Respecting God’s Favor
Summary of 2 Kings 18-20 – Life of King Hezekiah
Hezekiah became king of Judea and he was a godly king; reestablishing righteousness in the land. The king of Assyria came against the northern kingdom of Israel and subdued it. This was a judgment from God because they did not try to live holy under the Law of Moses. Then the king of Assyria brought his army down to attack Judea. Hezekiah, knowing he was vastly outnumbered, gave into the king of Assyria and payed a heavy ransom not to be attacked. (Evidently this was not good enough and the Assyrian army marched to the gates of Jerusalem.) The Assyrian king’s representative read aloud threats to the people of Jerusalem, warning them not to trust in King Hezekiah to deliver them from the hand of the king of Assyria. In their threat they announced to the people on the wall, the God of Israel will not save you.
King Hezekiah done what was right and ask the prophet Isaiah to plead with the Lord for mercy. Isaiah enquired of the Lord and assurance was given that the Assyrian army would turn back. Still the Assyrian king’s messenger threatened Judea with a letter directly to King Hezekiah. Hezekiah took the letter to the Temple and laid it before the Lord praying for mercy. Isaiah returns with assurance that Assyria will turn back and not attack Jerusalem. (This happened, the Assyrian army turned back.)
King Hezekiah became deathly sick. Then Isaiah the prophet,
went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in
order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ” 2 Then he turned his face
toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Remember
now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a
loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah
wept bitterly. 4 And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into
the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him,
saying, 5 “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. On the third day
you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 And I will add to
your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the
king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the
sake of My servant David.” ’ ” 2 Kings 20:2-6
Then Hezekiah ask for a confirmation. The Lord answered by moving the Sun dial 10 degrees forward.
Then the King of Babylon sent emissaries to Hezekiah to enquire of his success. Hezekiah boastfully showed-off to the Babylonian emissaries all his wealth and treasures. Isaiah came with a word from the Lord basically saying; The treasure you have shown to the king of Babylon will one day be plundered and taken to Babylon and your sons will be taken to serve the King of Babylon, but not you.
Hezekiah’s response: So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?” 2 Kings 20:19
What We Should Learn
Hezekiah was truly a great king of Judah and he used his governing power to turn a decayed and disrespectful culture back to righteousness. But there was a selfish root in him. He did not respect the favor that was extended to him, especially toward his offspring.
This selfishness he displayed at the end really made me start to think. What is our attitude toward the good things and obvious favors God shows to us.
Personalizing this Story
The main reason I went back to read the story of Hezekiah again was because of my present situation. I have been diagnosed to have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. It affects nerves in your brain and spinal cord that control your muscles. As your muscles get weaker, it gets harder for you to walk, talk, eat, and breathe.
I am so grateful to have many Christian friends that have shown their concerns for me with their prayers. Many times, in their prayers over me they have ask the Lord to give me fifteen more years like he gave King Hezekiah. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord could truly extend this grace to me. So, after reading Hezekiah’s story, I must ask myself what my proper response should be?
From the story, after he was granted more years to live, Hezekiah made two blunders. When the delegation came from Babylon to enquire of his great governing success, he did not give God the proper glory for his success. Rather he was boastful of his great riches. Then when he was assured of the final judgment set forth for Judah, he was unconcerned because it would only affect his sons.
So, what the Lord spoke to me was, “Jerry you must learn and properly walk in the favors extend to you from the Lord.”
I look back over my life and I see favor after favor after favor from the Lord. He has been so good to me. But I see many times I have misused those blessings. As I write this, it makes me sad. All I can hope for is that I learn from those mistakes and do my best to be more grateful in the future.
Let me clarify my beliefs concerning God’s favor. We are all sinners separated from God. Jesus once and for all took our sins to the cross where He paid the ultimate sacrifice. Once we consciously accept that free gift we no longer have to work for our salvation. Then as we are enlightened as to how-to walk-in righteousness then we are responsible to do so. And when we do walk in righteousness, God takes notice and extends favors and rewards toward us. Also, He releases responsibilities to us that He can trust us with. Life is more enjoyable and more productive.
The scribe who wrote out the acts of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles, says Hezekiah humbles himself but was tested by God through the visit from the Babylonians.
24 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. … 31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.
James 1: 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing.