Read Isaiah 38
38 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.
7 “‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: 8 I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.
9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:
10 I said, “In the prime of my life
must I go through the gates of death
and be robbed of the rest of my years?”
11 I said, “I will not again see the Lord himself
in the land of the living;
no longer will I look on my fellow man,
or be with those who now dwell in this world.
12 Like a shepherd’s tent my house
has been pulled down and taken from me.
Like a weaver I have rolled up my life,
and he has cut me off from the loom;
day and night you made an end of me.
13 I waited patiently till dawn,
but like a lion he broke all my bones;
day and night you made an end of me.
14 I cried like a swift or thrush,
I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!”
15 But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
because of this anguish of my soul.
16 Lord, by such things people live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.
17 Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
18 For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness.
20 The Lord will save me,
and we will sing with stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
in the temple of the Lord.
21 Isaiah had said, “Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover.”
22 Hezekiah had asked, “What will be the sign that I will go up to the temple of the Lord?”
Let’s begin by reviewing a few facts regarding King Hezekiah as the books of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah tell the story of his life. 2 Kings 18:5 reveals “There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.” He was the son of the notoriously wicked King Ahaz, and reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah for 29 years. For the most part, he faithfully walked with God. His contemporaries were the prophets Isaiah and Micah, who were instrumental in him ridding the land of pagan idols, altars and temples. Hezekiah was credited for the temple in Jerusalem being cleaned out and reopened, as well as the reinstating of the Levitical priesthood and Passover according to an article from GotQuestions.org. It may be surprising to read of the next events that unfold in Isaiah 38 as Hezekiah is faced with one of his greatest challenges, a fatal sickness. Let’s focus on the posture of King Hezekiah’s heart and how it played out in this part of his story.
Isaiah delivered the dreadful news, “This is what the Lord says: Set your house in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness” (v. 1). Faced with deep trouble, Hezekiah humbled himself, turned his face to the wall, prayed, and wept bitterly. He asked that God remember how he has tried to be faithful and do what was right. God heard his pleas and sent a swift reply through Isaiah. It included adding 15 years to his life and rescuing and defending the city from the mighty Assyrian army.
Recall this is not the first time Hezekiah had felt backed in a corner, yet he continued to prove he knew where to turn, to the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. His heart was in the right place. Hezekiah’s response to answered prayer was marked by an awareness that God had been merciful in sparing his life, and a solid determination to pass the legacy of faith to the next generation. After deliverance, he creates a poem of praise and testimony of faith that closely resembles a psalm of David. So far, Hezekiah seems to clear most every hurdle and test thrown his way, let’s continue to read and learn from his successes and failures.
- When faced with trials, where is the first place you turn? Are you convinced God meets you in every area of your life?
- How is your prayer life? Do you earnestly seek His heart and dwell in his presence?
- Do you understand the gravity of sharing your faith with the next generation?
In v. 19, Hezekiah proclaims in his poem of praise to God, “Each generation can make known your faithfulness to the next.” JP mirrors the urgency of Hezekiah in his book Welcoming the Future Church: “The greatest opportunity for you to change the world for Jesus Christ is for you to take whatever days you have left and invest them in reaching young adults.”
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