Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. 2 Chronicles 29:1
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at some “footnote” people in Scripture. They are people whose stories aren’t the most familiar, but their character and faithfulness are just as solid. For today, I’ll say up front that most of my case is by inference. Let me explain.
Hezekiah became king of Judah in 729 BC. Now, he had probably been a co-regent with his father Ahaz since 715 BC, or since he was eleven years old. Ahaz was not a good king, morally or politically. In spite of the advice of prophets like Isaiah, he led Judah to a very dark place. He shut up the doors of the Temple so no one could worship (2 Chr 28:24), gave the utensils inside to try to pay off the Assyrians and had a new altar built to match the one he saw in Syria. His immersion in the worship of Molech was so complete that he sacrificed his own son to the false god (2 Kings 16:3). The historian summed him up this way: Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD. This is that King Ahaz. 2 Chronicles 28:22
So, with that kind of example, it’s almost miraculous that Hezekiah turned out to be the godly king that he was. Sure Isaiah was around, but if Ahaz didn’t pay attention to the prophet, why would his son? Someone laid a tremendous foundation for Hezekiah, a foundation so strong that when he was no longer a co-regent but a king in his own right, he began to turn the nation back to God.
With that inference, I’m guessing it was his mother, Abijah. She would have had a great deal of contact with and influence over her son during his early years, the years before his father took him to begin instructing him in the ways of the court. Perhaps young Hezekiah’s grandfather, Jotham, a godly king had some influence. Perhaps, Abijah’s parents also played a role.
Someone was courageous enough and committed enough to stand against culture. Whoever they were, people in the future king’s life pointed him toward strong, active faith in God. Admittedly, that’s not always enough. Hezekiah had to embrace that faith for himself, but seeing people around him, like the prophets, like his mother and grandparents perhaps, helped solidify that. As believers in Christ, we have to exemplify that same courage and commitment.
Someone took instructing the next generation seriously. We don’t know what God has in store for the young people around us, but we know that they won’t pick up the tenets of faith by osmosis. We have to be intentional, and take advantage of the time and opportunities we have, whether it’s our kids, our grandkids, the kids at church, or the kids in the neighborhood.
Someone understood what was at stake. Embracing the idolatry of the Syrians and selling out to the Assyrians threatened the nation of Judah’s very existence. Unfortunately, they were a minority. Less than a hundred and fifty years later, Judah was devastated by Babylon. We have to understand that while society is at risk, the eternal destinies of countless people are even more threatened by everything from apathy and indifference to outright hostility. We must invest in the people around us.
Who are you influencing for Christ?
Who influenced and instructed you?