2 Kings 20: The Life and Times of Hezekiah the King – Part 3

12-21 The Trying Years

The verse in 2 Chronicles I read earlier, it has an interesting ending to it. Let me read it again, this time with the ending intact. I’ll read it from the Message Bible:

Message Bible 2 Chronicles 32:31 But when the rulers of Babylon sent emissaries to find out about the sign from God that had taken place earlier, God left him on his own to see what he would do; he wanted to test his heart.

What would Hezekiah do with His extension of his days? As much as it would be great to say, “Oh the wise Hezekiah used his remaining days on earth in perfect union and communion with God,” that is not the case. There is a problem that develops; and sadly it happens with too many people that God gives gift to. Hezekiah, just as human as the next fellow, falls into the trap of pride. I have two things to note in this section.

1. The Pride

Think with me for a moment. This man had been extended an opportunity for longer life. God had made a great sign, a sign never to be repeated in his lifetime much less history and it was performed personally for him. That affects the thinking of a person. This fantastic miracle of making time go backwards, combined with the extension of days left Hezekiah a prime candidate for problems of ego. Let me read the verse again:

Message Bible 2 Chronicles 32:31 But when the rulers of Babylon sent emissaries to find out about the sign from God that had taken place earlier, God left him on his own to see what he would do; he wanted to test his heart.

God left Hezekiah alone on this one; He would see what the king would do with his gift. The great rulers of Babylon were interested in Hezekiah and his miracle. They traveled from a long distance to understand this sign from God and what it meant. They came to Hezekiah for knowledge and understanding. The great leaders of the Babylonian empire were asking him for insights. So, he gave it to them. The guided tour, the grand tour, the great tour was all theirs to behold, and Hezekiah arrogantly held nothing back showing them all the greatness of Judah and what was the Israeli kingdom at that time.

Sadly, too many servants of God have fallen into this trap. God blesses them with gift and something happens. I want to suggest, at times, a test from God will come to see if the individual will react to the great things God does for them, or humbly give God glory. Sadly, Hezekiah did not pass this test. He failed and I’m not quite sure he realized the depths of what he had done. Isaiah the prophet comes to him to clarify what has happened. Now we come to the second thing of this section.

2. The Premise

Babylon was well on the way to becoming a super-power. Isaiah knew it and understood the significance of this great nation. He knew that God would punish the Babylonians and humble them for their arrogance. Up to this point Isaiah had been prophesying about the demise and end of Babylon—that is how he knew it. When you read Isaiah 13, 14, 21, you discover it’s all about the fall and end of Babylon. Nothing is mentioned at all about Israel’s Babylonian captivity or fall.

What was not clear until before this chapter is Israel’s connection to Babylon. Isaiah understood the power and extent of authority this nation held. Maybe he even had an inclination of the punishment they could exact upon Jerusalem if allowed. I’m thinking Isaiah was hoping to circumvent the whole Babylonian dilemma and experience. Sadly, the realization of that hope never transpired.

Isaiah knew something about how great this nation behaved and no one was really listening to him about it; not even Hezekiah. Isaiah understood the premise that God would use this Gentile nation against the whole region. What wasn’t clear at that time was Israel’s part in the whole drama. That would soon change.

A corresponding chapter to this one is Isaiah 39. The sad choices and failure of Hezekiah, to allow these Babylonian emissaries access and a good look at Judah’s wealth, was a huge error of judgment. Isaiah is pointing to Hezekiah—you walked right into the trap of these men. From Isaiah 39 and on, every prophecy written about Babylon is in regards to their dominance over Israel, Judah and Jerusalem. Hezekiah’s failure opened the door for Babylonian captivity. And I don’t think he still fully understands what he had done.

NIV 19 “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?””

You read this and say, Hezekiah, what are you thinking—you just allowed the destruction of your people in future generations. You don’t get it! And we are left wondering why Hezekiah was so cavalier in his response.

Could it be that the 15 years he saw added to his life was to him a promise that Israel would always continue? Who knows? What I do understand is that when God gives you a gift, be careful to always give him glory and look at it as more then just your own expedience and blessing. This caution just may be the lesson to learn from this ending of Hezekiah’s life. God can and will bless his servants, use that gift and life with great endeavor for Him! God will give us success as he did Hezekiah.

J. Robert Hanson

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