2 Kings 18:13-16 NLTse In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. (14) King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold. (15) To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the LORD and in the palace treasury. (16) Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the LORD’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king.
Just when you think one of Judah’s kings got everything together, we see the same story, turning to treasures outside the temple for security. That is one of those things we need to expect to find in this world. The temptations to turn to the methods this world relies on to solve problems.
How did Hezekiah miss all those signs? Hezekiah stepped outside the safe boundary zone established and worshiped in this world into what most people term as the unknown. Hezekiah relied on God for a time. But that reliance, and friendship doesn’t seem to come with a step by step manual people feel comfortable with. Let’s look at this a moment.
You can search the Internet for weeks and not run out of sites with all kinds of information on the gods worshiped in ancient times. There are stone carvings, tablets, papers that somehow survived, in addition to the many idols dug up over the years. All that evidence sits in museums like we are supposed to somehow learn something from them. Like those false gods can somehow provide answers generations after people stopped worshiping and sacrificing to them. With many people, those idols still hold some kind of a mystical power.
The information on those gods points to a simple concept on worship. On a certain moon phase, or season, do this or that. Worship didn’t seem like a difficult thing. Follow a few simple steps and the gods will bless you.
Some people may think, God didn’t have rules like that. Or they may think, God has too many rules to follow. But where do we find God’s rules to follow? Are they the Ten Commandments carved in stone tablets like rules from those other gods? Or do they go much deeper than that? The introduction to this chapter pointed us back to David, which is a good place to start.
I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. (2 Samuel 7:14 NLTse).
David had a special relationship with God. A Father and son relationship like no other. Can any words or pen fully explain that relationship? Does that kind of relationship have to be written in stone? If we looked back on David’s life, we see how that relationship began when David spent long hours tending his father’s sheep in the fields. David spend days and weeks alone, talking with God and learning about Him. Maybe that’s what the word pastor, mentioned only once in the New Testament points us to. The Greek word pastor means shepherd. Does that word pastor point us back to a life like David’s? Does that word take us out of this world into God’s realm? Then why are there so many man made definitions, tasks, roles, and duties assigned to that name that seem so contrary to the simple meaning God placed on the word pastor?
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies– I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for–riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:10-14 NLTse).
Solomon continued that relationship with God, but on a different level, and a different way. God didn’t treat Solomon the same way He treated David. Even though David and Solomon were father and son, and God had a Father and son relationship with David, God’s relationship with Solomon was different.
Then Jehoiada brought out Joash, the king’s son, placed the crown on his head, and presented him with a copy of God’s laws. They anointed him and proclaimed him king, and everyone clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!” (2 Kings 11:12 NLTse).
It was some time between Solomon and the next king with details showing how he followed God. There is of course a connection between the good kings recorded in scripture. David had times he followed God, the commandments, and laws. David had times he forgot about those laws and commandments. Solomon followed in his father’s footsteps in that regard.
When God spoke to Solomon, He reminded Solomon about those laws he had to follow to see success. Later we see how Jehoiada gave Joash a copy of God’s laws. Here are the written instructions on how to worship God. Some written on stone, others recorded by hand on parchment or another type of media.
God doesn’t have a short list of steps to worship and sacrifice to Him. God had a set of books, five of them recorded by Moses. God didn’t write a short list of steps to teach people how to worship Him. God taught through stories showing what people did right, and what some people did wrong. God had a list of laws, and sacrifices to follow. Much too long to carve in stone. But Joshua carved them in a stone.
When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write this whole body of instruction on them when you cross the river to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you–a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (Deuteronomy 27:2-3 NLTse).
It seems ancient people were pleased with easy to follow instructions more than the long drawn out set of instructions Joshua had to write on those stones. Ancient gods people made up had simple rules to follow requiring no thought from the people who worshiped them. But God was different. Every relationship with God recorded in scripture was different. Each person followed different steps. God didn’t say if one process was better than the other. To many, following God seemed like a long, drawn out process. So why not invent a shorter, easier to understand process?
The problem with all those man made lists of rules to follow God is, they blotted out the personal relationship factor God strived to keep in His Word. If Joshua could write all those laws on stone, why couldn’t people follow them?
Many people look at God’s laws as a collection of what is referred to as the Levitical laws. A collection of a few chapters in the Bible telling people what to eat, what to do when a woman is raped, what to do if leprosy shows up, and other details. There are some who narrow that list down to the Ten Commandments. But look at what is explained about king Joash. When Jehoiada gave Joash a set of the laws, someone like Jehoiada would have never considered chopping apart scripture to give a king only the part they felt was necessary. When we look at the aspect of Jesus as High Priest and King, we can see a spiritual connection unfold. Joash received every word and letter to read, study, and guide him.
We see that pattern with the good kings that led Judah. So why did Hezekiah decide to leave God and trust in that treasury outside the temple? We know Hezekiah didn’t fit the mold in Judah at the time. People worshiped every god they could get their hands on. Hezekiah fought an uphill battle on the spiritual and physical sides. God gave Hezekiah a number of victories against physical armies. But when a new threat raised its ugly head, Hezekiah responded much like Elijah did when he ran away from Jezebel. In his own way, Hezekiah ran away from God.