Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fifteen Years

August 2: 2 Kings 20-21

1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, 6 and I will add fifteen years to your life.

20 The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son reigned in his place.
2 Kings 20:1-6 & 20-21

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.
2 Kings 21:1-2

Fifteen Years

Every time I read 2 Kings 20 & 21, I marvel at the sequence of events, beginning with the pronouncement of death to Hezekiah and ending with the evil reign of his son, Manasseh.

Hezekiah was one of the most Godly kings of Judah, and did much to turn the hearts of the people to the Lord; it therefore comes as no surprise that God granted Hezekiah fifteen more years of life. To show that this was really a miracle of God, and not just a case of recovering from an illness, God had the shadow on the sun dial move back ten steps, as recorded in 2 Kings 20.

8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?” 9 And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” 10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” 11 And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.

Now, look ahead to 2 Kings 21:1: Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign. Manasseh, one of the most wicked kings of Judah, was not born until three years into the fifteen years that God had added to Hezekiah's life!

One particular question always comes to my mind as I ponder this turn of events. Hezekiah reigned 52 years; one would think that in all of that time, Hezekiah would have had many sons. Why, then, was his 12 year old son chosen to be the next king of Israel?

What does the Proverb say? Man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps (my rendition of the verse). God had already planned the destruction of Judah because they turned away from Him and served the gods of the nations around them. From this point until Judah was carried into captivity by the Babylonians, there were very few good kings. God did not cause the kings to be evil, but He did not prevent their evil reigns.

So, what is the lesson in this for us? God's plans are never averted by our actions. As the threads of our lives are woven into His great master plan, nothing we do will destroy the tapestry of time woven by God. What, then, should always be the priority for our lives?

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Christ is All!

God Bless You,

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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