I love the Bible! Other than Jesus, there’s not a perfect person in it. We see real people struggling with real problems, including the problem of faith. Like Hezekiah. He’d just been told he‘d be healed of a life-threatening illness. He’d been promised that he’d be able to go into the Temple within three days. He’d been told his life would be extended for fifteen more years. And yet how did he respond? Like a human. (You’ll find the account of this miracle also in Isaiah 38 and Second Chronicles 32.)
Hezekiah had said to Isaiah, “‘What sign will the Lord give to prove that He will heal me and that I will go to the Temple of the Lord three days from now?’” (II Kings 20:8, NLT).
Crushed on a bed of affliction, the thoughts of having to wait three days to see God’s promised fulfilled was distressing. It doesn’t sound like it would be, does it? But let’s get real here. While Second Corinthians 5:7 says “we walk by faith, not by sight” (ISV), we humans also hold in the back of our minds the non-Biblical saying, “Seeing is believing.” Hezekiah’s doubt resulted in a miraculous display of God’s power.
Isaiah responded to Hezekiah’s question by telling him, “‘This is the sign from the Lord to prove that He will do as He promised. Would you like the shadow on the sundial to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?’ ‘The shadow always moves forward,’ Hezekiah replied, ‘so that would be easy. Make it go ten steps backward instead.’ So Isaiah the prophet asked the Lord to do this, and He caused the shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!” (II Kings 20:9-11, NLT).
Just as the Lord had added more time to Hezekiah’s life, He also added more time to that day. Why didn’t He simply speed up Hezekiah’s healing and make it instantaneous? Because the extending of the daylight hours of the day was a miracle that the whole world would have witnessed.
Yes, God could have caused the day to be extended only in Judah, but I’d like to think the whole world saw it and wondered what had happened. Second Chronicles 32:31a states that “ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place.” It would seem Babylon also experienced the miracle of the extended daylight and wanted to know more about what had happened.
But here’s where we get into sticky territory. All of us would love to have a miraculous sign to help us hold onto a promise God has given us. But we need to be very careful about asking for or expecting a sign for every promise.
Not only does Second Corinthians 5:7 reminds us: “We walk by faith, not by sight” (ISV), but Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). “Assurance about things we cannot see.” Faith enables us to hold onto promises yet to come.
“Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.” (Andrew Murray)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates