Hezekiah attempted to bribe the Assyrian King Sennacherib, possibly in an attempt to avoid what was later to become an invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem. There is also some evidence that Hezekiah made an attempt to secure a political alliance with Egypt in order to thwart the Assyrian invasion. Sennacherib retreated to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, and was later assassinated by his own sons.
The shift in chronology matches that found in Isaiah, and possibly was used there for literary reasons and then was followed in 2 Kings. We are each entrusted with precious things from the Lord and we must be careful to guard them so we can not only finish well personally, but also pass the precious things on to those who follow us. Divided Kingdom Timeline. Printer Friendly Divided Kingdom Timeline. Unit Binder Cover. The parallel account in 2 Chronicles 29 gives details concerning the reopening of the House of the Lord and the reinstituting of the worship of Jehovah in the Temple.
Hezekiah also recognized that the brazen serpent made by Moses nearly seven hundred years earlier which was used by God to bring deliverance, see Numbers had become an idol, distracting people from the true God rather than an icon drawing them closer to Him.
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Hezekiah was commended when he reopened the doors to the Temple and encouraged all of Judah to worship in that place. It is easy to accept less or to substitute something else for the true worship of God in the heart. We must always be on guard. Scripture records that Hezekiah trusted the Lord, clave to the Lord, and departed not from following Him 2 Kings He apparently did this in the midst of extreme political, military, and economic pressure to do just the opposite.
Name some ways in which we also are pressured to depart from the Lord and explain how our trust in God can help us resist. You could address this question with your students by compiling a list of their answers regarding ways we are pressured to depart from the Lord. Suggestions might be fear, pride, busyness, distractions, consumerism, loss of employment, etc.
Then focus on what Hezekiah did right in terms of resisting pressure, using the specifics given in 2 Kings Begin by considering the word trust. Discuss with your students the character, ability, and strength of God. How can a focus on these attributes help us to withstand pressure to depart from Him?
Next, consider the old English word clave, which suggests staying close or near. Point out that there is One to whom we should stay near and follow if we are to resist pressure from the world.
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It is a simple principle: stay close. Though we may be tempted to wander, lag behind, or even depart in a different direction, focusing upon the character of God in the person of Jesus will help us stay close during difficult times. How did he try to influence the inhabitants of Jerusalem? Finally, the brash diplomats attempted to stir up the people by broadcasting distrust and fear directly to the residents of Jerusalem who lived near the wall and could hear the proclamation of doom. The Assyrians falsely promised affluence and prosperity in exchange for surrender.
As a follow-up question, ask your class: How does the enemy of our souls use similar tactics to thwart our faith in God? Discussion should bring out that in the Garden of Eden, Satan began by questioning the truthfulness and integrity of God.
He uses the same tactics today. Just because we cannot readily see God in times of difficulty and tragedy does not negate His faithfulness or the truth of His character. Most obviously, Satan attempts to broadcast distrust and fear directly into our hearts and into the hearts of those around us.
How did Hezekiah respond to the threats brought first by the Assyrian diplomats and then by a letter sent directly from Sennacherib? Upon receiving the arrogant and threatening letter from Sennacherib, King Hezekiah read it and then immediately took it to the Temple and spread it before the Lord. Taking these situations humbly to the Lord in prayer would be a wise response. Ultimately, we represent God and want His name to be lifted up and glorified in the world around us.
Taking time to humbly pray, encouraging others to do the same, asking for intercessory prayer, asking God for guidance, etc.
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To do that, we must first make sure we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is obtained through repentance by faith resulting in the forgiveness of our sins. Beyond this, we can make wise choices concerning our relationships, service to God, finances, and the other affairs of life. This will also keep us ready should the Lord return prior to our death. Phrases like "bowing down," Intelligence, without spirituality, induces pride of intellect, and ends in evil.
A man who knows much, and who learns easily, is not necessarily made better by his learning. Goodness results from the humble practice of known truths, in the daily life. Truth known, but not loved and lived, is truth alone, without good, and, therefore, without spiritual life. Literally, the text refers to the downfall of Assyria, which is cited as a warning to Egypt, enforcing a prophecy of her downfall. The Assyrians were a fierce, warlike people, intelligent, but treacherous, proud, and lawless, and regarding other nations as inferior. As a representative, Ashur, or Assyria, denotes the rational faculty, the reasoning power, the thinking principle, by which men become intelligent.
And the representative holds good in regard to churches, as well as individuals. For, in regarding spiritual things, we look to principles, rather than to persons. And principles are the same, whether in all individual or in a mass of men. Every individual member of the church, is a church in the least form; and the general church is but the aggregate of the individual persons, as churches.
The text is not merely historical and prophetical, as to past churches, but it applies to all men, in all times, and in all places, who are in the states of mind and life described in the text. The same evils of heart and of life, which induced the spiritual downfall of the ancient Assyrians, threaten our destruction today, both nationally and individually.
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The same kind of intelligence is open to us; and the same peril of pride of intelligence confronts us. And especially is this the case in the nominal New Church, in which there is abundance of true doctrine, and great opportunity for knowledge. But, with that knowledge, comes increased responsibility, lest we forget the one Source of all truth. Trees represent man's perceptions of truth, growing in his mind, and bearing fruit in his life.
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Cedar-trees represent rational perceptions. Cedars of Lebanon represent the perceptions of spiritual truth, and the knowledges of truth, branching out, and growing with the growth of the mind. The text declares that the Assyrian, as a cedar of Lebanon, was made great by growing beside the water; i. Knowledges from the letter of the Word develop our spiritual intelligence. And thus, spiritual intelligence is high and far-reaching, "above all the trees of the field;" i. For the rational faculty of the mind is the medium between the natural and the spiritual parts of the mind.
And, by means of the rational faculty, or thinking ability, natural thoughts bring forth after their kind, in abundance, and furnish the material for spiritual thoughts. For spiritual thought is not merely thought about spiritual things, but it is thinking about all things in a spiritual way, from a spiritual standpoint, and in spiritual light. The natural man thinks about spiritual things, but he regards them from a natural standpoint; and, hence, he does not think spiritually, but naturally.
Under the cedar the beasts, also, brought forth their young; i. Thus the cedar was fair, or beautiful in his greatness; i. The other trees could not bide the tall Assyrian cedar; i. The other trees envied, or, rather, emulated him; tried to follow his far-reaching example.
So, in our minds, if we are spiritually intelligent, that intelligence elevates and dignifies our intelligence of other kinds. All kinds of intelligence aspire to be like spiritual intelligence, to know good and evil. Thus the text displays the beauty and spirituality of the intelligence of the spiritual man, the man whose mind is open in the spiritual degree of thought.
His mind is like a noble cedar of Lebanon, lofty, ever green with life, reaching high up into the sunlight of heaven. The truths of the Lord's Word, even in its literal sense, supply him spiritual nourishment, as the waters nourish the roots of the noble cedar. For, in the letter of the Word, he sees the indwelling spiritual meaning, and applies its teachings to spiritual things.
The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff, which the wind driveth away" Psalm But the Assyrian changed his character, and thus fell from his high condition. Spiritually, conditions always depend upon character. Progress in goodness of character makes spiritual growth, and degeneration in character produces decay. However intelligent a man may become, his intelligence, being given for the purpose of growth in character, can remain with him only while he uses it for spiritual growth.
Those that be planted in the house of Jehovah shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age" Psalm But this condition can remain so long, only, as the man acknowledges his intelligence to be the continued gift of the Lord. The moment the man begins to regard his intelligence as his own, he separates it from its source, and destroys its spiritual quality. For intelligence, like life, continuously and momentarily flows into a man, from the Lord, as heat and light flow in continuously into a plant, from the sun.
As the sun gives and the plant receives, so the Lord gives and man receives. The Lord does not create men in such a manner that they can take intelligence, and use it, and retain it, apart from the Lord.
A man has only the capacity to receive intelligence, as it flows into him, from the Lord. Intelligence is a condition; and that condition is maintained, not by the man, but by the Lord, according to the man's willingness to open himself to the Lord. Therefore, by degeneration in character, a man degenerates in spiritual intelligence, because he diminishes his capacity to receive intelligence from the Lord.
He closes himself against the Lord. And there is nothing in the man, of himself, to sustain intelligence. Although a man understands a truth as a fact, or as a doctrine, it may have no immediate connection with his actual life, It may not make him any better as a man. If he regards the truth as the Lord's truth, revealed to men, he sees it in connection with the Lord, and he obeys it as the Lord's truth; and he is then made better by it. He keeps himself open to the stream of the Divine life, which flows into his mind.
But, if the man, intellectually receiving a truth, regards it as his own truth, discovered by his own Intelligence, he falls into the pride of his own intelligence. He claims intelligence as his own, and forgets that both the truth and the intelligence are gifts from the Lord, momentarily given to men.
By the pride of his own intellect, the man exalts himself, and despises others, whom he regards as less intelligent. And, in doing this, he closes his interior mind against the Lord, and destroys the spirituality of his intelligence. He keeps the outward form of knowledge, but loses its inward spirit. And then, instead of being made better by his knowledge and intelligence, he is made worse by them, because he refers them to himself, and cultivates the infernal pride of intellect; a form of evil into which many very intellectual men have fallen.
But, all through the Scriptures, the Lord warns men against intellectual pride. Moses, in reciting the goodness of God, warned men against taking to themselves the credit of their prosperity. And, in the New Testament, Jesus has recorded His warnings against self-exaltation and intellectual pride. And, in our text and the context, the self-exaltation and intellectual pride of Assyria are described, and their evil results demonstrated. The constant tendency of the natural mind is to feel its own importance, and to exaggerate that importance. And, as a man develops the pride of his own intelligence, he diminishes his regard for the Divine intelligence.
As he imagines himself greater, he feels less and less need of any intelligence beyond his own. He glories in his own supposed intelligence: and such glorying develops the spirit of self-love. And it brings the man into closer association with the evil spirits and devils in the hells; for they all exalt themselves, and proclaim their own importance. They have the greatest confidence in their own intelligence, even when, in the light of heaven, they are seen to be utterly insane in spiritual things.
Thus, as a man falls into the pride of his own intelligence, he departs from the spiritual company of angels; and, in character, in motives, and in plans, he associates with evil spirits. He turns away from the Lord of life, and loves himself above all others. He gives himself up to evil feelings and false thoughts, which soon confirm themselves in evils of life. Although, in his former intelligence, he was like a noble cedar of Lebanon, now he resembles that tree, broken down and destroyed, lying in ruins, and serving as a resting-place for the birds of night, and the ravenous beasts of prey, the falsities and evils of his own unregenerate nature.
For thou hast said In thine heart, I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell to the sides of the pit" Isaiah Such is the fate of him who falls into the pride of his own intellect, and who glories in self-intelligence.
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Intellectually, he may mount to the stars, while his heart is still in evil, and his life in sin. In his mind, all the truths that he knows are defiled by the lust of pride. However spiritual he may have been, if he has suffered the pride of his own Intelligence to govern his mind, he has been reduced to a low and sensuous state, as to his actual life. As the context says, "This is Pharaoh and all his multitude:" this is the natural man, given up to the sensuous life of selfishness, even amid all his learning, his science, and his supposed intelligence.
This is Egypt, trusting in its horses and chariots, instead of trusting in the providence of the Lord; it is the natural man, trusting in his own understanding, and his knowledge of doctrine, instead of looking to the Lord for guidance, and to the Lord's Word for true doctrine.