1. HOPE RENEWED
a. What did Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, realize when he became king of Judah? 2 Chronicles 29:1, 6–9. What were his first steps? 2 Chronicles 29:2–5, 10.
“Hezekiah came to the throne determined to do all in his power to save Judah from the fate that was overtaking the northern kingdom. The messages of the prophets offered no encouragement to halfway measures. Only by most decided reformation could the threatened judgments be averted.
“In the crisis, Hezekiah proved to be a man of opportunity. No sooner had he ascended the throne than he began to plan and to execute. He first turned his attention to the restoration of the temple services, so long neglected.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 331.
b. What appeal did God direct to Judah? Isaiah 31:6. How did the “goodly remnant” respond? Micah 7:7–9; 2 Chronicles 29:16–20, 27–31, 35, 36.
“God had indeed prepared the hearts of the chief men of Judah to lead out in a decided reformatory movement, that the tide of apostasy might be stayed.”—Ibid., p.333.
2. THE JOY OF REFORMATION
a. What prophetic prayer, previously offered at the dedication of the temple, was fulfilled in the reformation of Hezekiah? 1 Kings 8:33, 34; 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“[1 Kings 8:33, 34 quoted.] The seal of divine approval had been placed upon this prayer; for at its close fire had come down from heaven to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord had filled the temple. See 2 Chronicles 7:1. And by night the Lord had appeared to Solomon to tell him that his prayer had been heard, and that mercy would be shown those who should worship there.
. . . These promises met abundant fulfillment during the reformation under Hezekiah.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 335.
b. Describe the success of Hezekiah’s reformation. 2 Chronicles 30:1, 9–13, 21–23, 26, 27.
“The seven days usually allotted to the Passover feast passed all too quickly, and the worshipers determined to spend another seven days in learning more fully the way of the Lord. The teaching priests continued their work of instruction from the book of the law; daily the people assembled at the temple to offer their tribute of praise and thanksgiving; and as the great meeting drew to a close, it was evident that God had wrought marvelously in the conversion of backsliding Judah and in stemming the tide of idolatry which threatened to sweep all before it. The solemn warnings of the prophets had not been uttered in vain.”—Ibid., pp.337, 338.
c. After the Passover, what further steps marked the genuineness of Hezekiah’s reformation? 2 Chronicles 31:1, 5, 6. How was his administration described? 2 Chronicles 31:20, 21; 2 Kings 18:4–7.
“The reign of Hezekiah was characterized by a series of remarkable providences which revealed to the surrounding nations that the God of Israel was with His people.”—Ibid., p.339.
3. MERCY AND A MISSION
a. What message came to Hezekiah when he was sick, and how was he shown mercy? 2 Kings 20:1–7. How did he express thanks? Isaiah 38:9–20.
“Restored to his wonted strength, the king of Judah acknowledged in words of song the mercies of Jehovah, and vowed to spend his remaining days in willing service to the King of kings. His grateful recognition of God’s compassionate dealing with him is an inspiration to all who desire to spend their years to the glory of their Maker.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 342.
b. Through what sign did God confirm His promise to Hezekiah, and what reaction did this spark in a faraway land? 2 Kings 20:8–12.
“In the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates there dwelt an ancient race which, though at that time subject to Assyria, was destined to rule the world. Among its people were wise men who gave much attention to the study of astronomy; and when they noticed that the shadow on the sundial had been turned back ten degrees, they marveled greatly. Their king, Merodachbaladan, upon learning that this miracle had been wrought as a sign to the king of Judah that the God of heaven had granted him a new lease of life, sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery and to learn, if possible, more of the God who was able to perform so great a wonder.
“The visit of these messengers from the ruler of a faraway land gave Hezekiah an opportunity to extol the living God. How easy it would have been for him to tell them of God, the upholder of all created things, through whose favor his own life had been spared when all other hope had fled! What momentous transformations might have taken place had these seekers after truth from the plains of Chaldea been led to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of the living God!”—Ibid., p.344.
c. What can we learn from the missionary opportunity God gave Hezekiah? Colossians 4:5; Revelation 3:18 (last part).
“Eyes need to be anointed with the heavenly eyesalve to see and sense their opportunities.”—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 130.
4. A BIG MISTAKE
a. What mistake tarnished Hezekiah’s good record? 2 Chronicles 32:25, 31; Isaiah 39:1–4.
“Pride and vanity took possession of Hezekiah’s heart, and in self-exaltation he laid open to covetous eyes the treasures with which God had enriched His people. . . . [Isaiah 39:2 quoted.] Not to glorify God did he do this, but to exalt himself in the eyes of the foreign princes. He did not stop to consider that these men were representatives of a powerful nation that had not the fear nor the love of God in their hearts, and that it was imprudent to make them his confidants concerning the temporal riches of the nation.
“The visit of the ambassadors to Hezekiah was a test of his gratitude and devotion. . . . [2 Chronicles 32:31 quoted.] Had Hezekiah improved the opportunity given him to bear witness to the power, the goodness, the compassion, of the God of Israel, the report of the ambassadors would have been as light piercing darkness. But he magnified himself above the Lord of hosts. He ‘rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up’ (verse 25).
“How disastrous the results which were to follow! To Isaiah it was revealed that the returning ambassadors were carrying with them a report of the riches they had seen, and that the king of Babylon and his counselors would plan to enrich their own country with the treasures of Jerusalem. Hezekiah had grievously sinned; ‘therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem’ (verse 25).”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 344-346.
b. What news did Isaiah need to tell Hezekiah—and how did the king show repentance for his imprudence? Isaiah 39:5–8; 2 Chronicles 32:26.
“During his remaining years the king of Judah was to have much prosperity because of his steadfast purpose to redeem the past and to bring honor to the name of the God whom he served; yet his faith was to be severely tried, and he was to learn that only by putting his trust fully in Jehovah could he hope to triumph over the powers of darkness that were plotting his ruin and the utter destruction of his people.”—Ibid., p.347.
5. ALWAYS READY IN MEEKNESS
a. What should we all learn from Hezekiah’s experience with the Babylonian ambassadors? Psalm 141:3; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Peter 3:15.
“The story of Hezekiah’s failure to prove true to his trust at the time of the visit of the ambassadors is fraught with an important lesson for all. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience, of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless depths of the Saviour’s love. . . .
“Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps! One reckless movement, one imprudent step, and the surging waves of some strong temptation may sweep a soul into the downward path. . . .
“On the other hand, if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 347, 348.
“When the Lord’s voice calls, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ the Divine Spirit puts it into hearts to respond: ‘Here am I; send me’ (Isaiah 6:8). But bear in mind that the live coal from the altar must first touch your lips. Then the words you speak will be wise and holy words. Then you will have wisdom to know what to say and what to leave unsaid. . . .
“[1 Peter 3:15 quoted.] Why fear? Fear lest your words should savor of self-importance, lest unadvised words be spoken, lest the words and manner should not be after Christ’s likeness. Connect firmly with Christ and present the truth as it is in Him.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 325.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why can we be inspired by the proactive approach of Ahaz’s heir?
2. Why was Hezekiah’s reign crowned with joy and success?
3. Besides helping Judah’s king, whom else was God seeking to draw?
4. What did Hezekiah forget when the ambassadors came to visit?
5. When seeking to witness for God, why do we need to be watchful?