March 12, 2017
“When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord…… After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord…… When Hezekiah heard this (that he was going to die), he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord.” 2 Kings 19:1 & 14; 20:2
“But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown to him, and he became proud……. However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and see what was really in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:25 & 31
What a contrast we can see between the different Scriptures above. They are basically exact opposites from each other. This is not a judgement on Hezekiah’s fall into sin but rather, we want to learn from his relationship with God. The Scripture does after all say this about him, ‘Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything….’
How do we respond when in any situation? Do we, when in trouble, turn our faces towards God? Or, when things are going well, still turn our faces towards God? Perhaps Hezekiah’s response can teach us the right way of bringing things before God, from both sets of Scripture.
Always, we see that before approaching anyone or relying on something, we need to turn first to God. Hezekiah did not respond to the threats by complaining to his advisers, or having an argument with the people who delivered a message. He first went to talk to God, to lay it at His feet. This is what we call prayer and it is essential to our relationship with God.
When we do this, it should always be done in humility. This is shown in the way Hezekiah tore his clothes and in the fact that he never demanded anything of God. Even when he was going to die, his prayer was one of a knowledge and faith that God could heal him and extend his life but not a demand that God should do so. When we pray to God, it is an appeal from a sincere heart knowing God is absolutely able to answer prayer and he does so according
to His will. What happens if it was God’s will that Assyria should conquer Judah there and then, regardless of the fact that they mocked God and dishonored His Name? Then God would repay the evil at a later date. That was not the case, but if it was, God would still be absolutely just in doing so.
This response, of first turning in humility to God, reflects the description of Hezekiah above. When we respond in this way, we are trusting in the Lord and we have faith that He is in control, that He is our protection, that He is whom we live for. What then happened in the instance described in the second set of Scripture? 2 Kings describes the story in more detail, but in 2 Chronicles the comments written further our understanding.
The Scripture describes Hezekiah becoming proud. How so? When Babylonian ambassadors arrive, Hezekiah shows them everything. ‘There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.’ His response to Isaiah was, ‘I showed them everything I own – all my royal treasuries.’ And, it describes God testing Hezekiah, to ‘see what was really in his heart.’
Two things stand out which are also important when bringing things before God. A description of pride means that Hezekiah’s response was not done in humility. In claiming everything as his ‘own’ and saying ‘all my royal treasuries’, he took God’s glory away. In that moment, his pride claimed that he had achieved everything that had happened, that he had become wealthy and highly honoured by his own strength.
We can now see, that when bringing things before God, there is also a response after our turning in humility to God. This response is found not only after knowing your prayers are answered but forever after in your life, because everything you have and everything you have been through is from trusting and having faith in God. That response is one of praise and thankfulness. Praise for all that God has done, gives Him Glory and claims that everything you have and everything you have done is through God’s strength and His will alone. Thankfulness, not only furthers this point, but also ensures that our humility is kept from start to finish before God.
So, again, how do we respond when in any situation? May these Scriptures lead you into a place where what is really in your heart, is always God honoring. May we be encouraged to always turn first to our amazing Father in all humility and through it all, have our hearts burst forth in praise and thankfulness.