2 Kings 20:1-11
1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’” 7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered. 8 Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the LORD will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the LORD on the third day from now?”
9 Isaiah answered, “This is the LORD’S sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?” 10 “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.” 11 Then the prophet Isaiah called upon the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.
How do you handle bad news? Some would say it depends on the nature and gravity of the news. The truth is that no one likes to hear bad news. We like it even less when it seems or appears as though there is very little that we can do to alter or change the outcome. However, while it may seem as though we are powerless in many situations the Bible points out that believer’s have the power to change outcomes and impact situations they face.
As we turn our attention to 2 Kings chapter 20, we read in the first 11 verses about Hezekiah who was the king of Judah 12 generations removed from David. The text opens with Hezekiah receiving news that he would eventually succumb to the illness he was battling. He was instructed by the prophet Isaiah to “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Judging from Hezekiah’s response he did not take the news too well. The Bible says, “He wept bitterly.” Hearing the words, “You are going to die,” can be quite sobering and very depressing. The truth is that at some point we all will leave this life. In fact, the Bible says, “It is appointed onto man once to die and then the judgment.” The words, “You are going to die,” remind us that death is one battle that we all will lose at some point. We are also reminded that the power of life and death rests not in the hands of doctors, medication, exercise, proper diet, or even good living, but the hands of God.
Hezekiah for his part did not allow the news to deter him, instead he prayed. As we examine and take a closer look at Hezekiah’s prayer we see that believer’s are not powerless in the face of bad news or difficult circumstances especially when they have built up equity with God. In real estate parlance, equity is the difference between what a property is worth and what the owner owes. It is the value of the house or property minus the remaining mortgage payments. Equity allows us to use the credit we have built up to address other needs. Just like there is home equity there is also spiritual equity. Spiritual equity functions just like home equity, it is a line of credit we build up with God that allows us to borrow against our credit and then apply it to meet a need.
So, when we read and listen to Hezekiah’s prayer we are reading Hezekiah’s application to God to borrow against the equity he has built up with God. Hezekiah does not waste any time highlighting why God should extend him the credit and approve his application. Hezekiah begins by pointing out, “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully.” Whenever a person applies for a home equity loan one of the first things a bank reviews is payment history. They look to see if payments were made regularly and on-time. They want to know are we a reliable risk. Historians and Biblical scholars all agree that Hezekiah was on par with some of the other great kings of Judah like his grandfather Jotham and great grandfather Azariah and great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather David. The one thing they all had in common was they walked faithfully before God. They all proved to God that they could be trusted. Rather than continue practices that were detestable to God Hezekiah stopped them and instituted sweeping reforms that led to spiritual revival. If God were to read our transcript of what we have done where He has planted and placed us how would it read? Can God definitively say that He can count on us? Are we God’s sure thing? Faithfulness means that we are reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. If we want to know whether or not we are faithful, look at how we handle our commitments. Are we where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there? Do we bolt at the first sign of trouble, hardship, or when things get tough? Faithfulness means I will make payment to God when payment is due. Have you ever noticed, whenever we commit to do something for God something seemingly more important comes up? Jesus put it best, “You cannot serve two masters. You will love one and hate the other.” It is hard to be faithful with a divided heart. You want to here, but your heart is over there. Hezekiah’s heart and support were with God and for God. He was reliable.
In his application, Hezekiah also points to the fact that he has walked with “Whole-hearted devotion” before the Lord. Banks can be seemingly cold and calloused. They are not interested in the personal challenges we have faced or the strain we’ve been under to make our payments on time. The bank is only interested in knowing how committed have we been to fulfilling our commitment. Whole-hearted devotion means that I am committed to my commitment. I will honor the terms of our agreement at all costs. I may have to sacrifice some things over here, but keeping the peace and maintaining my good standing is more important that anything I have to give up over here. The only relationship that really mattered to Hezekiah was his relationship with the Lord. Hezekiah did not have a relationship with the Lord he had a covenantal relationship with the Lord. Any relationship without terms is an open relationship and in an open relationship anything goes. Where there are no terms there is also no expectations. Terms help to bring parties together and into agreement. If we know what the terms are we know what we can expect. It is hard to be faithful to someone or something in the absence of terms or an agreement. Why would anyone enter into something and not know what they need to put in to reap the benefits? When we know the terms of the agreement than we can make up our minds to live in the agreement. One of the challenges for all believers is learning to live in the agreement we make with God. There will be times when we may want to change the terms because we feel like we are getting the short end of the stick. When you feel like you are being short changed living in begins to feel like we are living with the agreement. When you live with something you do it grudgingly because the benefits are not visible. The agreement then seems like it is a hardship. I’m sure that when the king of Assyria and his mighty army came up against Hezekiah he thought I did not sign up for this. We need to remember that God never makes a one-way agreement. God’s terms are always mutually beneficial. God always says, if you do this I will do that. If we live within the terms of God’s covenant we can be assured of reaping the benefits. We can rest in the knowledge that when Assyria comes against us our God whom we are in agreement with will be an ever-present help in the time of trouble and will fight our battles. The Bible says God was with Hezekiah in everything he did, why, because those were the terms of his agreement with God. What are the terms of our agreement with God? Do we have any terms or are we in an open relationship with God, He may or may not show up because we may or may not be reliable?
The text says Hezekiah closes his request by highlighting I “Have done what is good in your eyes.” It is unfortunate that the idea of what is good like truth has become distorted. Some say good like its cousin truth are relative and open to interpretation. However, Hezekiah’s understood good to mean living our lives in such a way that God is happy with us. One of the things that qualified David as a man after God’s own heart was that David was committed to blessing God. David like Hezekiah understood the principle of reciprocal blessings. God blesses those who bless Him. When we bless God, God will bless us. When we are committed to advancing God’s kingdom agenda on earth we are a blessing to God. When we are committed to allowing God to use us to fulfill His plan and purposes we are a blessing to God. When we bless God, God in turn will bless us. When we pay the bank what we owe them we are in fact blessing them because we are putting back into them what they extended to us. They in turn can bless others and when the time comes bless us again and some more. In other words, when we satisfy the terms of our agreement we qualify for additional credit. When we satisfy the terms of our agreement with God we build up equity with God. In the time of trouble we can then apply to use the equity we have built up to address a need.
There are some who say Hezekiah’s prayer was a selfish prayer, I say it was a request to apply the equity he built up with God to address a pressing need. His need was greater than the existing resources he had, but he knew that he had built up some equity with God. Therefore, he was able to go to the First National Bank of in God we trust and say, “O, Lord, Remember…”
Have you built up any equity with God?