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Sermon 10-19-08
2 Kings 20:1 - Expectations

Audio Sermon

Expectations

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill and Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live’” (2 Kings 20:1)

About a dozen years ago, I went into an auto dealership, thinking that I'd purchase a much newer car than the one I was driving. I was leading a Christian single’s group in those days and intended to buy a van because it was the “practical” thing to do. A lot of those “singles” would fit into a van. A friend had told me, however, “Don’t simply get a van – be open to getting what you REALLY want…” I really wanted a certain kind of convertible and found myself driving out of the dealership after a few hours in the car of my dreams. I loved that convertible and I still love that car – I drove it just this morning!

But dreams fade and certain parts of that convertible began to wear out. It had to be painted a few years ago, and then the convertible top needed to be replaced. About a year after that, the motor that causes the top to go up-and-down stopped working and the top was stuck in the “Up” position. I had it repaired and then watched the mechanic successfully press the buttons and demonstrate that indeed the mechanism made the top work once more.

I essentially forgot about the top because wintertime was starting and I didn’t try it again for several months. But then came springtime and I wanted to feel the air through my thinning hair again. And so I unhooked the little clips and pressed the “Down” button on the controller. It made a noise, but nothing happened. I expected it to work, but it didn't.

I mentioned it to my wife, who entered the car, sat in the same seat I did, and pressed the buttons – it worked! She “fixed” it, though it turned out that the mechanism was working very well, but the buttons had been reversed. I had been repeatedly pressing the “Down” button to make the top go down. It made a noise, but the top did not move. My wife, Genevieve, was creative enough to press the “Up” button and Down it went! How often in life do we press the “button” we think is the “right” one, but things don’t happen like we think they should?  We need to keep on pressing, but do it creatively!

In my case I went to the expert – I went to my wife who understands mechanical things better than I do. She saw what was needed and “fixed” something that had been unfixable for me. We always need experts who are smart enough to press the "Up" button when something needs to go "Down."

Today’s Scripture is about Hezekiah, the king of Judah, who was very sick, and at the moment of this verse in the Book of 2 Kings, Isaiah the prophet had been sent to him by the Lord. If Isaiah was a doctor, you would have to say he had no “bedside manner” at all, for he bluntly and honestly told the king, “You shall die and not live” (2 Kings 20:1). It is certain the king was surprised by Isaiah’s comment, especially since everyone agreed, including God, that Hezekiah was a man who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 18:3). Down inside we kind of expect that bad people will get what they deserve, and most tend to hope that the good ones will be rewarded for being nice.

It is at such a moment that we all have a choice. Hezekiah had a pretty good life, becoming an absolute monarch by human standards, a king, at age 25 (2 Kings 18:2). He had made mistakes, but he made some good decisions as well, especially in looking to the Lord. And now he did exactly that. He “wept bitterly,” but he also prayed to God for deliverance.

Now, when you think that “prayer doesn’t work,” as some think, remember this account in 2 Kings. “The word of the Lord” came to Isaiah the prophet once more, but this time the message was surprisingly different. This time the “word of the Lord” to Isaiah was, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have HEARD your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you…” (2 Kings 20:4-5).  Hezekiah hoped that God would hear his prayer, and He did.

There is no doubt that if the king had not prayed, he would have soon been dead. But he lived and it was because 1) He believed in the Lord, 2) He had faith in the reality that God answers prayer, and 3) He was willing to put his faith into action and – pray.

It’s interesting, by the way, that when God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, He gave the man more than he asked. God not only said to him, “I will add to your days fifteen years,” but He also said, “I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city…” (2 Kings 20:6). The Lord gives more than we ask.

I don’t think that Hezekiah’s faith was necessarily very great. When God answered his prayer, as we saw in Verse 6, God did not say it was because of the man’s great faith. He said, “I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” Hezekiah simply had the faith of a little child who calls out in the night, “Help me, Lord.” But that is all he needed to do. And it’s all you need to do as well. Note though, that even though healing will come through prayer, we actually need what you might call an “ultimate” deliverance, for it is obvious that these bodies we’ve been given are wearing out like my convertible. Reading further we find that fifteen years later, “Hezekiah rested with his fathers” (2 Kings 20:21). He died.

You can see from this account in the Book of 2nd Kings that God answers prayer. There are people all over the world who are being delivered because they or someone they know has faith in the Lord to the extent that they will pray. God gives them not only what is asked, but even more. But the account also includes the eventual death of Hezekiah, and it is clear that sometimes God’s will is that we, or our child or other loved one, will go to be with Him. That’s how it was with the man Lazarus, a man from a family especially loved by Jesus. As it says in John 11:5, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” The whole Chapter is very interesting, but we will skip ahead to John 11:43 when Lazarus had been dead for four days, and Jesus “cried with a loud voice,Lazarus, come forth!” And he did. The stone over his grave was rolled away, and “he who had died came out” (Verse 44). Our Lord answers prayer and He gives life.

Eventually, though Scripture does not specifically mention it, Lazarus died once more, from old age, some kind of disease, or the attack of the Romans in 70 AD. The fact is – he died. God has a will for your life. It’s not likely you will keep getting healed and live a thousand years, though He could easily do it. But His real intention is better: you will be rescued from sin and unbelief. His decision for you might be the "Up" button, or it might be that we are to remain "Down" here on earth. Just “set your house in order” as in our Scripture for today, and give Your life utterly to Him.  Expect a miracle - He knows what you need.

Thank You, Lord, that You do answer prayer. In Christ I am forgiven. I commit my life to You and trust in You now. I love You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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