Text - 2 Kings 20:1-11
1. In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover."
2. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord:
3. "Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4. Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:
5. "Turn back, and say to Hezekiah prince of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.
6. I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake."
7. Then Isaiah said, "Bring a lump of figs. Let them take it and apply it to the boil, so that he may recover."
8. Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?"
9. Isaiah said, "This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: the shadow has now advanced ten intervals; shall it retreat ten intervals?"
10. Hezekiah answered, "It is normal for the shadow to lengthen ten intervals; rather let the shadow retreat ten intervals."
11. The prophet Isaiah cried to the Lord; and he brought the shadow back the ten intervals, by which the sun (See Isa 38.8) had declined on the dial of Ahaz.
Today’s reading is a beautiful story of how God answered King Hezekiah’s prayer for healing and we will slowly get into the details and see how it relates to us; but I am suggesting that you prepare your hearts and minds because, today might be a great day for you too, especially if you are in need of healing, especially if you have come here expecting God to do something wonderful for you. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Friends, if God healed Hezekiah, he can do the same for you!
Hezekiah was a very good King but there came a time when he became very sick and was at the point of death. Obviously, anyone in that kind of situation would be looking for some good news. Unfortunately though, God told Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah that he was not going to make it. Could you imagine what that must have felt like? Not all of us are prepared to die. We are so wrapped up in the things of this world that we live as if there is no end. We eat and drink and buy and sell and then suddenly the end comes without warning. Sometimes death is preceded with much pain and suffering. For example, just when everything seems to be going well you find out that there is a small lump or tumor somewhere that tests positive for cancer. Your spouse who was doing so well is suddenly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a heart disease. News like this can shatter your life. You have probably planned for many things in the future, you have a family that depends on you and just when you want to enjoy some comfort and rest, devastating news breaks the peace and joy of your home.
Unfortunately, life in this world is filled with tears and suffering and they come to us in many ways. Some believe that sickness and sorrow come to them because of some wrong they might have done or simply because God does not favor them. This seems logical but it is not always true. King Hezekiah was an example. He was a good man and sometimes, bad things happen to good people because we live in a world that is less than perfect. Even good people get sick and endure suffering. Wonder if some of you might be feeling the same way this morning. You try to be faithful in the many things that you do and yet sorrow or sickness seems to follow you all the time! It does not seem to be fair and once in a while this even shakes the roots of your faith. You probably wonder if it is even worth your while praying because sometimes it appears that God is not even listening. Friends, Even the most Godly people are not exempt from the trials of life.
Let us look at Hezekiah for a moment. He became King when he was only 25 at a time when many of his subjects were idol worshippers. He spent most of his life getting people to turn back to God. He cleaned out the idols from the temple and brought worship back to Jerusalem. He ruled wisely and saved up a lot for his country. In every sense, Hezekiah was a good man. Verse 3 tells us that he walked before the Lord in truth with a perfect heart always doing the will of God. Yet, death was knocking on his door prematurely. Hezekiah had good reason to complain and be bitter with God but instead he prayed and begged God to change his mind. Hezekiah did not let the bad news take him to the grave. He was an overcomer. He probably clasped his hands and fell on his knees and went to God in prayer. I am reminded of Jesus’ words when he said “in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good courage because I have overcome this world”. Hezekiah was an overcomer and I know some of you here are overcomers too; but not all of you. Some of us do not receive because we do not ask. My friends, when all else has failed you know you can trust a faithful and loving God.
Hezekiah was broken but not defeated. He did the right thing when he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord. He also wept bitterly. The most amazing response came from God barely minutes later when God said “ I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, indeed I will heal you”. Friends, your tears can break the heart of God. It doesn’t take long for God to respond to a tearful heart. A time is coming and I believe it is not far away when God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. But until then we must be of good courage and fight the good fight trusting in our Lord to bring healing and wholeness to our life.
When Jesus walked this earth, many went to him and were healed. After He arose, the new testament Church continued to heal through the apostles who became the hands and heart of Jesus to a needy world. Today, God uses millions of anointed men and women to heal in his name. Our reading from James tells us that “if any of us be sick, we are to call upon the elders of the Church who will pray over us and anoint us with oil and we will be healed”. Perhaps you might say, “That sounds good, but what if I do that and nothing happens?” But let me say this - what if you do that and something does happen! I am not suggesting that you can’t be healed in the quiet of your home but I am suggesting that if you can’t trust God to do a good job while you are right here, how does it get any better in your home? In fact, Hezekiah was skeptical too and was not very sure if God had healed him, so he asked God to show him a sign. You know from the story that God proved his love to Hezekiah by moving the sun back 10 degrees.
Friends, God is willing to move heaven and earth for us if we will only receive him in faith. Hezekiah was not healed with the poultice figs but by God and likewise, the power of healing is not in your Pastor or in the rail or in the oil, but in the mighty name of Jesus! Friends, may be you have been burdened with some kind of health problem for yourself or for a loved one; may be it is a financial problem or a personal matter that has been weighing you down. May be you are in a sinful situation or relationship and you find yourself in a mess; or may be you haven’t given your life to Jesus - whatever your need, I invite you to come to the rail and be healed. God changed his mind when he saw the tears of Hezekiah. God can change his mind for you too, if you will only believe and cry out in your heart and ask for help. Just as we meet Christ through the bread and wine at the communion table, the oil is a symbol of God’s anointing and healing and when received in faith, will bring healing to your life. The rail is open and God is here, it is now up to you to come. Amen.