The story of Hezekiah at death’s gate is found in three books in the Bible. You can read about it in II Kings 20, II Chronicles 32:24-26, 31, and Isaiah 38-39.
There are certain items that stand out to me in this story. Hezekiah was only 39 years old when he found himself sick unto death. He also had shown great faith in the LORD just before this with the threat of Sennacharib invading Jerusalem. Here was a godly leader in the prime of his life. Yet God told him to set his house in order because he would die. God seems to change His mind here. He had told Hezekiah that he would die, then after Hezekiah’s plea, God tells him he will get 15 more years added onto his life.
Hezekiah truly humbles himself. Reading his prayer in Isaiah 38:9-20 gives us the clear impression that he knew he had just been spared from death. He was at death’s door and could see the gates of death.
The language that Isaiah uses (38:21) concerning the lump of figs tells us that it was mashed figs being applied as an emollient. I wonder who the lucky fellow was that got to rub this mixture into this boil on King Hezekiah.
But Hezekiah walks right out from this place of humility, right smack into the place of pride. When the ambassadors from Babylon came, we find Hezekiah strutting around the palace showing off all the riches of the kingdom. His pride plainly shows through in his words. "There is nothing among MY treasures that I have not shown them." Hezekiah was basically prancing around like a peacock in front of these leaders from a foreign land.
Here’s the rub. Would God have been wiser to simply take Hezekiah’s life before Hezekiah committed this huge blunder? When Hezekiah was lying on his deathbed, God saw into the future and knew Hezekiah would sin this grievous sin. God also saw into the distant future to the destruction of the temple when Nebuzar-Adan came, dismantled all the gold, and burnt the temple to the ground. Hezekiah’s little parade to these ambassadors allowed the tales of a temple of gold to be sent back to Babylon. The stories would be told and passed on to the Babylonian children and grandchildren. Finally, curiousity would get the better of them. And it all started with Hezekiah’s big mistake.
Is my big mistake waiting for me just around the corner? Would God be wise to take me out of this life in order to spare generations from experiencing terrible destruction because of my sin? Hezekiah was truly humble when pleading for his life and when he found out God had spared him. That didn’t keep him from becoming puffed up immediately after that. I’m humble before God right now, but I know my heart. I’m very easily led into the sin of pride. Am I going to walk right out of the place of humility and right smack into the place of pride?
One last item: Hezekiah knew the year of his death in advance. God had told him that he would live for 15 more years. Hezekiah knew that he would die at the age of 54. How would you live if you knew what the year of your death would be? We will all face death. We just don’t know exactly when. Hezekiah had plenty of time to choose a godly leader for his successor. Yet after his death, the most ungodly king of the lineage of David reigned for 52 years.
If you knew you only had one year left to live, is there something in your life that you would set in order? Is there a relationship you would try to mend? Is there someone you would apologize to? Is there someone you would witness to? There may be folks reading this blog who only have one year left. We don’t know.
If you had an experience like Hezekiah’s, what would change? Do we have to have an experience like Hezekiah’s for us to be wise and number our days?
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman