Every Generation Must Decide Whom They Serve. (2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 29)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 29

As a review, the books titled 1st and 2nd Kings were penned as history was unfolding. The books titled 1st and 2ndChronicles were authored after the Jews returned to their homeland from Babylonian captivity. Together, the Kings and Chronicles give us the history of Israel and Judah, and an insight into the bent of nations and people to sin and rebel. Yet, God is sovereign and gives providential oversight of not only His chosen people, but also of the nations of the world.

2 Kings 18 and 2 Chronicles 29 are to some extent, parallel passages of the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah. 2 Kings 18 records the rise of 25-year-old Hezekiah to the throne of Judah where he would reign for 29 years. Setting his heart to do “that which was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 18:3), Hezekiah began a series of reforms (2 Kings 18:4-6), addressing first Judah’s sins against the LORD.

2 Chronicles 29 – The Reign of Hezekiah

Before continuing our study of 2 Kings 18, I invite you to consider the reform Hezekiah led in his first year as king. 2 Chronicles 29 reveals how far Judah strayed from the LORD as a nation and people.

Repairing the Temple (29:3-11)

Hezekiah’s first challenge was to repair the Temple which had been closed, and the daily worship and sacrifices neglected (29:3). Summoning the priests and Levites, Hezekiah commanded them to cleanse themselves, and then begin the task of cleaning the Temple (29:4-5).

Speaking as the leader of the nation, the king identified the failures of the previous generation, and how they had neglected their spiritual roles in the Temple (29:6-7). Hezekiah stated the sorrows that had befallen Israel resulted as “the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem” (29:8-9).

Setting an example of humility, and sincerity, Hezekiah revealed his resolve to renew covenant with the LORD, and to pray He would turn away “His fierce wrath” from the nation (29:10). Speaking to the Levites and priests as a loving king, Hezekiah reminded them of their holy calling, saying, “My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lordhath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense” (29:11).

A Call for Revival (29:12-36)

Hezekiah then summoned various groups to prepare themselves to serve the LORD, before He summoned the people. He appointed two leaders from each of the three major Levite clans (the sons of Kohath, Merari, and Gershon, 29:12). He then appointed two men from a fourth clan (sons of Elizaphan, 29:13a), and appointed leaders to represent the three musical Levite families (sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, 29:13b-14).

The Levites and priests then began cleaning the Temple and its grounds. The priests cleaned the Temple interior, and removed unclean items that were taken to “the brook of Kidron” (29:15-16), and most likely burned. The cleansing of the Temple lasted sixteen days (29:17), and then the priests and Levites informed Hezekiah (29:18-19).

The king summoned the leaders of Jerusalem, and they “went up to the house of the LORD” (29:20). Rededicating the Temple, the leaders brought animals as offerings according to the law (Leviticus 4:1-5:13). Laying their hands on the animals to be sacrificed, the leaders identified in their deaths the substitute for their sins as individuals and representatives of Judah (29:21-24).

With the Levite musicians taking their places (29:25-26), the king commanded the burnt offerings be sacrificed as the musical instruments accompanied the worship service (29:27). “All the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded” (29:28), and once again the psalms of the LORD were heard in the Temple (29:30).

The congregation of Judah was then invited to bring their individual offerings to the LORD, and the number given was so great the Levites were called upon to assist the priests (29:31-35). What a great lesson in giving when we read, “the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings” (29:31).

The rededication of the Temple, and restoration of worship and offerings were accomplished in Hezekiah’s first year as king (29:3). The chapter concluded with Hezekiah and the people rejoicing (2 Chronicles 29:36).

2 Kings 18 – The Fall of Israel, and the Reign of Hezekiah

The early years of Hezekiah’s reign were glorious, and the LORD blessed his leadership (18:7-8). Nevertheless, storm clouds were on the horizon, for in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign, Samaria fell to Assyria, and Israel as a nation was taken captive (18:9-11).

Israel’s Fall Presented a Crisis of Faith for Hezekiah and Judah (18:9-12).

Rather than trust the LORD, the king made the decision to enslave Judah to pay tribute to Assyria (18:13-14). The Assyrian king’s demands were so great, Hezekiah was forced to give him the treasuries of his palace, and the Temple (18:15) to meet Assyria’s demands. As a result, Hezekiah was forced to strip the gold overlay from the doors and pillars of the Temple (18:16).

Adding to the humiliation, the king of Assyria sent a great army to lay siege to Jerusalem. A delegation of Assyrian ambassadors demanded Hezekiah surrender the capital city to their king (18:17-22). Hoping to discourage the soldiers, day after day, the Assyrians stood outside the walls of Jerusalem, and mocked the God of Israel, and scorned Hezekiah and his soldiers (18:23-35).

Wisely, the soldiers, obeyed Hezekiah’s command, and answered the Assyrians with silence (18:36).  When he received news of the taunts of the Assyrian delegation (18:37), Hezekiah humbled himself, “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD” (19:1).

Closing thoughts – Hezekiah led Judah back to the LORD, and he purged the nation of its idolatry (2 Kings 18:4). He was a godly king, unlike any other (18:5-6), but the spiritual revival he led would die with him (2 Kings 21:1-2).

Lesson – Every generation will decide whom they will serve. Tragically, the bent of the heart of man is to do evil, and without revival a nation invites God’s judgment.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith