By: Gary L. Hutchens
Hezekiah was twenty five years old when he became king of Judah. He is described as having done right in the sight of the Lord, trusting in God, so that no other king of Judah was like him, either before or after his reign. He held fast to the Lord, did not depart from following Him and kept His commandments (2 Kgs. 18:1-6). He was an exemplary king.
Nevertheless, when he was only thirty nine years old, sick and near death, God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell King Hezekiah, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” (2 Kgs. 20:1; Isa. 38:1). Hezekiah was facing the reality of death.
As sick as he was, those words from God’s prophet must have shocked Hezekiah. They would shock most anybody. But Hezekiah did not give up hope. He “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord… And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” (2 Kgs. 20:2-3).
Hezekiah prayed that God would remember “how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” Before Isaiah had left the palace grounds, after having delivered God’s message, God told him to go back and tell Hezekiah that God had heard his prayer and seen his tears and that God would heal him and add fifteen years to his life (2 Kgs. 20:4-6).
There are a number of lessons to be learned from this account. First, even the righteous will face physical death. Death is a reality of life in this world. As surely as we are born into this world, we will leave it through death. God told Adam, following Adam’s sin, “Till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19).
Second, after death we will face judgment. The Hebrews writer emphasized this fact; “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” (Heb. 9:27). When God’s instruction to Hezekiah to “Set your house in order,” probably carried a double meaning. Most people would probably take that to mean that Hezekiah needed to get all of his worldly affairs in order. Since he was a king he undoubtedly would have needed to give attention to a great many more matters on the physical side of life than would be the case with an ordinary person. But a deeper understanding of his need to set his house in order would have to do with making sure his spiritual life was in order. After physical death he would face eternal judgment. Was there anything in his relationship with God that he needed to make right before he would stand before Him in judgment?
A third lesson to learn from this account is that prayer can change things. Hezekiah was healed and granted fifteen more years of life as a result of prayer. James stated, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jas. 5:16). The power in prayer is in Him to Whom we pray. God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Eph. 3:20). When Hezekiah was told to set his house in order, he immediately went to God in prayer.
Are you ready to face death and stand before your Lord in judgment? Are there some matters in your life that you need to set in order? Have you been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38)? Are you living a life of faithful obedience and dedication before God (Rev. 2:10)? Think…
Gary L. Hutchens