BIBLICAL GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
|Issue No. 1||
5 - 11 Jan 2009
|Thinking Points : Hez's Tests
by Mickey Chiang
After Jesus, David, Moses, Abraham, Jacob and Paul, Hezekiah is mentioned the most times in the Bible. Who was Hezekiah? What was so remarkable about him?
King Hezekiah of Judah was one of the few good kings of Israel and Judah. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. ….. He removed the ‘high places’, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles” (2Kings 18:3&4). He was the best among all the kings of Judah (v5), and the Lord made him successful in whatever he undertook (v7). Two of the most amazing and colossal miracles in the Bible came in response to Hezekiah’s prayers. What a spiritual and blessed man was Hezekiah.
The first great miracle was seen when a large Assyrian army besieged Jerusalem after many victories elsewhere. Hezekiah prayed to God in righteous indignation after the Assyrian commander insulted God in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem. “Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God” (Isaiah 37:20). What a God-centred prayer!
God replied, “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant” (Is 37:35). That same day, an angel of the Lord put to death 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Sennacherib, ruler of the Assyrian Empire, retreated home, where two of his sons murdered him.
The second wonderful miracle came when Hezekiah was terminally ill. God sent Isaiah to tell him he would not recover. Hezekiah prayed to God, weeping bitterly. What does this say about Hezekiah’s spiritual health? That he felt life on earth was so good he preferred it to life in eternity with God?
Still, God immediately sent Isaiah back to Hezekiah to announce that his life had been extended by fifteen years. How generous God was! But how did Hezekiah react to this? Read 2Kings 20:8.
Yes, Hezekiah asked for a sign that he would indeed be healed. Hezekiah doubted God! He asked that God make the shadow climb back up ten steps of the palace staircase. And God performed a great miracle to do just that! But what’s so great about that?
Well, to reverse the shadow’s movement, make it go back ten steps, and then move it along its previous path again, didn’t God have to move either the sun, or the planet Earth, twice? And do it so gently that Hezekiah’s palace did not tumble down around him. How great is God! Did Hezekiah react to this fantastic sign with praises? A national celebration?
“But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him” says 2Chr 32:25. Is this another indication of his spiritual unsoundness? “Therefore the Lord’s wrath was upon him” (v25b).
Suddenly, envoys came, bearing gifts and letters from the king of Babylon “because he had heard of his illness and recovery”. News of the amazing healing had spread, even to distant Babylon! Here was a golden opportunity for Hezekiah to boast about how he had trusted in God and how God had performed a great miracle! So did Hezekiah do this? Behold, even though God’s wrath had been provoked, He still gave Hezekiah another chance and put him to this test. Did Hezekiah pass?
Three books of the Bible report the envoy’s visit; none mention Hezekiah boasting about God’s great miracles. Instead, Hezekiah boasted about his great wealth and weapons, as if these saved him from the Assyrians, and from his terminal illness. He even, foolishly, showed them all his treasures and armouries, and all the wealth of Judah. God knew the consequences of Hezekiah revealing so much wealth and military secrets to Babylon, and sent Isaiah to Hezekiah to foretell, “Everything in your palace will be carried off to Babylon. ….. And some of your descendants ….. will be taken away and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Is 39:6,7). Did Hezekiah weep bitterly and pray that God might spare his descendants all this?
No, Hezekiah received this prophesy calmly. Isaiah reveals Hezekiah’s thoughts: “There will be peace and security in my lifetime” (Is 39:8). Never mind if his country lost all its wealth or his descendants suffered a terrible defeat in war, slavery and painful castration in faraway Babylon, so long as good old Hez was safe. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, if Hez passed this second test?
It is easy to hiss at Hez for not finishing well. But let us ponder awhile to learn valuable lessons, both good and bad, from his life. And, hey, are we boasting about our God?
|Next week's Chapel speaker is Mr Samuel Ratnam, Alumni, Grad DipCS 2005.|
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