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Wednesday, March 08, 2023

2023.03.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 18:9–19:7

Read 2 Kings 18:9–19:7

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year who comes up against Samaria in the north (2 Kings 18:9)? How long does it take them to take it (2 Kings 18:10)? What does the king of Assyria do to Israel (2 Kings 18:11)? Why had this happened (2 Kings 18:12)—what didn’t they do? But what did they do instead? What wouldn’t they do? Who comes eight years later, against whom (2 Kings 18:13)? How does Hezekiah respond (2 Kings 18:14)? Before whom does he repent, asking how to atone? What does the king of Assyria answer? Where does Hezekiah get the silver (2 Kings 18:15)? Where does he get the gold (2 Kings 18:16)? How well does this work—now what does the king of Assyria send (2 Kings 18:17) with whom? And who come out to meet them in 2 Kings 18:18? What hope does the Rabshakeh attack in 2 Kings 18:19-20? What hope does he attack in 2 Kings 18:21? But then what hope does he attack in 2 Kings 18:22? What does he urge Israel to do now in 2 Kings 18:23? In what circumstances does he mock them that they still wouldn’t be able to win (2 Kings 18:23-24)? Whom does he now claim to have on his side (2 Kings 18:25)? What request do Eliakim, Shebna and Joah make in 2 Kings 18:26? But why does the Rabshakeh say he should speak a language that all understand (2 Kings 18:27)? How does he begin addressing them all (2 Kings 18:28-29)? What does he then tell them not to let Hezekiah make them do (2 Kings 18:30)? What strategy does he counsel them to follow (2 Kings 18:31, cf. 2 Kings 18:14-16)? What does he say Assyria will do for them if they do this (2 Kings 18:31-32)? What does he tell them not to be persuaded by Hezekiah? Whom does he suggest are similar to Yahweh (2 Kings 18:33-35)? What did the people do (2 Kings 18:36)? Why? Now what do Hezekiah’s envoys do (2 Kings 18:37)? What have they done with their clothes? How does Hezekiah respond (2 Kings 19:1)? Now to whom does he send the envoys (2 Kings 19:2)? For whom do they speak (2 Kings 19:3)? What three things does he say about this day? How does he describe the weakness of the situation? What is Hezekiah’s hope (2 Kings 19:4)—who has Assyria reproached. And Whom does Hezekiah hope has heard it that way? And how does he hope Yahweh will respond? So, what does the king ask Isaiah to do? How does 2 Kings 19:5 summarize the entire presentation to the prophet (verse 5)? What does Isaiah say on behalf of Yahweh (2 Kings 19:6)? What does he tell him not to do with the words which he heard? Whom does Yahweh say they have blasphemed? What will Yahweh do to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 19:7)? What will the king hear? Where will he go? What will happen there?

What hope do backsliders have? 2 Kings 18:9–19:7 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty-six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that while believers may fail in much, their hope is that God has invested the glory of His Name in granting them repentance and saving them. 

The sin that endangers us2 Kings 18:9-12. Verses 9–12 recap the fall of the northern kingdom. We had heard about it at length in chapter 17, but in this passage it serves as a reminder of the real reason they were exiled: “because they did not obey the voice of Yahweh their God, but transgressed His commandment” (2 Kings 18:12).  Assyria is not the problem; it is an instrument by which the problem is addressed. 

The false hopes to which sinners look2 Kings 18:13-16. This is important because, despite Hezekiah’s overall godliness (as summarized in 2 Kings 18:1-8), in a moment of weakness he treats Assyria not only as the problem but as the solution (2 Kings 18:14). Rather than repent to Yahweh and ask Him for help, he repents to Assyria and asks Assyria for help! Even worse, he empties Yahweh’s temple of silver (2 Kings 18:15) and strips its doors and pillars of gold (2 Kings 18:16)—pillars that he himself had just overlaid. How quickly a little backsliding can undo the work of our repentance! 

After Israel is destroyed for transgressing the covenant, Judah fails to trust in Yahweh. Hezekiah trusts in Sennacherib instead, impoverishing and humiliating the temple in order to appeal to Assyria for mercy. 

The failing of false hopes2 Kings 18:17-27. Well, to indicate just how much of a fool’s errand it is to look to Assyria for mercy, the very next verse records the threat on Jerusalem itself. Initially, Sennacherib’s lackeys mock other confidence in which they trust (2 Kings 18:19): their own plans (2 Kings 18:202 Kings 18:23) or an alliance with Egypt (2 Kings 18:212 Kings 18:24). 

The reason all competitors must fail: they set themselves up against Yahweh2 Kings 18:28-37. The Rabshakeh implies not only that Yahweh won’t help them because of Hezekiah’s reformation to purity of worship (2 Kings 18:22), but that Yahweh can’t help them (2 Kings 18:30b, 2 Kings 18:32b), because He is no better than gods that Assyria has already defeated (2 Kings 18:33-34). 

Here is Assyria’s fatal mistake. They were so desirous of repeating the bribe/tribute from before (2 Kings 18:31) that they thought little of mocking Yahweh. Ultimately, any hope that is not dependent upon Yahweh and submitted to Him is in competition with Him and therefore despises Him.

The one hope that we have: looking to Yahweh in Word and prayer2 Kings 19:1-5. So Hezekiah sends to Isaiah, asking for prayer (end of 2 Kings 19:4)—specifically prayer that Yahweh would hear and rebuke those words. Hezekiah had sinned by not honoring God’s Name, but in his repentance he could hope that God would honor His own Name when His people and His Name were attacked.

The certainty of hope in Yahweh2 Kings 19:6-7. Unlike previously with Assyria, this hope was indeed well placed. Yahweh replies through His prophet that He will respond to the blasphemy (2 Kings 19:6), and send Sennacherib back to Assyria to die (2 Kings 19:7).

We too misplace our trust in other things. We spend money and time and effort and care on those things that we think will bring security and comfort and pleasure and purpose. May God grant unto us repentance. Hope in Him is well placed, for He has determined from all eternity to save sinners for the honor of His Name. 

What competes with the Lord for your purpose? For your pleasure? For your comfort? For your security? How can you see this in the competition for the use of your time, money, efforts, and care? What hope can there be for people who have treated Him as of such little worth and trust?

Sample prayer: Lord, like Hezekiah, we have often backslidden and neglected Your worship to put our time and money into lesser hopes. But You have mercifully invested the honor of Your Name in saving us. We ask, through Christ, that You would forgive us and grant unto us repentance to love and honor Your Name more. And, out of Your own love for Your Name, save Your people upon whom You have set Your glorious Name, we ask in Jesus’s glorious Name, AMEN!

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