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Sentenced to Death

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					July 12, 2010                 Sentenced to Death                   Kathleen Maples

There was a man, Hezekiah, king of Judah, who began his reign as a godly king.
His name means "The Lord is my Strength" and that implies a total dependence on
God. His father, the wicked king Ahaz had killed his children by offering them up
as burnt offerings to the idol Molech in the valley of the son of Hinnom. Molech,
meaning 'king' was a fire-god, deity of the children of Amman and Moabites
although the latter called him Chemosh. All of the Canaanite, Syrian and Arab
tribes worshiped fire with terrible sacrifices of their infants and children. This was
forbidden by God in Lev_18:21. The image of Molech was made of brass, hollow
within, and was placed in Jerusalem, in an area of the valley called Tophet, (place
of burning) which was where Jews sacrificed their own children in the fire. The
image of Molech had the face of a calf, and his hands were like a man's, and
stretched out to receive something. A fire was lit under him and babies were placed
in his hands to be burnt alive. This was a valley near the walls of Jerusalem.
Later, after the 70 year captivity, it was a place where trash, and dead bodies were
cast to be consumed by the dogs as well. Fires were kept burning to consume the
trash of the city. This area then came to symbolize a place of suffering for the dead,
called Gehenna, in the Greek, referring to hell. Jesus mentioned this, referring to
hell, many times in His teaching.

 Ahaz brought in Syrian idols to Jerusalem, changed the temple to make it more
like the Syrians' temple but then closed it up. When God allowed enemies to come
against the nation, instead of repenting and turning back to God for help, Ahaz
turned to flesh. He sought help from Assyria bringing himself under obligation to
the Assyrians and they demanded tribute from him. He was so wicked his body
when he died at 36 was not allowed to be buried with his ancestors.

His son, Hezekiah, at 25 years old took over about 726 BC. He tried to eradicate the
idolatry his father had brought in. He removed the high places and broke the idols
and cut down the groves that hid the altar of God. He reigned 29 years in
Jerusalem. He went beyond what other righteous kings of Judah had done. He
removed the high places, broke the images, cut down the idol poles, and broke in
pieces the bronze serpent Moses had made. It is important to understand the
significance of each of these. What was so offensive about the high places? The
ancient Canaanites, and other nations worshiped the heavenly bodies in space and
their own idols upon hills, mountains, and even made elevations for their altars
where none were. It was man wanting to, like at the tower of Babel, get to heaven
their own way, reach up to heaven, and striving in their own selves to do so.
Instead of destroying these places, as Israel was commanded to do, they imitated
the pagan nations around them and made their own high places.

The high places were areas of land that were elevated, like on a hill, sites dedicated
to idols. Historically, there were three altars built by Abraham on high places, one
at Shechem, between Bethel and Ai, and at Mamre. The law forbid worship
anywhere but at the one national sanctuary in Jerusalem. Again, this points to
Jesus Christ being the only way to the Father. One way. One place. Later on, these
became polluted by people using them as high places to worship idols. The high
places at Dan and Bethel were sacred so, fearing loss of power, Jeroboam seduced
the people into forsaking the temple in Jerusalem and worshiping the golden
calves he set up in Dan and Bethel, polluting places that had been set apart for the
worship of God. God speaks of how offended He is by these, and how quickly His
people turned away from Him after entering into the promised land in Ezek 20. In
1Ki_13:2-3 God sent a man to prophesy against the altar in Bethel which Jeroboam
had defiled by setting up his golden calf to keep the people from going to the temple
at Jerusalem to worship as God had decreed.

Eze 20:28 For when I had brought them into the land, for I lifted up my hand to give it to
   them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their
   sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they
   made their sweet aroma, and poured out there their drink offerings.
Eze 20:29 Then I said unto them, What is the high place to which you go? And its name is
   called Bamah unto this day.
Eze 16:16 And of your garments you did take, and adorned your high places with various
   colors, and played the harlot on them: the like things have never been, neither shall be.

The very word "bamah" means high place. Man was trying to elevate themselves,
worshiping the elements, the planets, and the stars. Israel came into the promised
land, saw the beauty of it, and began to worship their own way in the place they
themselves chose, not following God's prescribed order-which was the sacrifices,
offerings, incense, everything had to be brought to the tabernacle, and offered by
the priest, the Levite. It had to be brought, according to God, to the Door of the
Tabernacle. All of this was pointing to Joh_14:6-Jesus Christ being the way, the
truth, and the life, the only way to the Father. God will never accept His people
doing their own thing their own way. When left to the reasoning of the human
mind, the natural result is idolatry and apostasy. We must have and follow divine
direction.

In Eze 16, God speaks of how Israel decorated their high places with various
colors. Faussett's Bible Dictionary offers this bit of insight:

The sense is as a harlot spreading her tent of divers (various) colors to lure victims, so Israel set
up on the high places, not stone chapels but tents hung with colored tapestry, as with the 'woven
hangings of Asherah, or Astarte' which is the right translation for 'grove'.

They called these tents houses of the high palaces (1Ki_13:32, 2Ki_17:29) and set up
priests to minister in them. Before the temple was built, the high places were
allowed as long as God only was worshiped there. But the people often worshiped
idols instead and committed all kinds of abominations, such as child sacrifice, and
burning incense (which was symbolic of prayer) to these idols. The groves play an
important part of worship in the high places. Tree worship goes back centuries
and could possibly be a distorted way of remembering the Tree of life and the tree
of knowledge mentioned in Gen 3. Deu_16:21 God commanded and warned His
people not to plant trees of any kind near His altar. They were not to set up any
image, memorial, column or pillar (the idea being for support) or idol. Nothing
that would distract from, compete with or be thought a help to God could be placed
near His altar. Neither were they allowed to make images to represent God-so you
might want to throw out those pictures of Jesus created by men who have never
seen Him. They are idols. Deu_12:5 tells us we are to come to Him only by the way
He prescribes.

Hezekiah had heard of the destruction wrought just down the road in Samaria,
and how all of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians. He had a heart for God and he
wanted these idolatrous practices his father had set up torn down and destroyed.
He wanted to move the people back to God. He had this testimony:

2Ki 18:5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among
   all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
2Ki 18:6 For he clung to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his
   commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.
2Ki 18:7 And the LORD was with him; and he prospered wherever he went forth: and he
   rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.

He quickly, upon taking the throne reopened the temple, gathered the Levites and
told them to cleanse the temple, and sanctify themselves. He had the house of God
set in order quickly. The Levites were the tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel chosen by
God to minister to and for Him. They were not to have any earthly inheritance-for
HE was their portion. They were to be set apart from the others and supported by
the others. In the fourth year after Hezekiah became king of Judah, Israel was
taken captive by the Assyrians after being warred against and besieged for three
years. This had to be alarming to the people of Judah, because Jerusalem was not
far from Samaria. Everyone knew the Assyrians were the most brutal military on
earth at the time. They were very cruel. They would often skin their victims alive,
cut off their hands, feet, noses, ears, and put out their eyes. They would pull out
their tongues, decapitate their victims and make mounds of heads and even make
their victims at times wear the heads of other victims around their neck like a
terrible yoke. They often impaled their victims on poles, as well. They would
deport the surviving captives to other lands, and set out to destroy their sense of
identity, forcing them to submit to the will of their captors. The Lord raised this
army up against Israel for her sins and rebellion against Him were very great. She
refused to humble herself and repent and turn back to the Lord. Indeed, Israel had
become a very wicked nation. (2Ki_17:5-18)

Samaria fell and the people were led away into a brutal captivity. This defeat of
Israel had a mental impact on Hezekiah and the people of Judah. For many years,
he followed after the Lord. This was in the fourth year of the reign of Hezekiah. If
you read in 2 Chr 31 Hezekiah is very busy during this time, commanding the
people in Jerusalem to bring the tithes into God's House. He told them to give the
portion due to the priests and Levites that they might be encouraged in the Word
of God. He appointed the priests and Levites according to their sections. He divided
the responsibilities of the priests, the Levites, and the people, to restore order in
the House of God, and bring back the worship and sacrifices to God. All through
this chapter, these things were being set back in order, and established as
customary in the city of Jerusalem, and all the cities of Judah. He sought to bring
the people back to God. There was a revival going on, and the Lord was once again
blessing His people.
2Ch 32:1 After these things, and the establishment of them, Sennacherib king of Assyria
   came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fortified cities, and thought to
   win them for himself.

Hezekiah responded with brilliant military and tactical decisions. The water
supply which was outside the city, they stopped up. No sense in allowing an enemy
army to draw from their water supply. Hezekiah had a huge tunnel dug and the
water supply was re-routed through the underground tunnel under the walls of
the city so the people of Jerusalem would not be cut off from their water supply
nor could the enemy army benefit from it. He built up the wall around the city,
repairing the damage in the wall and the people worked together. He raised up
towers for the watchmen, and repaired the citadel which protected Jerusalem on
the north as it's most outer defense. It was a fortification that consisted of 2 walls
filled in with earth and rocks. He set captains of war over the people, gathered
them together and encouraged them not to fear this enemy.

2Ch 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed by the king of Assyria, nor
   by all the multitude that is with him: for there are more with us than with him:
2Ch 32:8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to
   fight our battles. And the people encouraged themselves by the words of Hezekiah king
   of Judah.

 When Hezekiah gets the news that the fortified cities have fallen into the hands of
Sennacherib, something happens. (2Ki_18:13)We can read Isa_36:1 for it gives the
same account. Now, Hezekiah's faith is being tested. He's served God, faithfully.
He's brought the people back in line with God's Word, destroyed the idols, restored
the sacrifice, and fortified the cities and the people, so they are prepared for
attack. Now the fortified cities outside Jerusalem are taken by the enemy.
Hezekiah has not forgotten the carnage that was wrought by the Assyrian Army
ten years earlier when they had conquered Samaria and the people of Israel. I
believe when Hezekiah was encouraging the people, he was trying to encourage
himself as well. I compared the accounts of these events as given in here, in 2 Kings
18, Isa_36:1-22, and 2Ch_32:9-19. It seems Hezekiah's faith began to waver. He began
to compromise.

He sends a message to the Assyrian king, at Lachish, and it makes you wonder
what he was thinking. "I've done wrong, I'll pay what you ask. I'll accept it." So
Sennacherib, who was himself so vicious he murdered his own brother to ascend to
the throne of Assyria, laid a tribute on Hezekiah, just as his father had laid on
Ahaz-more than eleven tons of silver and a ton of gold. Hezekiah doesn't have that
kind of money in his own treasury, nor do the people. So where do they look? The
house of God. He literally takes the silver and gold vessels in the House of God, and
even has to take the gold off the doors of the House of God. This is like robbing God
to pay the devil. In his later years, he made another serious mistake, inviting
representatives of the Babylonians into his palace and showing them the treasures
he had. God had spared his life, healing him when he became sick with a boil and
would have died.

2Ki 20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of
   Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for
   thou shalt die, and not live.

He had been king for a while, several years, and had enjoyed victory under the
leadership of the Lord. The Lord had wrought great deliverance for Israel from the
Assyrian armies that came against them. He had given Hezekiah wisdom to lead
this nation in the right path. But Hezekiah did not want to die. When God said it's
time, Hezekiah said no, Lord, I've done right, what was good in your sight, and
cried for the Word of the Lord to him was you must die. He had a boil on him that
was infected, and poisoning his system. From what I've read researching this, a
boil is like an infected ulcer, and back in the time of Hezekiah, could be
complicated by leprosy, like it was in the case of Job. Ulcerated sores that show up
on man's skin, full of infection. This is like the plague of boils God sent on Egypt.
It's a death sentence to the flesh.

As I read this, it occurred to me that as a Christian, God says everything you are,
everything you want, everything your carnal nature desires, it has to die so I can
raise up the life of My Son in you. Hezekiah, if he'd died at this time, would have
went out in the will of God. But he resisted this, and afterward gave life to
something that would destroy many of God's people. A son, named Manasseh who
would be the most brutal and evil king Judah had. God heard Hezekiah's pleas and
healed him, but there was something born of Hezekiah afterward that would not
have been had he accepted the word of the Lord and not prayed against it. He
fathered a son, Manasseh, who would later have the prophet Isaiah sawn in half
and cause the nation of Judah to spiral out of control with sin, wickedness, and
many of the saints would be slaughtered. Manasseh would be one of the most
wicked kings to rule over Judah. Hezekiah also acted very unwisely in allowing
these Babylonians access to the nation's treasures. Isaiah comes to Hezekiah with
a word from the Lord.

Isa 39:6 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers
   have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith
   the LORD.
Isa 39:7 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take
away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Consider how Hezekiah responds to this warning. He is not repentant. He does not
go to the Lord to intercede on behalf of his sons and grandsons. No. All he says is
well, good is the Word of the Lord, at least I'll have peace in my time. How selfish. I
ask you, will God allow someone with that spirit in heaven? Hezekiah has always
been preached as a godly king, but listen to him at the end. Selfish. Makes me
wonder. As I look at Hezekiah's life, and see how great a start he had with the
Lord, I wonder about his end. I don't want to start great and end up lost and
betraying the Lord. He was told that his sons, and that includes grandsons, would
be castrated and taken captive and what does he say?

Isa 39:8 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast
spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.
Well, the Lord's Word is good, it's fair, and at least there won't be trouble in my
days. Did he have problems staring his sons in the face? What about Manasseh?
This one grew up to do much evil to God's people. Perhaps he thought it was better
than some of his siblings got. The Scripture tells us in 2Ki_16:3 that his father, King
Ahaz was an evil man who burnt his sons in the fire as a sacrifice to Canaanite
gods. Hezekiah had a boil, an infection in his body that was killing him and God
said he had to die. Set his house in order. Much ado is made over God's mercy to
this man, but I've heard very little about the tragedy that would come to Israel and
his own household, including the prophet Isaiah, because this man lived 15 more
years. Compare this with our carnal nature, and self will-surely an infection in us
that has to be dealt with. Nothing good comes from self will, or carnal living-not in
the kingdom of God. When God says that self will of ours has to die, we must listen
to Him and agree with Him. Who knows what will be birthed in our lives and how
it will affect others around us if we do not heed the Lord.

				
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