2 Kings 18:1-8 (NKJV)
18 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.
2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi[a] the daughter of Zechariah.
3 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.
4 He removed the high places and broke the sacredpillars, cut down the wooden image[b] and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.[c]
5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.
6 For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lordhad commanded Moses.
7 The Lordwas with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
8 He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.
I am so grateful that God speaks to me and continues to pour out His blessings. I haven't seen the word of God so live in a while like I see it now when I read the scriptures. Although God showed me Isaiah 36 many, many times before and used that scripture to answer my specific direction questions for the previous hearings and for the upcoming one, I haven`t noticed some of the details of the situation described in the verses. The full picture could be noted only when reading both Isaiah 36-37 and 2 Kings 16-19.
God always provides us with the fork in each one of our lives at some point where we have to choose whether we would crucify Jesus or suffer with Him. That test comes in realities of different circumstances based on what speaks to us and gets our attention the best.
Here we see that the king Hezekiah was anointed to be the next king and although his father wasn`t following the ways of the Lord, but Hezekiah chose to serve the Lord. We read the way he broke down the "high places" where idols were worshiped; he broke down the bronze serpent that people made into the idol, and he lead people back to the Lord to keep their focus on His law. However, we also see that since he became a king during the Assyrian domination, he was under the authority of the Assyrian king. Hezekiah did something extraordinary as we read it in verse 7 he rebelled against Assyrian king and refused to serve him.
When reading this chapter, God showed me 4 specific principles that applied exactly in my situation and they also apply in the life of a true believer. Hezekiah did 4 things:
1. He rebelled against Assyrian king and refused to serve him because he chose to stand for God`s truth. Hezekiah chose not to be taken captive, so to avoid the opportunities of being mixed up with the other nations who followed the idols and false gods. Hezekiah chose to keep his people isolated in their land as God commanded them not to get mixed up with the other nations, so they don`t fall into temptation to follow false gods and forget about the Lord. This is exactly what happened to them before, and so Hezekiah is taking a stand against that even if by the price of going into war with the most powerful emprise that ruled during those days- Assyrians.
6 For he held fast to theLord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lordhad commanded Moses. 7 The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. (2 Kings 18:6-7 NKJV)
2. He repented and apologized before the Assyrian king while being under siege.Hezekiah, being a king, chose to humble himself and act lowly for the sake of obedience to the Lord. He didn`t care how humiliating he looked in the eyes of his people or in the eyes of the mighty Assyrian army. Hezekiah chose to keep his heart clean before the Lord because he knew that so long as his heart was right with the Lord, God would continue to protect him.
13And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 14 Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay." (2 Kings 18:13-14 NKJV)
3. He agreed to pay out whatever was imposed on Hezekiah as a fine for rebelling by the Assyrian king; Hezekiah gave him everything he could collect to pay his way out (note, that he continues to choose as much of a peaceful methods, while following God at the same time, as his circumstances allow him), and we should take a note of that.
And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lordand in the treasuries of the king's house. 16 At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold fromthe doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. (2 Kings 18:14-16 NKJV)
4. He relied on the Lord to deliver him out of the hand of Assyrian king.Hezekiah completely submitted his circumstances into the hands of the Lord. He refused to compromise with the temptation of going to live in the fruitful plentiful land that could lead the people into the bondage of idolatry once again.
32Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, "The Lord will deliver us." (2 Kings 18:32-33 NKJV).
It is important to understand each one of these principles and the reasoning behind them because when we don`t understand the word of God, we cannot use it and apply in our lives.
God always provides us with the fork in life at some point to choose whether we would crucify Jesus or suffer with Him. That test comes in realities of different set of circumstances based on what speaks to each one of us. One road at the fork would lead to life in compromise with sin and tolerance of carnal lifestyle, and another road at the fork would lead to complete surrender and willingness to die for yourself.
The above 4 principles applied in my life because I had to rebel (I took a stand for the truth of the Lord and made a choice to go against the sinful lifestyle that I kept backsliding into over and over again); I apologized and repented for being a lousy testimony and for going astray and compromising with sin; I paid out whatever I had (my house, all my possessions, my freedom at some point, my daughter); and I surrendered to the Lord to trust that He would protect me even going against the "strongest army"- against my husband and upcoming hearing.
I had to choose whether to crucify Jesus and to enter into agreement with my husband that was very tempting and alluring (that would have led me into backsliding again), or to stand for the truth which means going into battle with my husband. I chose, after many months of struggle, to follow God and enter into the final battle going into court; actually the decision wasn`t even mine to make, but my husband kept resisting to agree on anything, so I was forced to schedule a final hearing date. My final hearing was scheduled for October 19th, so I have 3 more months of waiting and growing spiritually to get even more humble and lowly in heart.
I chose to rebel against sinful lifestyle, against perverted teachings of the word of God, but I also chose to do all that as peacefully as I could. I continue to pray for God`s wisdom, so I don`t make hasty costly decisions.
Hezekiah agreed to pay out the "assessed" fine by the Assyrian king to keep peace, but even that didn`t work. Assyrian king came back and started pressuring Hezekiah to surrender to Assyrians, so they could take them captive into the different land (note, the verses 32-35,) where the Assyrians said:
32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, "The Lord will deliver us." 33 Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Whereare the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where arethe gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'"(2 Kings 18:32-35 NKJV)
How many times did Satan come to me with these fearful statements attempting to sow doubts in my heart that in my previous hearings I didn`t get everything I wanted but only partially, and I would not be able to win against all the lies and accusations that my husband brings up in court. Why would I rely on God now if He didn`t give me everything I asked for before? Assyrians make these same assumptions that since Israel (the northern kingdom that was captured by the Assyrian king for their straying from God) didn`t stand the battle, although they were supposed to have the same "God" as Hezekiah has, and if they fell down, then why would Hezekiah think that he is any different from them. Why does Hezekiah think that he is any better than Israel to be able to win the battle with Assyrians?
The difference between Israel and Judah (and between me and my husband) was in their walk with the Lord. We read in the verses 9-12 the reason as to why Israel went into captivity and why they didn`t win their battle with Assyrians:
9 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lordtheir God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor dothem. (2 Kings 18:9-12 NKJV)
When we see such strong statements as: "they would neither hear nor do them" that means that there have been prophets who came on numerous occasions to warn Israelites that the judgment of the Lord was coming if they didn`t turn their ways and hearkened to Him. If they repented and surrendered to the Lord, He would have saved them from the hand of the Assyrians.
13 Yet the Lordtestified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets." 14 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lordtheir God. 15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, andwent after the nations who were all around them, concerningwhom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. 16 So they left all the commandments of the Lordtheir God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. (2 Kings 17:13-18 NKJV)
What`s even more important that both Israel and Judah had the same call to repent. God didn`t forget about one side and only decided to call to repentance Judah while giving up on Israel. No, God sent prophets to both parts of the divided kingdom: north and south, and they both had a chance to repent equally, but Israel chose not to do that while Judah repented and with Hezekiah they started walking in the way of the Lord. We read that in chapters 16-17 in the book of 2 Kings, both Israel and Judah were doing the evil in the sight of the Lord.
Israel didn`t walk in the ways of the Lord:
17 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. 2 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. (2 Kings 17:1-3 NKJV)
Judah didn`t walk in the ways of the Lord:
16 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what wasright in the sight of the Lordhis God, as his father David had done. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree (2 Kings 16:1-4 NKJV)
Both kingdoms chose to follow the false idols and they paid for that in the subsequent years because both kingdoms went into captivity under Assyrians. The big distinction in the time period as to why and when each kingdom went into captivity to Assyrians comes with decisions to follow after the Lord. This is very important for us to see, realize, and take a note for our lives.
We see that Judah`s king Ahaz was not following the Lord, and so was Israel. During that time Syria went out to war with Judah and Ahaz decided to ask Assyrians (interestingly enough) to come out and help defeat Syrians. We read in chapter 2 Kings 16:7-20that Assyrian king came out and helped to defeat Syrians, and Ahas in return copied the altar of the false god that Assyrian king was worshiping and brought that design with him back home, so he could worship the same false god. During that time both king of Judah and Assyrian king were friends, and they had no conflict because they both were worshiping the false gods; nobody took a stand for God. Tolerance and compromise doesn`t bring war; it is the truth of the Lord that brings division.
This is one of the most important revelations that God confirmed for me when He asked me to take a stand for His truth and make a choice whether to crucify Jesus in my heart or to suffer with Him. The only time when confrontation enters our lives is when we refuse to compromise with lies of this world, and until then we are fine just like Ahaz had no confrontation with the Assyrian king. The time when the war began between the Assyrians and Judah was when Ahaz`s son Hezekiah chose to follow the Lord, and he took a stand for His ways by destroying the "high places", Nehushtan, rebelled against serving Assyrian king, etc. This is when Assyrian king sent his people and questioned Hezekiah`s trust in the Lord.
How many times do we face struggles and confrontation once we take a stand for the Lord? It never happens when we live in compromise because we don`t represent any threat to Satan; the only time when we become a threat to Satan is when we surrender to God. This is when we start seeing our "normal" world collapse in one way or another. My world collapsed when I took a stand not to go captive back to the same slavery to sin. I`ve had it- living a life for the lusts of my flesh. I choose to live for the Lord.
Again, we must realize that we always get this choice in life and God repeatedly comes back and asks to hearken to Him, but when we make the wrong choices, consequences of judgment follow. I had to be like Hezekiah: rebel, repent, pay out, and trust in the Lord to deliver me out of the hands of my enemies.
Do you have circumstances where you must choose: if you would crucify Jesus in your heart or suffer with Him? If you do, then I urge you to make the right choice and choose Jesus because He is faithful to deliver us out of the worst circumstances. If you will choose to crucify Him and will choose to live for yourself, you choose judgment of the Lord, which will follow at some point in your life, just like it happened with Judah the Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus), and Israelites mentioned above.
When Jesus came, He brought a clear division where people had to choose whether they would be for Him or against Him. There was no other option, and nothing changed since then. At some point in our life we always come to the stop where we have to choose whether we would crucify Jesus with our ignorance, tolerance, compromise with sin, or whether we would suffer with Him- enduring persecution, like I do now, or losing everything you have, like I did, or surrendering the dearest treasures in your life (family, kids, career, financial wellbeing, etc.), like I did.
We always have a choice, and I urge you to choose life; life with God is a lot more abundant than what we can create it ourselves because His ways are higher than ours. I am facing Red sea going for my final hearing in October, but I trust that God is faithful and mighty enough to part it in front of me to let me walk on dry land with full victory to bring all the glory to Him just like He did with Israelites when bringing them out of Egypt.
Hezekiah prayed to God to deliver him out of the hand of Assyrians, and God was faithful to do that. God answered his prayer through the prophet Isaiah, and he said in 2 Kings 19:14-34 (NKJV):
32 "Therefore thus says the Lord
concerning the king of Assyria: 'He shall not come into
this city, Nor shoot an arrow there, Nor come before it with
shield, Nor build a siege mound against it. 33 By the
way that he came,By the same shall he return; And he shall not
come into this city,'
Says the Lord. 34 'For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'"
God would not be mocked, and He knows those who live for Him by their names; Jesus knows His sheep and they know Him. If you face the impossible circumstances today like I do, I urge you to surrender to God completely, even if it means you take a stand and sacrifice the comfort zone that you have right now.
Jesus said in John 14:6-7 (NKJV):
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."
Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV) also writes:
13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a]narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Choose Jesus, and you will choose life. You will not regret it. I wake up every morning, and I realize that my life is in God`s hands. This is not just a futile promise, but the most realizable assurance I can have from the Lord- He is my Shepherd; He is my Shelter, He is my way. If you are at the fork in your life and thinking about compromising, I urge you to choose Jesus even if the price seems too steep to pay. God will return all that to you and even more like He did with Job, with Joseph, with Abraham, with Ruth, with Esther, with Daniel and his friends, and the list goes on and on.
Remember that trials and hardships would not put you under God`s protection if you will be like king Ahaz who chose to rely on Assyrian king for help in his war with Syria rather than repenting and trusting in the Lord like Hezekiah did. You will see confrontation only when you take a stand for the Lord, and at times it would seem like it`s not worth going through with it. During those days, know that Satan will sow doubts, but God is mighty and faithful to strengthen you. You only need to keep your focus on Jesus and have your motivations in the right place; check them against the scripture and pray for the Lord to show you what else you need to change in your heart to get victory like Hezekiah did. God will show you and will bless you abundantly for your willingness to do more for Him.