2 Kings 19:14-37

Hezekiah took the letter from the envoy and read it. He went to The Temple of God and spread it out before God. And Hezekiah prayed—oh, how he prayed!

God, God of Israel, seated
    in majesty on the cherubim-throne.
You are the one and only God,
    sovereign over all kingdoms on earth,
Maker of heaven,
    maker of earth.

Open your ears, God, and listen,
        open your eyes and look.
    Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent,
        a brazen insult to the living God!

The facts are true, O God: The kings of Assyria
    have laid waste countries and kingdoms.

Huge bonfires they made of their gods, their
    no-gods hand-made from wood and stone.

But now O God, our God,
        save us from raw Assyrian power;
    Make all the kingdoms on earth know
        that you are God, the one and only God.

It wasn’t long before Isaiah son of Amoz sent word to Hezekiah:

God’s word: You’ve prayed to me regarding Sennacherib king of Assyria; I’ve heard your prayer. This is my response to him:

The Virgin Daughter of Zion
    holds you in utter contempt;
Daughter Jerusalem
    thinks you’re nothing but scum.

Who do you think it is you’ve insulted?
        Who do you think you’ve been bad-mouthing?
    Before whom do you suppose you’ve been strutting?
        The Holy One of Israel, that’s who!

You dispatched your errand boys
        to humiliate the Master.
    You bragged, “With my army of chariots
        I’ve climbed the highest mountains,
        snow-peaked alpine Lebanon mountains!
    I’ve cut down its giant cedars,
        chopped down its prize pine trees.
    I’ve traveled the world,
        visited the finest forest retreats.

I’ve dug wells in faraway places
        and drunk their exotic waters;
    I’ve waded and splashed barefoot
        in the rivers of Egypt.”

Did it never occur to you
    that I’m behind all this?
Long, long ago I drew up the plans,
    and now I’ve gone into action,
Using you as a doomsday weapon,
    reducing proud cities to piles of rubble,

Leaving their people dispirited,
        slumped shoulders, limp souls.
    Useless as weeds, fragile as grass,
        insubstantial as wind-blown chaff.

I know when you sit down, when you come
        and when you go;
    And, yes, I’ve marked every one
        of your temper tantrums against me.

It’s because of your temper,
        your blasphemous foul temper,
    That I’m putting my hook in your nose
        and my bit in your mouth
    And turning you back
        to where you came from.

And this, Hezekiah, will be for you the confirming sign:

This year you’ll eat the gleanings, next year
    whatever you can beg, borrow, or steal;
But the third year you’ll sow and harvest,
    plant vineyards and eat grapes.

A remnant of the family of Judah yet again
    will sink down roots and raise up fruit.

The remnant will come from Jerusalem,
        the survivors from Mount Zion.
    The Zeal of God
        will make it happen.

To sum up, this is what God says regarding the king of Assyria:

He won’t enter this city,
    nor shoot so much as a single arrow there;
Won’t brandish a shield,
    won’t even begin to set siege;

He’ll go home by the same road he came;
    he won’t enter this city. God’s word!

I’ll shield this city, I’ll save this city,
    for my sake and for David’s sake.

And it so happened that that very night an angel of God came and massacred 185,000 Assyrians. When the people of Jerusalem got up next morning, there it was—a whole camp of corpses!

Sennacherib king of Assyria got out of there fast, headed straight home for Nineveh, and stayed put. One day when he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer murdered him and then escaped to the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon became the next king.

Read More of 2 Kings 19

2 Kings 20

Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, “Put your affairs in order; you’re about to die—you haven’t long to live.”

Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced God, praying:

Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done!
I’ve lived an honest life before you,
My heart’s been true and steady,
I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.

And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept.

Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘God’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life; I’m saving you from the king of Assyria, and I’m covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David’s sake.’”

Isaiah then said, “Prepare a plaster of figs.”

They prepared the plaster, applied it to the boil, and Hezekiah was on his way to recovery.

Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “How do I know whether this is of God and not just the fig plaster? What confirming sign is there that God is healing me and that in three days I’ll walk into The Temple of God on my own legs?”

“This will be your sign from God,” said Isaiah, “that God is doing what he said he’d do: Do you want the shadow to advance ten degrees on the sundial or go back ten degrees? You choose.”

Hezekiah said, “It would be easy to make the sun’s shadow advance ten degrees. Make it go back ten degrees.”

So Isaiah called out in prayer to God, and the shadow went back ten degrees on Ahaz’s sundial.

Shortly after this, Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, having heard that the king was sick, sent a get-well card and a gift to Hezekiah. Hezekiah was pleased and showed the messengers around the place—silver, gold, spices, aromatic oils, his stockpile of weapons—a guided tour of all his prized possessions. There wasn’t a thing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them.

And then Isaiah the prophet showed up: “And just what were these men doing here? Where did they come from and why?”

Hezekiah said, “They came from far away—from Babylon.”

“And what did they see in your palace?”

“Everything,” said Hezekiah. “There isn’t anything I didn’t show them—I gave them the grand tour.”

Then Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah, “Listen to what God has to say about this: The day is coming when everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here—plundered and packed off to Babylon. God’s word! Worse yet, your sons, the progeny of sons you’ve begotten, will end up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “If God says it, it must be good.” But he was thinking to himself, “It won’t happen during my lifetime—I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.”

The rest of the life and times of Hezekiah, along with his projects, especially the way he engineered the Upper Pool and brought water into the city, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Hezekiah died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Manasseh became the next king.

Read More of 2 Kings 20