January 25, 2009 – January 31, 2009
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12.
Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 331–348; Counsels on Health, 380–382.
“Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps!” Prophets and Kings, 348.
1 What did Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, realize when he became king of Judah? II Chronicles 29:1, 6–10. What were his first reformatory steps? II Chronicles 29:2–5.
Note: “Hezekiah came to the throne determined to do all in his power to save Judah from the fate that was overtaking the northern kingdom. The messages of the prophets offered no encouragement to halfway measures. Only by most decided reformation could the threatened judgments be averted.
“In the crisis, Hezekiah proved to be a man of opportunity. No sooner had he ascended the throne than he began to plan and to execute. He first turned his attention to the restoration of the temple services, so long neglected; and in this work he earnestly solicited the co-operation of a band of priests and Levites who had remained true to their sacred calling. Confident of their loyal support, he spoke with them freely concerning his desire to institute immediate and far-reaching reforms.” Prophets and Kings, 331.
“Soon Israel would fall completely into the hands of the Assyrians, and be utterly ruined; and this fate would surely befall Judah as well, unless God should work mightily through chosen representatives.” Ibid., 332.
2 What appeal did God direct to Judah repeatedly? Isaiah 31:6. What was the response of the goodly remnant? Micah 7:7–9; II Chronicles 29:16–20, 27–31, 35, 36.
Note: “God had indeed prepared the hearts of the chief men of Judah to lead out in a decided reformatory movement, that the tide of apostasy might be stayed. Through His prophets He had sent to His chosen people message after message of earnest entreaty—messages that had been despised and rejected by the ten tribes of the kingdom of Israel, now given over to the enemy. But in Judah there remained a goodly remnant, and to these the prophets continued to appeal. …
“These and other like messages revealing the willingness of God to forgive and accept those who turned to Him with full purpose of heart, had brought hope to many a fainting soul in the dark years when the temple doors remained closed; and now, as the leaders began to institute a reform, a multitude of the people, weary of the thralldom of sin, were ready to respond.” Prophets and Kings, 333, 334.
3 What prophetic prayer, previously offered at the dedication of the temple, was fulfilled in the reformation of Hezekiah? I Kings 8:33, 34; II Chronicles 7:14.
Note: “The seal of divine approval had been placed upon this prayer; for at its close fire had come down from heaven to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord had filled the temple. See II Chronicles 7:1. And by night the Lord had appeared to Solomon to tell him that his prayer had been heard, and that mercy would be shown those who should worship there. …
“These promises met abundant fulfillment during the reformation under Hezekiah.” Prophets and Kings, 335.
4 Describe the success of Hezekiah’s reformation. II Chronicles 30:1, 9–13, 21–23, 26, 27.
Note: “The seven days usually allotted to the Passover feast passed all too quickly, and the worshipers determined to spend another seven days in learning more fully the way of the Lord. The teaching priests continued their work of instruction from the book of the law; daily the people assembled at the temple to offer their tribute of praise and thanksgiving; and as the great meeting drew to a close, it was evident that God had wrought marvelously in the conversion of backsliding Judah and in stemming the tide of idolatry which threatened to sweep all before it. The solemn warnings of the prophets had not been uttered in vain.” Prophets and Kings, 337.
5 After the Passover, what further steps marked the genuineness of Hezekiah’s reformation? II Chronicles 31:1, 5, 6. How was his administration described? II Chronicles 31:20, 21; II Kings 18:4–7.
Note: “The reign of Hezekiah was characterized by a series of remarkable providences which revealed to the surrounding nations that the God of Israel was with His people.” Prophets and Kings, 339.
6 When Hezekiah was sick, what message did he receive, and how did God use mercy toward him? II Kings 20:1–7. How did he express gratitude to God? Isaiah 38:9–20.
Note: “Restored to his wonted strength, the king of Judah acknowledged in words of song the mercies of Jehovah, and vowed to spend his remaining days in willing service to the King of kings. His grateful recognition of God’s compassionate dealing with him is an inspiration to all who desire to spend their years to the glory of their Maker.” Prophets and Kings, 342.
7 Through what sign did God confirm His promise to Hezekiah, and what reaction did this spark in a faraway land? II Kings 20:8–12.
Note: “In the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates there dwelt an ancient race which, though at that time subject to Assyria, was destined to rule the world. Among its people were wise men who gave much attention to the study of astronomy; and when they noticed that the shadow on the sundial had been turned back ten degrees, they marveled greatly. Their king, Merodachbaladan, upon learning that this miracle had been wrought as a sign to the king of Judah that the God of heaven had granted him a new lease of life, sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery and to learn, if possible, more of the God who was able to perform so great a wonder.
“The visit of these messengers from the ruler of a faraway land gave Hezekiah an opportunity to extol the living God. How easy it would have been for him to tell them of God, the upholder of all created things, through whose favor his own life had been spared when all other hope had fled! What momentous transformations might have taken place had these seekers after truth from the plains of Chaldea been led to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of the living God!” Prophets and Kings, 344.
8 What mistake tarnished Hezekiah’s good record? II Chronicles 32:25, 31; Isaiah 39:1–4.
Note: “Pride and vanity took possession of Hezekiah’s heart, and in self-exaltation he laid open to covetous eyes the treasures with which God had enriched His people. … Not to glorify God did he do this, but to exalt himself in the eyes of the foreign princes. He did not stop to consider that these men were representatives of a powerful nation that had not the fear nor the love of God in their hearts, and that it was imprudent to make them his confidants concerning the temporal riches of the nation. …
“Had Hezekiah improved the opportunity given him to bear witness to the power, the goodness, the compassion, of the God of Israel, the report of the ambassadors would have been as light piercing darkness. But he magnified himself above the Lord of hosts. He ‘rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up.’ [II Chronicles 32:25.]” Prophets and Kings, 344–346.
9 What consequences were to follow Hezekiah’s imprudence, and how did he show repentance before God? Isaiah 39:5–8; II Chronicles 32:26.
10 What should we learn from this experience of Hezekiah? I Corinthians 10:12; I Peter 3:15.
Note: “During his remaining years the king of Judah was to have much prosperity because of his steadfast purpose to redeem the past and to bring honor to the name of the God whom he served; yet his faith was to be severely tried. …
“Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience, of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless depths of the Saviour’s love. When mind and heart are filled with the love of God, it will not be difficult to impart that which enters into the spiritual life. Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for piety and holiness, will find expression in words that reveal the character of the heart treasure.
“Those with whom we associate day by day need our help, our guidance. They may be in such a condition of mind that a word spoken in season will be as a nail in a sure place. Tomorrow some of these souls may be where we can never reach them again. What is our influence over these fellow travelers? …
“One reckless movement, one imprudent step, and the surging waves of some strong temptation may sweep a soul into the downward path. …
“On the other hand, if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence.” Prophets and Kings, 347, 348.
“The visit of the ambassadors to Hezekiah was a test of his gratitude and devotion. … Had Hezekiah improved the opportunity given him to bear witness to the power, the goodness, the compassion, of the God of Israel, the report of the ambassadors would have been as light piercing darkness. But he magnified himself above the Lord of hosts. He ‘rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up.’ [II Chronicles 32:25.]
“The story of Hezekiah’s failure to prove true to his trust … is fraught with an important lesson for all. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience, of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless depths of the Saviour’s love. When mind and heart are filled with the love of God, it will not be difficult to impart that which enters into the spiritual life. Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for piety and holiness, will find expression in words that reveal the character of the heart treasure.
“Those with whom we associate day by day need our help, our guidance. They may be in such a condition of mind that a word spoken in season will be as a nail in a sure place. Tomorrow some of these souls may be where we can never reach them again. What is our influence over these fellow travelers?
“What have your friends and acquaintances seen in your house? Are you, instead of revealing the treasures of the grace of Christ, displaying those things that will perish with the using? Or do you, to those with whom you are brought in contact, communicate some new thought of Christ’s character and work? … O that those for whom God has done marvelous things would show forth His praises, and tell of His mighty works. But how often those for whom God works are like Hezekiah—forgetful of the Giver of all their blessings.” Conflict and Courage, 241.
“My dear young friends, do the work that lies nearest at hand. Turn your attention to some humble line of effort within your reach. Put mind and heart into the doing of this work. Force your thoughts to act intelligently on the things that you can do at home. Thus you will be fitting yourself for greater usefulness. Remember that of King Hezekiah it is written: ‘In every work that he began, … he did it with all his heart, and prospered.’ [II Chronicles 31:21.]
“The ability to fix the thoughts on the work in hand is a great blessing. God-fearing youth should strive to discharge their duties with thoughtful consideration, keeping the thoughts in the right channel, and doing their best. They should recognize their present duties, and fulfill them without allowing the mind to wander. This kind of mental discipline will be helpful and beneficial throughout life. Those who learn to put thought into everything they undertake, however small the work may appear, will be of use in the world.” Messages to Young People, 148, 149.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.