Page images
PDF
EPUB

God gave him into the hand of the Syrians, and that of the king of Israel. Then Ahaz did worse still, for instead of repenting and turning to God for help, he sent to the king of Assyria for help. The Assyrians came up to Judah, but they only added to his troubles. Then Ahaz offered sacrifice to the Syrian gods. But they were the ruin of him, and of all his country. He had an unhappy reign of sixteen years, and then on his death his son Hezekiah became king of Judah.

KINGS OF ISRAEL FROM JOASH TO THE

CAPTIVITY.

Joash, king of Israel, was succeeded by his son Jeroboam, a very wicked man. Nevertheless the LORD saved Israel from being quite destroyed by means of Jeroboam, and gave him power in battle.

The Prophet Jonah lived during Jeroboam's reign. He reigned fortytwo years, and his son Zachariah became king, while Uzziah was reigning over Judah. This made the fourth generation of Jehu's family, to which God had promised the kingdom of Israel as a reward for Jehu's obedience in casting out

His son

Ahab's family. Zachariah was murdered in six months by a rebel called Shallum. This man in his turn was murdered after one month's reign, by Menahem, who reigned ten years, and did great harm to Israel, making them become tributary to the king of Assyria. Pekahiah, followed him for two years, and was murdered by his captain Pekah, who reigned twenty years, while Jotham reigned over Judah. Pekah fought against Judah, and then was murdered by Hoshea, during whose reign the Assyrians altogether conquered Israel, and carried the people captive to Babylon in Assyria, and put their own people into their cities.

HEZEKIAH, KING OF JUDAH.

Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, had reigned four years when the king of Assyria came up against Samaria ; and it was in the ninth year of his reign that Israel was carried captive into Assyria. Encouraged by this success, the Assyrians next attacked Judah, and in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, laid siege to some of the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. Hezekiah was forced

He was

to pay tribute, and to take even the gold off the Temple doors, and from other parts of the Lord's house for the Assyrians. But Hezekiah was not to be delivered up into his enemies' hands, as the king of Israel had been. a very good man, and feared the Lord very earnestly and heartily. He had from the first done all in his power to restore the Temple and its solemn services to what they had been in Solomon's time. Moreover the king did his utmost to bring back the people to serve the LORD, bidding them take warning from the sufferings of their Israelite brethren, " whom God gave up to desolation.” Hezekiah even held out a hope that for their sakes Israel might be restored, saying, “For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land; for the LORD your God is merciful and gracious, and will not turn away His Face from you, if ye return unto Him."

After this return to the service of their God, the men of Judah were much more ready to meet trouble and overcome it, than Israel had been. The King of Assyria sent a great host against Jerusalem. They came round the city,

and Rabshakeh, Sennacherib's general, spoke with Hezekiah's chief men on the wall; he taunted the men of Jerusalem with their helplessness, saying, that they expected help from the king of Egypt, who was but a bruised reed, that would pierce the hand which leant upon it; and as to the Lord of Hosts, Rabshakeh asked, “Who are they among all the gods of these countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand ?"

When Hezekiah heard all this he was troubled; he rent his clothes and put on sackcloth, but he knew where to seek for help and strength, and he went up to the Lord's House there to gain both. He also spoke cheeringly to the people, saying, “ Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him ; for there be more with us than with him, —with him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” Meanwhile the king sent messengers to the Prophet Isaiah, to ask his prayers, and

. to inquire the Lord's Will. Isaiah sent back an encouraging answer, “Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast

[ocr errors]

heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.'

So Rabshakeh went away that time, but soon after Sennacherib made another attempt, appealing to the people, and trying to lead them into rebellion, saying, “Let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you; neither yet believe him ; for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers ;-how much less shall your God deliver you ?” They tried also in every way to frighten the people, and to trouble them. Sennacherib also sent insulting letters to Hezekiah, reviling both him and the LORD. When the king of Judah had read these letters, he went up into the House of the LORD and spread the cause of his anxiety before the LORD.

And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, “O LORD God of Israel, Which dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the GOD, even Thou Alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. Thou hast made Heaven and earth. LORD, bow down Thine Ear, and hear ; open

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »