Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. — 2 Kings 20:5
When we face times of crisis in life, it is wonderful to be able to pray and to know that God has heard our prayers. Some years ago, a young mother in our congregation learned that she had melanoma cancer, and it had spread all through her body. She said, “I remember the day the doctor looked at me with tears running down his face, and said, ‘Young lady, you had better get a lifeline to God and hold on.’ The medical professionals didn’t know what they could do for me, but I wasn’t looking to this world for my help. I was looking to Jesus Christ.
“There were hard times when I looked at my children and thought, I want to raise them. At a very low time when I was in a lot of pain, I prayed, ‘Lord, I don’t have what it takes to receive that blessing from You, but I need it.’ We were traveling in a car, and as I looked up, there was a sign on the side of the road which said: Limited Access Area. The sign pertained to the highway, but the message immediately went into my soul. In a very definite way the Lord spoke to my heart, ‘There are no limited access areas where My power is concerned.’ From that point on, I knew that the Lord was going to heal me.” God did heal her, she lived to raise her children, and now this lady is a grandmother.
In today’s text, when Hezekiah learned that he was going to die, he turned his face to the wall and prayed. God heard him and answered by extending his life and also promising to deliver Judah from the Assyrians.
Each of us can have this same knowledge that God hears our prayers and sees our tears. When circumstances seem out of control and overwhelming, He wants us to look to Him. In the day-to-day small matters also, He hears our petitions, and offers His aid. What a comfort this can be! Knowing that He loves us and sees what is best for us can help in the ordinary to the most challenging experiences of life.
At the age of twenty-five, when Hezekiah began to reign, he started a moral reform in the nation of Judah that included removal of the high places, destruction of the idols the people had been worshiping, and laying waste the groves that had been grown for the various false gods. King Hezekiah wanted to turn the hearts of the Children of Israel back to the God of their forefathers, and was instrumental in bringing about a return to the true worship of God.
Chapter 20 opens with a message from the Prophet Isaiah telling King Hezekiah to get his house in order because his current illness would take his life. Since Hezekiah reigned a total of twenty-nine years, and God added fifteen years to his life after this incident, it is clear that this event transpired in the fourteenth year of his reign. The attack by Sennacherib took place when Hezekiah had reigned fourteen years (2 Kings 18:13), so Bible scholars believe that this illness must have been right before Sennacherib was defeated.
When Hezekiah heard Isaiah’s pronouncement, he “wept sore” (verse 3) and recounted his faithfulness before God. He may have felt that his death would leave Judah in jeopardy of being invaded by the Assyrians, and also bring a halt to the religious reform he had instituted. God answered his prayer and promised to add fifteen years to his life. In addition, God promised deliverance from Assyria.
God confirmed His promise with a sign: the shadow of the sun moved back ten degrees. The text implies some form of a time-keeping device. While its actual design is unknown, possibly the sundial was a pillar whose shadow marked the hours on a set of stairs. Historians are unsure as to the physical alterations God made — whether the return of the sun was caused by a reverse in the earth’s rotation or by some other geophysical means. However, there can be no doubt that a supernatural miracle was involved in this event.
The visit of the emissary from Babylon was professed to be a result of Hezekiah’s healing. However, historians think the true intent was to incite Hezekiah to revolt against Assyria. Hezekiah warmly greeted these ambassadors, and with little thought to his nation’s security, took them on a grand tour of Judah’s treasures and armories. Hezekiah’s response to the rebuke of Isaiah (verse 19) can be taken in two ways. Perhaps it displayed a self-focused perspective: instead of regret for the coming judgment against his nation, he noted that at least during his lifetime he would enjoy peace. Or maybe he felt that because God was delaying judgment, there would be more time for the people of Judah to repent.
The conduit which brought water into the city (verse 20) is thought by archaeologists to mean an underground tunnel that was dug from the Gihon springs to a pool inside Jerusalem’s walls.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reigns of the kings of Judah
4. The sickness of Hezekiah (20:1-21)
a. Hezekiah’s illness and recovery (20:1-11)
b. Hezekiah’s failure (20:12-19)
(1) The emissary from Babylon (20:12-15)
(2) The prophecy of Isaiah (20:16-19)
c. Hezekiah’s death (20:20-21)
Life will present us with opportunities to look to God. We can know that when we do, He hears our prayers and His answer is coming.