I am intrigued with tales of kings, queens, and royal intrigue. In particular, the royal family of England. They don’t bore me whatsoever. I follow news of them than other monarchs since their country is named after my family. HA!
I have spent considerable Bible study time in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles in the Bible. These books cover multiple reigns that have the ingredients of drama, adventure, and romance.
One of them who had a longer list than most kings of accomplishments that met God’s approval was Hezekiah. He purified and repaired the Temple, purged its idols, and reformed the priesthood. He destroyed the high places which became objects of idolatrous worship. With that list of accomplishments, no wonder it states in the scripture that Hezekiah was a great and good king.
In chapter 20 of II Kings, Hezekiah was so ill he was near death. It was a boil to be exact that had caused the King such misery. I’ve never had a boil myself but it sounds terribly painful. Isaiah, the prophet, came to see the King and had the worst news. The boil was terminal. The prophet advised Hezekiah to get his house in order because his time on earth was about up.
Hezekiah was not ready to leave Earth. I can understand that. I am eager to go to Heaven, myself, but I can’t say I’m eager to go right this minute. There’s that instinct to wanna hang on a while longer.
Hezekiah took the Prophet’s grim news so hard. The grown-up king cried his heart out. To his credit, he prayed to God. He asked for an extension of time. He presented his case to the Lord as if he was his own attorney pleading his case. Hezekiah brought up that list of accomplishments. He asked the Lord to remember how he had walked before Him faithfully and with his full devotion from his heart. As he prayed, he continued to weep bitterly.
Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the Lord gave the prophet a message for Hezekiah. This time the news was much better. The King would have fifteen more birthdays. The Lord had heard his prayer and seen his tears. I take comfort in this part of the story. This is an example of God hearing a prayer coming from a desperate man with a heavy heart. God didn’t dismiss the King’s pleas and tears. I believe He doesn’t mine either.
Hezekiah wanted a sign that his life extension was for real. He could have taken the prophet’s words for it but that’s not as easy as it may sound. I only have to look at my own track record. So many times the Lord has come to my rescue and saw me through a storm. But whenever a storm pops up in my life, it is so tempting for me to worry my way through it than weather through it on faith.
It should be noted that God honored Hezekiah’s request for a sign. Isaiah, being the go-between, told the King the Lord’s sign would be one of two, the King’s choice: to have the shadow go forward ten steps, or back ten steps? Hezekiah using common sense said it was a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps. He requested the shadow go back ten steps. Isaiah called on the Lord and the Lord responded with making the shadow go back ten steps it had gone down on the stairway. I assume the sign satisfied Hezekiah that he had a 15-year life extension.
I wish I could say he spent those remaining 15 years wisely but his ego got the best of him. A Babylonian envoy delegation paid a visit to Jerusalem and Hezekiah welcomed them with open arms. They may have brought him a get-well gift for they had heard about his illness. Hezekiah was keen to show off and he sure did at that! He showed off his storehouses, his armory, and everything found among his treasures. In fact, he went full hog and there was nothing in the King’s palace or in all his kingdom the King did not show off. The problem was he was showing off to wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
When Isaiah heard about the delegation, he asked the King what the men said and where did they come from. Hezekiah said Babylon and that alarmed Isaiah. He asked what did the Babylonian gang see in the palace? At least, Hezekiah was honest when he said EVERYTHING.
I can picture Isaiah nodding and scratch his head. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he thought he had been on the job too long. How could Hezekiah fall for those wolves?
Isaiah had bad news for the King again. There would come a time when everything in the palace would be carted off to Babylon, much at the fault of Hezekiah. If that wasn’t bad enough news, some of Hezekiah’s descendants would be taken away and become eunuchs in the palace of the Babylonian king.
At the end of 15 more years, Hezekiah rested with his fathers. A takeaway of this story is having a talk with the Lord come rain or shine. To tell him all about whatever is on my plate whether it be a blessing or a concern. If needed, have a good cry too. I would never tell someone who has a terminal illness or a loved one who has that if they pray and ask for an extension, it’s a guarantee they’ll get it. There are folks walking around whose doctor have no explanation as to why that is; however, there are those who didn’t get an extension and went home to be with the Lord.
I try to always remember when praying for whatever that I say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” God always knows best, including the granting of extensions of time.