Summary: A biographical study of King Hezeziah
Annual Sermons Volume 1 (Part 1)
WHO WANTS TO DIE AT 39?
Most New Years cards wish us all sunshine and joy.” Secretly, we wish the same. Nervously we wonder if bad things might happen. But I remind you on this first Sunday of the New Year that “all sunshine will make a desert” and our dark pages can turn out to be the best pages. Luther once said, “Tears have been my best teachers”. Henry Ward Beecher said, “Tears are telescopes by which we see into heaven”. T. DeWitt Talmedge said, “I never had a set-back but it turned out to be a set forward.” We see this in the life of one of God’s greatest servants- Hezekiah, the King of Judah during the latter part of the Eighth and the early part of the Seventh Century before Christ. And the Bible says that of all the Kings who descended from David, he was the greatest. We read in II Kings 18: 5-7a, “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he stayed with the Lord and departed not from following him. He kept the commandments, which the Lord commanded to Moses. And the Lord was with him; and he prospered wherever he went.”
1. The Amazing Person. Hezekiah was great in many respects. He was a great political leader who delivered Judah from the chaos of the reign of his father Ahaz. He was a great builder and his aqueduct which brought water to Jerusalem can be seen today. He was a great man of letters, having gathered together much of the sacred writings in Books like Psalms and Proverbs. But most of all he was a great religious reformer, a mighty man of God. He had the courage to destroy the serpent Moses made because the people made an idol of it. He opened the doors of the House of God, closed by his wicked father. He reinstituted the long neglected feast of Passover. He destroyed the high places where pagan idols were worshiped.
2. The Awful Plight. At the very height of his power, when he was only thirty-nine years old, when his nation, surrounded by the armies of Assyria, needed his leadership the most, God sent him the he was lying on a sickbed with a severely infected boil. 3. The Anguished Praying and Awful Prediction. Knowing human nature, we know Hezekiah and his people, especially at this dangerous time, were praying for his recovery. But God sent his Pastor to him with bad news. We read, “In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him and said, ‘This is what the Lord says,’ Set your house in order; you are going to die, you will not recover.’” (Is. 38:1)
4. The Alarming Protest. Hezekiah did not fold his hands and say, “Thy will be done!” as we Christians are taught to pray (2 Cor. 12, Matt. 6). He turned his face to the wall and said, “Lord, remember how I have served you faithfully and wholeheartedly and have done what is right in your eyes.” And then, the Bible says, “Hezekiah wept bitterly.” (2 Kings 20:2)5.
5. The Amazing Promise. We can easily expect an angry response from God to such a proud man who dares tell God how good he is. What we have is God’s amazing promise, ““Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father (ancestor): I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city.” (38:4-6) There are some deep theological mysteries here. We could discuss for weeks the question, “Can prayer change God’s will?” There are some thorny problems of chronology and the sequence of events in the reign of Hezekiah, but let’s learn some practical lessons for you and me.
A. THE PERPLEXITY PRODUCED BY SUFFERING
1) The inevitable questioning in suffering. We know God has not promised to shelter His people from the ordinary hurts of life, so these are not punishments when they come. It is irrational to ask why. We get old, we get cancer and we get fired for no reason. If things like this did not happen to Christians, we could not build enough churches to hold the people. We pay lip service to this, but even the best of Christians deny it. When our children are well, our bodies are healthy, our business is good and our lives are problem free; we praise God for His goodness. But let our loved ones lie on sick beds, let our bodies or emotions be racked with pain, let us have reversals in business and have problems pile up like leaves; and we cry like Hezekiah, Lord, why are You doing this to us? To find some logical reason we even blame ourselves and say, “I guess we deserve this. God wouldn’t be punishing me unless I had done something wrong.” The Bible lets us know this was not the case with Hezekiah. He was not being punished. It was after listing his outstanding virtues that the Bible adds, “After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.” (2 Ch. 32:1) Alexander Maclaren’s sermon on this text was “A Strange Reward for Faithfulness.”