As I read 2 Kings 16-17 today, the accounts of King Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz, I could not help but put together that these were the kings during the days of Isaiah. I imagine for Jesus this happened as well.
As I read, it was overwhelming today to see the words "did evil in the sight of the Lord" or "did what was right in the Lords eyes. . . BUT"
Everyone of them had a "but" in there. Even if they were doing what was right, they did not serve God with all their heart. They allowed certain pagan worships to remain. They did not lead the people whole heartedly to follow God. And here is the thing, the people followed their lead. Therefore, it says that they "led Israel in committing sins." They were responsible.
I couldn't help but ask what was it that kept them from going after God with all their heart. What kept them from being like David (the one they are all compared to)? Was it fear? Lust? Greed? Ignorance? Rebellion? Stubbornness? Whatever it was, it literally was tearing Israel apart.
I can't help but think Jesus would have wondered "why" as well. He had to be curious as to what would possibly keep each king from serving God with all their heart. After all, the storylines of those who did not obey is pretty horrific. Entire families wiped off the planet. Death without burial. Assassinations. It is not pretty.
In the end though, I believe their stories are vital in the showing of Jesus into the one he was to be. He saw the horrors of not following after God with all his heart, but he also sang Psalms, like Psalms 31, of how blessed are those who do seek after God and follow in all His ways. Though the history was not pleasant to read, it impacted Jesus and gave him a fierce determination to be "like David" and follow God in all his ways. He saw these kings not "inquiring of the Lord" and it gave him a raw desire to always inquire of the Lord.
Yes, even these he'd to read stories had a major impact in forming Jesus into the "perfect Lamb of God!"
As a history lesson, 2 Kings 17 must have brought great sadness to a young Jew. Israel falls and its last king is taken captive. The people are scattered throughout the earth. God kept his word saying he would hand them over if they did not follow his decrees, laws, and commands, each of which He wrote to them in love. Instead, they continually turned their backs on God, so Assyria conquers them and send them off to foreign lands and replaces them with other people they had conquered.
As all this is happening, Hezekiah rises to the throne in Judah. Somehow, this son of Ahaz, who had been evil in Gods eyes and even sacrificed his sons in fire to idols, survives and rises to the throne and just like David, did what was right in Gods eyes. Hezekiah was like a breath of fresh air on the history of Israel and Judah.
He took down the high places. He smashed the Asherah poles. He got back to "inquiring of the Lord."
Assyria came against Judah, just like it has Israel, and the threats made were severe. Hezekiah, instead of consulting his army leaders, he consulted the Lord. He prayed and asked for deliverance. When the Assyrians came and declared that "no gods " could stop them, Hezekiah laid their threatening letters before God, and God moved.
185000 assyrians were slain "by the Lord." Because Hezekiah returned to walk in all the ways of the Lord, God delivered his people.
I believe Hezekiahs story was put here specifically for Jesus to see after learning about all the evil or half hearted following of the other kings. Jesus, born to be the King of Kings, has seen what happened when the kings failed to follow. He has seen what has happened when they failed to inquire of the Lord. He has seen what happened when they started out following and then drifted away. (Something he will see again shortly). But in this story, he sees a king who turns all the way back to God. He did not spare the "high places" or the Asherah poles. Hezekiah did not seek logical counsel, rather he inquired of the Lord. And for that, God moved in a mighty way.
What an encouragement to Jesus and a reminder to "seek and trust in God with all his heart, to not lean on his own understanding, but in All his ways to acknowledge the Lord" and obey His commands. Hezekiah did and a great army was turned back by the hand of the Lord.
When Jesus obeyed and sought God with all his heart, the Prince of the Power of the air and all his legions were turned back by the hand of the Lord and Jesus' people were delivered from their sins.
Praise be the our Lord and Savior.
"Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion have done what is good in your eyes." 2 Kings 20:3
This is the prayer of Hezekiah just after he has been informed he should get his house in order as he was going to die. How difficult it is to know your time on earth is short. The pressing moment of knowing you will soon die. Hezekiah's response was once again showing his heart. He reflected over his life and asked God to remember him and how he had been faithful to obey. Then, in great distress, Hezekiah wept bitterly.
The prophet Isaiah had delivered the bad news and was on his way out of the house. He had only reached the the "middle court" (or halfway across the courtyard) when God stopped him and sent him back. God had seen Hezekiahs tears and heard his prayer and this is what Isaiah was sent back to say. . .
"I (the Lord) have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. In the Third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord."
God added fifteen years to the life of Hezekiah. He healed him and extended his life and stay on earth. Can you imagine the joy that overflowed in the heart of Hezekiah. Moments before he is weeping in agony, but his sorrow was turned to rejoicing because the Lord had heard his prayer and seen his travail.
Can you see it? How mighty this word would have been to Jesus as he reads these words and comes to understand why they were written for him to read.
Jesus too faced death. His time had come. He knelt in the garden as the weight of death pressed down on his shoulders. He cried out to his father, "Remember me O Lord and how I have been faithful and wholeheartedly devoted myself to obeying you!" And in his anxiety he sweat great drops of blood." Jesus faced the reality of his approaching death and heart the crushing weight on his shoulders.
But, suddenly, his strength is renewed as he remembers the words God speaks to Hezekiah and he feels his heart restored as he reflects on these words: "I have heard your prayer and seen your sorrow, I will heal you. On the THIRD day you will go up!"
What a mighty and powerful word for Jesus. What a blessed reminder to him in his most difficult trial in life. To know his prayer had been heard. To know the travail of his soul had been seen. To know in three days he would go up to the temple of the Lord!
But that is not all: for god told both Hezekiah, and Jesus,
"And I will deliver you and this city from the king of Assyria (the Enemy). I will defend this city (you Jesus) for MY SAKE. .."
Jesus could get up from this time of prayer and confidently face the death in front of him because God had heard his prayer, God had promised to raise him up in 3 days, and God had promised to defend Him for the glory of Gods name!
I pray I strive to live faithfully, wholeheartedly devoted to God and his ways, so I may live in boldness knowing he has heard my prayer and seen my tears, and will cause me to go up to his temple and live my days in boldness knowing he will defend me for his name sake!
King Josiah. Great grandson of Hezekiah now enters the story. Even though Hezekiah followed the Lord and was faithful, his son did not follow in his path. Mannaseh returned to idolatry and his walk was followed by his son Amon. But the an 8 year old boy comes to the thrown and we are told that he "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning to the right or to the left." 2 Kings 22:2
18 years later a priest finds a copy of the law (something that every king was suppose to keep a copy of but had failed to do) and it is read in the presence of Josiah. Josiah had been trying to living correctly before God, but upon hearing the law, he realized how far away the people really were. So he told he priest, "Go inquire of the Lord for about what is written in this book."
Josiah returns to something so many kings had forgotten! He "inquired of the Lord."
The news they received was not "good" news. God told them that disaster was coming because of all the evil done in the land. Idolatry had prevailed. The sabbath ignored. And God forgotten. However, Josiah was told because he humbled himself, and prayed (inquired of the Lord) that he would not live to see this disaster come. God honored him for his desire to follow HIM.
Although the prophecy was not great, that did not stop Josiah form completely ripping the idols and altars to other gods out of the land. He went on a tear and even entered the northern kingdom to remove some of their old high places. Josiah was intent on leading the people to follow the Lord and worship him.
Josiah dies in a battle and this is what is written of him: "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did - with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses."
As Jesus hears this story over and over, I know he was impacted, and as a young boy would have wanted these words to also be said of him! He would have looked at what brought Josiah to this passionate desire to obey the Lord and seen . . .