For the last three chapters, we've seen King Hezekiah being a great king. He brought about revival in Judah, and even in some of Israel's people, by restoring the temple and having a united Passover celebration. The result was that idols and altars were torn down and destroyed.
But for the most part, Israel had rejected God. And so, it was just three years after these events...
2Kings 18:9-12 ...in the fourth year of King Hezekiah ... Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. At the end of three years they captured it; in the sixth year of Hezekiah ... Samaria was captured. Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and put them in Khal-AKH and on the Khaw-BORE, the river of Go-ZAWN, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded; they would neither listen nor do it.
This was called the Assyrian Captivity, when the northern kingdom of Israel was carried away captive, never to return.
As we pick up in chapter 32 of 2Chronicles now, it is eight years later, and the Assyrians have a new king.
The king of the Assyrian Empire at this time is Sennacherib. Coming down from the north and east, Sennacherib is determined to invade the southern kingdom of Judah, as he had the northern kingdom of Israel.
What prompted this? Because King Hezekiah had had enough. His dad, King Ahaz had been paying protection money to the Assyrians, although it hadn't helped much (2Chron. 28:20-21). Hezekiah refused to live in fear any longer. And so we read,
2Kings 18:7 ...the LORD was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
Hezekiah took a stand on righteousness. He would not live in subjection to pagans, or give in to the intimidation of threats.
The Ghee-KHONE Spring was Jerusalem's main water source, but it was outside of the city walls. Hezekiah knew that when the Assyrians laid siege to Jerusalem, the location of the spring would be disastrous - it would provide the besieging Assyrian army with water, while cutting off most of the water supply for those within Jerusalem's walls.
And so Hezekiah had his people build an underground tunnel from the Ghee-KHONE Spring towards the west.
Interestingly, in 1838 archaeologist Edward Robinson discovered this tunnel. It is about 1/3 of a mile long, running from the Ghee-KHONE Spring to the Pool of Siloam. You can walk through the tunnel today, though it's a bit claustrophobic, at five or six feet high, and just three feet wide.
So, when you read about Jesus telling the man He had healed,
John 9:7 ..."Go, wash in the pool of Siloam"...
... you can remember that it was King Hezekiah who...
2Kings 20:20 ...made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city...
Once the water was flowing into the pool of Siloam, then the Ghee-KHONE Spring was sealed to conceal it from the Assyrians.
In preparation for the Assyrian's attack, King Hezekiah also upgraded the wall around Jerusalem with towers and another wall. They also prepared themselves by manufacturing weapons and shields.
King Hezekiah had the people gather in the city square and told them not to be afraid. Yes, the Assyrians had a large army, but they had gotten right with God, and God outnumbers any army on earth.
He said that with the Assyrian king was only an arm of flesh. That is important for us to remember at all times - our enemies are limited, but our God is unlimited.
When Hezekiah told them this, they relied on his words. That word "relied" in Hebrew ("saw-MAK") means "to lean upon, to brace yourself with." Hezekiah's encouragement in the Lord was a crutch that they needed.
We need to stop feeling defensive when the world says, "Oh, your religion is just a crutch. That Jesus stuff is just a big crutch!" If they mean that I can't walk through this life without being supported by Jesus and His Word, then they are absolutely right! This is my crutch!
Sennacherib is besieging the city of Law-KEESH, about 27 miles southwest of Jerusalem. He sends three of his officials with a large army (2Kings 18:17) to Jerusalem to discourage the people, to make them abandon their city in fear.
They had been instructed to say that of all the peoples that the Assyrians had conquered, none of their gods had been able to deliver them. They said that King Hezekiah has rid Jerusalem of every god but One. They said that even that God couldn't be too happy with them, because Hezekiah had removed every altar and high place made for that God, except for the one in the temple (2Kings 18:22). So how could they possibly think that they would survive the upcoming siege?
Now, as we read the book of 2Kings, we find that there is a much more detailed account of this event in 2Kings 18:17-19:37. And one of the big things that we discover there, which the Chronicler has greatly condensed, is the role of Isaiah the prophet.
Isaiah's response to this message was
2Kings 19:6 ..."Thus says the LORD, 'Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.'"
This caused Hezekiah to go before the Lord in the temple and pray.
2Kings 19:19-20 "Now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God." Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.'
Isaiah went on to prophesy, which culminated with the statement against Sennacherib,
2Kings 19:28 "Because of your raging against Me, and because your arrogance has come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose, and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came."
These events are also recorded in great detail in Isaiah chapters 36 and 37.
That night, the Lord sent an angel who killed 185,000 of the Assyrian army (Isa. 37:36). Early the next morning, when the rest of the army woke up, they were amazed to find tens of thousands of their own men dead. It was enough to make Sennacherib go back home in shame.
The Bible tells us that after he returned home to Nineveh,
Is. 37:38 It came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nis-ROKE his god, that Ad-ram-MEH-lek and Shar-EH-tser his sons killed him with the sword...
King Hezekiah had made a stand, and refused to walk in fear of the enemy. No more accommodating unrighteousness, no more living in fear. Initially, it had brought about even more trouble, and had given him more reason to be afraid. But he knew he had done the right thing and depended on God for deliverance.
I wonder how many of us have allowed unrighteousness to continue, because we were afraid of the conflict it would bring about? The Bible tells us,
Prov. 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
I believe that today, the Lord desires that we confront our fears, and make a stand for righteousness, trusting Him for protection and deliverance in the battle that results.
The end result of Hezekiah's stand was that the Lord saved him, "and guided them on every side."