2 Kings 18: Lessons from Hezekiah on Developing and Maintaining Your Obedience to God.

Introduction: The final seven chapters of 2 Kings are devoted to the Kingdom of Judah. During this time, Judah had two of its greatest kings, Hezekiah and Josiah. Because of their obedience, Judah lasted 136 years longer than Northern Israel (722 B.C. to 586 B.C.) From the beginning part of Hezekiah’s reign, God reveals seven lessons for developing and maintaining obedience to Him. These include: (1) having faith, (2) being Spirit-led, (3) fearing only God, (4) patience for God’s timing, (5) being Kingdom-minded, (6) knowing the Word, and (7) dependence on God.

First, Hezekiah was the first king to fully follow God’s Word in smashing pagan altars anywhere they existed. With the exception of David, God faulted every king before him for failing to do this. Hezekiah had the faith to follow God’s Word as it is written and ignore public opinion and tradition. From his example, God reveals that faith in Him produces the fruit of obedience. Second, Hezekiah let the Spirit guide him to break off a treaty with Assyria that made Judah a vassal state and to invade the Philistine territory of Gaza. From his examples, God reveals that being Spirit-led helps to maintain your obedience. Third, Hezekiah and all of Judah witnessed the Assyrian army destroy the larger nation of Northern Israel. This later caused Hezekiah to fear the Assyrians and pay them tribute. From his mistake, God reveals that fearing your enemies can lead to disobedience. Fourth, after losing all of his fortified cities except for Jerusalem, Hezekiah lost patience in God’s promises. He apologized to the Assyrians and paid them tribute. He assumed that God would not stop the Assyrians. From his mistake, God reveals that you must trust in His timing to maintain your obedience. Fifth, the Assyrians then taunted the Jews for believing that they could look to Egypt to protect them. From their mistake, God reveals that turning to the world can lead to disobedience. Sixth, the Assyrians then tried to manipulate God’s Word to question the Jews’ obedience in destroying pagan altars and to misquote Isaiah’s prophecies to claim that God had sent them. From the Assyrians’ attempt to manipulate the Jews, God reveals that knowing His Word will help you to obey Him. Finally, the Assyrians blasphemed God and taunted the Jews for believing that they could depend upon God. Satan will also try to sow doubt in your faith or attack you. God wants you to respond to these attacks by depending upon Him. This will help you stay obedient to Him.

1. Faith: Faith in God (and Not Tradition) Produces the Fruit of Obedience. 2 Kgs. 18:1-6.

  • Hezekiah reigns in faith-led obedience. After living under the reign of one of the worst kings of Judah, God blessed Judah with the reformer king Hezekiah. He removed the many pagan altars from the country and restored proper worship: “1 Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.” (2 Kgs. 18:1-6; 2 Chr. 29:1-2). Hezekiah was the King of Judah for 29 years, from 727 to 686 B.C. His name means “Yahweh Has Strengthened”. His name summarized what God did for him. Each time he stepped out in faith-led obedience, God strengthened him and blessed him to endure Satan’s attacks.

King Hezekiah removes the idol of the bronze serpent, along with other idols1

  • Hezekiah had the faith to destroy all the idols when every king before him failed to do so. Following the evil reign of his father Ahaz, Hezekiah smashed the pagan idols in Judah, and he restored proper worship both in the Temple and throughout the country: “Has not the same Hezekiah taken away His high places and His altars, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before one altar, and on it you shall burn incense?”’ (2 Chron. 32:12). “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God.” (2 Chron. 31:20; 30:1-27; 29:2-36). “After his father had turned Judah into a vassal state of Assyria, Hezekiah also revolted against Assyrian domination in or around 705 B.C. The Bible records that “He did right in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Kgs. 18:3). Besides Hezekiah, only two other kings of Judah had this honor. The second was Josiah (2 Kgs. 22:2). A third king named Asa also held this honor at the beginning of his reign (1 Kgs. 15:11). Yet, he then refused to remove the pagan high places, and he used the gold in the Temple to form an alliance with the Syrians against Northern Israel (1 Kgs. 15:14, 18-22). Thus, there are only two kings of Judah who can be considered to be holy throughout their reigns. Unlike all the prior kings of Judah and the Kings of Northern Israel, Hezekiah trusted in God, and he stayed faithful and obedient (2 Kgs. 18:5). But this did not mean that he did not sin. Instead, he was righteous because he repented to God when he sinned (e.g., 2 Kgs. 20:3; Is. 38:3).

  • Hezekiah had the faith to fully obey God’s Word when no other king would do so. Sadly, Hezekiah was the first king of Judah to obey God’s commanded to destroy the pagan high places that God commanded that Jews destroy “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.” (Ex. 23:24; 34:13; Dt. 12:2-7, 13-14). As part of his zeal for purity before God, he destroyed the bronze serpent (the “Nehushtan”) that God used to save the Jews in the wilderness (Nu. 21:4-9). The Nehushtan foreshadowed Jesus’ death on the cross (Jo. 3:14-15). Yet, the Jews had turned it into an idol. Thus, Hezekiah destroyed it to keep the Jews’ worship on God (2 Kgs. 18:4). All his actions required incredible faith. Many would have questioned why they needed to obey all of God’s laws when the prior kings refused to do so. Your obedience also requires faith. Most people do not obey all of God’s Word because their church leaders don’t do this. Yet, God wants you to read His Word and let the Spirit apply it. You should never let public opinion or tradition decide whether you fully obey God’s Word.

  • Jesus is not your Lord if you refuse to do what He says. Hezekiah was a role model because his faith produced the fruit of obedience. Without works, a person’s faith is dead: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (Jam. 2:17) A believer may proclaim Jesus as Lord. But Jesus is not your Lord if you disobey Him: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24). “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matt. 7:26). Is your faith evidenced through obedience to Jesus’ Word?

2. Spirit-Led: Being Spirit-Led Helps to Maintain Your Obedience. 2 Kgs. 18:7-8.

  • God blesses Hezekiah for his Spirit-led obedience. Whenever Hezekiah acted in Spirit-led obedience, God was faithful to keep His promises to bless Hezekiah and all of Judah: “And the Lord was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.” (2 Kgs. 18:7-8). God prohibited His people from forming treaties with pagan nations (Dt. 7:2). Even though Assyria was far more powerful than Judah, Hezekiah followed the direction of the Spirit to break the treaty that his father Ahaz negotiated with king Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. The treaty turned Judah into a mere vassal state of Assyria (2 Kgs. 16:7-8). Out of obedience to the Spirit, he also invaded the Philistine territory of Gaza. But this was also a vassal state of Assyria, Hezekiah’s actions guaranteed that Assyria would invade Judah.

  • When you let the Spirit guide you, your enemy will also flee from you. When you walk in Spirit-led obedience, God promises to instill fear into your enemy and cause them to flee from you: “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” (Josh. 23:10). “The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). ‘“But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.’” (Lev. 26:7-8). When you take refuge in God, He also promises to be a shield to the evil attacks of the enemy: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). With His help, Jonathon killed 20 Philistines (1 Sam. 14:12). His power also allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58). He does not want you to fear any enemy (Ro. 8:15). Are you walking in faith and obedience so that He can act on your behalf to cause your enemies to flee?

  • God also blessed Hezekiah by extending his life. Among the many blessings that came from Hezekiah’s faith-led obedience, God healed him from an illness and added 15 years to his life: “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David, ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.”’’ (Is. 38:5). If your health is poor, turn to God in faith for His healing.

3. Fear Only God: Fearing Your Enemies Can Lead to Disobedience. 2 Kgs. 18:9-12.

  • Judah observes its powerful neighbor, Northern Israel, taken into exile for disobedience. During Hezekiah’s reign, he witnesses the power of Assyria as it destroyed his bigger neighbor of Northern Israel: “Now in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 At the end of three years they captured it; in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was captured. 11 Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and put them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded; they would neither listen nor do it.” (2 Kgs. 18:9-12). During the seventh year of King Hoshea’s reign, King Shalmaneser of Assyria besieged Northern Israel. By the ninth year of his reign, Northern Israel fell, and the Assyrians sent part of its population into exile (2 Kgs. 17:5-6). Because Northern Israel fell six years into Hezekiah’s reign (2 Kgs. 18:10), this was a test of faith for him. Northern Israel was more numerous with 10 tribes. It was also more battle tested with multiple prior conflicts with the Syrians. If his more powerful neighbor fell, what chance did he have if he relied upon just his own army?

The Assyrians laid siege to Samaria, and they sent the Jews into captivity2

God used Hezekiah’s faith-led obedience to stop the Assyrian advance at Jerusalem3

  • Northern Israel’s disobedience caused it to fall. God makes it clear that Northern Israel fell because of its repeated disobedience and their refusal to listen to God when He sent prophets or judgments (2 Kgs. 18:12). God also warned that disobedience would result in the Jews’ exile: “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.” (1 Kgs. 9:6-7; Dt. 8:19-20). Moses also repeatedly warned that idolatry would lead to the Jews’ destruction (Dt. 4:26; 8:19-20; 31:20). Joshua gave this warning as well (Josh. 23:16). Because of Hezekiah’s obedience, Judah had an extended existence as a nation. If Northern Israel had shown similar obedience, the Assyrians would not have destroyed it. Yet, this was also a warning to Judah. If it disobeyed God, it would meet the same fate.

  • Fear is “false evidence appearing real”. God does not waste space in the Bible. The purpose of retelling the fall of Northern Israel is to stress the fear that it would have created for the smaller nation of Judah. Many would have drawn the wrong lesson from the demise of Northern Israel. Some would have assumed that God had abandoned the Jews. Others would have assumed that the Assyrians were simply too strong to be stopped. Most would not have seen this as God’s just punishment after He warned 20 separate kings to repent of their idolatry. The Lord is the only thing that you are to fear (Prov. 1:7). You fear Him when you hate evil (Prov. 8:13), something the Jews of Northern Israel failed to do. The size of an enemy army was never a factor in the Jews’ prior victories. Indeed, God always used a smaller Jewish army to defeat their enemies so that He would receive the glory. When God wanted to reduce the size of Gideon’s army, the first thing He did was to dismiss every soldier who felt afraid (Jdgs. 7:3). God did not want any person fighting in His army who feared the enemy. Such a person had no trust in Him: “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.” (Dt. 20:1). “He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’” (Dt. 20:3-4). If you fear anything other than God, your faith is lacking. Although David was the smallest man in his family, he feared no evil or any enemy because he had faith that God was fighting for him. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?. . . Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arises against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” (Ps. 27:1-3). “I fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Ps. 23:4). “How blessed in the man that fears the Lord . . . He will not fear evil tidings” (Ps. 112:7). “Say to the anxious heart, ‘take courage, fear not.” (Is. 34:4). Is there any person, thing or enemy that you fear? If so, Satan may use that fear to ensnare you and cause your faith in Jesus to falter. Without faith, you are of no use in God’s army. It will also be “impossible” to please Him (Heb. 11:6). Believers will also do foolish things when they let their fears control them. This includes fleeing from an enemy: “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Prov. 29:25). “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4). Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7). When you feel fear, put your trust in Jesus.

4. Patience: Waiting on God’s Timing Will Help You to Stay Obedient. 2 Kgs. 18:13-16.

  • Assyria invaded Judah, and Hezekiah’s faith faltered under pressure. After witnessing Northern Israel’s destruction, God then tested both Hezekiah and Judah with an invasion: “13 Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. 14 Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, ‘I have done wrong. Withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.’ So the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kgs. 18:13-16). As a testing of their faith, God allowed King Sennacherib of Assyria to invade in 701 B.C. This was four years after he became king and after Hezekiah began withholding tribute from Assyria. King Sennacherib conquered 46 of Judah’s fortified cities (2 Chron. 32:9). This is confirmed in Assyrian records. They then threatened Jerusalem with its destruction (2 Kgs. 18:13; same, Is. 36:1). Although Hezekiah had shown the greatest faith of any king since David, he was still human. After seeing his fortified cities fall, he doubted God. He did not turn to God or cry out for help. Instead, he looked for a worldly solution to his problem. He apologized to the Assyrian king and tried to pay him off by offering him the gold that he had restored in God’s Temple and the wealth of his treasuries. These tributes are also recorded in inscriptions that archeologists have found at Sennacherib’s former palace in Nineveh.

  • Hezekiah incorrectly looked at worldly events to measure God’s faithfulness. God promised to protect the Jews when they acted in faith-led obedience (Dt. 28:1-14). As led by the Holy Spirit, David also promised Solomon that obedience would ensure that their descendants continued to rule on the throne: “so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kgs. 2:4). Because Hezekiah had acted with greater obedience than any king before him, he had plenty of reason to trust in God’s promises. Yet, despite knowing God’s Word, Hezekiah measured God’s faithfulness against the loss of his 48 fortified cities. Only Jerusalem remained. God, however, also stated that the Assyrians would enter Judah and reach up to its “neck”, a likely reference to Jerusalem: “Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, it will reach even to the neck; and the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.” (Is. 8:10). If Hezekiah had studied these prophecies, he would have seen the prior loss of the fortified cities as part of God’s plan. As one commentator explains, “We can suppose that Hezekiah thought that since the Northern Kingdom had been recently conquered and that all the fortified cities of Judah had been captured, God had demonstrated that He would not intervene on behalf of Judah. Therefore Hezekiah felt he had to do something himself. . . Hezekiah hoped that this policy of appeasement would make Judah safe. He was wrong, and his policy only impoverished Judah and the temple and made the king of Assyria more bold than ever against Judah.” (David Guzik on 2 Kgs. 18).4 If Hezekiah had been patient to wait for God’s timing, he would not have given up the nation’s wealth. His sin of impatience is a sin that nearly every believer makes.

  • Be patient for God’s timing in times of affliction. From his many trials, David learned to patiently wait on God’s timing: “For the choir director. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1). “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14; 25:3, 21). Even in the face of trials, Paul also encourages believers that your faith should include “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (Ro. 12:12). Are you willing to wait patiently for God to act in His timing?

  • Trust in God’s timing, even when all appears lost. Hezekiah’s actions would have appeared reasonable after watching every other city in Judah fall to the Assyrians. But God wants you to place your trust in His timing, even when it might appear foolish to do so. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). Even a wise and godly leader cannot lean upon his or her own understanding in times of peril: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). Do you regularly seek out God’s guidance in prayer when you are unsure about His will?

  • Be encouraged and strengthened by the Spirit. God knows when your faith is weak. When you let His Spirit lead you, He will encourage and strengthen you: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Eph. 6:10). “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Ps. 138:3). “He said, ‘O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!’ Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, ‘May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”’ (Dan. 10:19). “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Ro. 8:14). If you are feeling weak or depressed, are you praying in faith for Him to strengthen and encourage you?

  • Satan will use anything you give him to harm you. To understand the folly of giving God’s treasures to appease his enemies, Hezekiah only needed to look to the misfortune of his father Ahaz, who made a similar mistake: “So Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the LORD and out of the palace of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.” (2 Chr. 28:20-21; 2 Kgs. 16:8). Hezekiah’s act of appeasement only prompted his enemy to try to seize all of Judah.

5. Kingdom-Minded: Turning to the World Can Lead to Disobedience. 2 Kgs. 18:17-21.

  • The Assyrians taunt Judah for thinking their former captures in Egypt will rescue them. Hezekiah’s appeasement only emboldened the Assyrians. Thus, the Assyrians demanded their complete surrender and boasted that no kingdom on Earth could save them: “17 Then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a large army to Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they went up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway of the fuller’s field. 18 When they called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, came out to them. 19 Then Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, ‘What is this confidence that you have? 20 You say (but they are only empty words), ‘I have counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? 21 Now behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt; on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.” (2 Kgs. 18:17-21). The Assyrians were apparently surprised that Hezekiah was able to pay the large amount of gold and silver that they demanded. They assumed incorrectly that Hezekiah must have had even more gold and silver hidden in the Temple or in Jerusalem. The Assyrians then surrounded Jerusalem, and Hezekiah prepared the city for a siege (in 2 Chron. 32:3-8). King Sennacherib was so confident in his victory that he went home and sent his servants to give Hezekiah his ultimatum. King Sennacherib’s servants are referred to by their titles and not their proper names. The name “Tartan” was the title for the Assyrian commanding general (Isa. 20:1). The name “Rab-saris” translated as chief eunuch. This likely was the title for a senior military officer. The title “Rab-shakeh” translated as commander. He was King Sennacherib’s spokesperson and a high official in his government (See also, Isa. 36-37). They taunted Judah that no power on Earth could save them. Although the Jews wanted to turn to Egypt, Egypt could not help them. The Assyrians were using psychological warfare to bring down the Jews’ morale.

Rabshakeh taunts the Jews at Jerusalem on behalf of the King of Assyria5

  • The Assyrians’ threats at the conduit of the upper pool. The Assyrians left from their base at the captured city of Lachish to threaten Hezekiah at the “conduit upper pool” on the road between Jerusalem and Samaria (2 Kgs. 18:17). God orchestrated this meeting spot to draw a message. The Assyrians were showing that they could stop Jerusalem’s water source and bring the people to its knees. Yet, at this exact same spot, the prophet Isaiah warned the wayward King of Judah Ahaz not to trust in foreign powers. Ahaz, however, was evil and would not listen to God’s Word (Is. 7:3). Hezekiah sent three men to meet with the Assyrians. These included Eliakim, his palace administrator, Shebna, his scribe and Asaph, a recorder or intermediary between the king and the people (2 Kgs. 18:18; 2 Sam. 8:16). Isaiah later recorded this same encounter verbatim, which suggests that he was either present or intimately involved: “Then Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, ‘What is this confidence that you have? I say, ‘Your counsel and strength for the war are only empty words.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.”’’ (Is. 36:4-6) In both accounts, the Assyrians belittled Hezekiah by refusing to call him a king. This was calculated to scare the Jews into thinking that he would not be king for long. Ironically, Isaiah had given the Jews the same advice. Their former captors in Egypt could not save them (Isa. 19:11-17; 20:1-6; 30:1-7; 31:1-3). Yet, many placed their hope in Egypt.

  • Do not put your faith in worldly things for your protection and deliverance. In the Bible, Egypt frequently symbolized the world. Isaiah condemned those who sought worldly protection through the Jews’ former oppressors in Egypt: “Then they will be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and Egypt their boast.” (Is. 20:5). “Who proceed down to Egypt Without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.” (Is. 30:2-3). “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” (Is. 31:1). God also does not want you to place your trust in worldly solutions for your problems.

6. Know the Word: Knowing God’s Word will Help You Obey Him. 2 Kgs. 18:22-25.

  • The Assyrians taunt Judah for listening to Hezekiah and smashing their pagan altars. The Assyrians then sought to create fear by causing the Jews to question Hezekiah’s acts of obedience in smashing their pagan altars. They also tried to manipulate God’s prophecies by claiming that their conquest was part of God’s will: “22 But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? 23 Now therefore, come, make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 24 How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25 Have I now come up without the Lord’s approval against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” (2 Kgs. 18:22-25). Acting under Satan’s influence, Rab-shakeh tried to convince the Jews that they had eroded their opportunities to worship Yahweh by destroying the pagan altars and centralizing all worship in the Temple (2 Kgs. 18:3-4, 22; 2 Chron. 31:1). To taunt the Jews, he offered that the Assyrians could give them 2,000 horses if the Jews could find enough able bodied men to ride them (2 Kgs. 18:23). Isaiah also records this insult (Is. 36:8-9). From the Assyrians’ taunts, we can infer that the Jews did not have 2,000 fighting men left in Jerusalem. Rab-shakeh then sought to manipulate Isaiah’s prophecies by alleging that Yahweh had sent the Assyrians to destroy the Jews (2 Kgs. 18:24). His taunt is also recorded in Isaiah 36:10. He wanted to demoralize the Jews and have them give up without a fight. That is what Satan wants to do to you as well. He wants you to give into him without a fight.

  • The Assyrians manipulated God’s prophecies of judgment against Northern Israel. Through their spies, the Assyrians knew of Isaiah’s prophecies that God would use them to judge Northern Israel: “The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria . . . In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.” (Is. 7:17, 20). “Now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates, even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks.” (Is. 8:7). But these prophecies were not directed against Judah. Moreover, Isaiah also warned that Assyria would also regret its actions, even though God would use it as the rod of His judgment against the apostate state of Northern Israel: “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation,” (Is. 10:5).

  • Satan uses deceit and lies to manipulate God’s Word. Lies and deceit are Satan’s tools to turn people away from God (Dt. 11:16; 30:17). You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. . . Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Unless you know God’s Word, Satan will try to twist it or manipulate it to cause you to disobey God.

7. Dependence: Depend Upon God Alone To Stay Obedient to Him. 2 Kgs. 18:26-37.

  • The Assyrians taunt Judah over Hezekiah’s promise that God would deliver them. Finally, the Assyrians tried to cause the Jews to question God and their belief that they could turn to Him for deliverance: “26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, ‘Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.’ 27 But Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?’ 28 Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, ‘Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; 30 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.’ But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ 33 Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ 36 But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer him.’ 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of Rabshakeh.” (2 Kgs. 18:26-37). After Rab-shakeh’s efforts to scare Hezekiah’s servants into submission failed, he then spoke in Hebrew in an effort to cause the Jews to revolt against Hezekiah. Hezekiah’s servants then tried without success to have him speak in Aramaic (2 Kgs. 18:26; same, Is. 36:11). Rab-shakeh first tried to scare the people by stating that Hezekiah was deceiving them (2 Kgs. 18:29). He then tried to cause them to doubt God and believe in the enemy’s lies.

  • The enemy tries to deceive you to doubt God’s promises to deliver you. Rab-shakeh falsely told the Jews that they could not trust God to deliver them: “ nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us’ . . . But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.”’ (2 Kgs. 18:30-32). Both Isaiah and 2 Chronicles also record Rab-shakeh’s blasphemous and arrogant claims against Yahweh (Is. 36:18; 2 Chr. 32:15). Rab-shakeh then pointed out that none of the other pagan gods had been able to stop the Assyrians (2 Kgs. 18:34). If the pagan gods could not stop the Assyrians, Rab-shakeh arrogantly proclaimed that Yahweh could not stop them either: “Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”’ (2 Kgs. 18:35). Yet, God is not a powerless pagan idol. To demonstrate His power, to show His faithfulness, and to humble the Assyrians, God had Isaiah give a prophecy that He would save Jerusalem: “Like flying birds so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it.” (Is. 31:5). “For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’” (Is. 37:35). “I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city.” (Is. 38:6). And He would soon fulfill His promises. He would destroy the entire Assyrian army through a miracle. (2 Kgs. 19:34; 2 Chr. 32:22).

  • Depend upon Jesus as your only savior. Throughout the Jews’ history, God had repeatedly delivered them. He was their only deliverer: “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.” (Is. 43:11). “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.”’ (Is. 44:6). “Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” (Is. 44:8). “Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” (Hos. 13:4). Jesus is also your only savior (1 Jo. 4:14; Lk. 2:11; Jo. 3:16). He also wants you to depend upon Him alone to deliver you.

  • Do not put your trust in human leaders. Rab-shakeh said that the Jews should not put their trust in Hezekiah. He was correct with this statement. Only in God could they place their trust: “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (Ps. 118:9). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). Have you placed your trust in political leaders or in God?

  • The enemy makes false promises of peace when you give into him. Rab-shakeh also made the false promise of peace and prosperity to the Jews if they surrendered without a fight to King Sennacherib and the Assyrians: “thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.’” (2 Kgs. 18:31-32). Isaiah also records Rab-shakeh’s false promise (Is. 36:17). Rab-shakeh did not mention that the Jews would become slaves. He made this false promise even though the Assyrians led away the Jews of Northern Israel naked and with fishhooks in the mouths. “The Lord God has sworn by His holiness, ‘Behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks. You will go out through breaches in the walls, each one straight before her, and you will be cast to Harmon,’ declares the Lord.” (Amos 4:2-3). Thus, the Assyrians offered only pain.

  • Satan can only offer fleeting counterfeit pleasures. The pleasure Satan offers to the person who gives into covetousness never lasts long (Heb. 11:25; Lk. 12:19-20). Giving into Satan’s temptations will never satisfy your desires. You will only want more of the same empty temptation: “Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.” (Hab. 2:5). “And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.” (Is. 56:11). “Sheol, and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, ‘Enough’”. (Prov. 30:16). Don’t give into temptation.

  • Do not try to reason with Satan. The Jews had the faith not to panic when they heard Rab-shakeh’s threats, his lies, his manipulation, and his blaspheme against Yahweh. Instead, they followed Hezekiah’s Spirit-led command for them not to respond back (2 Kgs. 18:36; same Is. 36:21). Hezekiah’s servants later tore their clothes not out of fear. Instead, they tore their clothes in grief because of the blaspheme against Yahweh (2 Kgs. 18:37; same, Is. 36:22). God would soon reward the Jews for their faith. Believers also should not try to reason with Satan. When you feel tempted by evil, you are commanded to flee from your temptation (1 Cor. 6:18). Trying to reason with temptation frequently results in your submission to your temptation. Instead, rebuke Satan (Jude 1:9) and give your burdens to God. He alone is your deliverer when you turn to Him in faith.

  • Cry out to God when you need deliverance. When you are in need of deliverance, cry out to God. “O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ Selah. But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.” (Ps. 3:1-6; 25:2).