Even a godly reformer can have serious character flaws

I believe it was Oliver Cromwell who demanded of his portrait artist at his first sitting to ‘paint me warts and all’ otherwise he would not be paid even the smallest coin. King Hezekiah’s reign was recorded by three different writers [see 2 Kings 18:1, 20:21; 2 Chronicles 29:1, 32:33; and Isaiah 36:1, 39:8]. Each of the accounts emphasises different aspects of his reign in detail.

  1. His triumphs 

[] His purge of idolatry is highlighted in 2 Kings 18: 1-12, where he undoes the evils of his father’s reign, and the cause of the exile of the northern tribes now scattered throughout the Assyrian empire ( 2 Kings 16:1-20, 2 Kings 17:1-41).

‘He removed the high places, broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan’) (verse 2 Kings 16:4).

[] His cleansing of the temple and restoration of Passover is a major theme covered in detail in three chapters of (2 Chronicles 29:3, 31:21).

[] His prayer of humility during the subsequent Assyrian siege of Jerusalem is mentioned by all three writers, but only the account in Second Kings mentions the sackcloth he and his closest counsellors wore (2 Kings 19:1-2).

[] His psalm of thanksgiving when the siege was miraculously relieved is recorded only by (Isaiah 38:9-20).

  1. His tragedies 

[] His inadequate plea for God to spare his life – his faithfulness, wholeheartedness and good deeds (2 Kings 20:3) – contrasts with God’s promise to deliver and defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake’ (2 Kings 20: 6). The ESV Study Bible reckons this is ‘a “flashback” to the period … some 12 years before Sennacherib’s invasion and some 15 years before Hezekiah’s death (2 Kings 20: 6).’

[] His compromise with the enemy is given in 2 Kings 18:13-16, his stripping off ‘all the silver found in the house of the Lord,’ and ‘the gold from the doors of the temple’ – giving it as a useless bribe to the king of Assyria.

 [] His haughty spirit is repeatedly pointed out in (2 Chronicles 32:25-26 ) and how he gained great riches for himself(2 Chronicles 32:27-29); because ‘God left him to himself, in order to test him and know all that was in his heart,’ 2 Chronicles 27:31).

[] His gloating in his prosperity is a major theme passed over in one verse by the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 32:24), but underlined by Isaiah (Isaiah 39:1-5). He not only showed the envoys from Babylon all his treasures, but freely admitted it to the prophet. And so blasé had he become that when he was told, ‘Behold the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left,’ he said, “The word you have spoken is good.” ‘For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days”’ (2 Chronicles 39:6-8)!

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