(This is an email devotional I sent out to the ladies in our small group.)
Hello my fabulous friends!
I am really excited about our service project tomorrow night! And since that is tomorrow night, I figured I better take the time tonight to get this out.
In Eat This Book, we just finished up reading about the kings of Israel. And there is one king that really intrigues me: Hezekiah.
Hezekiah’s story can be found in 2 Kings 18-20 (as well as in 2 Chronicles 29-32 and in some of the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.). And his story opens up in 18:3 by telling us that he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. This is noteworthy when you consider who his father was – the evil King Ahaz.
King Hezekiah made it his mission to help point the people of Judah back to God. He tore down the high places (of idolatry), reinstated the Passover celebration, cleansed the Temple, restored Temple worship, and organized the priests. And he started this when he was only 25!
During this time, Assyria was attacking the northern nation of Israel (the nation was split in two at this point in history – Israel in the north, Judah in the south), so to protect their water supply, Hezekiah had a tunnel dug out under the city of Jerusalem to ensure that clean water flowed into the city. It was an amazing feet of engineering at the time! It is still there and if you go to Jerusalem, you can walk through it – and water still flows through it. But it definitely isn’t for the claustrophobic! Just look at my picture to see what I mean (I’m at the back of the picture – it’s hard to see me – not much room in there for a group shot!).
But yet for all of the good things that Hezekiah did to point people back to the Lord, he still struggled with fully trusting the Lord himself. When Judah was attacked by Assyria (18:13-16), Hezekiah didn’t go to the Lord to seek deliverance… he tried to bribe the Assyrians into leaving. This didn’t work. He also tried to place his confidence in his alliance with Egypt. Another bad idea.
Hezekiah then decided to go before the Lord to seek His help. The prophet Isaiah reassures King Hezekiah that the Lord will save them. God comes through and defends Jerusalem by killing 185,000 of the Assyrian army in the night (19:35).
Then at age 39, Hezekiah becomes very ill. When Isaiah tells him that he will die, Hezekiah cries out to the Lord. He recounts the good things that he has done and asks the Lord to spare his life. Isaiah tells Hezekiah that the Lord heard his prayer and would give him 15 more years of life. Hezekiah asks for a sign that the Lord would indeed heal him completely (so that he would be clean to be able to enter the Temple again). At Hezekiah’s request, Isaiah tells him that the sun will move backwards 10 paces on the sundial (20:9-10) as his assurance that the Lord will do what He said.
This is where you’d think that King Hezekiah would brag on the Lord – how He miraculously healed him and spared his life. But he doesn’t. Instead, when other kings come to visit, Hezekiah shows them all of the things he has done, all of his wealth, and the wealth of the Temple. Not once does Hezekiah proclaim to them what the Lord has done. This part is particularly intriguing to me, since I am in the midst of my healing. I am already telling people what the Lord has done, and He’s not even done yet!
It seems to me like King Hezekiah became complacent in his walk with the Lord. We read of no more deeds done in his zeal for the Lord’s name, no more desperate pleas before the Lord… he just seems to have become apathetic.
Then Isaiah shows back up on the scene, prophesying judgment on Judah for the sins of Hezekiah’s fathers and his own. Hezekiah’s response was more-or-less along the lines of, “Well, at least it won’t happen when I’m alive, so it’s all good!” Yep, I’m pretty convinced now at his apathy. This man went from on-fire to lukewarm in a matter of a decade or so. So while he started out being a godly, zealous man, we see in his life a few major pitfalls: pride, ingratitude, confidence placed in the wrong things, and he didn’t testify about the Lord to the other kings.
Then here’s the other thing that intrigues me about Hezekiah’s life. After he passed away, his twelve-year-old son, Manasseh, reigned in his place. Now, Hezekiah was healed and given 15 more years. Manasseh was 12 when his father died, which means that this son was born to Hezekiah after the healing took place. And Manasseh ended up being an evil king. If Hezekiah had died from the illness this son would have never been born.
We aren’t really given any indication that Hezekiah’s request for healing was a bad one. Or that the Lord was displeased with his request. So I don’t think that we can blame that. I think the things that resulted in Manasseh being a bad ruler had more to do with how Hezekiah chose to live those last 15 years. To me, it seems that he didn’t set a good example for his son. So even though he had done wonderful things for the Lord previously, what did he do for the Lord as an example for his son? Nothing that we know of.
What we do, how we live for the Lord, it really affects others around us: children, friends, family, coworkers, etc.
So what about us? What kind of legacy are we leaving?
Have you become apathetic lately in your walk with the Lord? If you have, it’s not too late for you! Ask the Lord to open your eyes to everything He’s doing around you. Ask Him to give you a hunger for His Word.
In Revelation 3:15-16, God says that He wants us to be hot or cold, not lukewarm. There’s a whole study we could do just on that passage alone! But at this point, I will just say this: don’t settle for apathy! (If you want to know more history about this passage, just ask. 😉 )
Just like Kay was sharing with us last week, staying in the Word is a great way to fight apathy! If you need some help, I have attached a front/back worksheet that you might find useful. In fact, I already answered many of the questions on it in this devo.
A friend and I developed the worksheet a number of years ago. I have a binder that I keep all of my worksheets in as I fill them out. I found it’s a great way to make you think about what you’re reading, so that you don’t just skim and miss what God is trying to say.
So I encourage you to get into God’s Word. I promise that He will amaze you and you will fall deeper in love with Him!