When Sickness Strikes By Babatunde Olugboji
Still on King Hezekiah, we will examine how he responded to the news that he was about to die. The Bible says suddenly he became sick and near death. And Isaiah went to him, declaring: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ (Isaiah 38:1) Thus, Isaiah pronounced a death sentence on the king. We are not told how and why Hezekiah became sick; all we know was that he fell ill. It may have been through something obvious to all, or it may have been through something known only to God.
In a way, God was remarkably kind to Hezekiah, telling him that his death was near. Not everyone will have the opportunity of setting their house in order before dying. At 39 years old, Hezekiah heard this news. How would you have responded if you got this kind of news, delivered by a genuine prophet of God. You would likely have blamed God, wouldn’t you? But being a man of prayer, Hezekiah responded in prayers.
Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (Isa 38: 2-3). Facing the wall was a demonstration of how earnest Hezekiah’s prayer was. He directed his prayer in privacy to God, and not to man.
Remember now, O Lord. To our ears, Hezekiah’s prayer might almost sound ungodly, as he focused on self-justification and his own good deeds. It is pretty much as if Hezekiah prayed, “Lord, I’ve been such a good boy and You aren’t being fair to me. Remember what a good boy I’ve been and rescue me.”
But under the Old Covenant, this was a valid principle on which to approach God. Passages like Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 show that under the Old Covenant, blessing and cursing were sent by God on the basis of obedience or disobedience. On that principle, David could write in Psalm 15: Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart. (Psalm 15:1-2)
But under the New Covenant, we are blessed on the principle of faith in Jesus. (Galatian 3:13-14). Hezekiah’s principle of prayer is not proper for New Testament believers today. We pray in the name of Jesus (John 16:23-24), not in the name of who we are or what we have done.“
Hezekiah wept bitterly: Why was Hezekiah so undone at the prospect of death? Why didn’t he say, “Take me home, Lord!” We can again find the answer in the Old Covenant under which he lived. At that time there was no confident assurance of the glory in the life beyond. Instead, Jesus brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). Also, under the Old Covenant Hezekiah would have regarded this as evidence that God was very displeased with him. And his story unfolded, as we will see next week.
He was in trouble, but his story ended triumphantly. Yours too will end in praise.
Have a great week.
Kingdom Dynamics, a weekly column is written by Dr. Babatunde Olugboji, the President, Kingdom House, a non-profit organization in New Jersey, USA.