The story of Hezekiah is recorded in 2 Kings 16:20—20:21; 2 Chronicles 28:27—32:33; and Isaiah 36:1—39:8. Hezekiah, the son of King Ahaz, ruled over the southern kingdom of Judah for twenty-nine years (715 – 686 BC). He was 25 years old when he reigned (2 Kings 18:2) and was “good and right and faithful before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20). He was a king of justice and integrity, who carried out his duties to the best of his ability. And his outstanding characteristic was his trust in God (2 Kings 18:5).
When Hezekiah began his rule, the land needed much reformation and revival from idolatry. So, he destroyed the pagan altars, idols, and temples including the bronze serpent that Moses had made in the desert (Numbers 21:9) because the people had made it an idol (2 Kings 18:4). He opened the doors of the temple in Jerusalem, reestablished the Levitical priesthood (2 Chronicles 29:5), and observed the Passover feast according to the Mosaic law (2 Chronicles 30:1).
The Lord was pleased with this king and blessed him greatly for he “held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook” (2 Kings 18:6–7). The prophets Isaiah and Micah ministered in Judah during the king’s reign.
The Assyrian Attack and God’s Deliverance
In 701 BC, the Assyrians, attacked Judah and headed toward Jerusalem. These enemies had subjugated the northern kingdom of Israel and now they wanted to overcome Judah (2 Kings 18:13). And they publicly defied the God of Israel claiming that He will not be able to deliver His people from foreign oppression (2 Kings 18:28–35; 19:10–12).
So, Hezekiah sent an urgent message to Isaiah seeking God’s help (2 Kings 19:2). The Lord, answered him saying that the king of Assyria will not enter or harm Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:32–34). Hezekiah went to the temple and prayed: “Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God” (2 Kings 19:19).
The present emergency was an opportunity for God to manifest His power before the nations of earth. The Lord answered the king’s prayer with the following message, “‘He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there. I will defend this city, to save it” (2 Kings 19:32,34).
And God’s Word was fulfilled for “That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” (2 Kings 19:35). And the rest of the army fled in defeat. “Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side” (2 Chronicles 32:22).
His Sickness and Healing
Later, Hezekiah became very sick and Isaiah told him to set his house in order for he will die (2 Kings 20:1). But Hezekiah prayed earnestly that God may spare his life and that He may remember how the king was faithful to Him. So, before Isaiah left the house of the king, God told Isaiah that He has heard the prayer of Hezekiah and He will add fifteen more years to his life.
And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the LORD will heal me?” Then Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?” And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.
So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the LORD, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz” (2 Kings 20:8-11). Then, Isaiah took a lump of figs (poultice) and put it on the boil of the king and he got healed (2 Kings 20:5–7).
Babylonian astronomers noticed that this sundial miracle had taken place (2 Chronicles 32:31). So, they sent envoys to Jerusalem to congratulate Hezekiah and to learn more about the God who could perform such miracles. But Hezekiah committed a foolish act. In pride, Hezekiah instead of praising and glorifying God for His miraculous powers, he showed the covetous Babylonians all of his treasures. So, Isaiah rebuked Hezekiah for his foolish act and prophesied that all what the king had shown the Babylonians would be carried away to Babylon including Hezekiah’s own children.
Manasseh was the successor of Hezekiah. But he didn’t follow in the path of his father and became the most wicked king that ever ruled in Judah (2 Kings 18—20; 2 Chronicles 29—32; Isaiah 36—39).
Hezekiah was faithful to God and fair with his people, and as a result he prospered, and the nation prospered with him. The best insurance for prosperity is righteousness, justice, and integrity. Many kings who had started well forsake God during the course of their reigns; for example, Solomon (1 Kings 11:1–11), Joash (2 Chronicles 24:17–25), and Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:14–16). Hezekiah, too, fell into error (2 Kings 20:12–19), but he never left God and did what he can to lead the people back to worship of the true God.
In His service,