2 Kings 18-19 He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments

From 2 Kings 18-19

11 crown cross

In today’s passage we read about Hezekiah and his faithfulness and obedience to the LORD. Yet despite his faithfulness Israel will still be punished for her sin.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Israel is gone. What will happen to Judah?

18 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. (2 Ki 18.1-3)

Judah has a good king. Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. Which should be promising if this continues.

4 He removed the high places and 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). (2 Ki 18.4)

The most important thing attributed to his reign was the removal of pagan worship. Interestingly he destroyed the bronze serpent Moses made (Nu 21.8-9).

5 He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. (2 Ki 18.5-6)

The author has a strong commendation for Hezekiah. Trusted in the LORD. Unlike all the other kings, he held fast to the LORD. I wonder if that includes David? He kept all the commands the LORD commanded Moses. I assume this means he made a regular practice of all the commands of Moses.

7 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. 8 He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. (2 Ki 18.7-8)

The LORD was with him. The implication is the LORD remained with him because of his faith / faithfulness. Because of his faithfulness Judah had victory over her enemies.

9 In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it, 10 and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed.  (2 Ki 18.9-12)

The author describes the fate of Israel because of her sinfulness and implicitly makes a comparison between Judah and Israel at this point. Will it last?

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
All the Hebrews were required to observe the whole law of Moses. It was their covenant obligation with the LORD. You can find the command to keep the law in Ex 15.26; Lev 18.4; 19.19; 20.8; 22.31; 25.18; Dt 4.2-6,40; 6.2; 11.1; 17.9; 27.1,10; and 1 Ki 2.3. Moses passes on the LORD’s command in Deuteronomy;

4 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. (Dt 4:1–2)

The Old Testament depicts Israel at times not keeping the commands (e.g. Ex 16:27–28; 1 Ki 2.43; 11.11; 2 Chr 34.21; Eze 18.5-24; Neh 1.7). For the most part we can assume Israel and Judah botched it. But then again there are others who are described as having kept all the commands of the law (2 Sam 22.22; 1 Ki 3.14; 8.61; 9.4; 11.34; 14.8; 2 Ki 18.6; 2 Chr 7.17).

Story of Jesus

Following Jesus’ death and resurrection the same pattern continues in the New Testament.
People are described as not keeping the commandments (e.g. Jn 7.19; 1 Jn 3.4-10) and there are people who do (Rom 2.26; Jn 14.15; 1 Jn 2.3-5; 3.22; 5.3; Rev 12.17).
The more prominent examples in the New Testament of someone keeping the commands of the LORD are an elderly couple – Zechariah and Elizabeth.

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. (Lk 1:5–6)

And in Paul;

26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Rom 2:26–29)

But again more often than not people cannot keep God’s law.

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:7–8)

Christians today are not required to keep the Jewish law. Actually it might be an expression of unbelief to observe some parts of it now. So dont bother reading the Pentateuch and trying to live by the commands of Moses. But Paul considers himself to be under the law of God (1 Cor 7.19; 9.21; Rom 8.7; cf Jas 2.8). Given there are people who do keep God’s law and many who don’t, what kind of attitude should we adopt when thinking about ourselves and walking in a manner worthy of the LORD? Here are some suggestions.
1) Remember we’ve all sinned

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 Jn 1:8–10; cf Rom 3.23)

Remember also, keeping God’s law is not about sinless perfection. Its more about patient seeking (Rom 2.7) and regular practice (1 Jn 3.7).
2) Immerse yourself in the gospel

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,  (Rom 1:1–6; cf. Rom 15.18; 16.26)

Gospel generated faith brings about obedience.
3) Remember the LORD judges, we don’t

4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor 4.4-5; cf Rom 14.10-12)

4) Keep a clear conscience towards God and man

14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Acts 24.14-16; cf Acts 23.1)

5) In the end were only doing our duty, so don’t become proud

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” (Lk 17.7-10)

6) It’s okay to look at yourself to see if your in the faith

5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor 13.5)

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.