"Everything is going great!" You could have said that in January 2020. They were certainly saying that the year King Hezekiah began his reign.
Today's lesson begins with a great celebration. (Read 2 Chronicles 30-32 here.) The Passover is celebrated in the rededicated temple. They had never seen such large Passover crowds. It was a time of reformation. "In everything that Hezekiah undertook in service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered" (2 Chronicles 31:21).
The good times did not last. The Assyrians invaded the land. Hezekiah continues to lead the way spiritually: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles" (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).
Hezekiah both prays and prepares. He has a tunnel dug to keep the water within the city. See the map above.
If the threat of the Assyrians wasn't enough, in the same year Hezekiah is struck with a severe illness that threatens his life. It was a 2020 kind of year for him. Again he prays. Again the LORD hears and helps.
Sadly the story ends with this godly king being filled with pride. He shows off his wealth to a new promising ally - envoys from Babylon. The king, who at first had trusted the LORD, now wasn't sure the LORD would be enough to protect him from the Assyrians. One hundred years later it was this nation of Babylon that would destroy Jerusalem and take God's people into exile.
If you visit Jerusalem, you can still walk through Hezekiah's tunnel. Most of us will not build something that will be still seen 2700 years later. Instead, our New Testament lesson (read 1 Timothy 5 here) reminds us that great service to the Lord is offered in the little things: caring for our relatives and faithfully doing the work that we are given.
Our lesson from Hezekiah: The LORD sends 2020 kind of years to test us. Let us be faithful to the LORD in these times of testing, fulfilling the tasks the LORD has given us.
Hope to see many of you for in-person worship this evening at 7 pm. There will also be small group communion this evening after the service.