IDOLSMASHERS: HEZEKIAH & JOSIAH—THE ASSYRIANS
Only Judah remained of the Hebrews, or "Jews" as the Babylonians later called them, with their capital city, Jerusalem. Northern Israel had gone into the captivity of the Assyrians. (ML 693:70)
1. King Hezekiah began to rule Judah three years after Hoshea, the last king of Israel began his rule. But unlike the murderer Hoshea, King Hezekiah "... did that which was right in the sight of the Lord ... He trusted in the Lord God ... and departed not from following Him, but kept his commandments. ... And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth. ..." (2Kings 18:3–7)
Hezekiah was a great iconoclast—an idol smasher! How many have found it easy to have your idols smashed? If you have‚ you're unusual!—God bless you! For most people it's pretty hard to take! "Now listen Lord, can't we just keep this little idol here now? I know I worshipped this idol for many years and it was very dear to me. ..." Wham! Just like that God comes along and smashes that idol! "I will have no other Gods before Me!"
Do you think it's right to smash idols? Well, let me tell you, you should read a little bit in the Bible about how they went around smashing idols. (ML 568:1‚2‚5,8) King Hezekiah "removed the high places, and brake the images‚ and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan‚ meaning 'a piece of brass'"! (2Kings 18:4)
2. The temple was often valued as much for its gold and silver as for its religious function. In the 14th year of King Hezekiah's rule, the Assyrian King Sennacherib attacked Judah and began conquering all the cities. Hezekiah offered to pay the Assyrian king a great amount of gold and silver to stop the war. The Assyrian king, now in Lachish, agreed; and Hezekiah "... gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house ... [and] cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah King of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the King of Assyria." (2Kings 18:13–16)
Throughout the World, people usually acknowledge the value of silver, gold or copper, the so-called precious metals—for ages an international medium of exchange. Gold is almost like a value that God has set, so that it is considered a substantial medium of exchange. The time is coming, however, when even that won't be true—the Bible says they'll cast their gold and silver away. (ML 103:4,15) In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats....for fear of the Lord‚ and the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth. (Isaiah 2:20,21)
Attack by the Assyrian army. This drawing, made from a relief in Sennacherib's palace, depicts the Assyrian army's assault on the city of Lachish (ca. eighth century B.C). The Assyrians attack with bows & arrows & battering rams, while the inhabitants of Lachish throw stones & shoot arrows at their enemies.
As symbolic of Assyria as the Sphinx is of Egypt, this great human-headed winged bull, 10 ft. high‚ guarded the gateway to the palace of Ashurnasirpal ll, at Nimrud.
3. The Assyrian army was once stationed here at Lachish. The Assyrian spokesman Rab–shakeh travelled from here to Jerusalem with a great host to ask King Hezekiah to surrender and not to trust in the Lord to deliver Him. He called out to all the people on the wall not to listen to King Hezekiah nor to trust in the Lord. (2Kings 18:17-37)
When the Devil tempts you to get down and discouraged—fight! Don't even listen to him‚ much less surrender!. ... The Devil can never win! The only way he can possibly get the victory is to persuade you to quit.—If you have faith you won't quit; you'll be tempted to doubt‚ but you won't doubt! The Devil will try to scare you, but you won't fear. He'll try to bully you, but you won't surrender! (ML 33:25; DM 174)
Sennacherib Prism. King Sennacherib of Assyria instructed his scribes to record his victories on this massive clay prism. The prism tells of Sennacherib's seige against Jerusalem in 701 B.C., during the reign of Hezekiah. The narrative says "Hezekiah himself I shut up like a caged bird in Jerusalem, his royal city, I erected fortifications against him and blocked the exits from the gate of his city. ..."
King Hezekiah did not surrender, but rather went into the House of the Lord in sackcloth to pray, and sent word to the prophet Isaiah to pray also. Isaiah told King Hezekiah not to worry because God would take care of the Assyrians. (2Kings 19:1-8)
4. The Assyrian king then wrote a very threatening letter to King Hezekiah. Hezekiah took the letter and went into the House of the Lord, and spread the letter before the Lord. He prayed for the Lord's help, much the same as his forefather King David had done in Psalm 27, "Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies ... and such as breathe out cruelties. The Lord is my light and Salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord‚ that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple." (Ps.27)
The Lord sent word to Hezekiah through His prophet Isaiah to comfort him that the Lord would defend the city against the Assyrians. (2Kings 19:14–34)
Stone relief from Nineveh showing Sennacherib, King of Assyria, sitting upon his throne receiving spoils from the city of Lachish.
5. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand (185,000 men): and when they arose early in the morning, behold‚ they were all dead corpses. (2Kings 19:35)
6. The King of the Assyrians returned defeated by the Lord to his capital, Nineveh. Shortly thereafter, his own two sons killed him while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch. (2Kings 19:36-37)
7. Here is a map showing Jerusalem, the capital of Judah; Nineveh, the capital of Assyria; and Babylon.
Farout facts of the Bible: Can God change His mind? Does prayer change things? Can God do anything? (Read 2Kings 20:1-11)
Hezekiah was very sick and the Lord told him through Isaiah that he was going to die‚ but Hezekiah prayed and the Lord heard his prayer and decided to let him live another 15 years. Isaiah put some figs onto Hezekiah's sore, and the Lord, for a sign, moved the shadow on the sundial back 10 degrees—in effect stopping the earth's counter-clockwise rotation and turning it backwards 10 degrees. The modern use of computers in astronomy has shown that there is an unaccounted-for missing period of time in the earth's rotation and movement, equal to the amount of time the sun stopped for Joshua to win the battle (Joshua 10:12-14), and the movement backwards for Hezekiah.
8. Here is the upper pool of Gihon outside of Jerusalem. Hezekiah, however, wanted to make sure that Jerusalem had lots of water inside the city should their enemies attack.
9. Here is one of the pools Hezekiah must have built, for it is called the pool of Hezekiah.
10. In this older part of Jerusalem, just outside the south eastern wall, is a spring called Gihon‚ the "Virgin's Spring".
11. Here we see a picture of a woman getting water at the "Virgin's Fountain". King Hezekiah's workers had to cut a tunnel through 1700 feet of solid rock—(2Kings 20:20)‚ from this spring back into the city to the pool of Siloam. (2Chron. 32:3,4) The Siloam Inscription, found in the tunnel in 1880, tells how the workers started digging the tunnel from both ends and met in the middle. (Halley's Bible Handbook)
12. Here is a picture of what remains of the Pool of Siloam. Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam after anointing his eyes with clay. (John 9:1-7)
13. to 16. Here are some actual pictures of the tunnel itself. Some places are very small, while others are large enough for many people to hide in during times of persecution.
Entrance to the Siloam Tunnel (Hezekiah's) at the Spring of Gihon (Virgin's Fountain), at the northern end of the tunnel.
Pool of Siloam. Located in the Kidron Valley, the pool was connected to the spring of Gihon by the Siloam Tunnel. King Hezekiah of Judah knew that the Assyrians would lay seige to Jerusalem, so to assure a free flow of water into the city, he had the waters of Gihon diverted underground to a tunnel hewn out of stone (2Chr.32:105,30). These waters flowed into the pool of Siloam within the city.
Tunnel of Siloam. This tunnel dates from the reign of Hezekiah (8th century B.C.), who diverted water from outside springs through the underground passage into Jerusalem's Pool of Siloam. The tunnel is over 500 m. (1750 ft.) in length.
17. The Siloam Inscription reads: "The tunnel is completed. This is the story of the tunnel. While the stonecutters were lifting up the pick, each toward his neighbour (digging towards each other from the opposite ends,) and while they were yet 3 cubits apart, there was heard a voice of one calling to another; and after that pick struck against pick; and water flowed from the Spring to the Pool, 1200 cubits‚ and 100 cubits was the height of the rock above." It is remarkable how they calculated so accurately as to be able to meet, because the tunnel isn't straight‚ but winds around under the ground.
Siloam inscription. This six-line inscription is carved into the rock wall of the lower entrance of the Siloam tunnel, south of Jerusalem's temple area. Probably made by a workman, the inscription gives details on construction of the tunnel.
18. The king's garden is watered from the outlet of Siloam.
19. The walls of Jerusalem on the south side. These once took in much more territory.
20. Most of the northern part of Jerusalem was outside the walls until the time of Christ, or possibly later.
21. King Hezekiah was buried here on Mount Zion. (2Chron.32:33)
Tomb of the kings‚ Jerusalem. All the kings of Judah, from David to Hezekiah, were buried in the capital city of Jerusalem. Many were placed in these royal tombs near the pool of Shelah. Josephus noted that the royal tombs were very lavishly furnished, but John Hyrcanus (son of Simon Maccabeus) robbed them of much of their treasure.
22. When he died, King Hezekiah's twelve–year-old son, Manasseh, ruled in his place. Manasseh ruled Judah the longest of any of its kings, but unlike his father, "he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord"—he built altars to Baal, worshipped the sun‚ the moon, and the stars right inside the temple; sacrificed his son in a fire to Moloch; used enchantments, familiar spirits, and wizards; shed much innocent blood—and "wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger." (2Kings 21:1-9)
23. Pictured here is one of Manasseh's idols, the fire god of Gehenna & a naked human sacrifice in its lap. Manesseh revived the worship of Moloch, the Ammonite god, in the valley of Hinnom. (2Chron.33:6)
Moloch was a huge giant idol as big as a house, and they built a fire inside of it with smoke coming out of its mouth and out of its nostrils and out of its ears! And it had its arms hinged at the elbows‚ so that when the priests manipulated the levers behind the idol, its two hands stretched out, and the big idol had its mouth open, grrrrr, and it would throw the baby right through the idol's mouth into the fire! Horrible!
That was their favourite religion, the worship of the god Moloch, the god of fire‚ like the Devil! Isn't that horrible? The women were selfish and wanted birth control and abortions and they didn't want their little babies. They didn't want to take care of them—they hated their children and wanted to get rid of them. They were having too much fun and they didn't want to take care of children or babies, so they would have a big religious ceremony—it was a religion, think of that!—And they would get rid of the little tiny babies—they made them a sacrifice to the great god Moloch. (Excerpt from Father David "The Story of Noah" Part One‚ 33-36.)
Front and rear views of a statuette of Baal, the weather god‚ brandishing a thunderbolt. Bronze, with helmet of polished stone; from Ras Shamra (Ugarit) about 1400 B.C.
24. The prophets warned Manasseh and the people again and again, but they would not listen. (Tradition has it that he had the prophet Isaiah sawn asunder.) So the Lord brought the Assyrians upon him; and they took him among the thorns, and bound him with chains, and carried him to Babylon. (2Chron.33,11)
25. In prison and affliction‚ the words of the prophet Isaiah must have finally sunk in: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:7)
The prism of Esar-haddon, King of Assyria, which contains historical records, including mention of Mannasseh's captivity and tribute.
Because Manasseh, "besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers‚ and prayed unto Him..."—As you begin to obey and follow God, and confess your sins and obey and with your last breath praise the Lord, God begins to strengthen and do His part. ... The divine supernatural miraculous infinite marvelous love of God is love enough to forgive! (DM 149) God's dandy bad examples offer hope for those who feel lost and hopeless! Like King David of old; how often we have clung to him for hope‚ saying, "If God could forgive him, surely He could forgive me!" (ML 47:51)
So the Lord brought Mannaseh again to Jerusalem into his kingdom to be king again. "Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God," and he took away all the idols to the strange gods he had built‚ and "commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel." (2Chron.33:12-17)
The Jerusalem temple area today, as viewed from the Tower of Antonia. The scene is dominated by the lavish Moslem Mosque, center‚ known as the Dome of the Rock, the original of which dates to 688 A.D.
26. Jerusalem is a very old city, and each new ruler, king or conqueror left his mark. The tower in the background is Tower Antonia, named, it seems, for the Roman Mark Anthony by Herod the Great. It is close perhaps to where Jesus was tried by Pilate. Manasseh's son Amon tried to leave his mark on Jerusalem too‚ but fortunately did not succeed. Amon immediately began idol worshipping again, and "trespassed more and more", until his own servants conspired against him and killed him in his house. They were in turn killed by the people, and his son Josiah became king. (2Kings 21:19–26; 2Chron.33:21-25)
27. Josiah was Manasseh's grandson—a very new bottle, and a real idol-smasher! He was only eight years old when he began to reign, and by the time he was 16 years old, he began to seek after the God of David. When he was 20 he began to purge Jerusalem & Judah of all their idols and images and made dust out of them—he beat them into powder and sprinkled the dust over the graves of those that had sacrificed to the idols.
You say the youth of today are rebels—rebellious, defiant lawbreakers and seeking to destroy society? But really, who are the rebels? The kids are rebellious against society because the society is anti-God. Who were the rebels? The backslidden Baal-worshipping‚ abomination-ridden, older generation of Jews ... [or the youth who] tore down their idols and chopped down their groves and threw down their altars, and tried to destroy violently their false religious system?....Every revival or reformation or revolution—they've always been called the rebels, but they are not the rebels—it's the society in which they were living that were the true rebels—the rebels against God! (ML E:1,2,17,19) Picture 27 is an artist's concept of workmen repairing the temple during Josiah's rule. (2Kings 22:3-7)
28. While repairing the temple the High Priest found the Book of the Law—they had even lost the Bible! (2Kings 22:8‚9)
29. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his ways, by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word." (Ps.119:9) Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to Josiah. When the KING heard the Words, he tore his clothes, "... great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the Words of this Book. ..." (2Kings 22:10-13)
When they neglect the Word, they neglect the Lord! How can you become separated from the Lord? It's when you become separated from the Word, because He is the Word. You become separated from the Word, you become separated from the Lord. ... You become darkened in your understanding because you have rejected the Word and you've become separated from the Word, and the Devil sends you lies in its place and you believe the lies instead of the Word. Then you finally get so hard, terribly hard, till you're just absolutely past feeling. (ML 1089:1,2) "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Pr.29:1)
30. So King Josiah ordered the high priest to ask God what was going to happen because they had not obeyed Him. The leaders of the temple went to see the prophetess Huldah. Huldah prophesied that Judah would become a desolation and a curse just as the Lord had said, because they had turned away from Him, but not in Josiah's lifetime because his heart was tender, and he had humbled himself before the Lord with tears when he heard the Word. (2Kings 22:14–20)
31. Josiah had all of the idols piled up here in the Kidron Valley and burned‚ and the ashes carried to Bethel. (2Kings 23:4) Why did he take the ashes to Bethel? The answer is found in 1Kings 13:1-3. King Jereboam had once been burning incense to a golden calf in Bethel and a man of God came and prophesied that some day a man by the name of "Josiah" would come and destroy the idols and kill their priests and burn them on the altar instead and pour out the ashes.
32. Josiah dug up the idol-worshippers' graves and put their bones where the idol worshippers' holy places had been so that they couldn't be used again because they were desecrated.
The Mount of Olives, viewed from the east wall of Jerusalem, looking across the Kidron Valley. In the foreground is the Garden of Gethsemane.
33. Here on the Mount of Olives (the hill of corruption/offense) stood the heathen temples and houses that Solomon had built for his foreign wives. Josiah, being no respecter of idols and historic old buildings, totally destroyed them and scattered bones of the dead all over the hill. (2Kings 23:13,14)
34. Josiah visited the valley of Hinnom too, during his national clean-up campaign. Here was where Tophet the huge god of Moloch, once stood. "And he defiled Tophet, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Moloch." (2Kings 23:10)
35. At the top of this map, in from the Mediterranean Sea‚ is Megiddo. The Egyptian Pharoah, Nechoh, and his army passed through Judah on their way to fight with the Assyrians. Josiah fought with the Assyrians and was killed there at Megiddo, and his son Jehoahaz became king. Josiah seemed to have been a very good king for Judah‚ but God may have taken him away because of Judah's past sins. (2Kings 23:29,30)
Even the great prophet Jeremiah lamented for Josiah. (2Chron.35:25) Jeremiah began his ministry in the 13th year of Josiah's rule: "... the Word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah in the days of Josiah, in the 13th year of his reign." So while Josiah was destroying the idols, Jeremiah was warning the people of the evil soon to come upon them. (Jeremiah 1:2)
36. A street scene in Jerusalem.
37. Josiah's son Jehoahaz only ruled for 3 months—but wickedly. The Egyptian army returning home to Egypt stopped at Jerusalem, and captured Jehoahaz and took him back to Egypt with them where he died. The Pharoah made Eliakim (Pharoah renamed him Jehoiakim), another of Josiah's sons, the ruler of Judah; and demanded a large tribute of gold and silver—10,000 pounds of silver and 200 pounds of gold. (2Kings 23:31-37) (Note: A talent of silver was about 100 pounds, but a talent of gold was 200 pounds.)
Megiddo. Joshua conquered the city which stood at this site in the Carmel Mountains during his conquest of Canaan (Josh.12:21); it was then given to the tribe of Manasseh (Josh.17:11). King Solomon fortified the city & established accomodations for his chariots & horses here. (1Kg.9:15-19) The Bible says that the Endtime battle of Armageddon (Hebrew "hill of Megiddo") will take place in this area.
38. The Assyrians survived the attack by the Egyptians, but their end came soon anyway. Just before Nineveh fell, however, God gave her a second warning from His prophet Nahum in about 630 B.C. "And it shall come to pass that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste, who shall bemoan her?. ... Thy shepherds slumber‚ O King of Assyria: Thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them." (Nahum 3:7,18) (See: ML 693:68,69)
Ruins of ancient Nineveh, once the capital of Assyria. These ruins are near the banks of the Tigris‚ opposite modern Mosul in Iraq.
The Assyrian Empire fell to the Babylonians with the destruction of Nineveh in 606 B.C. The city was laid to waste and its inhabitants scattered and it never rose again and soon disappeared completely.
39. Jehoikim (Eliakim) ruled Jerusalem for 11 years and did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. So God let Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, come and conquer him and take him bound in chains to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took all the gold and silver vessels from the house of the Lord and put them in his own temple at Babylon; and he carried away about 10,000 of the most trained and skilled people—among whom was the prophet Ezekiel—and left only the poor behind. But Nebuchadnezzar left Mattaniah (whom he called Zedekiah) to be the King of Judah. (2Kings 24:1-17)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER 28
(The numbers in parentheses are the paragraph numbers where the answers may be found.)
1. King Hezekiah was an iconoclast. What is an iconoclast? (1)
2. Read Father David's Letter No.568, and talk about the statement: "Now what a Christian is, and what a disciple is, ... or an apostle, or a missionary, or a prophet is, is an iconoclast!" (ML 568:39)
3. Why did Hezekiah give the gold and silver to the king of Assyria? (2)
4. When the Assyrian army tried to get Hezekiah and his people to surrender, what did Hezekiah do? (3)
5. How did the Lord miraculously win Hezekiah's battle against the Assyrians? (5)
6. What sign did the Lord show Hezekiah to encourage him that he would be healed? (7)
7. Why did King Hezekiah have the waters of Gihon diverted to the pool of Siloam? (8)
8. "The minute that (good) king was gone and the next (bad) king came along, they reverted right back!" (ML 568:30) How does this statement apply to Hezekiah's son Manasseh? (22‚23)
9. How did the Lord discipline Manasseh? Did Manasseh repent and learn his lesson? (24,25)
10. Have you memorised Psalm 119:9? How does this verse apply to Josiah? (28-34)
11. In 606 B.C. the Assyrian Empire fell to the ________. (38)
12. What was the name of the king of Babylon who carried away the people of Judah? (39) What lessons did you learn from this chapter? Discuss.