(Textual background - 2 Kings 18:1-19 and Isaiah 36-39)
King Hezekiah, one of the most faithful kings of Judah, and the prophet Isaiah were contemporaries and faithful men of God. They lived in a time where the nation of Judah had suffered through long periods of unfaithfulness, and the revival of faith experienced during Hezekiah's reign was short-lived and incomplete as far as the population was concerned.
The Assyrian empire had overrun Syria and Israel. With the start of the reign of Sargon II, Assyria had conquered Samaria, the capital of Israel. His son, Sennacherib, then attacked Judah. His campaign in 701 BC failed due to God's intervention. The righteousness of king Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet were instrumental in Sennacherib's downfall.
Hezekiah “did what was right in the sight of the Lord”, and Judah prospered during his reign (2 Kings 18:1-8). He tore down the high places so they could only be used again if they were rebuilt. In fact, the people had even turned the bronze serpent that God had told Moses to make seven centuries before into an idol. So Hezekiah destroyed the bronze serpent (vs. 4).
God blessed Hezekiah so that he was able to break the Assyrian domination and defeat the Philistines as well (vs. 7, 8). While the long faithless kingdom of Israel (Samaria) to the north was destroyed at this time, Judah to the south was spared (2 Kings 18:9-12).
God blesses those who obey him (see also Matthew 6:24; 7:7-11). Blessings come to the faithful in many ways; physical as well as spiritual. Many mistakenly consider the physical as more important than the spiritual (Matthew 6:19-21). Faith is living righteously; trusting that God will give what is necessary; and being content (Philippians 4:11-13).
The writer of Proverbs said that righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). That was true for Judah and it is true for us today. But sin is a disgrace and will ultimately weaken and destroy. Those that live by faith have a good example in Hezekiah.
We serve a God who is the ruler of all nations (Psalm 113:3, 4; 115:1-9). Do not put your hope in the hopeless. Put it in the throne of the true and eternal King. He is also a God who loves and protects his faithful people, then and today (Psalm 37:27, 28; 2 Timothy 4:17,18; 1:12; 1 Peter 1:5).
Pastor Robert Chew
(Adapted from The Expository Files 12.3)