Today’s Readings: 2 KINGS 20:1-11; ISAIAH 38:1-8; 2 CHRONICLES 32:24:31; ISAIAH 38:9-22; 2 KINGS 20:12-19; ISAIAH 39:1-8
As a man, married for nearly 20 years, I have come to find that I have a disturbing pattern of behavior that seems to constantly get me in trouble with my wife. I try to do what is right in her eyes. I try to please her and meet her needs. For instance I will offer to cook dinner or go out and buy her flowers, both without prompting. I have learned those are really good things to make a wife happy.
Unfortunately, my disturbing pattern is to follow-up a really good deed with a rather stupid one. Just the other night I cam home an hour early from work and offered to help with dinner preparations. One good deed done and an offer of help. I scored some good husband points. Only to throw them away in a matter of seconds.
As we were talking about the dinner items, my wife mentioned she was going to fry up some potatoes. I asked what seasoning she was going to use and she replies “salt” . I apparently glared disapprovingly ( I love seasoning beyond the limits of salt) and this deflated my wife. It was a classic case of forward one step and back two. On top of that I responded more negatively to her negative response. I escalated the situation instead of backing out of the kitchen in humble admiration of her as mother of my children. Forward one step, backwards three steps.
Forward one Step
Today’s story of King Hezekiah is reminds me of my disturbing habit. We open with Hezekiah on his death bed. In the last throes of life he hears from Isaiah that the Lord has said that Hezekiah is about to die. Hezekiah prays one more time to God.
2 Kings 20:2 – 3 (NLT)
2 When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.
Upon hearing the news Hezekiah does the following:
Turns to God and prays.
Reminds God of his faithfulness and service.
Expresses true emotion and humility.
God hears his prayer and answers it with a promise that Hezekiah will live another 15 years. Isaiah prepares an an ointment and informs Hezekiah. Hezekiah asks for a sign and we have the famous moving backward shadows (a pretty neat trick that only an omnipotent God could perform – see my earlier post “The Secret Things of God II”).
Hezekiah encountered a challenge (his own pending death) and conquered it by seeking to put God first. For more insight into King Hezekiah’s positive response see Isaiah 38:9-22.
Backwards Two Steps
Hezekiah recovered and began to live his extra 15 years.
Some envoys from Babylon heard about his illness and came to visit him. Hezekiah received the foreign envoys and proceeded to commit an act that would send him backwards two steps.
2 Kings 20:12 – 13 (NLT)
12 Soon after this, Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick. 13 Hezekiah received the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
King Hezekiah in his pride and arrogance decided to show off all the riches and armaments of the kingdom. The envoys came to hear of the miraculous recovery and how God answered Hezekiah’s prayers and the king is doing some self promotion.
When Isaiah hears what King Hezekiah had done he received a prophecy from the Lord that Babylon would one day return and capture the treasure and even carry off Hezekiah’s sons to a foreign lands as eunuchs.
This is a lesson for you and I. One day we can having a closer walk with our Lord, celebrating victories and the next we can be self-centered arrogant idiots showing off the things of this world. Be careful those days when things are going well with you and the Lord – that comfort and peace can be interrupted by our own selfish sin of pride and arrogance.