This is the fifth and last episode in a the series titled, “We Have Not Followed Cunningly Devised Fables” by Jonathan Bowen. This episode is titled, “Yahweh Hearkened Unto the Voice of a Man.”
Tune in again next week for the beginning of a new series by Caleb Osborn.
These are photos discussed in this episode:
The following is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Evidence of Bible Truth Series: With us is Yahweh our God to help us, and to fight our battles..
Hi everyone, this is Jonathan Bowen with Episode #56 of the “Magnify Him Together” podcasts. We are continuing our study under the theme “We have not followed cunningly devised fables,” where we look at the evidence of Archaeology, which proves the Bible true.
This week’s episode is about Hezekiah and is entitled “With us is Yahweh our God to help us, and to fight our battles.”
So let’s travel back 2913 years in history to the year 713 BC and the Kingdom of Judah under King Hezekiah. He has been king for about 14 years by the point we join him, and he is about 38 years old. The Kingdom of Israel in the north has come to an end. The 10 tribes have been taken away captive.
It was a terrible tragedy – but one we can certainly learn from as Paul tells us in Romans 15:4
4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
So what can we learn? Let’s take a look at what God said, turn in your Bible’s to 2 Kings 17:6–14
6In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 7For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against Yahweh their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, 8And walked in the statutes of the nations, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
It is sad to read that Israel didn’t learn that God had cast out the nations who were living in the land because of their wicked works. They did the same things as those nations did. It reminds us that we need to be separate from the world around us – and not do the things they do.
Israel didn’t learn this lesson, and we read how they went about copying the wicked actions of the nations:
9And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against Yahweh their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. 10And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: 11And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: 12For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
They didn’t start out doing these things openly. They did them secretly – hidden away in their little villages. They hid their actions away. It makes us wonder about ourselves, do we do wrong things, hidden away where nobody can see us? We need to remember we cannot hide from God. He knows what is in our hearts. When we have thoughts and desires that are not right, we need to “pray that we enter not into temptation,” as Jesus warned the disciples in Matthew 26:41. We also need to take action and “flee youthful lusts” as Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22.
Unfortunately, Israel did not do this, even though God warned them:
13Yet Yahweh testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in Yahweh their God.
God sent his servants the prophets to warn them, but they would not listen, and consequently, they were carried away captive.
Hezekiah watched all this happen. He had decided that he would reform Judah in the south – and set about to repair the temple, and remove all the idols his father, and the generation before him had set up. We read in
2 Kings 18:3–7
3And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. 4He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. 5He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. 6For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses. 7And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.
It was in the 4th year of his reign that the King of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, had taken Israel in the north away.
In the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib, the next king of Assyria, started taking all the cities of Juday, only Jerusalem was left.
The account of the great siege of Jerusalem is found in three different areas: 2Kings 18-20, 2 Chron 32-33, and Isaiah 36-39. The fact that God has three different writers record this event tells us that it is very important.
Hezekiah watched the Sennacheribs progress as we read in 2 Chronicles 32
1After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself. 2And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,
Hezekiah brought the leaders together, and they decided to take action to keep the inhabitants of Judah safe:
3He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. 4So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?
This adventure was probably one of the most amazing engineering feats ever undertaken. The tunnel they dug has been found. We went to Jerusalem and walked through it. You can still see the marks from the pick axes of the workers who dug it. It is 533 meters long (or 1,750 feet). It drops 1 foot over the entire length, allowing the water to flow down gently. What is amazing is that they started at two ends when they dug it: one team began at the Gihon Spring outside the city, the other team began at the Pool of Siloam inside the city. At some points, the tunnel is 43 meters or 140 feet underground. It is believed that the engineers followed the underground fissure that ran through the limestone and tunnelled in the direction it travelled.
An inscription was found inside the tunnel. It was cut out of the wall in 1891, and now sits is preserved in a museum in Turkey. The inscription reads:
the tunneling; and this was how the tunneling was completed: as [the stonecutters wielded]
their picks, each crew toward the other, and while there were still three cubits to [go], the voices of the men calling each other [could be hear]d, since there was an increase (in sound) on the right [and lef]t. The day the breach was made, the stonecutters hacked toward each other, pick against pick, and the water
flowed from the source to the pool [twel]ve hundred cubits, even though the height of the rock above the heads of the stonecutte[rs] was a hundred cubits!
The inscription was an amazing discovery, giving detail as to how the event described in the Bible text happened.
Today, just like Israel of old, people do no t want to believe the Bible. Though they can no longer deny the tunnel exists, some will try and say that it wasn’t built during Hezekiah’s time. Yet the Bible clearly states it was. Later in the same chapter we read,
30This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
So an ancient text tells us what Hezekiah did. Archeologists find what the Bible describes, and people still do not want to listen to God’s word. This is just like the ten tribes who didn’t listen to God back in Hezekiah’s time. How stubborn man can be!
There are a couple of other finds that date to this time. Back in 2 Chronicles 32 we continue to read of Hezkiah’s work:
5Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.
The building of the walls was a challenge for Hezekiah. It is brought up in Isaiah 22 where we read in verses 9-11:
9Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: And ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
(that is Isaiah describing the building of Hezekiah’s tunnel).
10And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, And the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall. 11Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: But ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, Neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.
This was the building of the pool of Siloam, which Herod the Great would later expand on.
Hezekiah is chastised for breaking down houses to fortify the walls, and not respecting those who build the houses years ago. We can understand Hezekiah’s dillema. Thousands of people had flocked to Jerusalem for protection.
He felt he needed to build walls to protect the people, and even destroyed people’s houses to make them.
When we went to Jerusalem, in the middle of the shopping area as you walk down the street you can see the walls and the ruins of the houses that were destroyed to build them! You can see the wall that Hezekiah built, and beside it the ruins of the houses that were pulled down to make it.
Hezekiah, like us, had to learn to put his trust in his God. He did learn, and his faith is recorded for us in
2 Chronicles 32:6–8 where he talks to the people…
6And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, 7Be 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: 8With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is Yahweh our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
This is just like what Elisha told his servant when they were trapped at Dotham and the king of Syria had surrounded them. His servant was dismayed and cried out:
2 Kings 6:15–17 15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
At a time like this we have to have the faith like Hezekiah and Elisha. We need to be strong and courageous, and not be dismayed at what is going on around us. We need to remember that Yahweh our God is with us to help us and to fight our battles.
In Hezekiah’s day, God did fight for them and sent out his angel and destroyed the invaders overnight.
2 Chronicles 32:21–22 21And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. 22Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side.
That is the power of our God who can save us, even though we are locked inside our houses, and compassed on everyside!
The tunnel Hezekiah built would lead to the pool of Siloam. It is the pool that Jesus sent the blind man to wash in after he healed him, as is described in John 9:7
7And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
What is impressive is that the road that went from the temple to the pool was recently discovered. It is believed it may have been begun by King Herod but finished by Pilate.
For a long time, critics of the Bible said Pilate never existed… then in Caesarea Maritima they found a stone with Pilate’s name inscribed on it… once again proving the bible true.
Coins dating to the time of Pilate were found under the flagstones. The Israelis are currently digging a tunnel under Jerusalem, which looks like a subway, along the length of the road.
The U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman spoke at a ceremony at the archaeological dig in East Jerusalem where he said, the find “confirms with evidence, with science, with archaeological studies that which many of us already knew, certainly in our heart: the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.”
Even today – the evidence of the Bible is recognized by world leaders. They cannot dismiss the proof that God has preserved for us all these years… and neither can we.
Let us have the faith of Hezekiah and Elisha – to believe our God can save us, although we are compassed on every side by sin and death.
Thanks for listening, it has been exciting to share these discoveries with you that prove the Bible true. please join us again next Monday for a new series on the Magnify Him Together podcasts.