August 26, 2023
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, 'Hear the word of the Lord: The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day...'”
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“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord: The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good,’ for he thought: Why not, if there will be peace and security during my lifetime?” 2 Kings 20:16-19 (HCSB)
2 Kings, chapter 20 begins with somber news and heartfelt prayer. The unhappy information involves Isaiah’s message from God to Hezekiah: Get your affairs in order because you are going to die. It is the conversation nobody wants to have with their pastor, that as he was praying, God told him to tell you that your life will expire very soon. Scripture does not mention any sin in Hezekiah’s life. All we know of him from Scripture so far is that Hezekiah was a great reformer. So, we feel sad for the king, empathize with him, and root for him, even against God’s Word.
When we hear Hezekiah’s heartfelt prayer, we hope God will grant his plea. There is something in our expectation that really wants to know that God is kind and that He would reconsider His plans for our lives to be more favorable to us if we would only ask Him. Indeed, we claim God’s Word with respect to such prayers:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” James 5:16 (HCSB)
Could there (at times) be a difference between our sincere, heartfelt, urgent requests and God’s will? As is often the case with God’s leading of His children, God only gives the command (get your affairs in order), and He does not say why He is commanding us. Our response to God’s lordship should involve our obedience, not questioning His wisdom.
“But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Romans 9:20 (HCSB)
When we doubt (or even refuse) God’s choices for our lives, we open ourselves to uncertain (and often tragic) outcomes. We will never know how the kingdom of Judah would have fared if Hezekiah had not questioned God’s choice to take him from the land of the living. But Scripture is very clear about two major events that occurred during those 15 extra years (given to Hezekiah) that ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem. 1) Manasseh, Israel’s most wickedly idolatrous king, was born during those 15 extra years. 2) Babylonian emissaries went home and told of the great riches stored in Jerusalem. All that happened because the king would not surrender to the Lord’s plan. Have you surrendered to God’s Lordship? Who else might be affected by your refusal to submit to the Lord?