2 Kings 20

After God miraculously delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrian army, King Hezekiah became deathly ill. Verse 7 indicates that his illness involved a boil (according to the National Institutes of Health boils can cause serious infections leading to sepsis). The prophet Isaiah went to visit the king and to inform him that he should set his affairs in order — he was going to die. As the prophet left the room Hezekiah turned to the wall and began to pray as he wept bitterly (v.2-3).

What would you do if you got a message like that from God? Are you prepared to die? The Bible says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Are you ready to face judgment? The only way to be ready is to trust Jesus, the one who went to the cross and absorbed God’s judgment against your sins.

Is there anything you need to do to “set your house in order” (v.1)? Is there anyone you need to tell about Jesus? Is there anyone you need to forgive? Is there anything God has told you to do that you have not yet done? We should live each day with an “ordered house”, ready to meet the Lord. 1 John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.”

Before Isaiah could leave the palace, the Lord told him to turn around and tell Hezekiah that he would be healed and live another fifteen years. The miracle that accompanied the healing involved some kind of sundial which, at the king’s request, indicated that God was turning back the clock to give him more time (v.8-11). Whoa! Did God reverse the earth’s rotation just for Hezekiah? Did God produce another (supernatural) light source just to make the shadow change? We can’t be sure, but we know that God worked a miracle to extend Hezekiah’s life. And we know that God responded to his tearful prayer with compassion and grace.

That is the way God listens to your prayers, too. He notices your tears and He understands where they come from. He hears when you cry out to Him and He is feels your sorrow. Then things that hurt you really matter to Him. He loves you that much, and He is able to move heaven and earth to help you.

According to a parallel passage, we learn that the incident with the Babylonian king (v.12-19) was really a test. God’s purpose was to reveal Hezekiah’s inner character (see 2 Chronicles 32:31), and apparently he failed the test. After his miraculous healing, Hezekiah became proud (see 2 Chronicles 32:25). We should read this as a caution against taking credit for what God has done. Hezekiah’s wealth (v.13) and health were gifts from a gracious God. He could have used these blessings to glorify God and to witness to the King of Babylon about God’s grace, but apparently he did not. In his pride he missed a great opportunity to influence a king and a rising world power. Don’t miss the opportunities God gives you today. Give Him glory!

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