Judah’s turnaround

King Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz king of Judah, began his reign within a few years of the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. It says in 2 Kings 18:1 that Hezekiah began his reign in the third year of Hoshea’s reign, which would have been about 729 B.C. In 725 B.C., Shalmaneser V, king of Assyria, attacked Samaria and three years later the northern Israelite kingdom ended. From that point forward, only the kingdom of Judah was left and Hezekiah became the first king since king Solomon that had sole control of the Promised Land.

Hezekiah’s approach to managing God’s kingdom was the opposite of his father’s. Whereas Ahaz had practiced obscene idolatry comparable to the pagan practices of Syria, Hezekiah was devoted to the LORD and kept his commandments (2 Kings 18:6). Most likely, this was due to the influence of his maternal grandfather Zechariah. During the reign of Uzziah king of Judah, Zechariah was a spiritual advisor. It says in 2 Chronicles 26:5 that Uzziah “sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God.” No doubt, Zechariah also shared his understanding of these visions with Hezekiah. Perhaps, as a young child, Hezekiah had listened in as his grandfather counseled king Uzziah in the ways of God.

The difference between the reigns of king Ahaz and his son Hezekiah was like night and day. The dramatic change produced an almost overnight turnaround in Judah’s decline in stature. King Ahaz’s defeat by Pekah the son of Remaliah resulted in 120,000 valiant men being killed in one day and another 200,000 people being taken into captivity. In spite of this devastating blow to the army of Judah, king Hezekiah was able to reverse the conditions in which the Philistines captured Judahite cities and subdued the most dreaded enemy of Israel (2 Kings 18:8).

King Hezekiah’s dramatic turnaround of the kingdom of Judah was proof that God had not turned his back on his people and was willing to forgive their transgressions if they would put their trust in him. The sincerity with which Hezekiah sought the LORD was such that it says of him in 2 Kings 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.”

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