SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Kings 17:1-19:37
17:1 In the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign over Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel. He reigned in Samaria for nine years. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not to the same degree as the Israelite kings who preceded him. 3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched up to attack him; so Hoshea became his subject and paid him tribute. 4 The king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was planning a revolt. Hoshea had sent messengers to King So of Egypt and had not sent his annual tribute to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria arrested him and imprisoned him. 5 The king of Assyria marched through the whole land. He attacked Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the people of Israel to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, along the Habor (the river of Gozan), and in the cities of the Medes.
7 This happened because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God, who brought them up from the land of Egypt and freed them from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods; 8 they observed the practices of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before them, and followed the example of the kings of Israel. 9 The Israelites said things about the Lord their God that were not right. They built high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 They burned incense on all the high places just like the nations whom the Lord had driven away before them did. Their evil practices made the Lord angry. 12 They worshiped the disgusting idols in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command.
13 The Lord solemnly warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and all the seers, “Turn back from your evil ways; obey my commandments and rules that are recorded in the law. I ordered your ancestors to keep this law and sent my servants the prophets to remind you of its demands.” 14 But they did not pay attention and were as stubborn as their ancestors, who had not trusted the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his rules, the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the laws he had commanded them to obey. They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to the Lord. They copied the practices of the surrounding nations in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command. 16 They abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God; they made two metal calves and an Asherah pole, bowed down to all the stars in the sky, and worshiped Baal. 17 They passed their sons and daughters through the fire, and practiced divination and omen reading. They committed themselves to doing evil in the sight of the Lord and made him angry.
18 So the Lord was furious with Israel and rejected them; only the tribe of Judah was left. 19 Judah also failed to keep the commandments of the Lord their God; they followed Israel’s example. 20 So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants; he humiliated them and handed them over to robbers, until he had thrown them from his presence. 21 He tore Israel away from David’s dynasty, and Jeroboam son of Nebat became their king. Jeroboam drove Israel away from the Lord and encouraged them to commit a serious sin. 22 The Israelites followed in the sinful ways of Jeroboam and did not repudiate them. 23 Finally the Lord rejected Israel just as he had warned he would do through all his servants the prophets. Israel was deported from its land to Assyria and remains there to this very day.
24 The king of Assyria brought foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 When they first moved in, they did not worship the Lord. So the Lord sent lions among them and the lions were killing them. 26 The king of Assyria was told, “The nations whom you deported and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the God of the land, so he has sent lions among them. They are killing the people because they do not know the requirements of the God of the land.” 27 So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you deported from there. He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God of the land.” 28 So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel. He taught them how to worship the Lord.
29 But each of these nations made its own gods and put them in the shrines on the high places that the people of Samaria had made. Each nation did this in the cities where they lived. 30 The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, the people from Cuth made Nergal, the people from Hamath made Ashima, 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their sons in the fire as an offering to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 At the same time they worshiped the Lord. They appointed some of their own people to serve as priests in the shrines on the high places. 33 They were worshiping the Lord and at the same time serving their own gods in accordance with the practices of the nations from which they had been deported.
34 To this very day they observe their earlier practices. They do not worship the Lord; they do not obey the rules, regulations, law, and commandments that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he renamed Israel. 35 The Lord made a covenant with them and instructed them, “You must not worship other gods. Do not bow down to them, serve them, or offer sacrifices to them. 36 Instead you must worship the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt by his great power and military ability; bow down to him and offer sacrifices to him. 37 You must carefully obey at all times the rules, regulations, law, and commandments he wrote down for you. You must not worship other gods. 38 You must never forget the covenant I made with you, and you must not worship other gods. 39 Instead you must worship the Lord your God; then he will rescue you from the power of all your enemies.” 40 But they paid no attention; instead they observed their earlier practices. 41 These nations were worshiping the Lord and at the same time serving their idols; their sons and grandsons are doing just as their fathers have done, to this very day.
18:1 In the third year of the reign of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Ahaz’s son Hezekiah became king over Judah. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what the Lord approved, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He eliminated the high places, smashed the sacred pillars to bits, and cut down the Asherah pole. He also demolished the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been offering incense to it; it was called Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; in this regard there was none like him among the kings of Judah either before or after. 6 He was loyal to the Lord and did not abandon him. He obeyed the commandments that the Lord had given to Moses. 7 The Lord was with him; he succeeded in all his endeavors. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to submit to him. 8 He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.
9 In the fourth year of King Hezekiah’s reign (it was the seventh year of the reign of Israel’s King Hoshea, son of Elah), King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 After three years he captured it (in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign); in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign over Israel, Samaria was captured. 11 The king of Assyria deported the people of Israel to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, along the Habor (the river of Gozan), and in the cities of the Medes. 12 This happened because they did not obey the Lord their God and broke his covenant with them. They did not pay attention to and obey all that Moses, the Lord’s servant, had commanded.
13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria, who was at Lachish, “I have violated our treaty. If you leave, I will do whatever you demand.” So the king of Assyria demanded that King Hezekiah of Judah pay 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace. 16 At that time King Hezekiah of Judah stripped the metal overlays from the doors of the Lord’s temple and from the posts that he had plated and gave them to the king of Assyria.
17 The king of Assyria sent his commanding general, the chief eunuch, and the chief adviser from Lachish to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, along with a large army. They went up and arrived at Jerusalem. They went and stood at the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. 18 They summoned the king, so Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna, the scribe, and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went out to meet them.
19 The chief adviser said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: “What is your source of confidence? 20 Your claim to have a strategy and military strength is just empty talk. In whom are you trusting that you would dare to rebel against me? 21 Now look, you must be trusting in Egypt, that splintered reed staff. If a man leans for support on it, it punctures his hand and wounds him. That is what Pharaoh king of Egypt does to all who trust in him. 22 Perhaps you will tell me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God.’ But Hezekiah is the one who eliminated his high places and altars and then told the people of Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship at this altar in Jerusalem.’ 23 Now make a deal with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you 2,000 horses, provided you can find enough riders for them. 24 Certainly you will not refuse one of my master’s minor officials and trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen. 25 Furthermore it was by the command of the Lord that I marched up against this place to destroy it. The Lord told me, ‘March up against this land and destroy it.’”’”
26 Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the chief adviser, “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Don’t speak with us in the Judahite dialect in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 27 But the chief adviser said to them, “My master did not send me to speak these words only to your master and to you. His message is also for the men who sit on the wall, for they will eat their own excrement and drink their own urine along with you.”
28 The chief adviser then stood there and called out loudly in the Judahite dialect, “Listen to the message of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 This is what the king says: ‘Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you, for he is not able to rescue you from my hand! 30 Don’t let Hezekiah talk you into trusting in the Lord when he says, “The Lord will certainly rescue us; this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” 31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah!’ For this is what the king of Assyria says, ‘Send me a token of your submission and surrender to me. Then each of you may eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land just like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and honey. Then you will live and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, “The Lord will rescue us.” 33 Have any of the gods of the nations actually rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Indeed, did any gods rescue Samaria from my power? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands has rescued their lands from my power? So how can the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?’” 36 The people were silent and did not respond, for the king had ordered, “Don’t respond to him.”
37 Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported to him what the chief adviser had said. 19:1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the Lord’s temple. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace supervisor, Shebna the scribe, and the leading priests, clothed in sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘This is a day of distress, insults, and humiliation, as when a baby is ready to leave the birth canal, but the mother lacks the strength to push it through. 4 Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all these things the chief adviser has spoken on behalf of his master, the king of Assyria, who sent him to taunt the living God. When the Lord your God hears, perhaps he will punish him for the things he has said. So pray for this remnant that remains.’”
5 When King Hezekiah’s servants came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master this: ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Don’t be afraid because of the things you have heard, because the Assyrian king’s officers have insulted me. 7 Look, I will take control of his mind; he will receive a report and return to his own land. I will cut him down with a sword in his own land.”’”
8 When the chief adviser heard the king of Assyria had departed from Lachish, he left and went to Libnah, where the king was campaigning. 9 The king heard that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was marching out to fight him. He again sent messengers to Hezekiah, ordering them: 10 “Tell King Hezekiah of Judah this: ‘Don’t let your God in whom you trust mislead you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” 11 Certainly you have heard how the kings of Assyria have annihilated all lands. Do you really think you will be rescued? 12 Were the nations whom my ancestors destroyed—the nations of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden in Telassar—rescued by their gods? 13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?’”
14 Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Then Hezekiah went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the Lord: “Lord God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the sky and the earth. 16 Pay attention, Lord, and hear! Open your eyes, Lord, and observe! Listen to the message Sennacherib sent and how he taunts the living God! 17 It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands. 18 They have burned the gods of the nations, for they are not really gods, but only the product of human hands manufactured from wood and stone. That is why the Assyrians could destroy them. 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power, so that all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you, Lord, are the only God.”
20 Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord God of Israel has said: ‘I have heard your prayer concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 This is what the Lord says about him:
“‘“The virgin daughter Zion
despises you, she makes fun of you;
shakes her head after you.
22 Whom have you taunted and hurled insults at?
At whom have you shouted,
and looked so arrogantly?
At the Holy One of Israel!
23 Through your messengers you taunted the Sovereign Master,
‘With my many chariots
I climbed up the high mountains,
the slopes of Lebanon.
I cut down its tall cedars
and its best evergreens.
I invaded its most remote regions,
its thickest woods.
24 I dug wells and drank
water in foreign lands.
With the soles of my feet I dried up
all the rivers of Egypt.’
25 Certainly you must have heard!
Long ago I worked it out.
In ancient times I planned it;
and now I am bringing it to pass.
The plan is this:
Fortified cities will crash
into heaps of ruins.
26 Their residents are powerless,
they are terrified and ashamed.
They are as short-lived as plants in the field,
or green vegetation.
They are as short-lived as grass on the rooftops
when it is scorched by the east wind.
27 I know where you live
and everything you do.
28 Because you rage against me,
and the uproar you create has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose,
and my bridle between your lips,
and I will lead you back the way
29 “‘This will be your confirmation that I have spoken the truth: This year you will eat what grows wild, and next year what grows on its own from that. But in the third year you will plant seed and harvest crops; you will plant vines and consume their produce. 30 Those who remain in Judah will take root in the ground and bear fruit.
31 “‘For a remnant will leave Jerusalem;
survivors will come out of Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will accomplish this.
32 So this is what the Lord has said about the king of Assyria:
“He will not enter this city,
nor will he shoot an arrow here.
He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors,
nor will he build siege works against it.
33 He will go back the way he came.
He will not enter this city,” says the Lord.
34 “‘I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’”
35 That very night the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 in the Assyrian camp. When they got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses. 36 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh. 37 One day, as he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword. They escaped to the land of Ararat; his son Esarhaddon replaced him as king.