2 Chronicles 32: King Hezekiah…responded by praying.
Before moving on, let’s take one last look at this King of Judah who’s ranked with Solomon or even King David. Here we see his tiny nation threatened by the mighty Assyrian army. Sennacherib, himself, has come to oversee the defeat of Judah and the capture of Jerusalem. The siege starts with psychological warfare. With the huge Assyrian army camped out nearby messengers come to intimidate Hezekiah and try to divide the loyalty of the people. Of course the threat is real. Assyria has marched across the region defeating one nation after another. When Sennacherib says that Judah is next he’s deadly serious. Hezekiah responds in some practical ways. For one thing he plugs up the springs that the enemy army might use as a water supply. However, we’re told that his primary response is to pray. I love the picture I see here. For Hezekiah prayer isn’t the “last ditch because I’ve tried everything else” approach. This man has learned a valuable lesson: when he prays, God answers. It seems that I have to often return to this basic lesson. Even when I have a wealth of evidence that prayer makes all the difference in the world my first response to many life events is to try to handle things myself. It’s only when that fails that I get serious about praying. Know what? I don’t think the problem is unique to me! “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
Take Away: Prayer is to be our first response.
The very best at doing good
2 Chronicles 31: Everything he took up…he did well in a spirit of prayerful worship.
Hezekiah gets considerable mention in the Chronicles version of the history of God’s people, and with good reason. He’s said to be the “very best” at doing what is “good, right, and true” before God. This isn’t some national leader who does whatever is politically expedient and then tips his hat to the Almighty when it’s convenient. Instead, this is a man who makes every decision based on his desire to please God. That’s exactly how he approaches his religious life. If a decision has to do with worship he makes that decision prayerfully. He also prayerfully builds his life and Kingdom around carrying out God’s Laws and Commandments. Judah is a blessed nation because it has a national leader who turns to God in everything he does. The result is that he’s a “great success” and is commended by God as one who is “good, right, and true.” I pray that the Lord will give my nation and all the nations of the earth such leadership. Also, in my much smaller leadership role, I desire to follow his excellent example.
Take Away: Leading, in itself, can be good or bad; depending on the direction the leader is going. A leader who leads people to righteousness is worth celebrating.
The chief cheerleader
2 Chronicles 30: Hezekiah commended the Levites for the superb way in which they had led the people in the worship of God.
The religious reform under Hezekiah rivals the great events of David and Solomon’s reigns. The newly refurbished Temple and the eager and capable work of those who serve there make for an impressive and satisfying worship experience for all that come. When the big celebration ends, Hezekiah makes it a point to go to the Levites and commend them for their superb work. In this, I see Hezekiah not only leading in vision and agenda but in thanks and appreciation as well. Good leaders do that. I do note that Hezekiah calls their work “superb” because that’s what it is. He isn’t some cheerleader who shouts out “We’re number one” when the team’s behind by 30 points. I’m reminded though that even when the work doesn’t reach the superb level there’s probably something positive that can be said. Once the leader establishes good will the way may be opened for some constructive comments on improving things next time. So, I see in this passage that leaders should lead in words and acts of appreciation for work well done. Also, I remember that while a leader isn’t to give false praise that genuine support can lead the way to opportunities to help others grow in their service of the Lord.
Take Away: Good leaders know how to lead the way in showing appreciation for work well done.
Responding to God
2 Chronicles 29: I have decided to make a covenant with the God of Israel.
Hezekiah announces his intention to make a covenant with God. He sees that the old covenant has been broken and is in need of repair. His “new covenant” is really a reinstatement of the “old covenant.” While the statement suggests that Hezekiah’s taking the initiative here by approaching the Lord with an offer, the fact is that God has patiently waited for a response like this. If Hezekiah sees this whole event as his initiative I guess that’s okay but actually God is, and always is, the “First Mover.” That’s how it is for us too. Like the prodigal, we think to ourselves, “I will arise and go to my Father,” as though it’s all our idea in the first place. And, just like it is in that story we arrive and find that the Father has been patiently waiting for us all along. To “decide to make a covenant” is a good thing, an important decision. However, such a move is only possible by what John Wesley might describe as the “grace that goes before” — God at work making it possible for us to come to that decision in the first place.
Take Away: Do you need to work some things out with God? Guess what? He’s already moving to work things out with you!