Why did Hezekiah receive 15 more years to live?

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Background

Hezekiah, one of the kings of Judah, was the son of King Ahaz. He ruled for twenty-nine years (715 – 686 BC) and was 25 years old when he was appointed king (2 Kings 18:2). The Bible records that he was “good and right and faithful before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20). The story of Hezekiah is recorded in 2 Kings 16:20—20:21; 2 Chronicles 28:27—32:33 and Isaiah 36:1—39:8.

In 701 BC, the king of Assyria, attacked Judah and headed toward Jerusalem. These enemies had subjugated the northern kingdom of Israel and now they wanted to overcome the southern part (2 Kings 18:13). They publicly defied the God of Israel claiming that He will not be able to deliver His people (2 Kings 18:28–35; 19:10–12).

So, Hezekiah of Judah sent an urgent message to Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz, seeking God’s help (2 Kings 19:2). And he went to the temple and prayed, “Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God” (2 Kings 19:19).

Then, Isaiah delivered the word of the Lord to the King: “Thus says the Lord: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (2 Kings 19:6,7). The present emergency was an opportunity for God to manifest His power before the nations of earth. By God’s deliverance to Jerusalem from Sennacherib, Assyria would be humbled, and the nations would know that Jehovah was Supreme.

God’s deliverance

And God’s Word was fulfilled for “That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” (2 Kings 19:35). And the rest of the army fled in defeat. “Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side” (2 Chronicles 32:22).

Sennacherib, the Assyrian king was with the army guarding the paths from Egypt when the Lord struck his army. In fear and dishonor, he quickly went back to his country leaving Hezekiah in peace to restore his land. The Bible adds that his own sons murdered him (2 Kings 19:37). And Assyrian and Babylonian literature affirm the assassination of Sennacherib by his sons.

Hezekiah’s reforms

When Hezekiah began his rule, the land needed much reformation and revival from idolatry. So, he destroyed the pagan altars, idols, and temples including the bronze serpent that Moses had made in the desert (Numbers 21:9) for the people had made it an idol (2 Kings 18:4). And he opened the doors of the temple in Jerusalem, reestablished the Levitical priesthood (2 Chronicles 29:5), and observed the Passover feast according to the Mosaic law (2 Chronicles 30:1).

The Lord was pleased with Hezekiah and blessed him greatly for 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” (2 Kings 18:6–7). The prophets Isaiah and Micah ministered in Judah during the king’s reign.

Hezekiah’s sickness and God’s promise to give him 15 years

Later, Hezekiah became very sick. And Isaiah told him to set his house for he will die (2 Kings 20:1). But Hezekiah prayed earnestly that God may spare his life and that He may remember how he was faithful to Him. So, before Isaiah left the palace of the king, the Lord answered the king’s prayer.

The Lord told Isaiah, “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘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. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’” (2 Kings 20:5-6) Thus, the prophet told the king, God will extend your days and add fifteen years to your life.

Then, Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the LORD will heal me?” Then Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?” And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees. So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the LORD, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz” (2 Kings 20:8-11).

Then, the Lord sent His prophet Isaiah with the following message, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover” (Isaiah 38:1,21; 2 Kings 20:7). The Lord might have healed Hezekiah without the use of this fig poultice, but where natural remedies are available, the Lord desires that they should be used in the healing of disease.

Hezekiah’s pride

The recession of the shadow on the sundial (2 Kings 20:11; Isaiah 38:8) was a matter of great importance to the astrologers and astronomers of Babylonia. So, they sent envoys to Jerusalem to congratulate Hezekiah and to learn more about the God who could perform such miracles. This miracle presented Hezekiah with a great opportunity to witness to the power and goodness of God.

But Hezekiah committed a foolish act. In pride, the king instead of praising and glorifying God for His miraculous powers, he showed the covetous Babylonians all his treasures. If Hezekiah had been humble and had told the representatives how this miracle happened and how God had done a supernatural thing both of healing and of nature, these men could have gone back to Babylonia with the truth that would have won many in that pagan country to the knowledge of the true God.

So, Isaiah rebuked Hezekiah for his sin and prophesied that all what the king had shown the Babylonians would be reported back to the King of Babylon. The Babylonians would then attack Jerusalem, carrying many captives back to Babylon including Hezekiah’s own children and all their treasures. “Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah” (2 Chronicles 32:26).

As a result of Hezekiah’s repentance, the attack from Babylon did not come till the days of Nebuchadnezzar, a century later. Although Hezekiah fell into error (2 Kings 20:12–19), he never left God and led the people back to worship of the Creator. And as a result, he prospered, and the nation prospered with him.

A lesson to learn

There is a lesson for us to learn from this story. In the case of asking for healing, the sick should pray in the spirit of submission to God’s will for the Creator alone knows whether the answered prayer will be for the good of the person asking and for the glory of God or not.

The sick should never demand healing from God. For in many cases when people’s lives get saved and sickness passes away, they fall and commit sins that they regret doing later. In these cases, it would have been much better for these to have passed away in peace with a clean record than to leave behind a sinful record. Hezekiah should have prayed for God’s will to be done in his life instead of just insisting on living.

In contrast, Jesus pleaded with the Father, in Gethsemane, to take away the cup of death from His trembling hands but He added, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Despite all the pain and the severe temptations, the devil pressed upon Him, Jesus yielded to God’s will without murmur or hesitation. His full submission to God is a perfect example for us to follow. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”(Matthew 6:10; Luke 2:49; Hebrews 5:8).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

 

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