MESSAGE SUMMARIES PART II – Shomerim Retreat 2019
Summaries Recorded by Ysabel Tan

Life of Hezekiah: The Trying of Your Faith
Speaker: Pr Ko Lingkang

Message 3 – Faith Tested: How Will You Respond under Pressure?
(2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 32:1-19)

Hezekiah had been keeping house within his own nation, but soon faced challenges from the Assyrian army which were beyond his control. By this time, his faith would have grown and God gave him spiritual testing.

When King Ahaz reigned over Judah, he paid tribute to the King of Assyria for protection against Syria (2 Kings 16), causing Judah to become like a vassal state. However, Hezekiah did not want to continue doing so, as he trusted in the LORD to protect them. In the time of Hezekiah’s reign, Samaria was besieged by the Assyrians and later taken. In his 14th year of reign, the new king of Assyria came up against Judah. Having seen how Israel was earlier taken, Hezekiah grew afraid and now decided to resume paying tribute to Assyria. During this time, he lacked faith and compromised, and took from the house of the Lord to do so. However, he did not continue in this state and quickly turned back to God. The king of Assyria wanted more! The failure to resist temptations could lead us to sin even more and thus, weaken our spiritual life.

Hezekiah saw the Assyrians coming and exercised human responsibility by making preparations both physically and spiritually. He built a tunnel to ensure that there will be a constant source of water, even if the water supply to the city was cut off. As a leader, he also prepared his people by giving them God’s Word in order to strengthen and protect them when faced with spiritual attacks. We are also in a constant spiritual battle. In the face of spiritual testing, do we have the confidence to stand firm by the grace of God?

The men of Assyria came to Jerusalem to threaten the people with a series of arguments to demoralise them and undermine their faith. The people were questioned as to whom they trusted and feared, and what they desired. The Assyrian, Rabshakeh, even claimed that the Lord asked him to destroy Judah and falsely invoked God’s name. In all of these, the people held their peace and did not answer these false allegations, for Hezekiah, in his wisdom had commanded them not to. This action spoke louder than words and showed the people’s unwavering faith in the LORD to deliver them from the Assyrians.

Message 4 – Faith Proved: Submitting to the Lord No Matter What
(2 Kings 19, 2 Chronicles 32:20-23)

Hezekiah had earlier encouraged the people with God’s Word, but practically, it was not easy to be courageous in the face of the threats as a leader of the nation. Hezekiah humbled himself and went into the house of the Lord to seek Him. He prayed for God to defend His own name, which Rabshakeh had blasphemed.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God in His faithfulness, responded to Hezekiah’s prayer, with an encouragement to not be afraid and with a promise of deliverance. The Lord Himself will cause the Assyrians to return to their own land and to fall by the sword.

Upon Rabshakeh’s return to Assyria, he sent a letter blaspheming God again and claiming their destruction of many nations, whose gods were not able to save them. In receiving this letter, Hezekiah sought the Lord in earnest prayer. Even though there was no news of the Assyrians’ retreat, yet he continued to submit to the Lord. He had faith that the LORD God of Israel is the living God, the Creator of heaven and earth and is able to deliver them. This prayer was not so that they can live comfortably, but for the other nations to know that He is the one true God.

God responded through prophet Isaiah again. He addressed Rabshakeh’s boasts and accomplishments, which were nothing before the Creator and Owner of all they owned. As cattle pulled by their noses, God will put the Assyrians in their place. He also gave a sign of deliverance unto Israel, which is growth in the land and sufficient food to eat. God promised that the king of Assyria will not come into the city and He will defend it for His own sake.

This came to pass when God delivered them miraculously without an arrow or a shield. The Angel of the LORD went out in the night and smote 185,000 Assyrians in their camp. The king of Assyria was killed by his sons in his own land. It must have been wonderful for Hezekiah and the people to experience and witness this great deliverance. This is the same God whom we trust and have faith in. Even when our situation does not seem to change for the better, we must wait patiently for God’s will to unfold in His own timing.

Message 5 – Faith Neglected: Compromise through Complacence
(2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32:24-33)

During Hezekiah’s 29 years of reign, he fell very sick. This is an estimation and is probably after Judah was first invaded, and before the second invasion and deliverance (2 Ki 18:13). Hezekiah had done well in trusting God in the battle against the Assyrians, but failed in this personal test. Prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would soon die. It must have been shocking, as he was in the prime of his life but without an heir, and the problem with the Assyrians was still unr-solved.

Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for recovery, but the prayer was based on his own merit. God answered for he saw his tears and had compassion on him.Prayer must be focused on Christ and never based on what we have done, that can render us special benefits. His life would be extended by 15 years and Judah would be delivered from Assyria. Perhaps Hezekiah was wavering and wanted assurance. He asked for a sign and God, out of His mercy, revealed it unto Hezekiah. Do we take God at His Word when it is revealed to us?

After being healed, Hezekiah’s heart was lifted up and filled with pride, instead of acknowledging God. This brought wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem. Recognising this, he humbled himself and because of this, the judgment would not come in his lifetime. When we remember that all the benefits given to us are from God alone, we will not be easily puffed up and proud.

News of his sickness was spread abroad and ambassadors of Babylon came to visit Hezekiah, he proudly showed them the great substance and wealth that God had given him. Again, rather than proclaiming God’s goodness towards him, he boasted of ‘his’ glorious kingdom and had lost the opportunity to witness for the Lord. Prophet Isaiah declared of future destruction and captivity by Babylon, who would carry away all the treasures of Judah. This was the result of Hezekiah’s foolishness.

Hezekiah responded in a rather muted manner and appeared not to be very troubled by the prophecy of Judah’s fall. The pride for worldly things resulted in him prioritising himself before God. Hezekiah probably continued to be a good king, leading the people spiritually yet not in the same fervency as when he first started. Just as how those around him were encouraged when his faith was strong, likewise they too would be stumbled by Hezekiah’s spiritual lukewarmness.

Manasseh, his son, was born three years after his sickness and was sadly a wicked king of Judah, undoing all that Hezekiah had done. It was because of Manasseh’s acts that God declared judgment upon Judah. Hezekiah did well as a king, despite his idolatrous father and grandfather. However, he failed to bring up his heir in God’s truth when he knew that he only had 12 years with him. Though we do not know how much time we have here on this earth, our time is limited. Let us keep sight of our calling here, and pray that the Lord will help us through the testings here, so that we may labour on and be faithful till the end.