~ Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Josiah ~
Hezekiah was king in the 32nd chapter. Much could be written about him and has been in the book of Isaiah. It is written that this great king did that which was right in the sight of God and became great with God's help on every side. Hezekiah called on God for help. God was exalted and the people honored God and they honored Hezekiah as well. Hear that which I do not say in these verses 32:23 And many brought gifts to the Lord at Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter. :24 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign :25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. :26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
This is a great thing for any great nation of people to do as well as its governing body. You can read on to hear how great a king this man was. However, his greatness could have easily been lost had he not come to his senses when his heart did become lifted up and humble himself before God!. Many interesting things can be learned in reading how God interacted with king Hezekiah and how the man Hezekiah interacted with God.
Now, after the reign of Hezekiah and in chapter 33 his son Manasseh became king at the age of 12 years and reigned for 55 years in Jerusalem. It is written of him that 'He did that which was evil in the sight of God ' . He even seduced the people to evil far greater than all the nations God had destroyed before the children of Israel.
You can read about him and how he fell before a powerful enemy that God raised up against him. An enemy that captured him with hooks and took him away in bronze fetters to Babylon!
In 33:12 it is written of this king in captivity : Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He (God) received his ( Manasseh's) entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. The chapter goes on to tell how Manasseh served God for the rest of his life and of all the ways he served God from that time on.
Then upon his death his son Amon became king at the age of 22. The king Amon did that which was evil in the site of God to a greater degree than his father had ever done in his short lived 2 year reign. We can learn what to stay away from by reading about this king.
By some provocation his servants killed him. The people of the land executed these for conspiring against the king. And then came my favorite of the kings in these 3 chapters. Josiah the son of Amon who was only 8 years old was made king by the people. It says a beautiful thing 34:2 - And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David: he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. And also 34:3 - For in the 8th year of his reign, while he was still young (age 16) he began to seek the God of his father David.
This remarkable story continues on to tell of how he went throughout the land and broke down the idols and the altars in the high places and all the images and carvings were demolished to dust which was strewn on the graves of those who had worshipped them. As we continue into his 18th year of reign as king (age 26), when he had purged the land and the temple, he appointed men to repair the house of the Lord his God.
In the processes of these faithful men in their work to restore the temple one named Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given to Moses. Hilkiah brought it to Shaphan the scribe who in turn took the book to their king Josiah and read it to him.
It does not say how long it had been before this book had been discovered but hear in 34:19 - Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes.
There is more for you to read for yourself about this but, the last beautiful thing I will tell you of today from this book is this, which is what the Lord God said to the king Josiah, king of Judah in verse 34:26 -- But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heard--"because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the Lord.
How beautiful is that? Because you heard Me..you harkened unto my word when you heard it...because you heard Me with a tender heart, I also have heard you!
Why do tears well up in my eyes? Because, we as christians have not heard all that God wants us to hear. Here a bit, there a bit. And when we do give ear to the wants and the heart of God to do them as we hear them, can you see the mercy of His tender heart to us as well? We need always to humble ourselves before God!
What have the three kings taught us?
Like the ancient king Josiah, we discover the truth of God through out our lives. With each new word discovered we either humble ourselves to His word or reject it.
Like the mighty king Hezekiah, if our hearts become lifted up we do well to recognize, come to our senses, check ourselves and humble ourselves before God.
Like the self-willed king Manasseh if, due to our own sin we are cut to the ground, still in our greatest hour of need, humble ourselves to God and beseech Him to help. And once seeing the mighty hand of God in our behalf realize that He is God and leave a life of pleasing ourselves to live a life that is pleasing to God.
We know that the Lord is God!