Hezekiah was afflicted with an illness from which God declared: “You are going to die. You will not recover from this illness’” (II Kings 20:1b, NLT). While God is still in the healing business, He doesn’t always choose to render physical healing. A couple of cases in point:
“Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die” (II Kings 13:14a, NASB). Elisha was the Billy Graham of his day – a prophet of God who lived uprightly and faithfully delivered God’s messages to the people. While his predecessor Elijah was simply taken in a whirlwind (see II Kings 2:11), Elisha crossed into eternity through a fatal illness.
In John 11:4a, Jesus told His disciples that “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death” (NLT). Jesus then waited until Lazarus was dead and buried before showing up in Bethany and calling Lazarus out of the grave. But look again at Jesus’s statement; in it, He shows us that if indeed there are sicknesses that do “not end in death,” then most assuredly there are other ones that do “end in death.” At some point, Lazarus died and, like all believers, was raised to eternal life in heaven.
Everyone has to leave this world some way, and in most cases people die of some sort of illness. While we should definitely pray and believe for physically healing, we should above all know that we’re ready to enter heaven the moment we draw our last breath on earth. No one wants to think of being sick or seeing a loved one go through a terrible illness, but when we look at the horror of eternal death – eternal separation from Christ – earthly sicknesses pale in comparison.
Revelation 20:14b tells us that the “lake of fire is the second death.” Hebrews 9:27a says that “each person is destined to die once.” One time. Not twice. “The second death” applies only to those who reject the Lord Jesus.
Jesus Himself quoted Isaiah 66:24 in describing hell, the fate of those who refuse His free gift of salvation, as the place “where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:48b, NIV). Our foremost prayer should be for the salvation of every lost person on the planet.
Pray also for the physically and mentally ill. Hezekiah’s prayer resulted in his healing. And in this instance, God was very specific in His timetable: “I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life” (II Kings 20:5b-6a).
“Three days from now.” In order to enter the Temple, Hezekiah would have to be examined by a priest and declared clean of the oozing boil that had apparently been the source of his sickness. Not only did God promise Hezekiah healing, but He told him how soon he’d be well enough to go into the Temple. And He even told him the exact number of years by which He was extending his life.
In Second Kings 20:21a, we read: “Hezekiah died.” Earthly healing doesn’t last. Eternal healing does.
Church membership doesn’t get you into heaven. Baptism doesn’t get you into heaven. Good deeds don’t get you into heaven. Knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior is the only way to get there. Be sure you know Him. Be sure you’re telling others how to know Him.
Your life is doing one of two things: (1) showing others how important living for Jesus is to you; or (2) how little He matters.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” (Albert Schweitzer)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates