Study Notes

2Kings 20:1-21


As we saw last week, Hezekiah, the king of Judah, was a godly man. He wasn't perfect, but did have a heart for the Lord. Now, as we pick up in chapter 20, there is some bad news.

20:1 Hezekiah Becomes Ill

King Hezekiah had become terribly sick. The prophet Isaiah, the son of Aw-MOHTS, was sent by the Lord to give him the news that this was a fatal disease. He was told to set his house in order.

If you knew that you were going to die within a specified period of time, how would you set your house in order? Would you begin to reassure your spouse and children how much you love them? Would your prayer life increase? Would you call up your brother and apologize for letting the relationship be ruined over that argument? Would you become bold and start telling your coworkers about Jesus?

If you would do things differently if you knew you were dying, I've got news for you: You are dying. Each of us is one day closer to eternity than we were yesterday. Every minute, our time gets shorter, and we don't know when that time will end. James says,

James 4:13-14 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are {just} a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

You don't know what tomorrow holds. Maybe you have 15 years to live, or maybe you only have 15 minutes. Is your house set in order? Are you ready to enter into eternity with no regrets?

20:2-3 Hezekiah's Sorrow

When Hezekiah heard that he was dying, he cried and prayed. He didn't understand why his life was going to be so short, especially because he had tried to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord.

20:4-6 Isaiah's Prophecy

Isaiah had left king Hezekiah alone, and was leaving the king's court, when the Lord stopped him. God had heard Hezekiah's prayer, and was going to extend his life by 15 years. He would also protect the kingdom from the Assyrians. He told Isaiah to deliver the message.

Do you believe that God hears prayer? The Bible says,


The Lord does hear your prayer, and acts on it. James tells us,

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

Why, then, are not all of our prayers answered? Because they are not all in accordance with God's will. Paul wrote,

Rom. 8:26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words;

Prayer cannot force God to do what He doesn't desire to do, but if we don't pray, we don't receive some of the blessings He desires to give us. James sums it up in this way:

James 4:2-3 ...You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend {it} on your pleasures.

So, we won't receive certain things unless we ask for them. And there are other things that we ask for but do not receive, because they are far outside of God's will for us.

The Lord heard Hezekiah's prayer. It was His good pleasure to answer that prayer with a blessing.

20:7-11 Gradually Healed

Notice that the Lord used a gradual healing for Hezekiah's sickness. It would be three days before Hezekiah was well enough to go next door to the temple. Sometimes we are guilty of unbelief when the Lord doesn't heal us instantaneously. We lay hands on the sick, and pray, desiring to see them made well. But when we open our eyes and the person isn't better, we feel like the Lord didn't do anything. But while God can and does heal people instantaneously, he does not always do it that way. Just recall some of the miracles of Jesus.

For a man who was born blind, his healing took some time. Jesus applied clay to his eyes and said,

John 9:7 ..."Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). And so he went away and washed, and came {back} seeing.

There is also the account of another blind man who was healed in steps. At the first step of healing, Jesus asked,

Mark 8:23-25 ..."Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I am seeing {them} like trees, walking about." Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and {began} to see everything clearly.

Just because someone isn't healed instantaneously doesn't mean the Lord isn't working. And just because you got better from your sickness over the course of days doesn't mean that the Lord didn't heal you. Hezekiah was healed over the course of three days.

The Sun Goes Backwards

Now, because he wasn't healed instantly, Hezekiah asked Isaiah for a sign that God was going to do this. The sign promised was that the sun would move backwards in the sky.

Although this account is completely and historically true, there is an urban legend that continues to circulate through Christian circles. As the story goes, NASA scientists were running computer simulations of orbital mechanics to check the position of the sun, moon, and planets 100 years from now and 1,000 years from now in order to plot spacecraft trajectories and future satellite missions. As they ran their computers up and down the centuries, the computer kept crashing because they calculated that we were a day off.

Then, one of the men remembered a Sunday School lesson about an event in Joshua 10. Joshua was leading the Israelites in a fight against five kings. Joshua prayed,

Josh. 10:12-13 ..."O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Yaw-SHAWR? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go {down} for about a whole day.

The legend continues that when the NASA scientists plugged in the numbers, they got very close to reconciling the positions of all the planets. But they were only able to account for 23 hours and 20 minutes. What had happened to the other 40 minutes?

Fortunately, this same man remembered this account from 2Kings 20. They ran the calculations of the steps in degrees and discovered that the missing 40 minutes fit exactly! The Bible had saved the space program!

Of course, this has been proven time and again by secular and Christian sources to be pure fiction. Even without asking NASA (and they have been asked LOTS of times), the explanation is obvious: In layman's terms, you can only measure something if you have visible access to both ends of it. We can of course know where the sun and moon will be in the future, and can calculate where they were in the past, but we don't have any accurate records of where things were back then. So there would be no way to see that a day was missing in the ancient past.

I don't know why it is that Christians seem to believe urban legends more than other people, but it certainly is annoying. The last thing to cross my e-mail is a story talking about how George W. Bush led a teenage boy to Christ at a campaign workers' thank-you banquet. If you get it in your e-mail, delete it. George W. was never at that event. It didn't happen. I often wonder what the source of these things is. Is it an unbeliever who wants to make us look like fools? Or is it Christians that think they can bring glory to the Lord by propagating lies? I have no idea.

Hezekiah's Writing

This chapter is closely paralleled and expounded upon in Isaiah's writings, in Isaiah 38. There, we read that Hezekiah wrote his thoughts on these events after his recovery. He knew he had been healed by the Lord, and wrote,

Isa. 38:20 "The LORD will surely save me; So we will play my songs on stringed instruments All {the} days of our life at the house of the LORD."

20:12-18 Showing Off

Once Hezekiah was better, he received communication from Ber-o-DAK Bal-ad-AWN, the king of Babylon. Hezekiah was so grateful, he showed the messengers around his place. He enjoyed showing them all the great things in his house and his kingdom. As you might expect, this turned out to be a big mistake. After they left, Isaiah let him know that the Babylonians would come and take it all away.

20:19 The Word Is Good

Hezekiah says, "The word of the Lord is good." He said this because he was thinking that it wasn't going to happen in his day. Now, that seems pretty awful to me when I read that. I interpret that as saying, "Hey, sounds good, because it's not my problem." But remember, we have to interpret the statement based on the full counsel of Scripture. The writer of Chronicles tells us the additional information we need:

2Chr. 32:25-26 ...his heart was proud; therefore wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come on them in the days of Hezekiah.

So, we see that Hezekiah had shown off the treasures in pride, but when the Lord's judgment was pronounced, he humbled his heart. This was not said without feeling, but in humility. He was submitting himself to accept what the Lord had spoken.

Are you at a place in your life where you can humble yourself, being submitted to the word of the Lord, no matter how difficult it may be? What has the Lord spoken to you in the study of His Word lately? Have the statements been difficult? Have you humbly submitted yourself to them?

20:20-21 Hezekiah Dies

After his fifteen additional years were up, Hezekiah died. He accomplished many great things during the course of his kingdom, and I would commit you to the reading of 2Chronicles, chapters 29-32.

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