The Sin of Hezekiah
With a few exceptions, the record of the kings of Israel and Judah is a biblical Who’s Who of powerful evil. One of those refreshing exceptions is King Hezekiah. He knew his place, obeyed God, and showed humility before Him. Unlike the kings who preceded him, he displayed a passionate hatred of idolatry. 2 Kings 18:5-6 eulogizes, “Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him.” (NIV).
Despite all that counts in his favor, there are at least two blemishes on Hezekiah’s legacy. One was a profoundly foolish decision; the other was an appallingly sinful attitude. Both are recorded in 2 Kings, chapter 20.
All eyes were on Assyria. Judah’s brothers to the north had recently fallen to King Shalmaneser. Though God had just delivered Judah from the Assyrians, their brutal campaigns and continued world dominance offered cover for a quietly rising power in the east. Word had reached Babylon that King Hezekiah had fallen ill. In an apparent goodwill gesture, the king of Babylon sent emissaries with gifts. By the time they arrived, God had healed Hezekiah, who was feeling well enough to give them the grand tour, foolishly showing off all the treasures of the palace. Unbeknownst to Hezekiah, they took mental inventory before returning to Babylon.
Enter Isaiah the prophet. He rebuked Hezekiah’s indiscretion, saying, “Hear the word of the LORD: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. . . And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Instead of the desperate weeping and calling out to God for which Hezekiah was known in times of crisis (e.g., 2 Ki 19:14-19; 20:2-3), he replied, “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good.” Good?! How could Hezekiah have uttered such a thing? His motives are revealed in verse 19: “For he thought, ‘Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?'”
The sin of Hezekiah lives on. It is true to say our nation is in peril partly because many a 50, 60, and 70-year-old, when alerted to impending cultural disaster, thought in their hearts, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” They had sought their own welfare but abandoned those not yet born. They pretended not to notice as the scriptures came under assault in society, in churches, in schools, and in seminaries. As our nation amassed trillions in debt, they thought not of their grandchildren. As morals eroded, they spoke nothing and risked nothing to preserve the stability won for them by generations past. They did not weep and call out to God. They golfed. They shopped. They danced.
The sin of Hezekiah isn’t characteristic merely of those who squander their retirements on the golf course or the beach. Guilty is any Christian of any age who suspects looming disaster but neglects to intervene because he predicts the calamity will not affect him personally.
The Babylonians have visited. They’ve taken inventory. Despite how Christians tend to dress up the sin of apathy with spiritual euphemisms and offer themselves false assurances that God doesn’t care about culture, it remains a grievous sin to be selfishly unconcerned for the future. Do something now and cry out to God lest your own children be hauled away to serve as eunuchs in the court of Babylon.