“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
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
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 –
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.