I first came across King Hezekiah when I was in hospital. I had been admitted with a rocket high temperature and acute pain in my side and tests had been unable to find out what was wrong with me or how to treat me. The Gideon bible ‘helps’ (suggestions for helpful passages in different circumstances) brought me to the story of Hezekiah, who was healed after pleading with God when he was sick and at the point of death (2 Kings 20.1-11)
There isn’t much more about Hezekiah in Kings, but Chronicles goes into a lot more detail. Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles Chapters 29-32 is described as a king who brought his people back to God, reinstating the Passover and making sacrifices on behalf of those who could not afford it.
Hezekiah doesn’t just tell people what to do – he leads by example and encouragement. He praises their best efforts, even if they fall short of perfection, and intercedes with God for them:
But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘The good Lord pardon all 9who set their hearts to seek God, the Lord the God of their ancestors, even though not in accordance with the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.’ 10The Lord heard Hezekiah, and healed the people.
(2 Chronicles 30.18-20)
Hezekiah thwarted an attempted Assyrian invasion of his land. Rumours and propaganda were circulated about him by Sennarcherib, the Assyrian King, to dent his people’s confidence in him, and even in God himself:
His servants said still more against the Lord God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17He also wrote letters to throw contempt on the Lord the God of Israel and to speak against him, saying, ‘Just as the gods of the nations in other lands did not rescue their people from my hands, so the God of Hezekiah will not rescue his people from my hand.’
(2 Chronicles 32.16-17)
But Hezekiah’s continued faith in God saves him and his people
20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21And the Lord sent an angel who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned in disgrace to his own land. When he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. 22So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of King Sennacherib of Assyria
(2 Chronicles 32.20-22)
In the last few months, quite a few people I know who work on-line – including myself – have become discouraged by criticism from other Christians. The implication is that what we are doing is worse than useless, because we are actually encouraging people into following an invalid form of Christianity. The idea that God could use us and our on-line presence as part of his plan seems to be regarded as nonsensical.
Of course, nobody wants to be arrogant, and any criticism we receive should be weighed carefully, not just discarded. But I think Hezekiah’s example has a lot to offer us in this situation. He seeks to bring people back to their connection with God by encouragement and example, and does not take too much notice of those who set out to discourage him. Instead, he turns to God and his prophet Isaiah for guidance.
If, like Hezekiah, we stay close to God and those who are faithful to his Word, we will stay on the right path.