Today’s Bible reading: 2 Kings 20-22:2; Acts 21:18-36; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 18:9-10
We read a very interesting passage about King Hezekiah of Judah today. He was near death but God mercifully gave him 15 more years to live (2 Kings 20:1-6). Notice that God does this in response to Hezekiah’s prayer. Prayer works.
Through Isaiah, God prescribes an ointment to heal Hezekiah’s problem (2 Kings 20:7). Here we see that medical treatments are very Biblical. Those who reject the medical profession on biblical grounds, such as Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, are misunderstanding the Bible.
At Hezekiah’s request, God also gives him a sign that He would heal Hezekiah as well as protect Judah from Assyria (2 Kings 20:8-11). God was under no obligation to do this – His word should have been enough. But God graciously does it anyway.
We can see from all these events that Hezekiah has been truly blessed by God. Yet he blows it.
When envoys from Babylon visit Judah Hezekiah shows off the wealth of the nation (2 Kings 20:13). Hezekiah wanted to impress men. He wanted to feel important. This is the same trap many of us fall into today. We purchase homes and cars that we don’t need and can’t afford so others will think we are more wealthy than we are. We dress a certain way for the same reason.
Notice also that Hezekiah described everything as “his” (his treasure, his armory…). Hezekiah took the credit that should have been given to God. Hezekiah could have (and should have) taken the opportunity to glorify God. He could have told these visiting pagans how God had saved him from imminent death. He could have explained that the wealth that Judah had was all from God. But instead he decided to glorify himself.
I think every time we interact with a non-believer is an opportunity to teach them about God. But when we talk about ourselves we miss that opportunity. There is nothing so great about us that other people need to hear it. Being impressed with another human being cannot save anyone from hell. Only a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, can do that. We therefore need not call attention to ourselves but instead to Christ.
When confronted by Isaiah, Hezekiah fails to see his sin (2 Kings 20:14-19). He is naive to think that Babylon will leave Judah alone. In fact, just as Isaiah prophesied in 2 Kings 20:17, Judah will fall to Babylon about 100 years later.
Judah’s next king is Manasseh who reigns for 55 years (2 Kings 21:1) yet he was a terrible king (2 Kings 21:2). A long reign is not necessarily an indication that God approves of our behavior. Notice that Manasseh was born during the additional 15 years of life God had granted Hezekiah. Perhaps it would have been better for Hezekiah to die than to sire such an evil-minded human being.
Manasseh undoes all the good his father had done by reinstituting pagan worship practices (2 Kings 21:2-7). Following God is an on-going process. It is easily undone. In a similar way we have the same thing today in the United States. One president/congress/court may institute laws that honor God (e.g. abolishing abortion) but the very next one may repeal that law. Obedience as a nation will fluctuate with whoever is in charge. But our individual obedience to God need not waver.
In response to this tremendous sin God promises to wipe out Judah from the land the same way He wiped out the sinful Amorites from the land hundreds of years before (2 Kings 21:13). God will treat His chosen people just like the pagans because they both treated Him the same way.
Notice that Israel had been making God angry since they left Egypt hundreds of years before (2 Kings 21:15). God is truly patient with us. He is not a God who is quick to punish our sin. He is a loving God who tries to steer us in the path of righteousness but who will correct us when we need it. And if we reject Him, He will allow us to go our own way.
Despite all the great work Paul had done for God planting churches in modern-day Greece and Turkey, he had a poor reputation in Jerusalem that was built on faulty information (Acts 21:21). Even though a person may be totally devoted to God there will be those who will not understand. We aren’t guaranteed to be praised by men (and as we learned through Hezekiah today, we shouldn’t seek to be).
When a mob riot breaks out against Paul (Acts 21:28-30) he is rescued by Roman soldiers (Acts 21:31) who arrest him in order to keep the peace. Paul was then chained between two soliders (Acts 21:33) just as Agabus had prophesied back in Acts 21:11. In much the same way as the crowd wanted the innocent Jesus crucified, this crowd wants Paul killed even though he, too, had done nothing wrong.
Using music to praise God is very biblical (Psalm 150). Praising God through hymns or other praise-worthy music can prepare us for prayer and Bible study.
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