One of the most unsettling stories in the Bible, comes from the chapters 38 and 39 in the book of Isaiah.
In this historical account, King Hezekiah becomes very sick… to the point of death. In walks the great prophet Isaiah. He has no fancy message, no hopeful encouragement, he just states the word of the Lord: “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
I don’t know about you, but with Isaiah’s perfect track record, I would of wept in complete despair. For when the Lord speaks to Isaiah, those words are concrete.
He’s a prophet of God, tested and true.
I think it’s important here to note that a word from the Lord is true and final – however, God has given us a secret weapon that can change everything: Intercession.
He does this so that when we get a prophetic word, we do not need to sit in despair. We can DO something! We can turn to him and pray! In this sense, prophetic words are rarely concrete. In the hands of a prophet, God’s words are to be shared with others. But for the receiver of the words, they are to be brought to heartfelt prayer!!
Hezekiah does exactly this. He breaks down and prays; weeping and begging God to let him live, to not cut him down in the prime of his life. God hears him and listens.
Do we get this?!?
God hears him AND listens!!!
God gave the word, which was final: Death.
But then he saw his beloved child, weeping in despair, pleading for more time to serve him and God relents.
If this message doesn’t wake us up to prayer, I don’t know what will. Our prayers have the power to change our outcome.
How often do we do this? How little we take advantage of this precious gift!
King Hezekiah is healed! How I wish the story ended here!
After King Hezekiah gets better, the king of Babylon sends an envoy with gifts to celebrate Hezekiah’s recovery. Hezekiah shows them everything in his kingdom, all his possessions. We aren’t given a reason for this, but one would assume he did so out of pride. Then the prophet Isaiah asks about the envoy and specifically, what the king all showed them.
“Everything” is Hezekiah’s reply.
And Isaiah utters another prophecy: “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace… will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord Almighty. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood born to you, will be taken away and become eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.”
And we collectively hold our breath, awaiting another impassioned prayer by the king who changed his own outcome. Surely, after seeing the Lord change what was to come over his own life, he will cry out on his knees for the future generations!
Here’s Hezekiah’s response: “ The word of the Lord you have spoken here is good.” For he thought, “there will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
If this is not the most disturbing display of selfishness, I don’t know what is!
Where is the desperation? Where is the man who reminded God of his promises? Who reminded God of his righteousness? Where is the repentance? Where is the humility that he had claimed he would live out for the rest of his days?
Reminding me of my generation:
Hours pined away on social media and screens. We know how damaging these things are for our children. We know it already! Yet… “It’s the easy thing to do.”
“I can’t adult today.”
Five minute devotional books sold by the dozen because we “don’t have the time for long devotions” while we laughingly post on Facebook about our five hour Netflix binge and ask “Is there anything else to watch?!?”
Our generation, splurging on frivolous and unnecessary things: expensive outings, over priced coffees, beauty care and home decoré… all while adamantly claiming: “we barely make enough to scrape by.”
Trust me, North Americans, we simply do not know what these words mean!
Our government spending outrageously, knowingly, unsustainably. Obviously with no care at all for the future generations, because “We want to live prosperously NOW!”
“We deserve better.”
Without a thought for future generations. What a hauntingly disturbing response from a selfish generation in the midst of a pandemic.
Who knows what lies ahead? Who has the wisdom to discern the times?
I think we would do well to remember King Hezekiah. Do we only care about the here, the now? We may not have the future told to us, but we most definitely can get on our knees and change the course of it.
What are we waiting for?