2 Chronicles 29-32: Hezekiah
We are continuing our study of a section I have titled in the worksheets ‘Three Contrasting Kings.’ We are looking at kings that are the polar opposites of the kings they followed. Last week, we studied the first two of these kings.
Three contrasting kings ()
Jotham’s obedience (27:1–9) Jotham’s contrast with his father (27:1–2) Jotham’s continuity with his father (27:3–6) Jotham rests with his fathers (27:7–9) Ahaz’ unfaithfulness (28:1–27) Ahaz’ apostasy (28:1–4) Massacre and mercy (28:5–15) False help (28:16–21) Ahaz’ further apostasy (28:22–25) Ahaz’ burial (28:26–27)
Jotham - GOOD (27:1–9)
Jotham was a good king who was consistent. 27:6 tells us this about him: “6 So Jotham strengthened his position because he did not waver in obeying the Lord his God.”
He was faithful to the LORD and did not attempt to go into the temple and try to burn incense like his father, Uzziah, did.
Jotham’s contrast with his father (27:1–2)
Jotham’s continuity with his father (27:3–6)
Jotham rests with his fathers (27:7–9)
Ahaz - BAD (28:1–27)
Nothing good is said about Jotham’s son Ahaz. He did not walk in the ways of David. Instead he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, like Jeroboam and Ahab. He is even compared to the Canaanites because he burned his children in the fire.
Massacre and mercy (28:5–15)
The worse his circumstances got physically, he hardened his heart more and more against the LORD. Instead of trusting in the LORD, he reached out to Assyria for help against his enemies, which ended up being unsuccessful for Ahaz because Assyria oppressed him instead of helping him.
False help (28:16–21)
The only good thing about Ahaz’s reign is that it ended - bringing his son, Hezekiah, to the throne.
Ahaz’ further apostasy (28:22–25)
Ahaz’ burial (28:26–27)
Hezekiah - GOOD (Chs 29-32)
So, beginning in ch29, things start to turn around.
Invitation to consecrate the temple (29:1–11) Renewing temple worship (29:12–36) Invitation to the Passover (30:1–12) Celebrating the Passover (30:13–31:1) Reorganizing tithes and offerings (31:2–21) God saves Judah through Hezekiah’s faith (32:1–33) Hezekiah defends (32:1–8) Sennacherib attacks (32:9–19) The Lord saves (32:20–23) Hezekiah’s successes and failures (32:24–33)
Renewing temple worship (29:12–36)
Invitation to the Passover (30:1–12)
Celebrating the Passover (30:13–31:1)
Reorganizing tithes and offerings (31:2–21)
God saves Judah through Hezekiah’s faith (32:1–33)
Hezekiah defends (32:1–8)
Sennacherib attacks (32:9–19)
The Lord saves (32:20–23)
Hezekiah’s successes and failures (32:24–33)
Consecration & Worship Restored
Hezekiah gets the third most amount of space dedicated to himself (behind David and Solomon).
Hezekiah’s reign is given inordinate attention because of the prominence he gave to temple music, worship, and priesthood. Much of the Chronicler’s account (chaps. 29–31) is not paralleled in Kings.
The Temple Cleansed (29:1-19)
The first act of business for Hezekiah is opening the temple back up. Remember, the temple had been closed by Ahaz. So Hezekiah opens the doors back up and repairs them.
Then Hezekiah told the Levites to consecrate themselves and to begin to cleanse the temple of the idolatry that was brought into it by Ahaz. He reminded them of the wicked acts of Ahaz & Judah and of the consequences they suffered for turning their backs on the LORD. Many fell by the sword and some went into captivity at the hands of the king of Aram (28:5).
But then Hezekiah makes known to them his intentions - why he wants the temple cleansed:
“10 It is in my heart now to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel so that his burning anger may turn away from us.” (, CSB)
In order to make this covenant, the levites need cleansed, the temple needs cleansed, and they need to offer sacrifices again to the LORD. The worship needs restored.
So beginning in verse 12, the levites consecrate themselves and begin the work they were appointed by Hezekiah to do, and after sixteen days the Levites completed the task and opened the temple once again. So now the worship can be given again.
after sixteen days the Levites completed the task and opened the temple once again.
Worship Restored (29:20-36)
The king then led the congregation in worship through offerings. He collected all of the officials of Jerusalem and gave sin offerings to the LORD for the kingdom and for Judah.
Then he put the musical worship back into place that David instituted by the commandment of the LORD (29:25). They offered the musical worship along with the burnt offerings.
“29 When the burnt offerings were completed, the king and all those present with him bowed down and worshiped. 30 Then King Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to sing praise to the Lord in the words of David and of the seer Asaph. So they sang praises with rejoicing and knelt low and worshiped.” (, CSB)
After this, the whole congregation began bringing their offerings to the temple. They had so many offerings that they were understaffed, so they got help from the levites in helping to skin the burnt offerings.
It is interesting that verse 34 tells us that the levites “were more conscientious, to consecrate themselves than the priests were.” Those who should have been more dedicated to making sure they were consecrated and ready for work were not ready. So one of the reasons why the temple was understaffed was because all of the priests did not consecrate themselves as they should have.
conscientious,d to consecrate themselves than the priests were
“35 ...So the service of the Lord’s temple was established. 36 Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over how God had prepared the people, for it had come about suddenly.” (, CSB)
In chapter 30, the focus is the reinstitution of the Passover.
This passover was being celebrated in the 2nd month instead of the first because the consecration work had not been completed by the day the Passover was to be observed, the 14th day of the first month. The question we need to ask is, “Was this acceptable to the LORD?”
Yes, because of . This was acceptable to the LORD regarding those who are unclean. God allowed a make-up Passover, but since, in this case, they wanted to make sure there were enough priests consecrated for the Passover and to make sure all of the nation could be included, they did it in the second month.
Who all was invited to this Passover celebration? Not just Judah, but those who were in Ephraim and Manasseh. Even the northern tribes were invited. In verse 5, we are told that the proclamation went out from Beersheba to Dan. All who wanted to submit to the LORD and worship him were invited.
In verses 10-11, we see the response of the northern tribes to Hezekiah’s couriers and the letter that called those who were still in the land and survived the Assyrian captivity to repentance:
“10 The couriers traveled from city to city in the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but the inhabitants laughed at them and mocked them. 11 But some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.” (, CSB)
This is the response that you would probably expect from the northern tribes. Many were not humbled by the judgments of the LORD and by Hezekiah’s call to repentance, but there were some who were willing to humble themselves before the LORD and to come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Let’s read verses 18-20:
“18 A large number of the people—many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun—were ritually unclean, yet they had eaten the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah had interceded for them, saying, “May the good Lord provide atonement on behalf of 19 whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, the Lord, the God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” 20 So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (, CSB)
The LORD hears the prayer of his king that he prayed towards the temple and forgave the sins of the people of the northern tribes who were consecrated as they should have been at this time.
So devoted was the worship of the people that they extended the Feast of Unleavened Bread a second week (20:23). The Chronicler compared the joy of Jerusalem on that occasion to the days of King Solomon (30:26).
God’s approval is shown in verse 27 as the priests bless the people and call on the LORD.
Offerings for the Levites
This great 14 days of worship stirred up the people. When they left Jerusalem, they went throughout the land to cleanse it of idolatry (31:1).
Hezekiah’s cleansing of the temple (ch. 29) and celebration of the Passover (ch. 30) enabled him to re-establish regular worship. This involved two further tasks, reorganizing the priests and Levites (v. 2) and establishing proper financial support for temple personnel and the system of offerings (vv. 4–19). The dominant emphasis of chapter 31 falls on the practical giving of the people, however. Though the king’s leadership provided an important stimulus, an effective system of worship was not possible without full popular involvement. The people happily brought their tithes and offerings as the law commanded. So vast were the offerings that there was an overabundance distributed among the priests (31:2–19). The Lord prospered Hezekiah for his faithfulness (31:20–21; ).
The rest of chapter 31 involves two more tasks, reorganizing the priests and Levites (v. 2) and establishing proper financial support for temple personnel and the system of offerings (vv. 4–19).
The dominant emphasis of chapter 31 falls on the practical giving of the people, however, just like at the time of David in . Though the king’s leadership provided an important stimulus, an effective system of worship was not possible without full popular involvement. The people happily brought their tithes and offerings as the law commanded. So vast were the offerings that there was an overabundance distributed among the priests.
The Lord prospered Hezekiah for his faithfulness (31:20–21).
“20 Hezekiah did this throughout all Judah. He did what was good and upright and true before the Lord his God. 21 He was diligent in every deed that he began in the service of God’s temple, in the instruction and the commands, in order to seek his God, and he prospered.” (, CSB)
Sennacherib Invades the Land
Hezekiah’s efforts to restore faithful worship (chs. 29–31) form the background to Chronicles’ version of Hezekiah’s confrontation with Sennacherib of Assyria (vv. 1–23). Though this was one of the most important events in the history of the monarchy, what Chronicles describes is no ordinary military battle. Neither the Assyrian nor the Israelite army plays a large part in how this event turns out.
Hezekiah’s efforts to restore faithful worship (chs. 29–31) form the background to Chronicles’ version of Hezekiah’s confrontation with Sennacherib of Assyria (vv. 1–23). Though this was one of the most important events in the history of the monarchy (cf. ), what Chronicles describes is no ordinary military battle. Neither the Assyrian nor the Israelite army plays any part in what is effectively a war of words.
In verses 1-5, Hezekiah made preparations for war. He made sure that the Assyrians did not have access to a water supply. He also strengthened their defenses. But then he reminded the people what was most important for them to remember as they prepared for Assyria to come against Jerusalem:
“6 He set military commanders over the people and gathered the people in the square of the city gate. Then he encouraged them, saying, 7 “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged before the king of Assyria or before the large army that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 He has only human strength, but we have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” So the people relied on the words of King Hezekiah of Judah.” (, CSB)
The king encouraged the people to remain faithful because the Lord was more powerful than the Assyrians or their gods (32:6–8). This is a lot like what Elisha reminded his servant of in when the king of Aram surrounded the city of Dothan where Elisha was. He reminded his servant that although, physically speaking, it looked like they were outnumbered, this was not really the case. Then he prayed that the LORD would open his servant’s eyes to see that they had the greater number. When he prayed, his servant saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire that belonged to the LORD’s army. This event may be on the mind of Hezekiah when he said this to the people to strengthen them.
While the Assyrians were attacking Lachish, a city southwest of Jerusalem, an Assyrian delegation came to Jerusalem to bring fear to the people and to tell them not to trust the words of Hezekiah. But they sealed their own fate when they blasphemed the LORD, comparing Him to all of the other gods that could not rescue their people from Assyria.
This did not stop Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet from trusting in the LORD and calling upon Him, and we have the LORD’s amazing response in verses 21-23:
“21 and the Lord sent an angel who annihilated every valiant warrior, leader, and commander in the camp of the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria returned in disgrace to his land. He went to the temple of his god, and there some of his own children struck him down with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the power of King Sennacherib of Assyria and from the power of all others. He gave them rest on every side. 23 Many were bringing an offering to the Lord to Jerusalem and valuable gifts to King Hezekiah of Judah, and he was exalted in the eyes of all the nations after that.” (, CSB)
This, in my judgment, is by far the greatest deliverance that God gave his people during the time of the divided kingdom. God heard the prayers of His people who trusted in Him and were concerned for His reputation in the land, and He responded by making it so that they did not even have to burn a calorie in fighting Assyria.
It is amazing to see the faith of Hezekiah in this chapter, especially considering the fact that almost all of the other fortified cities of Judah had fallen by the time Sennacherib was ready to come against Jerusalem. Physically speaking, one could have said that the circumstances did not look good - defeat at the hands of Assyria looked certain.
Hezekiah’s sickness (32:24-26)
When Hezekiah became ill unto death, the Lord answered the king’s prayers for mercy by giving a sign. However, the king became proud, and the Lord convicted him of his sins. His repentance averted the Lord’s wrath from coming during Hezekiah’s reign.
When Hezekiah became ill unto death, the Lord answered the king’s prayers for mercy by giving a sign. However, the king became proud, and the Lord convicted him of his sins. His repentance averted the Lord’s wrath (32:24–26).
Both incidents where Hezekiah’s prayers are answered illustrate God’s faithfulness to his promise about prayer (; cf. vv. 20–21).
Hezekiah’s Wealth & Works (32:27-31)
The final years of Hezekiah were blessed of God, and he prospered in all that he attempted (32:27–33). The LORD gave him riches and glory throughout the land as he did other faithful kings.
Hezekiah’s death (32:32)
All of Judah honored Hezekiah at his death, but verse 32 ends on a negative not, telling us that Hezekiah’s son Manasseh became king in his place.