Hezekiah's Tunnel

A Sad End to a Good Life

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So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?” Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah— all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city— are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Hezekiah rested with his fathers. Then Manasseh his son reigned in his place. (2 Kings 20:19-21)

Through the prophet Isaiah, God warned King Hezekiah that judgment was coming upon his descendants. Hezekiah had a strange reaction, saying the word of the LORD which you have spoken is good. This was a sad state of heart in the king of Judah. God announced coming judgment, and all he could respond with was relief that it would not happen in his lifetime.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

In this, Hezekiah showed himself to be almost the exact opposite of an “others-centered” person. He was almost totally self-centered. All he cared about was his own personal comfort and success. Hezekiah didn’t care if His sins helped to bring judgment upon his descendants, just so long as it spared him.

Yet, these verses also tell us of something good Hezekiah did. He made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city of Jerusalem. This was an amazing engineering feat. Hezekiah directed the building of an aqueduct to bring fresh water inside the city walls even when an army surrounded the city. It was more than 650 yards long (643 meters) through solid rock, begun on each end and meeting in the middle. It can still be seen today, and it empties into the pool of Siloam. If you have never walked through Hezekiah’s tunnel, it’s a lot of fun – just remember you’ll walk through the water that still flows in the tunnel and it’s really dark.

At the end of it all, Hezekiah rested with his fathers. There is no doubt that Hezekiah started out as a godly king, and overall his reign was one of outstanding godliness (2 Kings 18:3-7). Yet his beginning was much better than his end; Hezekiah did not finish well. God gave Hezekiah the gift of 15 more years of life, but the added years did not make him a better or a godlier man.

Time or age doesn’t necessarily make us any better. Consider that time does nothing but pass by, hour by hour and day by day.

We sometimes say, “Time will tell,” “Time will heal,” or “Time will bring out the potential in me.” But time won’t do any of these things. Time will only come and go. It is only how we use time that matters. Hezekiah didn’t make good use of the extra time the Lord gave him. God helping us, in Jesus we can make better choices, and finish strong in our latter years.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 20

trap of success

The Trap of Success

Special Note: During this season of the Coronavirus, I’m doing a special daily devotional on YouTube. Click here for today’s video devotional.

At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures— the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory— all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. (2 Kings 20:12-13)

God was so good to King Hezekiah that he gave him 15 years more of life. But it was up to Hezekiah if those years would be lived out in wisdom, and to the glory of God. This was a challenge that Hezekiah did not meet very well.

trap of success

After his recovery, the king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. Apparently, this was a gesture of kindness from the king of Babylon, showing concern to Hezekiah as fellow royalty.

Hezekiah was pleased with these gifts. We can imagine that this was flattering for King Hezekiah. After all, Judah was a lowly nation with little power, and Babylon was a junior superpower. To receive attention and recognition from the king of Babylon must have really made Hezekiah feel he was important.

So, Hezekiah showed them the house of his treasures. Hezekiah probably wanted to please these envoys from Babylon and wanted to show them that they should be impressed. So, he did everything he could to impress them, and showed them the very best riches of the royal household – and he showed them everything (There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them).

As the coming rebuke from Isaiah will demonstrate, this was nothing but proud foolishness on Hezekiah’s part. He was in the dangerous place of wanting to please and impress men, especially ungodly men.

Hezekiah faced – and failed under – a temptation common to many, especially those in ministry: the temptation of success. Many men who stand strong against the temptations of failure and weakness fail under the temptations of success and strength.

We might say success led Hezekiah to sin in at least five ways:

Pride, in that he was proud of the honors the Babylonians brought.
Ingratitude, in that he took honor to himself that really belonged to God.
– Abusing the gifts given to him, where he took the gifts and favors to his own honor and gratification of his lusts (2 Chronicles 32:25-26).
Carnal confidence, in that he trusted in the coalition he had made with the king of Babylon.
Missing opportunity, in that he had a great opportunity to testify to the Babylonian envoys about the greatness of God and the LORD’s blessing on Judah. Instead, he glorified himself.

As God gives you success, be grateful – but also be careful. Watch out for the trap of success.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 20

the wrong way sundial

The Wrong-Way Sundial

Special Note: During this season of the Coronavirus, I’m doing a special daily devotional on YouTube. Click here for today’s video devotional.

And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD the third day?” 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)

2 Kings 20 begins with Hezekiah, king of Judah, as sick with a serious illness. Then Isaiah the prophet brought him a startling announcement: God told King Hezekiah that he would soon die, and he needed to set his house in order. Hezekiah prayed, begging God to spare his life.

the wrong way sundial

God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, and told him he would have fifteen more years to live. Yet for some reason, the king wanted more than a word from the prophet. He asked for a miraculous sign, and he asked, what is the sign that the LORD will heal me?

God showed even more mercy to Hezekiah. God was under no obligation to give this sign. In fact, God would have been justified in saying, “I said it and you believe it. How dare you not take My word as true?” But in real love, God gave Hezekiah more than he needed or deserved.

God shows the same mercy to us. It should be enough for God to simply say to us, “I love you.” But God did so much to demonstrate His love to us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

Curiously, God promised to do something completely miraculous for the confirming sign. He promised to make the shadow on the sundial move backward instead of forward. This sign fit perfectly for Hezekiah.

By having the shadow of the sundial move backward, it gave more time in a day – just as God gave Hezekiah more time. We don’t know how God did this miracle, but He did. Just like a clockmaker can turn back the hands of a clock he makes, so God turned back time – or the appearance of time – for Hezekiah. He had 15 more years.

No matter how the miracle happened, 2 Chronicles 32:25 tells us that Hezekiah did not respond rightly to this gift of healing: But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.

Has God given you more time? Don’t be proud; be humble and honor God. God has shown us so much favor in Jesus Christ! May we always respond to God’s gifts with humility, and never with a heart lifted up in pride.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 20

empty tomb

Firstfruits of the Resurrection

Special Note: During this season of the Coronavirus, I’m doing a special daily devotional on YouTube.
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But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explained the truth of the resurrection, starting with Jesus. He then explained how the resurrection of Jesus directly connects to us – that Jesus has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

empty tomb

Firstfruits translates the ancient Greek word aparche. In connection with the Old Testament, this word was used for the sacrificial offering of firstfruits. In daily life it was also used for an entrance fee.

Jesus was the firstfruits of our resurrection in both ways. In the Old Testament, the offering of firstfruits brought one bundle of grain to represent and to anticipate the entire of the harvest (Leviticus 23:9-14). The resurrection of Jesus represents our resurrection, because if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5). The resurrection of Jesus anticipates our resurrection, because we will be raised with a body like His.

The resurrection of Jesus is also the firstfruits of our resurrection in the sense that He is our “entrance fee” to resurrection. Jesus paid our admission to the resurrection!

Paul continued, “By man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.” The idea is that Adam (by man) is one “head” of the human race, and all mankind was brought under death by Adam. The second Adam, Jesus Christ (by Man) is the other head of the human race, and Jesus brings resurrection to all that are “under” His headship.

It all happens, “Each one in his own order.” It would be strange, and inappropriate, for us to receive resurrection before Jesus. So, He receives resurrection first as the firstfruits, and then we receive it “afterward . . . at His coming.”

Jesus is the firstfruits of our resurrection; yet He was not the first one raised from the dead. We read of the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44) and Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12), among others. Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected. Each of them was raised in the same body they died in and they eventually died again.

Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body. The new body is based on our old body, but is perfectly suited for life in eternity. Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.

When we trust in Jesus, His resurrection becomes the promise of our own.

Click here for David’s commentary on 1 Corinthians 15

for God's own sake

For God’s Own Sake

Special Note: During this season of the Coronavirus, I’m doing a special daily devotional on YouTube.
Click here for today’s video devotional.

“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.
By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the LORD.
‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”
(2 Kings 19:32-34)

After all the threats from the enemy and prayers to the LORD, God finally brought His answer to King Hezekiah. Through the prophet Isaiah, God assured the king: He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there… for I will defend this city, to save it. With this word, God plainly and clearly drew a line. Although the Assyrian military machine was ready to begin a siege against Jerusalem and ultimately crush them, they would not. The king of Assyria would not come into this city because God promised to defend it.

for God's own sake

It is hard for modern people to understand the horror of an ancient siege, when a city was surrounded by a hostile army and trapped into a slow, suffering starvation. King Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem lived under the shadow of this threat, but God’s promise through Isaiah assured them that Sennacherib and the Assyrian army would not only fail to capture the city but would not even shoot an arrow or build a siege mound against Jerusalem. God promised that they wouldn’t even begin a siege.

Why? Why would God defend Jerusalem in such an amazing way? God said He would do it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake. God would defend His own glory. Often, we unnecessarily think that we must defend the glory of the LORD. But that isn’t really the case. God is more than able to defend His own glory.

Yet notice that God also did it for My servant David’s sake. King David had died almost 300 years before this, but God still honored His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-17). God defended Jerusalem, not for the city’s sake at all – Jerusalem deserved judgment! But He did it for His own sake and for the David’s sake.

This principle applies to everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. In the same way, God the Father defends and blesses us, not for our own sake – we deserve His judgment – but He does it for His own sake, and for the sake of Jesus. We don’t have to come to God on the basis of what we have earned or what we deserve. Instead, in Jesus Christ, we come to God on the basis of who Jesus is and what He has done.

The Father will save and rescue the believer – for His own sake, and for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Son of David.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 19

because you prayed

Because You Prayed

Special Note: During this season of the Coronavirus, I’m doing a special daily devotional on YouTube.
Click here for today’s video devotional.

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’ This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning him:

‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;
The daughter of Jerusalem
Has shaken her head behind your back!
(2 Kings 19:20-21)

A mighty army surrounded Jerusalem, and the Kingdom of Judah was a small step from total defeat. The enemy of Israel – the general of the Assyrian army – has spoken, speaking against God and His people. The king of Israel – Hezekiah – has spoken, pouring out his heart to God in prayer.

because you prayed

Now, it was time for God to speak. The LORD spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah, beginning with these important words: Because you have prayed to Me. God had a glorious answer to Hezekiah’s prayer, but God said that the answer came because you have prayed to Me.

So, imagine for a moment: What if Hezekiah had not prayed? We are then to assume that no answer would have come, and Jerusalem would have been conquered. Think about it: the course of history was changed because God answered the prayers of one man. Hezekiah’s prayer really mattered.

Please understand: your prayers matter. I can’t tell you exactly how our prayers and God’s eternal plan mesh together. There is definite, glorious mystery at work there. But I can tell you this: prayer is much more than a self-improvement exercise. It is true that prayer does make me a better person; but it also moves the hand of God.

Prayer will never make God do something against His will and purpose, but there are things within the plan and purpose of God that He deliberately withholds until His people start praying.

We should ask: How many blessings, how many victories, how many souls saved for Jesus’ glory, lie unclaimed in heaven until the LORD can say to each one of us, “because you have prayed to Me”?

The deliverance would be so complete and wonderful for Jerusalem that God said to the Assyrians, the virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn. The idea was that the Assyrians had come to ravish the daughter of Zion, the city of Jerusalem, but God would not allow it.

Instead of being a frightened victim of the Assyrians, the people of Jerusalem would despise the mighty Assyrians and would end up laughing them to scorn. God would give Judah and Jerusalem such a complete victory that God’s people would shake their head at the Assyrians. This all happened because God answered the prayers of one man.

No one can say why some prayers seem to be answered soon and why some take so long. Yet we know this: God wants us to know that our prayers matter – and that He will do great things because you have prayed.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 19

praying to the God you know

Praying to the God You Know

Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see…. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.” (2 Kings 19:15-19)

Hezekiah, King of Judah, was faced with the worst crisis of his reign. The mighty Assyrian army had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and many others and was now circled outside the walls of Jerusalem.

Yet in his response, Hezekiah spoke to God in the manner of a true believer, in the way someone who really knows God prays. Look at the many ways Hezekiah referred to God in this prayer.

praying to the God you know

God of Israel: This title for God reminded Hezekiah – and the LORD also, in our human way of understanding – that the LORD God was the covenant God of Israel, and that He should not forsake His people.

The One who dwells between the cherubim: Hezekiah saw the great heavenly majesty of God. Surely, the One who dwells between the cherubim would never allow the blasphemies of the Assyrians to go unpunished.

You are God, You alone: God is a simple title for our LORD, but perhaps the most powerful. If He is God, then what can He not do? If He is God, then what is beyond His control? Hezekiah realized the fundamental fact of all theology: God is God, and we are not! God is God, and the Assyrians were not!

You who made heaven and earth: In recognizing the LORD God as Creator, Hezekiah saw that the LORD had all power and all rights over every created thing. We can almost feel Hezekiah’s faith rising as he prayed this!

Remember that Hezekiah had the scrolls of Scripture existing at that time, and the word of the LORD through Isaiah the prophet and others. It was through this word that Hezekiah really knew who God was, and was able to call upon the God he knew in a time of crisis. It is important for us to know God and understand Him through the Bible, so that when crisis comes we really know the God we cry out to. It made a difference for Hezekiah and it will make a difference for us.

At the end of it all, Hezekiah’s prayer was gloriously answered. In a turning point of history, the armies of Assyria surrounding Jerusalem were almost completely destroyed in one night by an angel from God. Hezekiah’s prayer was answered, and it was largely answered because he knew who God was, and it was seen in the way he spoke to God in his prayer.

How well do you know Him?

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 18

step too far

One Step Too Far

But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?…. 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 18:32-33, 35)

The enemy who spoke these words was the general of the Assyrian army. That army had recently conquered the kingdom of the ten northern tribes of Israel, as well as several other surrounding kingdoms. That army had taken every other significant city of the kingdom of Judah – only Jerusalem remained.

step too far

Jerusalem had not fallen yet, but it was surrounded by this mighty army, and it didn’t look like it would last long. This Assyrian general (called “the Rabshakeh”) shouted to the people of Jerusalem these words. He wanted to glorify the Assyrian king, his master. But he also wanted the people of God to doubt their king, so he said, do not listen to Hezekiah. He hoped the common people of Jerusalem would overthrow their king, who still resisted the Assyrians.

This pagan general wanted to do everything he could to get the people of God to lose their faith in the LORD and to fill them with fear. The Rabshakeh wanted to make the people of God so afraid that surrender would seem like a better option. He said that if they would only surrender, the Assyrian king would treat them well.

All of what the Rabshakeh said up to that point was persuasive. It would seem that the leaders and people of Jerusalem were about ready to give up. But that Assyrian general would not stop – he went on to speak directly against the God of Israel.

This is what he said: Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? The Rabshakeh’s speech was intended to destroy their trust in God. His message was simple, and brilliant in its Satanic logic: “The gods of other nations have not been able to protect them against us. Your God is just like one of them and can’t protect you either.”

For anyone who had the spiritual understanding to see it, the people of Jerusalem could have started planning the victory party right then.

It was one thing to speak against Judah, against its people and leaders. It was another thing altogether to mock the LORD God of Israel and to count the LORD as just another god.

Typical of the work of the enemy of our souls, the Rabshakeh was going well until he simply overstepped his bounds. There was no way God would excuse this one. He had offended the LORD God in a way he would soon regret.

When God’s honor is on the line, victory is assured. Trust in the LORD and rest in that today!

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 18

City Walls

Two Lies and a Half-Truth

Have I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’” (2 Kings 18:25)

The general of the armies of Assyria had the title, “The Rabshakeh.” The Assyrians brought their armies against Syria and Israel, and they completely conquered them. Now, that army surrounded the city walls of Jerusalem, the only unconquered city of any importance in the kingdom of Judah.

City Walls

The Rabshakeh spoke boastful words: Have I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? This enemy of God was bold enough to say that the God of Israel actually helped him to come against this land to destroy it. The Rabshakeh wanted the leaders of Judah and King Hezekiah to think that God was on his side.

It would have been easy for King Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem to believe this lie. After all, the Assyrians was wildly successful? Surely, God must be on their side. Didn’t the Assyrians have the most powerful army? Surely, God must be on their side.

That was a convincing lie. But the Rabshakeh had an even more persuasive deception. He told Hezekiah and the leaders of Jerusalem this: The LORD said to me, “Go up against this land, and destroy it.” This was the finishing strike of a brilliant attack. The Rabshakeh basically said, “Hezekiah, God told me to destroy you. I’m just doing His will, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, so you may as well surrender.”

Significantly, we can say that the Rabshakeh was partially correct! God was with him, and his attack on Judah did fulfil God’s prophesied plan. In conquering Syria, in conquering Israel, and in bringing Judah to the brink, the Assyrians did the will of God. God prophesied that all this would happen, and it is recorded in Isaiah 8:3-4, 7:16-17 and many other passages in Isaiah. The LORD did in fact raise up the Assyrian army to carry out His will and to allowed it to happen so His judgements would be carried out and His prophesied plan would be fulfilled.

However, we should never think that God tempted an innocent man with an evil plan. In fact, even though God predicted and planned this invasion of the Assyrians, the Rabshakeh was indeed lying when he said, “The LORD said to me.” The king of Assyria and the generals under his command did to seek the will of God or care about it.

God did not have to do anything special to direct the bloodthirsty, conquest-hungry Assyrians to attack. He simply allowed them to carry out the corrupt desires of their evil hearts. Therefore, the Assyrians could neverexcuse themselves by saying, “We were doing the LORD’s will,” even as Judas could never legitimately make that excuse regarding his wicked betrayal of Jesus.

God’s great plan never makes us less responsible for our actions.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 18

Don't Give Up

Don’t Give Up

Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses—if you are able on your part to put riders on them! (2 Kings 18:23)

The armies of Assyria crushed the northern neighbor of Judah, and the cruelly carried away the ten northern tribes of Israel. Now those soldiers surrounded the city of Jerusalem, after having conquered virtually everything else in Judah.

Don't Give Up

The general commanding the armies of Assyria – who had the title “The Rabshakeh” – gave a long, public speech in the hearing of Hezekiah, the king of Judah. The Assyrian general told Hezekiah that Judah was already defeated, Jerusalem was surrounded, and there was no hope and no point in resisting any longer.

Judah had trusted in a partnership with Egypt – the Rabshakeh told Hezekiah that it would fail. Perhaps some in Judah thought that Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, would rescue them – but the Rabshakeh told them there was no use in trusting God. He even said that God was mad at them and would never defend them! The Rabshakeh offered to give Hezekiah two thousand horses – but even that wouldn’t help them. He also said that he was actually on a mission from God to conquer Judah.

This was hard for King Hezekiah to hear. But in the words give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, we see the plan of the Assyrian general. The Rabshakeh’s whole strategy was to make Hezekiah give up. This was the entire reason the Rabshakeh was at the aqueduct, speaking to these leaders of Hezekiah’s government.

The Rabshakeh had vastly superior armies; he could have just attacked Jerusalem without this little speech. But the Rabshakeh would prefer it if Judah would simply give up, to surrender out of fear, discouragement, or despair.

The enemy of our soul uses the exact same approach. Many of us picture Satan as “itching for a fight” with us. Truthfully, Satan doesn’t want to do battle with you. First, there is the strong chance you will win. Second, whether you win or lose, the battle can draw you closer to Jesus. Third, what Jesus does in your life through the battle can be a great blessing for other people. No, Satan would much rather not fight you at all! He would much rather try to talk you into giving up.

We see this exact strategy used against Jesus during His temptation in the wilderness. When Satan promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for Jesus’ worship, Satan was trying to avoid the fight, and trying to talk Jesus into giving up (Luke 4:5-8). It didn’t work with Jesus, and it shouldn’t work with us.

Think of the deceptive words and lies Satan whispers – or shouts – to you. They all have one purpose. Satan wants you, the child of God, to give up. God helping you, stand against him and his lies in the name of Jesus!

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 18