Hezekiah was a man who birthed a revival and saw the Lord do mighty things in his life. He was one of the great kings in the history of God’s people (2 Kings 18:5). He came to power following the death of Ahaz, one of the worst kings. He immediately began to bring the people back to the worship of God. He repaired the Temple and removed all the pagan idols that had been set up there. This included the bronze serpent, which Moses had made at the Lord’s command, because it had become an object of worship. It was one of the greatest revivals in the Old Testament. Hezekiah was a man who knew revival.
He also experienced victory on the battlefield. For the people of Israel, possession of the land was a sign that their relationship with the Lord was right. As revival swept Israel, the Lord gave them military victory against the Philistines who had captured some of their cities. Even more astonishing, Hezekiah saw the hand of God deliver them from the might of the Assyrians, who were the major military power of the day. Hezekiah was a man who knew success.
He also saw God’s supernatural work in his physical body. He was at the point of death when the prophet Isaiah came to see him and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order for you shall die, you shall not recover.’” Hezekiah prayed and asked the Lord to extend his life because he had sought to serve him wholeheartedly. Isaiah returned with a new prophetic word, “Thus says the Lord: ‘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 will defend this city.’” Not only did God heal him, he gave him a sign to verify the deliverance to come: the shadow of the sun went backwards on the sundial! (Isaiah 38:1-8). Hezekiah was a man who knew the miraculous power of God.
Hezekiah had walked with the Lord for a long time, experiencing the blessings of obedience, and therein lies a great danger that threatens to trap all of us.
Hezekiah was at the peak of his power and was standing in the stream of the blessings of the Lord when he received envoys from a distant kingdom. This is not uncommon. Rulers often exchange letters and gifts with one another as a sign of goodwill. Hezekiah welcomed these particular envoys gladly because they had traveled over 500 miles with a gift to celebrate his recovery from near-death. Hezekiah showed them around. He showed them his treasure house filled with silver and gold. He opened the doors them his entire armory with all of the weapons at the disposal of his army. He displayed the storehouses filled with all kinds of goods to them. He showed them everything.
After they left, the prophet Isaiah arrived and asked, “Who were those men? What did they say? Where did they come from?” Hezekiah explained they had come from the distant country of Babylon. Isaiah want to know what they had seen and Hezekiah told him all that he had shown them all the riches of the kingdom.
Isaiah spoke a stern word to Hezekiah: “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. ‘And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
This is a stinging rebuke. In his desire to impress the envoys he had exposed the kingdom to great risk. That’s the practical viewpoint, but the spiritual reality is that Israel is secure as long as they are in right relationship with the Lord and Isaiah’s words expose the reality that all is not right. The riches and the people of Israel are soon to be ripped away from the land and carried off to Babylon.
Hezekiah, the king who had led the country into revival, who had known the success that comes from obedience, and who had seen mighty miracles of God, should have immediately repented of his sin and spent his remaining days doing all that he could to see that future generations would pursue the Lord wholeheartedly. Perhaps the Lord would relent like he had done before when he healed Hezekiah. Perhaps there was a chance that his sons would not be forced to serve as eunuchs in the palace of the Babylonian king.
Hezekiah heard the ominous prophetic warning from the lips of Isaiah and said, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.” What a twisted understanding of the word of the Lord! What was a reproof he understood as a blessing! (Isaiah 38:1-8).
We must never underestimate the ability of our sinful hearts to bend the word of God to try to dull its convicting work in our lives. This danger never disappears. In fact, often those who have been walking with the Lord and experienced his blessings (revival, success, miracles) are often the most susceptible to this trap. We rest on the treasure of a life of following the Lord and it dulls our hearts and we become deaf to the convicting work of the Lord even while immersed in the Word. We think of the revival and healings we have experienced and forget that it does not make us an expert: we will always be dependent upon the Holy Spirit to understand the word of God and apply it to our lives.
We are in great danger if we think that we have arrived at a place of invulnerability because of the experiences of God we have had in the past. Paul writes, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed, lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). This is what happened to Hezekiah. His pride and experience made him blind to the correction and rebuke of the Lord. Because he was in a place of peace and security at the moment, he misinterpreted and misapplied the word of the Lord.
This is a warning to each of us that we must remain humble and seek to understand what the Lord is saying to us through his word. He lovingly brings correction and we need hearts soft enough to be moldable when he does, otherwise our proud flesh will distort the words and we will confuse rebuke for blessing and keep stumbling toward disaster.
Word of Life Staff
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