Scripture Reading –2 Kings 20; 2 Kings 21


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Our study of Isaiah’s prophecies has ended, and our chronological study of the Scriptures returns to the Book of Second Kings. Remember that Isaiah ministered as God’s prophet to Judah during the reigns of four kings, the fourth being Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1), whom we find gravely ill and, in the words of the author, “sick unto death” (2 Kings 20:1).


Historical Setting 

As we come to 2 Kings 20, I remind you that northern Israel had fallen to the Assyrians. Samaria, the capital city of Israel, was destroyed, and the citizens of Israel were taken captive. Following their pattern, Assyria began resettling the land of Israel with strangers from other nations. In time, those “strangers” (non-Hebrews) intermarried with the remnant of Israel that survived Assyria’s path of destruction. In Christ’s day, the children of those unholy unions were known as Samaritans.

The narrative in 2 Kings 20 will be familiar to “Heart of a Shepherd” readers, for it is a review of events we considered in Isaiah 38:1-8 and 2 Chronicles 32:24-26.


2 Kings 20


King Hezekiah’s Sickness and the Threat of Imminent Death

King Hezekiah was a beloved leader of Judah, and the LORD blessed the nation because He loved the LORD. Leading by example and proclamation, the king led the country in a time of spiritual revival. He restored the teachings of the Law and Commandments, repaired the Temple, revived worship and offerings, and destroyed the worship of idols throughout the land. 

2 Kings 20 followed a great victory the LORD gave Judah over Sennacherib, king of Assyria (2 Kings 19; Isaiah 37:36). Soon after Judah’s victory, another crisis occurred: King Hezekiah became “sick unto death” (2 Kings 20:1a). The prophet Isaiah was tasked with the responsibility of delivering to Hezekiah the news of the king’s impending death. Isaiah warned Hezekiah, “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live” (2 Kings 20:1).

King Hezekiah’s Sickness and the Threat of Imminent Death

Think about it: How would you respond if you were given a terminal diagnosis?


Hezekiah modeled what the response of every believer should be when facing a mortal sentence—He prayed!  (2 Kings 20:2-11)

The king “turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD” (2 Kings 20:2). He blocked out everything and everyone and cried to the LORD, saying, “I beseech [pray] thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked [behaved] before thee in truth [honor; integrity; faithfully] and with a perfect [complete; undivided; whole] heart, and have done that which is good [better; pleasing] in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore [lit. wept violently]” (2 Kings 20:3). The king rehearsed his walk with the LORD and how he kept God’s covenant. He claimed God’s covenant promise to David (2 Chronicles 6:16-17) and hoped the LORD would heal him.

Isaiah departed the king’s court after he delivered God’s fateful message to Hezekiah. However, before he “was gone out into the middle court,” the LORD commanded him to return to the king (2 Kings 20:4-5). Isaiah was commanded to tell the king, “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 20:5).

Isaiah then assured Hezekiah that the LORD had heard his prayer, seen his tears, and would heal him “on the third day” (2 Kings 20:5). Mercifully, the LORD promised, “I will add unto thy days fifteen years” and he would have no cause ever again to fear the king of Assyria (2 Kings 20:6). Rather than merely a miracle of His spoken Word, the LORD determined to heal the king naturally. He directed Isaiah to prepare a poultice of “a lump of figs” and place it on the boil that afflicted the king, promising Hezekiah would recover (2 Kings 20:7).

When Hezekiah questioned how he could know the LORD would heal him, Isaiah asked the king, “Shall the shadow [on a sundial] go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?” (2 Kings 20:9) “Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees” (2 Kings 20:10). Isaiah prayed. And the LORD heard and answered his prayer and the sundial’s shadow turned back ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11).

Hezekiah Prayed

King Hezekiah’s Sinful Pride (2 Kings 20:12-19)

Tragically, Hezekiah made a grave decision when he greeted ambassadors from Babylon. In pride, he showed them the treasuries of his kingdom (2 Kings 20:12-13). Isaiah learned of the strangers in the king’s palace, confronted the king, and questioned him (2 Kings 20:14-15). When Hezekiah confessed his actions, the prophet condemned the king. He prophesied all the Babylonians had seen would be taken, and the king’s sons would be forced to serve Babylon’s king (2 Kings 20:16-18).

Hezekiah humbly accepted the prophecy of God’s judgment (2 Kings 20:19). Fifteen years later, the king died, and his son Manasseh ascended to his father’s throne (2 Kings 20:21).

King Hezekiah’s Sinful Pride

2 Kings 21


King Manasseh’s Wickedness and Influence (2 Kings 21:1-9) 

Manasseh was only “twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 21:1). Unlike his father, the young king set a course of wickedness like the Canaanites, the original occupants of the land (2 Kings 21:2). He established idolatry (2 Kings 21:3), desecrated the Temple (21:4), and offered his son as a sacrifice to idols (2 Kings 21:6).

Breaking God’s covenant with the children of Israel, Manasseh’s sins provoked the LORD’s wrath and robbed Judah of the blessings He promised He would pour out upon the land (2 Kings 21:8). Instead, the king “seduced [beguiled the people] to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9).


The Prophets’ Warnings: God’s Judgment Was Coming (2 Kings 21:10-18)

The LORD sent prophets to confront the sins of the king and Judah (2 Kings 21:10; Jeremiah 2:9-13; Amos 9:7; Habakkuk 1:5). They laid at Hezekiah’s feet the responsibility for that nation’s sins and warned that God was “bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle” (2 Kings 21:12).

All that had befallen Samaria and Israel would be the fate of Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:13). The city would be leveled, wiped clean, and turned upside down (2 Kings 21:13). Because they had done evil and provoked the wrath of the LORD, the people would “become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies” (2 Kings 21:14-15).

Manasseh refused to heed the Word of the LORD and repent, and “shed innocent blood very much [the blood of the prophets and the righteous ones], till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2 Kings 21:16).

Manasseh died but was not buried in the tomb of the kings in Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:17-18), and his son Amon reigned in his stead. Like his father, Amon “walked in, and served the idols…and worshipped them” (2 Kings 21:19-22). His servants slew Amon after he reigned for two years (2 Kings 21:23), who were then killed by the people (2 Kings 21:24).

A Generation that Demands God's Judgment

Closing thought –

Following Hezekiah’s glorious reign and revival, Judah was plunged into a depravity that would have been unimaginable in the previous generation. In one generation, Judah went from a spiritual awakening and God’s overflowing blessings to gross wickedness that included the king sacrificing his son.

Warning – A nation is never more than one generation removed from a steep descent into sin and wickedness that demands God’s judgment.

Are we that generation?

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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