Hezekiah was the greatest king Judah ever had (see 2 Kings 18:5). He was compared back to King David, the man after God’s own heart. Hezekiah made great reformations in Judah, eliminated idols and reinstated worship of the one true God. His heart was right before God. “And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:21). Hezekiah led the people to follow God.
Hezekiah had a great sickness, and Isaiah told him that God said Hezekiah would die of that sickness. Hezekiah prayed. God healed. God did a great sign to show Hezekiah he would live. The Babylonians came when they heard Hezekiah was sick. He showed them all of the treasures of Judah. We can read that his heart was lifted up (2 Chronicles 32:25). He was prideful of all he had. He should have given God the credit for all of the treasures of Judah. He should have been a vocal witness to the Babylonians. “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31). God knew what was in Hezekiah’s heart, but now all knew what was really in Hezekiah’s heart: Pride. “Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah” (2 Chronicles 32:26). Hezekiah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem humbled themselves before the Lord, and God’s wrath was delayed.
Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, became the worst king Judah had. “But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:2). One can read a listing of his wickedness in 2 Chronicles 33:3-9. One terrible thing he did was “to cause his children to pass through the fire,” which is child sacrifice. God went on to declare that Manasseh did worse than the heathen whom the Lord had removed before the children of Israel. God sent men to warn Manasseh and the people, but they would not listen. Isaiah was a prophet of God during Hezekiah’s reign and even into Manasseh’s reign. Read something recorded in Isaiah that we can still read today: “6. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).
Because of the wickedness of Manasseh, God allowed the enemy to take him captive into Babylon. “And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 33:12). While in Babylon, Manasseh sought the Lord and humbled himself before Him. After calling upon the Lord, Manasseh forsook his way, and turned unto the Lord. God heard his supplication and had mercy on this wicked king. God pardoned him, allowed him to return to Judah, and even sit upon the throne once again. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
Manasseh proceeded to do much good: he reinforced the city, took away the strange gods, idols, and altars he built in the house of the Lord, and cast them out of the city. He repaired the altar of the Lord and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. “Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places …” (2 Chronicles 33:17a). In Hezekiah’s day, the people humbled themselves before the Lord with Hezekiah. In Manasseh’s day, the people continued in their false worship even after Manasseh turned his heart to God. God’s wrath would come.
Remember, God sees the heart. “20. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; 21. Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:20-21).
Do you understand God knows the secrets of the heart?