“Unit 20: Day 4, 2 Kings 18–20,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 20: Day 4,” Old Testament Study Guide
Hezekiah, king of Judah, reigned in righteousness and removed idolatry from his kingdom. During his reign, Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and carried its inhabitants into captivity and invaded the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Under threat of attack, Hezekiah sent his servants to the prophet Isaiah, asking him to pray for the people. The Lord, through His prophet, told the people to not be afraid; He would help them. Hezekiah further prayed about the Assyrian threat, and the Lord assured him that He would defend the city. The Lord sent an angel to destroy the camp, and 185,000 Assyrians were killed. Later, because of Hezekiah’s pleading and righteousness, the Lord extended his life.
What challenges or fears do you have? How might those challenges or fears test your faith in the Lord?
In your study of 2 Kings 18–20, you will learn about the challenges and fears of Hezekiah, the king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. As you study these chapters, look for principles that can help you to faithfully and bravely face your challenges and fears.
Read 2 Kings 18:3–8, looking for the good things Hezekiah did as king.
From these verses we learn that if we trust in the Lord and keep His commandments, then He will be with us.
- In your scripture study journal, list up to three ways that you benefit from having the Lord’s Spirit and guidance in your life.
In 2 Kings 18:9–12 we learn that during the reign of King Hezekiah, Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel—the ten tribes who lived mostly in the regions of Samaria and Galilee—“because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant” (2 Kings 18:12). Approximately seven years after the Assyrian king Sargon conquered the kingdom of Israel, Sennacherib succeeded him as the king (see 2 Kings 18:9–10, 13).
Read 2 Kings 18:13, looking for what Sennacherib decided to do.
Ultimately, Sennacherib planned to conquer Jerusalem—the capital of the kingdom of Judah. The Assyrian army appeared to be unstoppable. They had a reputation of viciously desolating the lands and torturing the people they conquered, thus inspiring fear in those who opposed them.
What thoughts or feelings might you have had if you had lived in Jerusalem and knew the Assyrian army was approaching?
The prophet Isaiah prophesied of the Assyrian invasion. Read Isaiah 10:28–32, and on the accompanying map, cross out the name of each city that Isaiah prophesied would be conquered. (The cities of Madmenah and Gebim are not included on the map because we do not know where they were located.)
The city of Nob was less than one mile (1.6 km) from Jerusalem. This means that the Assyrian army came extremely close to Jerusalem, probably within sight of the city. In Isaiah 10:32, the phrase “he shall shake his hand against … Jerusalem” suggests that Sennacherib would threaten the city but not destroy it.
As recorded in Isaiah 10:33–34, Isaiah compared the Assyrian army to a bough, or tree. Read these verses, looking for what Isaiah said would happen to the Assyrian army before it could conquer Jerusalem.
The book of 2 Chronicles preserves important details about how Hezekiah led his people during this time. Read 2 Chronicles 32:6–8, looking for how Hezekiah demonstrated his faith in the Lord at this time.
Just as Isaiah prophesied, the Assyrian army arrived outside of Jerusalem after conquering the other cities along the way. One of the Assyrians’ strategies was to send negotiators to a city before their army would attack. The Assyrians used their reputation as brutal, ruthless warriors to intimidate cities and persuade them to surrender. Sennacherib sent Rab-shakeh and other negotiators to Jerusalem, where they were met by Hezekiah’s representatives.
The conversation between Rab-shakeh and Eliakim (one of Hezekiah’s representatives) was witnessed by the people in Jerusalem, who were watching from atop the city walls (see 2 Kings 18:26). Imagine you are like the people on the wall and can see the ruthless Assyrian army right outside your city as you listen to the conversation.
Read 2 Kings 18:19–20, looking for the questions Rab-shakeh asked. What do you think Rab-shakeh’s intention was in asking these questions?
After Rab-shakeh scoffed at Judah’s alliance with Egypt and mocked the Lord, as recorded in 2 Kings 18:21–25, Eliakim made a request of him. Look for what Eliakim asked Rab-shakeh to do, as recorded in verse 26. Consider why you think he wanted Rab-shakeh to do this.
Read Rab-shakeh’s response to this request in 2 Kings 18:28–35, looking for what he said to try to convince the people of Jerusalem to surrender.
How might Rab-shakeh’s words have persuaded some people in Jerusalem not to trust in the Lord?
- In your scripture study journal, write about two or three situations in which individuals like Rab-shakeh might try to weaken our trust in the Lord today.
Read 2 Kings 19:1, looking for where Hezekiah went when he received news of Rab-shakeh’s threats. (To rend your clothes and cover yourself with sackcloth were outward symbols of distress and humility.)
How was Isaiah’s response similar to his prophecy in Isaiah 10?
Rab-shakeh sent another message to Hezekiah. Read 2 Kings 19:10–11, looking for what he wanted Hezekiah to believe.
Hezekiah needed to choose whether to believe the words of the prophet Isaiah and trust in the Lord or to believe the words of Rab-shakeh and surrender the city of Jerusalem.
What would you do if you had to make a difficult decision like this? Why?
Read 2 Kings 19:14–19, looking for what Hezekiah did during this difficult time.
Read 2 Kings 19:20, looking for evidence that the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer.
In 2 Kings 19:21–34 we learn that the Lord, through Isaiah, reassured Hezekiah that He would defend Jerusalem against the Assyrian army. Read 2 Kings 19:32–37, looking for what happened to the Assyrian army and their king, Sennacherib.
From this account we learn the following principle: If we turn to the Lord, then He can help us overcome our fears and challenges.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you turned to the Lord for help with a fear or challenge you faced?
How did the Lord help you?
Hezekiah later faced another challenge. Look in 2 Kings 20:1 to find what this challenge was.
Read 2 Kings 20:2–6, looking for what Hezekiah did and how the Lord responded to his effort.
From this account, we learn that if we exercise faith in the Lord, we can be healed according to His will. Although generally an exception, in rare circumstances the Lord, in His mercy, will extend the time of an individual in mortality. To more fully understand why we are healed according to the Lord’s will and not our own, consider the following example of a young father who learned that his little four-year-old daughter was critically ill. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“The father was found on his knees in prayer, asking that the life of his daughter be spared. Yet her condition worsened. Gradually, this father sensed that his little girl would not live, and slowly his prayers changed; he no longer prayed for healing but rather for understanding. ‘Let Thy will be done’ was now the manner of his pleadings. …
“Discerning and accepting the will of God in our lives are fundamental elements of asking in faith in meaningful prayer. However, simply saying the words ‘Thy will be done’ is not enough. Each of us needs God’s help in surrendering our will to Him.
“‘Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other’ (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer” …). Humble, earnest, and persistent prayer enables us to recognize and align ourselves with the will of our Heavenly Father” (“Ask in Faith,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 96–97).
As recorded in 2 Kings 20:7–20, the Lord showed Hezekiah a sign to confirm that He would heal him. Later, Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would conquer the kingdom of Judah.
- Review the principles you have discovered in this lesson. Record in your scripture study journal how one or more of these principles can help you with challenges you are currently facing. Also explain what you will do in the coming week to apply that principle in your life.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Kings 18–20 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: