Lately, life feels like a roller coaster. Whether it’s the Wonder Twins button mashing my light switches to my hens not laying eggs anymore… it’s hard to keep track of the wildness on my homestead.
However today is not about my light bulbs taking a beating from savage fingers or about my chickens going on strike. No, today is about something more important. It’s about a King and his life decisions.
Three main points we’ll explore today:
1). The importance of a wise leader.
2). Appeasement is never effective.
3). Thinking about the future and not just the present.
So pour up that coffee or tea, have that sweet you probably don’t need (but that’s okay🙂) and enjoy another tale from The Eason Clan.
It wasn’t the first time I read about him, however like so many passages in the Bible, you can read something 15 times and still learn something new. Who am I talking about?
His story is recorded in the book of 2 Kings chapters 18-20. He became King of Judah at the age of 25 years old, ruling for a total of 29 years. Throughout his rule, Hezekiah tried wholeheartedly to turn the nation around for the better, as his father Ahaz had left it in such a sad state of affairs. Corruption was rife, idol worship had replaced the worship of God, and Ahaz had even sacrificed one of his sons in the fire.
Before we get further into the story, let’s give this story some context.
In the heart of the Middle East, the tiny nation of Israel was surrounded by enemies. A few hundred years prior to King Hezekiah’s rule, the nation of Israel was a combined kingdom under King David and then later David’s son, King Solomon. However the nation split in half when Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne. Half the nation rebelled and joined his rival Jeroboam, effectively creating two sub kingdoms: The Kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam and the Kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam.
“Gee wiz Christian, what’s with the history lesson?”
It’s important, trust me.
Starting with King Jeroboam, the Kingdom of Israel started to go sideways: worshipping pagan gods, corruption was rife throughout the land, and the people drifted so far from their roots and faith in God that they even took up child sacrificing and other detestable practices.
Fast forward a few hundred years.
King Hoshea of Israel is on the throne and decides to continue this trend of evil.
Further south in the Kingdom of Judah however, King Hezekiah is ridding the land of those practices and turning the nation around for the better.
Then something devastating happens.
The Assyrians arrive.
The Assyrian’s were known for their brutality and ruthlessness. A battle hardened army lead by King Shalmaneser. I read this article online and I had to include this excerpt from it:
Warrior monarch Ashurnasirpal describes:
“I built a pillar over against his city gate, and I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar, some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes, . . . and I cut off the limbs of the officers, of the royal officers who had rebelled. . . .”Many captives from among them I burned with fire, and many I took as living captives. From some I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from others I cut off their noses, their ears, and their fingers(?), of many I put out the eyes. I made one pillar of the living, and another of heads, and I bound their heads to posts (tree trunks) round about the city. Their young men and maidens I burned in the fire . . . Twenty men I captured alive and I immured them in the wall of his palace. . . . The rest of them [their warriors] I consumed with thirst in the desert of the Euphrates.” –– Translated by Daniel .D. Luckenbill, Ancient records of Assyria and Babylonia, Chicago. https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-mice-may-have-saved-jerusalem-2-700-years-ago-from-the-assyrians-1.6011735
Wow. Definition of evil.
Using their massive army combined with experience, they captured town after town in the Kingdom of Israel. King Hoshea and his army were unable to resist such a powerful army. After a long three year siege, the Assyrians captured the capital of Israel, Samaria. Enslaving the citizens, they were sent to the far reaches of the Assyrian empire as slaves.
All this happened during the sixth year of King Hezekiah’s reign.
Appeasement Never Works
Eight years later.
The Assyrians, now ruled by King Sennacherib, turned their attention towards Judah. King Hezekiah knew who he was up against. The chances of his tiny nation surviving the onslaught of the Assyrian Empire… is like Canada winning a war against the United States of America. No contest. USA for the win.
The Assyrians started conquering the towns of Judah one at a time. Finally when the enemy were just miles away from the capital, Jerusalem, they captured the Judean town of Lachish. King Hezekiah requested King Sennacherib to stop.
I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.”King Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:14
King Sennacherib’s reply:
The King of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.2 Kings 18:14
Let’s put this in perspective: that amount of silver and gold weighs approximately the same as four Cadillac Escalades stacked on top of each other! :O
In order to get that gold Hezekiah went to the temple in Jerusalem and stripped the gold off everything he could find: tools, lamps stands, doors, and walls.
He did this in order to appease the King of Assyria. I can just imagine his thoughts at the time:
‘If I do what he asks, he will leave us alone.”
Maybe your child was FREAKING out after you said no to them; then your changed your mind just to make it stop? Or maybe your spouse got crooked because they didn’t get their own way, and you decided to give in, just to have some peace? How about the person who is faced with the decision to have sex or not with their boyfriend/girlfriend, all because the other person wants it and is pressuring. Do you appease or not?
Appeasement does not work. Period.
It never curbed Hitler’s appetite for conquest in World War Two, although world leaders tried to appease him.
It does not bring lasting results (just ask the parent whose child is 16 and the parents has been giving into their tantrums and demands for years).
And it certainly doesn’t appease anyone when they are making demands.
Hezekiah learned this the hard way.
No sooner had the money ended up in the enemies hands did they renew their attack on Judah.
Best Option. Last resort?
Why is it that many of us wait till we are in way over our heads, before we ask for help?
I love to talk. Just ask my family and friends.
However I struggle to talk about my issues, especially when I need too. I also struggle to pray to God, when I should be. I can relate to Hezekiah. He waited till the enemy had surrounded his capital, before he called out to God for help. There was literally nothing left for him to do. But why was God his last resort?
I remember years ago I went through a very difficult time. I had hired someone to do a job, was charged an exorbitant bill, and my fear started to take over. Rather than turn to God or talk it out with my wife, I kept it in till I felt like bursting. I honestly felt like walls were closing in on me, like Luke, Leia and Han Solo in the Death Star trash compactor. Prepare to be squished.
Then one day I sat on the couch and just let it all out. I expressed all my fears to Melissa, we prayed together, and I felt a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders. I should never have kept it in.
Psalm 55:22 says:
Give your burdens (roll your burdens) onto the Lord, and he will take care of you.”
King Hezekiah finally asked the Lord for help, and you know what happened? The Bible says an angel that night struck down the enemy army, and the ones that were left took off back to Assyria. Other non-biblical sources claim a plague struck the camp. Regardless I believe that God got involved to save His people.
Don’t forget the Next Generation
Now I’m not talking about Star Trek The Next Generation (awesome show though). I am talking about the people that come after you, whether it be family, friends or even citizens in your community. It’s so important to remember that your actions and words can have a great effect on the future.
Think about that for a moment: you’re building a foundation, a legacy, every single day. Will it be a firm, strong platform for others to build upon, or will it be so tarnished and unwanted that the future generation will want to tear up?
Hezekiah is known for turning back his father’s legacy and improving the nation. However towards the end of his reign, he said something that surprised me.
Sometime after the Assyrians had left, envoys from Babylon, a distant country, arrived in Judah. King Hezekiah gave them a royal tour, showing them all his treasures, prized possessions and pretty much everything else of importance. After they had left, the prophet Isaiah showed up with a message from God for the King:
“Listen to this message from the Lord: “The time is coming when everything in your palace-all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now-will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s King.”
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”2 Kings 20:16-19
He said what? I don’t know about you but hearing that my children will be captured and become slaves to a foreign king is not exactly a good thing. Hezekiah was thinking about himself, and if we’re not careful we can do the exact same thing.
My takeaway from this weeks blog is this: we were never meant to fight this fight alone.
If you are feeling down or struggling with any kind of issue, reach out to a trusted friend or family member and break down the walls of silence. There is nothing better than getting something off your chest…it honestly changes your life. I realized that when I started sharing with my wife the issues that were bothering me.
For us guys, it can be very difficult to share our feelings, after all you don’t want to be seen as “weak.” That stigma is the biggest load of bull I ever heard of. Sadly though it is deeply rooted in many men. As I said before I struggle with that myself, because as a man, a husband and a father, I’m supposed to be the “strong” one, right?
God never meant for you to go it alone.
As I continue my own journey in this, I would ask that you evaluate yourself in that regard. Take a lesson from Hezekiah. You can do great things, and you can turn stuff around; however if you are faced with a challenging situation, reach out for help and don’t wait till the last minute.