When I read about King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20: 1-6, I was astounded by the power of the relationship with God. Hezekiah became very ill. The very famous prophet Isaiah came 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.”
On the surface of it, Hezekiah’s reaction would seem normal. Like most of us would do, he turned to God and prayed. But, look at his prayer: “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.”(2 Kings 20: 3) The text ends with these words: And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Clearly, here was a king who didn’t want to die. But, he knew he couldn’t change God’s Word. So, he prayed, calling on God to remember all the things he did that were good in God’s eyes — he was hoping somehow God would do something, change His mind, even. Then he stopped talking and his heart cried out to God. And, even before Isaiah could leave the middle court, the Word came to him to tell Hezekiah, “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.” And God gave him an extra 15 years to live.
Stricken with disease, Hezekiah was going to die. He prayed, God answered and He got to live for another 15 years! Did his prayer make God change His mind? Of course, not! God’s Word can not be changed. He is not man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind, but, He CAN make a way for us to come to terms with His prophetic Word.
God chose to heal Hezekiah. If God didn’t do that he certainly would have died! But, God intervened, healing him and adding an extra 15 years to his life. Hezekiah eventually died as all human beings do. When that time came, he went in peace to his rest. But at the time that Isaiah gave him the prophecy, Hezekiah certainly didn’t want to die.
But, what is it about this king’s prayer that moved God to respond so quickly and favourably? Was it just that he prayed? I think it wasn’t that; it was what motivated him to turn to God. That motivation came from an underlying powerful reality — the confidence that exudes from a real relationship with a living God. Hezekiah knew his God. He knew his God because He had a relationship with Him. It was a close relationship and because of it he could see what God sees as good and act accordingly.
So, when the prophet brought him bad news, he didn’t do what some of us might have done. Fought the prophet, dismissed what he said or accepted it fatalistically by saying, “Well, God said I’m going to die, so, I might as well accept it!” No, he turned to the one being from whom all prophecies come — God Himself.
Hezekiah did not reject the message nor the messenger because he knew both were from God. But, because he was so close to God, he naturally turned to Him and spilled out his heart to Him. He could do it because that’s what we do in a relationship — talk, initiate and respond. God, as the other person in the relationship, reciprocated and Hezekiah lived for another 15 years.
This is what, I believe, made Hezekiah’s prayer so powerful. He had a close, personal relationship with his God and in that relationship he had the freedom to ask from his heart and God responded. When you don’t have such a relationship you would not have the confidence to ask God for what you want, and wrestle with Him for it like Jacob did (Gen 32: 8: “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.'”
This is the characteristic of all the great people of faith in the Bible. They had and obeyed God’s Word, but it was because of their own personal relationship with their God that they could talk with God and change their fate. They knew through and through that He loves them and so, they love Him, and they developed a relationship on that love. It was that loving relationship that took them further in their walk with God.
It was that relationship with God that changed Hezekiah’s fate. Hezekiah was a great king. He removed all the places of idol worship and stood up to the bigger and more powerful Assyrian army. The Bible describes him in the following way in 2 Kings 18: 5-8: “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.”
Hezekiah “did not stop following him”. Though he followed God’s commands, he was always on “talking terms” with God and it was that relationship that came through for him in his hour of great personal need. He naturally turned to God and shared his heart, and God responded!
What God says — the prophetic word — will come to pass. But, if we have a close relationship with Him, we will embrace His prophetic word simply because we see as He sees, as Hezekiah did. In that relationship God does His part and will help us in a way that really blesses us.
Like Hezekiah, we need to embrace God’s Word, the Bible, and build a personal relationship with the living God because in our hour of need it is He who has the magnanimity, the power and the latitude to help us out.
The Book of Revelations in the Bible is full of our Lord Jesus Christ’s prophecies about the end days. He prophesizes that evil doers will be judged and pay for their injustices. His words will come to pass, but in the midst of such terrible news, He gives His people this encouragement in Rev 13: 9-10:
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.
‘If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”
The last line, verse 10, is repeated in Rev 14: 12: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.”
This encouragement turns to celebration in Rev 19 which prophesizes that after the unrighteous are destroyed, there will be the wedding of the Lamb when our Lord and His Church will be united. Rev 19: 9 states: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
In these current days, it is the relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ which is going to save us. He is the Good News in the bad news we are reading, hearing and seeing nearly every day. He is our escape clause!
As I prayed about this article to write, this is what our Lord Jesus laid on my heart to say to both Christians and non-Christians: “Come to me. Look to me! I’ll fulfill your dreams and desires of your heart. I’ll take you out of your difficulties. But, look to me.”
Friends, if what I’ve written resonates with you in some way, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with someone. It might be just what they want to hear and know. If you don’t know about Christianity and want to know more, talk to a Christian who is familiar with the Bible and who you trust. Or send me an email as given on this blog. This might be the reason why this blog was written.