Sabbath, January 8, 2011
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season….” 2 Timothy 4:2. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6.
A king’s test
1. What did the Lord permit to happen to King Hezekiah?
2 Kings 20:1, first part In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death.
“In the midst of his prosperous reign King Hezekiah was suddenly stricken with a fatal malady. ‘Sick unto death,’ his case was beyond the power of man to help.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 340.
2. What dire message did he receive from the prophet?
2 Kings 20:1, second part And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
“And the last vestige of hope seemed removed when the prophet Isaiah appeared before him with the message, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.’ Isaiah 38:1.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 340.
Healing and ingratitude
3. What did Hezekiah do in his anguish? What wonderful miracle resulted from his earnest prayers and tears?
2 Kings 20:2-6 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
“The outlook seemed utterly dark; yet the king could still pray to the One who had hitherto been his ‘refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ Psalm 46:1. And so ‘he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.’ 2 Kings 20:2, 3….
“He whose ‘compassions fail not,’ heard the prayer of His servant. Lamentations 3:22….
“Gladly the prophet returned with the words of assurance and hope. Directing that a lump of figs be laid upon the diseased part, Isaiah delivered to the king the message of God’s mercy and protecting care.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 340-342.
“When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard His servant and worked a miracle in his behalf, sending him a message that fifteen years should be added to his life. Now, one word from God, one touch of the divine finger, would have cured Hezekiah instantly, but special directions were given to take a fig and lay it upon the affected part, and Hezekiah was raised to life. In everything we need to move along the line of God’s providence.” –Counsels on Health, pp. 381, 382.
4. Was the king grateful for the great benefit he had received? How did his attitude and actions plant a seed that resulted in the Babylonian captivity?
2 Chronicles 32:25-27 But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah. And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels.
“The Bible does not condemn the rich man because he is rich; it does not declare the acquisition of wealth to be a sin, nor does it say that money is the root of all evil….
“The Scriptures teach that wealth is a dangerous possession only when placed in competition with the immortal treasure. It is when the earthly and temporal absorbs the thoughts, the affections, the devotion which God claims, that it becomes a snare….
“Like other gifts of God, the possession of wealth brings its increase of responsibility, and its peculiar temptations. How many who have in adversity remained true to God, have fallen under the glittering allurements of prosperity. With the possession of wealth, the ruling passion of a selfish nature is revealed. The world is cursed today by the miserly greed and the self-indulgent vices of the worshipers of mammon.” –(The Review and Herald, May 16, 1882) Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 138, 139.
Results of the sign
5. What sign did Hezekiah request as proof that his life would be prolonged? Who else saw this sign?
2 Kings 20:7-10, 12 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.
2 Kings 20:12 At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
2 Chronicles 32:31 Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
“In the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates there dwelt an ancient race which, though at that time subject to Assyria, was destined to rule the world. Among its people were wise men who gave much attention to the study of astronomy; and when they noticed that the shadow on the sundial had been turned back ten degrees, they marveled greatly. Their king, Merodachbaladan, upon learning that this miracle had been wrought as a sign to the king of Judah that the God of heaven had granted him a new lease of life, sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery and to learn, if possible, more of the God who was able to perform so great a wonder.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 344.
A lost opportunity
6. What holy opportunity was thus presented to the king? How did he use it?
Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
Psalm 40:9, 10 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
“The visit of these messengers from the ruler of a far-away land gave Hezekiah an opportunity to extol the living God. How easy it would have been for him to tell them of God, the upholder of all created things, through whose favor his own life had been spared when all other hope had fled! What momentous transformations might have taken place had these seekers after truth from the plains of Chaldea been led to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of the living God!…
“Had Hezekiah improved the opportunity given him to bear witness to the power, the goodness, the compassion of the God of Israel, the report of the ambassadors would have been as light piercing darkness. But he magnified himself above the Lord of hosts. He ‘rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up.’ Verse 25….
“Hezekiah had grievously sinned; ‘therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.’ Verse 25.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 344, 346.
7. What terrible mistake did he make? What results would follow?
2 Kings 20:13-18 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them. And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
“But pride and vanity took possession of Hezekiah’s heart, and in self-exaltation he laid open to covetous eyes the treasures with which God had enriched His people…. Not to glorify God did he do this, but to exalt himself in the eyes of the foreign princes. He did not stop to consider that these men were representatives of a powerful nation that had not the fear nor the love of God in their hearts, and that it was imprudent to make them his confidants concerning the temporal riches of the nation…
“To Isaiah it was revealed that the returning ambassadors were carrying with them a report of the riches they had seen, and that the king of Babylon and his counselors would plan to enrich their own country with the treasures of Jerusalem.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 344-346.
“The solemn, sacred truth–the testing message given us of God to communicate to the world–lays every one of us under the strongest obligation to so transform our daily life and character that the power of the truth may be well represented. We should have a continual sense of the shortness of time and of the fearful events which prophecy has declared must speedily take place.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 612.
For personal study
• Isaiah 38:1-22.
• Isaiah 39:1-8.