We have now spent several weeks studying King Hezekiah. He began his reign with the command to restore the temple, which had been in disrepair and treated as a garbage dump. Once the temple was brought up to standards, he had the priests begin their work again, and the sacrifices began to be made once more. Then, he invited all of Judah and Israel to join in a united Passover service. Once the Passover had been completed, he and the Jews went out into the land to destroy the altars and high places.
Three years later, Samaria was besieged by the Assyrians, and three years after that, it was captured. Eight years passes, and King Hezekiah's kingdom is threatened by the Assyrians. He cries out to God, and the Lord miraculously delivers Jerusalem from destruction by sending an angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians in one night.
This brought Jerusalem and King Hezekiah into the limelight. He suddenly got quite a reputation among the people of the world.
Not since the days of Solomon had a Jewish king received so much attention and recognition. This of course is what a huge percentage of human beings hopes for: recognition, accolades. "Bring me presents because I'm worthy of your respect and adoration." It's the old cliche of "fame and fortune."
But there is little to be desired in being exalted in the eyes of the world. Jesus said,
Luke 6:26 "Woe to you when all men speak well of you..."
God saw what was happening, and decided to end Hezekiah's life before he got into trouble. One of the things which we cannot seem to grasp is the length of some lives and the shortness of others. But my contention is that each person's days are determined by God (Job 14:5). The number of months we will live is already known by Him. And whether we like it or not, we need to submit to that. Too many people become angry and bitter at God for a life which is "cut short." As we will see, King Hezekiah would have had a happy ending if this sickness had resulted in his death.
Again, we find ourselves needing to turn to the book of Kings for additional information and clarification.
2Kings chapter 20 describes for us in great detail what the Chronicler means when he writes, "the Lord spoke to him and gave him a sign."
Isaiah the prophet was sent to Hezekiah, telling him, "You're going to die from this sickness, so set your house in order" (2Kings 20:1).
But Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and wept bitterly (2Kings 20:2-3). He begged God to let him live. God answered this prayer, telling Isaiah to tell Hezekiah that he would be healed in three days (2Kings 20:5), and would live an additional 15 years (Isa. 38:5).
Hezekiah asked for a sign, so that he would know that Isaiah was telling the truth. God demonstrated this by making the sun go backwards in the sky (2Kings 20:8-11).
This is a perfect example of God answering a prayer that never should have been prayed. Did you know that sometimes God will answer your greedy and self-centered prayers, even when He knows that what you are praying will bring about a terrible result? Remember how the Jews in the wilderness complained about the manna which God had provided, and they begged for meat instead.
Num. 11:5-6 "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."
Their prayer for meat was answered, but it was a prayer they never should have prayed. The Psalmist wrote of this incident, "They...
Psa. 106:14 ...craved intensely in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request, but sent a wasting disease among them.
Later, when the kingdom was established, the people prayed again for something outside of God's will:
1Sam. 8:5 "...appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations."
They wanted a king that they could see, not a God Who was invisible. God told the prophet Samuel,
to the LORD.
1Sam. 8:7 "...they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them."
And so they ended up being granted their prayer, even though it was horribly outside of God's will. That's why, whenever I pray about anything specifically, I constantly say, "Lord, only if this is Your will" (Luke 22:42). I never want God to answer a prayer that isn't going result in God's best for me.
Hezekiah had told the Lord in prayer that the dead don't praise Him, only the living do. And he promised to praise the Lord if he was healed (Isa. 38:16-20). But once he was healed, his pride prevented him from giving back to God the praise that He deserved.
His pride made him act foolishly as well. We read in 2Kings 20 that a prince of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah because he heard that he'd been very sick.
Hezekiah invited this prince of Babylon down to take a tour of the vast Judean treasures. He...
2Kings 20:13 ...showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and the house of his armor and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.
Brilliant! In pride, show off your wealth to a leader of what will very quickly become the next world superpower! The Lord told Isaiah what Hezekiah had done, and told him what would be the result. Isaiah went to Hezekiah and said,
2Kings 20:16 ..."Hear the word of the LORD. 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD.'"
Think about it: If Hezekiah had died as planned, his heart would have never become prideful, and he never would have made this mistake. His epitaph would have been spotless, and would have gone down in history as a nearly perfect king. Instead, wrath is coming upon him, and on Judah and Jerusalem. To make matters worse, Hezekiah's 15-year life extension resulted in the birth of a son named Manasseh, who, as we will see in our next study, will turn out to be the most wicked king that the nation of Judah will ever have.
Hezekiah did in fact humble himself - better late than never, after all - which postponed that judgment for a short while. It would not take place in Hezekiah's lifetime.
This recap tells us one new thing about God's dealing with Hezekiah:
2Chr. 32:31 ...God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.
When the prince of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, God could have sent an angel, saying, "Hezekiah, be forewarned: Don't invite the Babylonian prince to tour your treasure rooms." But He didn't. Instead, God let Hezekiah alone as a test. Again, people want to get bitter at God for not intervening supernaturally in every situation that turns out bad. But God has given us His Word and a free will to obey it or not. And very often, that is sufficient for Him to then leave us alone and watch whether we will be obedient to His Word.
Each situation like that is a test for our hearts: Will we be prideful, and be deceived by the world's flatteries? Or will we humble ourselves and say, "This would not be pleasing to God. This would not be in accordance with His commandments"?