A new sheriff comes to Israel – Hezekiah. What a breath of fresh air. Check out what scripture says here: “he was a good king”. Now we don’t hear that very often. Look at what is called out that makes him so:
- He kept to the standards of his ancestor David
- He got rid of …shrines
- He cut down…groves
- He pulverized…serpent
- Put his whole trust in God
- Held fast to God
- Never loosened his grip
- Obeyed to the letter
What does scripture also tell us: “There was no king quite like him, either before or after”. Why? Because he put off the bad stuff – he got rid of it, and he obeyed what God said completely. None of what is recorded is rocket science guys. Hezekiah just did what God had been asking for many years. Get rid of the bad and obey. So scripture calls him out as a good king – unique from any other.
A little further in this chapter things fall apart. The king of Assyria comes and lays siege to Hezekiah’s kingdom and captures them. Scripture is clear in why this happens as well. Things got ugly – not because of what Hezekiah was doing – which was good in God’s eyes – but because the people who should have been following were on a different path. Check this out: “All this happened because they wouldn’t listen to the voice of their GOD and treated his covenant with careless contempt. They refused either to listen or do a word of what Moses commanded”. So the lack of obedience by the people – their unwillingness to follow their Godly king – leads them to capture and bondage. There is an important lesson here. Being godly in and of itself does not assure God’s blessing and protection. If we are surrounded by people who don’t walk with God, He still has to deal with sin. We may be caught in the peripheral activity. It will get messy when we are surrounded by people who refuse to walk with God. We need to choose wisely who we associate with. We need to not only lead in a manner like Hezekiah, but surround ourselves with others who walk there as well. Are you a Hezekiah kind of leader?? Have you surrounded yourself with people who walk with you in obedience to our God?
God “ripped Israel out” of their place because of sin. They are removed from the cities and replaced by people from all over. Scripture says it like this in the Message: “GOD spoke a final No ….. turned his back on them…. given them fair warning….and plenty of time”. God got pushed past His ability to endure their unwillingness to get their lives in line and He whacked them. They are gone – pushed out of their homes and towns and replaced. God allowed the king of Assyria to fill the towns with people from all over – but they served other gods. They did not know God. So He sends in lions to maul and kill people so they get a message. The king sends in some exiled prophets to teach the people how to live – who taught them how to “honor and worship God”. But the people didn’t quite get it. They did not worship God “exclusively….kept up their worship of the old gods…. don’t really worship GOD-they don’t take seriously what he says regarding how to behave and what to believe”. Do you see a pattern here? People are people whether they grow up knowing God or not – we seem to want to be independent and do things our way rather than God’s way. And there is a price to pay for wanting to be stubborn and independent. People die a painful death being eaten by lions. But they still don’t get it figured out as scripture tells us they “kept doing what they had always done….putting on a front that they were worshipping God”. Oh how stubborn and stupid we can be. Guys – God demands our worship and true affection. He deserves it – that is true – but He also demands it. Sin prevents that from happening. We need to root out sin in our lives and make darn sure we are on His page. So much to learn from those who failed miserably. Yet at times I see myself in the mirror…………
The things that the people did to irritate god are listed in 2 Kings 17. Thought I might list them to see if they ring any bells:
- Took up with other gods
- Fell in with the ways of life of the pagans
- Went along with whatever their kings did
- Did all kinds of things on the sly
- Openly and shamelessly build local shrines
- Smoke from pagan offerings
Scripture tells us that “God was fed up”. They were on the verge of being destroyed and God’s message was to repent and stop. The prophets told them to “turn away from your evil way of life” but they wouldn’t listen. Scripture lists their responses – not good:
- More bullheaded than their stubborn ancestors
- Contemptuous of Gods instruction and repeated reminders
- Lived a nothing life and became nothing
- Ignored warnings and did it anyway
- Threw out everything God
- Worshipped cosmic forces
- Offered their own sons and daughters as burn offerings
- Indulged in all sorts of black arts and magic
- Prostituted themselves to every kind of evil available to them.
The sad result – scripture says “GOD was so thoroughly angry that he got rid of them, got them out of the country for good”. These people came from a godly heritage. They knew better but they forgot. When pressed to straighten up, they rebelled even more. The results were not pretty. Why are we so stubborn? Why do we insist on destroying ourselves? Do you see any of these traits around you today? We need to pay attention. We serve the same God and He has the same rules today. America needs to wake up. It starts with you and me.
Hoshea became the next king. It is curious what scripture says about him: “As far as GOD was concerned, he lived a bad life, but not nearly as bad as the kings who had preceded him”. So Hoshea was bad, just not as bad as some of the other guys who came ahead of him. But the key here is that he was still bad. This is important because we may have a tendency to think that while we are a sinner, we certainly are not as bad as a murderer, or thief, or child molester etc. But look at what happened to Hoshea. He was not paying the king of Assyria like he was supposed to. So he gets thrown in jail and the king comes after his kingdom and lays siege to Samaria, for three years. Then the people were exiled. Pay attention to what God says: “The exile came about because of sin”. Remember that Hoshea “was not nearly as bad” yet his people were laid siege to and exiled “because of sin”. Guys – God does not look kindly on sin. He cannot tolerate it even if it is not nearly as bad as another. God cannot deal with sin – any sin. Don’t forget this. It is a big deal!
Ahaz is the new king in 2 Kings 16. He doesn’t get it either and “didn’t behave in the eyes of his God”. I sort of like that description from the Message version. It makes it sound like he knew what should happen, but he chose to disobey and test the tolerance of his God. Well he finds out that was a bad choice as two enemy kings lay siege to Jerusalem. Ahaz robs the Temple of its gold and silver and bribes the king from Assyria to come and save his bacon. He does and frees them from the siege, but it cost the kingdom dearly. Ahaz goes to meet the king of Assyria in Damascus. This really struck me: “The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him”. He immediately sends back the dimensions and asks Uriah the priest to build one like it to go in the Temple. The point God made to me – Ahaz wasn’t looking for God. In fact, he had been avoiding God. But when he enters His presence, he is overwhelmed by God and has to deal with it. We need to make sure we enter the presence of God. It requires action on our part guys. We can’t avoid the decisions that need to be made, the actions that need to be taken, if we are regular in our time with God. Don’t run from the presence of God. Intentionally go where you will be in fellowship with Him. It is a spiritual discipline that will help keep us on the right path. Don’t ignore it…….
2 Kings 15 is full of the reigns of many kings and kingdoms. There were a couple kings – namely Uzziah and Jotham, who “acted well in God’s eyes”. We again see the impact of a Father as scripture tells us that Jotham “followed in the steps of his father”. We also see that the opposite is true. Over and over in this chapter we read that the evil kings “didn’t deviate so much as a hair’s breadth from the path laid down by Jeroboam”. What a legacy to leave behind. Jeroboam left generations of kings who “lived an evil life”. There was only one issue with the two kings in this chapter – they did not complete the job. They, like good kings before them, did not clean up the “neighborhood sex and religion shrines” that had been around forever. This is a problem for God. They did many good things but they just did not finish the job. It cost Azariah as God afflicted him with a “skin disease” for most of his 52 year reign. It got so bad his son had to reign much of the time for him. And he was a good king in God’s eyes. He just failed to be a completely good king. Over and over I see how God is not content with anything less than total obedience. Have I said that before? It just keeps coming. Maybe God is trying to tell us, or at least me, something. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way……………..
As 2 Kings 14 comes to an end, we learn that Jeroboam son of Jehoash becomes king. He rules for 41 years. His legacy? He “lived an evil life” just like his family had many years ago – his name sake Jeroboam son of Nebat – “who led Israel into a life of sin”. The legacy continues even though things were not good. Scripture says life was lived in “bitterly hard times”, yet they did not repent and “no hope of help was anywhere in sight”. Things were a bit tough but mankind in its stubbornness refuses to change and line up with God. Fortunately “God wasn’t yet ready to blot out the name of Israel from history”. That is a pretty strong statement isn’t it. God must have been pretty darn irritated for that thought to even enter His mind. But it is not unusual that a Holy God would be unhappy with the lives of His people when they refuse to line up with Him. Instead of destruction – check out what scripture says here: God “used Jeroboam son of Jehoash to save them”. God was not pleased with Jeroboam at all, yet He used him to save His people. God is in control men. He is the Master controller of the universe. He can even use people who are not living in relationship with Him to get His way. But how much sweeter would life have been for Jeroboam if he had walked with God. Rather than living life in poverty and difficult times, he could have experienced God’s goodness and blessing. Just because of some stubborn and stupid choices. We need to be careful we don’t do the exact same thing and miss God’s blessing because we are hard hearted and self focused. Life matters. Live it that way!