekiah opted for the shadow to go back 10 degrees seeing that this would be impossible in the natural. The Lord did so and Hezekiah was healed as the lump of figs was laid upon the boil. The Lord went to great lengths to not only heal Hezekiah but to also do a mighty miracle to (returning of the shadow 10 degrees) prompt him to go to the house of the Lord on the third day. This is another in the line of extraordinary miracle(s) that God allows man to be associated with. The sun standing still for a day is but one other example during the time of Joshua (Josh 10:12-13). It does seem that the Lord was allowing his imminent death to serve as an impetus to pray through for healing. It was the prayer of Isaiah that brought about the sign of the shadow retreating 10 degrees. It was the prayer of the prophet Elijah that held back the rain for 3 ½ years and it was his prayer that opened the heavens again for rain. The role of Isaiah the prophet cannot be minimized when examining the life of Hezekiah. He has great prophetic insight, tremendous anointing in the area of counsel and authority in bringing things to pass. Perhaps it helps to look at Isaiah’s role in lieu of Hezekiah’s prayer for healing. We see Isaiah’s role heightened after Hezekiah’s healing as he gives his perspective and prophetic insight to events taking place. What are those events?
The king of Babylon, upon hearing of Hezekiah’s sickness and subsequent healing sent letters and a present unto the king. What was contained in those letters that Hezekiah ended up giving heed to? It has been speculated that some sort of strategic alliance was being suggested between Judah and Babylon against Assyria. There was much treasure that was already given to Sennacherib in previous encounters. Here we see Hezekiah opening up the house of the Lord and showing all of the precious items contained therein like gold, silver, spices and armour. Hezekiah held nothing back in what he showed the king of Babylon. The prophet Isaiah after a time comes to Hezekiah and asks as to why certain men or foreigners were there. Hezekiah made clear that he totally opened up everything that could be seen.
The Word of the Lord comes to him and makes clear that there will be a day when everything will be taken into Babylon. He adds to the judgment by saying that his sons in his family line shall be carried away to Babylon and made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. This would indeed come to pass. The very act of Hezekiah showing everything to the King of Babylon was prophetic as to what would happen to them as a nation. His response shows a lack of integrity in not showing remorse concerning his lineage; he is happy that his days would see peace and truth. Hezekiah was a good king and performed many wonderful acts for God. His asking for an extension of life via healing did diminish somewhat his standing. If he died many of these things would not have taken place. If he did not cry out for healing then where would be the heir? At the end of the day we are all responsible for the choices we make. God gives each of us ample opportunities to make right choices however He does not force us. Hezekiah’s end would have been much different if he would have died when he fell sick. Still, I believe it was God’s will for Hezekiah to press through for healing in spite of God’s foreknowledge of what Hezekiah would do. His prayer of healing did allow for the bringing forth of an heir. We will get a picture of this heir in the next chapter.
2 Kings 21
We are now introduced to the wicked rule of King Manasseh who came to the throne at the age of 12. He had a reign of 55 years and he did wickedly before the Lord. It seems that the sins of the Northern Kingdom and those in Judah have culminated all under this one king. His reign was even more wicked than the Amorites who were cast out before Judah. The sins of Ahab, the worshipping of Baal, the allowance of sons passing through the fire are just tokens of the many abominations that Manasseh committed. This is in stark contrast to the reign seen in his father Hezekiah. How is it possible for a kingdom to be under a godly rule like Hezekiah to only digress to such an extent under Manasseh?
Perhaps, there is a key in what Hezekiah did when he opened up the treasury to the king of Babylon. He was sternly rebuked by Isaiah for this act. The word of the Lord made mention of the future carrying away to Babylon that would take place. There was also the judgement that was pronounced upon his sons in that they would be taken away to Babylon. The casual regard that Hezekiah had for the judgement may have contributed to Manasseh’s condition as well. Jerusalem and Judah would now suffer the consequences for these abominations. The plummet applied to the house of Ahab would now come upon Judah. The digression from Hezekiah to Manasseh happened very quickly. The fate of Judah was now pretty much sealed. It began when Hezekiah opened up the house of the Lord to both Assyria and Babylon. It accelerated under Manasseh to the point of bringing Judah to the point of no return. There would yet be a few more kings, one of them righteous who will usher in a last revival before captivity.
I can see a modern day application that somewhat resembles this scenario. In the 1980’s America was governed by a righteous God fearing president. There was a brief resurgence of Christianized values and the nation as a whole benefitted under his leadership. Fast forward a few presidents later and look at America today. It does not even come close to resembling what the nation looked like in the 1980’s. There is a Manasseh type rule governing the land which is making allowance for all sorts of abominations. God has been dismissed and removed from all public arenas. It has now come to the point where religious freedom is under threat in unprecedented fashion. What makes this all the more dangerous is how enlightened America had been. It has the advantage of history and observation to learn from. Do you not think that we will be more accountable? I feel the parallels are very similar. The encouraging point to consider is that there is yet a Josiah that must arise. This means there will be a king who puts an emphasis on God’s laws and His ways. This paved the way for mighty revival. This revival did not spare Judah from their later exile to Babylon but it did help to bring things into greater clarity. We need revival; we need a Josiah to help stem the tide of abominations now taking place throughout the earth. Manasseh will be picked up again in 2 Chronicles where we will see other features of his life.
The Lord is with His Disciples in the upper room and some interesting dynamics take place here that you do not see in the other gospels. We must remember that John wrote his gospel well into his 80’s. He has the advantage of many years of observation that the other gospel writers did not have the luxury of. In verse 2 we see the devil is able to put into the heart of Judas the seeds of betrayal. It is important to note that the enemy cannot just place these seeds of betrayal into any heart. It requires fertile ground, a heart that is conditioned and opened to such treachery. What was it about Judas that opened this door?
In the previous chapter we see Judas depicted as a thief; one who coveted the value of the broken jar of ointment. He disguised well his evil heart by showing himself as one who had the interests of the poor. This was a man who was subjected to the Living Word, the Living Truth and yet had a heart that was not clean. We have mentioned previously that Judas never thought his heart would lead to the total abandonment of Christ. He probably felt that he was immune from ever crossing such a line. This is why it is imperative for us to always cry out for a clean heart (Psa 51:10). Such a cry will make allowance for the Spirit of God to shine a light on anything that would be out of alignment to God’s purposes. Such a cry will help immune us from the devils wiles. This event was the fulfilment of that which the Father had in His heart before the foundations of the world. It is at such times when things move at a rapid pace. Satan was able to place the seeds of betrayal within Judas because his heart had become fertile ground. Lord, please put that desperate cry within us for that pure and clean heart.
There was another disturbing issue the Lord had to address. The gospel of Luke makes clear that there was some strife as to who would be the greatest. (Luke 22:24). One can only imagine what must have been going through the mind of the Lord at this time. He is about to become sin and go to the cross to die. His closest disciples just could not appreciate all that was taking place. The Lord had been stating His mission and what would happen but it was difficult for them to grasp the reality of the moment. In verse 3 the Bible says that Jesus had come to the place where He knew that all power had been given unto Him. What Jesus had is what the disciples desperately wanted. Jesus saw it differently and immediately defined what being great was all about. He girded Himself with a towel and took on the role of a servant. He sent a clear message that if one were to be great in the kingdom of God one would have to first become a servant. The Lord reiterates the importance of being a servant after His demonstration before the disciples. The Lord then returns to the subject of the betrayer. He quotes an Old Testament verse to support His statement.
Psa 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Jesus again makes the point that someone amongst them is going to betray Him (vs 21). This was very troubling to the Lord seeing that He had basically lived with His disciples over the past few years. One who walked alongside Him, heard Him and lived with Him is now about to turn his back on Him. Jesus came to truly love His disciples. The Lord’s statement certainly makes an impact upon the disciples as one might imagine. They had no clue there could be one among them; Judas hid it very well. Let us consider this familiar verse:
Num 32:23 “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out”
Sin may be able to hide and conceal itself for a time but eventually something or some event will flesh it out into the open. It can happen and take place without any warning. This was the case with Judas. Just before Judas goes forth from their midst, the apostle John asks as to who the betrayer is. Jesus revealed to John, he gave to John the Revelation as to who this betrayer would be. The one who would be given the sop after the Lord dips it. It is interesting to note that John was the one who was given the Revelation of the betrayer before the others knew. It will be John who will be given the Revelation of Jesus Christ that will bring the end of the age. There were qualities seen in John during the time of Christ that validate him as the one who would be given unique revelation. He had a close walking relationship with the Lord. This measure of relationship will be essential in the last days before us. The Apostle John will also be one who best conveys the Father heart of God. He has an ability to give perspective, a bigger picture that others do not see. We need to see the qualities of the Apostle John come forth in our day.