The past is an important part of today’s actions and tomorrow’s plans. The people and kings of Judah had a rich past, filled with God’s action, guidance, and commands. But with each passing generation, they also had a growing list of tragedies that occurred when the people forgot that their God, who had cared for them in the past, also cared about the present and the future – – and demanded their continued obedience. Hezekiah was one of the few kings of Judah who was constantly aware of God’s acts in the past and his interest in the events of every day. The Bible describes him as a king who had a close relationship with God.
As a reformer, Hezekiah was most concerned with present obedience. Judah was filled with visual reminders of the people’s lack of trust in God, and Hezekiah boldly began clearing up. Altars, idols, and pagan temples were destroyed. Even the bronze snake Moses had made in the desert was not spared because it had ceased to point the people to God and had also become an idol. The temple in Jerusalem, whose doors had been nailed shut by Hezekiah’s own father, was cleaned out and reopened. The Passover was reinstituted as a national holiday, and there was revival in Judah.
Although he had a natural inclination to respond to present problems, Hezekiah’s life shows little evidence of concern about the future. He took few actions to preserve the effects of his sweeping reforms. His successful efforts made him proud. His unwise display of wealth to the Babylonian delegation caused Judah to be included on Babylon’s “Nations to Conquer” list. When Isaiah informed Hezekiah of the foolishness of his act, the king’s answer displayed his persistent lack of foresight – he was thankful that any evil consequences would be delayed until after he died. And the lives of three kings who followed him – Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah – were deeply affected by both Hezekiah’s accomplishments and his weaknesses.
The past affects your decisions and actions today, and these, in turn, affect the future. There are lessons to learn and errors to avoid repeating. Remember that part of the success of your past will be measured by what you do with it now and how well you use it to prepare for the future.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Was the king of Judah who instigated civil and religious reforms
- Had a personal, growing relationship with God
- Developed a powerful prayer life
- Noted as the author of several chapters in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 25:1)
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- Showed little interest or wisdom in planning for the future and protecting for others the spiritual heritage he enjoyed
- Rashly showed all his wealth to messengers from Babylon
Lessons from his life:
- Sweeping reforms are short-lived when little action is taken to preserve them for the future
- Past obedience to God does not remove the possibility of present disobedience
- Complete dependence on God yields amazing results
- Where: Jerusalem
- Occupation: 13th king of Judah, the southern kingdom
- Relatives: Father: Ahaz. Mother: Abijah. Son: Manasseh
- Contemporaries: Isaiah, Hoshea, Micah, Sennacherib
Key verses: “Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no-one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses” (2 Kings 18:5, 6).
Hezekiah’s story is told in 2 Kings 16:20-20:21; 2 Chronicles 28:27-32:33; Isaiah 36:1-39:8. He is also mentioned in Proverbs 25:1; Isaiah 1:1; Jeremiah 15:4; 26:18, 19; Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1.
©KingsWay NIV 1973.