Isaiah 38 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Four: Hezekiah Prays c’t’d
III. Isaiah 38:1-22 (2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24)
Three events in the life of Hezekiah dominate these chapters of Isaiah.
- Assyria threatens Jerusalem.
- Hezekiah becomes deathly ill.
- The Babylonians visit Hezekiah, who shows them all his treasures.
Establishing with certainty the chronological timeline of these three intertwined events is difficult. However, the lessons to be gleaned do not depend upon chronology.
About to Die, Hezekiah Prays
“In those days,” Hezekiah becomes sick unto death. The Lord sends Isaiah the prophet to tell Hezekiah that he is about to die (Isaiah 38:1). Hezekiah prays. He does his own praying. But Christian readers may take note of the large “elephant in the room” throughout these several chapters. Namely, King Hezekiah relates frequently with a prophet, Isaiah, who gives him detailed and exact messages from God.
Most of us don’t have prophets in our lives functioning as Isaiah did for Hezekiah. If someone says they do, well then, perhaps some of their kind friends might want to check that out carefully. But while most Christians don’t have a ministering prophet, all Christians have the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Personal testimonies abound the world over of many varied ways in which God communicates directly to a believers’ conscious understanding. Some of these involve words impressed upon a believer’s mind. King Hezekiah did not have the ability to commune with God in the same manner as Isaiah. Nor did the king have the Holy Spirit living within him, as today’s believers do.
The sending of the Holy Spirit to rest and abide with every believer is one of the first actions of King Jesus upon his ascension to his heavenly throne. He prophesied his sending of the Spirit in advance.
John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (ESV)
When the Holy Spirit was given, tongues of fire rested upon each believer severally.
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (ESV)
The Apostle Peter bore witness to this event.
Acts 2:33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (ESV)
Finally, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews encourages believers to utilize the full benefits of Christ’s atoning blood by entering the presence of God. It is no longer necessary for prophets to intervene for us.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (ESV)
WEEPING BEFORE THE LORD
Scripture tells us how Hezekiah prays, and so much like we ourselves would like to do from time to time.
Isaiah 38:2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a true heart, and did what is pleasing in Your sight.” So Hezekiah wept loudly.” (SAAS, St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint)
But do we actually pray as King Hezekiah did? It seems to me that many times Christians are afraid to weep loudly before the Lord. Haven’t we been taught to “Rejoice always”? We may perhaps want to weep and complain, but are we afraid this would display doubt or lack of faithfulness? May the Holy Spirit guide each one of us in our prayers.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (ESV)
God Hears Hezekiah
God hears Hezekiah’s prayer. Even though Hezekiah needs Isaiah to tell him words from God, God hears Hezekiah directly. And wonder of wonders, God heals Hezekiah and grants him fifteen more years of life (Isaiah 38:5). Many of us may know cancer victims for whom God granted healing and many more years of healthful living.
THE CAKE OF FIGS
It is noteworthy that God asks Hezekiah to perform a physical action as a demonstration of his faith.
Isaiah 20:7 Then Isaiah said, “Let them take a cake of figs and rest it on the boil, and he will recover.” (SAAS)
Did the figs heal Hezekiah? Or, did God heal Hezekiah upon his obedience of faith? (See 2 Kings 5:1-14 concerning Namaan the leper. Recall also how Jesus commands the man born blind to do such and such in order to effect his healing, John 9:7.)
A PHYSICAL SIGN
Not only does God give Hezekiah the miracle of healing, he gives him a physical miracle as well.
2 Kings 20:8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day? 9 And Isaiah said, This is the sign from the Lord, that the Lord will perform the word which He has spoken, the shadow of the dial shall advance ten degrees; or if it should go back ten degrees this would also be the sign. 10 And Hezekiah said, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; but let the shadow return ten degrees backward on the dial. 11 And Isaiah the prophet cried to the Lord, and the shadow returned back ten degrees on the dial.
Opinions may vary on the wisdom of asking God for a sign. Does asking for a sign display doubt, or faith? However one may feel about asking for signs today, signs are not uncommon in the Old Testament nor in the New (Genesis 9:12-17; Exodus 31:13; Judges 6:17, 36-40; Luke 2:12; Matthew 2:2; 12:39-40; 24:3, 30; 26:48; John 2:18-19; Revelation 1:1; and many more).
Hezekiah displays his faith by asking for a difficult sign. A difficult sign serves him well, because when Isaiah prays and the Lord performs the impossible (the shadow on the sundial moving backward), it gives Hezekiah certainty. I personally was desperate enough once to ask for a difficult sign, and when God granted this, the boost to my morale strengthened my faith to overcome my difficulties. Nevertheless, however useful a sign may prove to be, a Christian’s faith rests upon Christ, according to the Scriptures, and not upon signs.
GOD LOVES HEZEKIAH
Readers of Isaiah know that God loves Hezekiah.
- First, God devotes four entire chapters in the book of Isaiah to Hezekiah. Plus, he gives three chapters in 2 Kings to Hezekiah, as well as four chapters in 2 Chronicles to this same man.
- Second, God hears Hezekiah and answers his prayers. God answers Hezekiah’s personal prayers and his prayers for the deliverance of Jerusalem.
The Bible testifies of Hezekiah that he “did what was good and right before the Lord his God. And in every task he undertook in the service of the house of God, he sought his God in the law and in the commandment with all his heart” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).
But was Hezekiah a “super saint”? Scripture reveals Hezekiah to be an emotional man with deep character flaws. He flings himself down, cries aloud, spreads his burdens before the Lord, weeps like a baby, becomes prideful in heart, and displays great selfishness with regard to others (Isaiah 39). I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I see strong resemblances (though I am female) between myself and this man. I relate to Hezekiah because of his earnestness toward the Lord and in the ridiculous, foolish ways of his heart.
HERE’S THE POINT
Because God loves Hezekiah, he loves those who are like him. That means, God loves me, and God loves you.
Be blessed as you travel down this path of faithfulness to the Lord.
…To be continued: Hezekiah’s Prayer of Worship and Thanksgiving