Second Kings 20 backs us up from the rescue of Judah from the hands of Sennacherib and the Assyrian army to a time just prior. In the midst of Sennacherib’s assault against Judah, King Hezekiah was struck with a life-threatening sickness. As the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours. Hezekiah only thought things were rough until Isaiah delivered God’s message.
“About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: ‘This is what the Lord says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness’” (II Kings 20:1, NLT).
“You are going to die.” Distressing news for Hezekiah, particularly when these weren’t the words of a doctor, but of God Himself. What was Hezekiah to do?
“When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, ‘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” (II Kings 20:2-3).
Hezekiah prayed. He also pleaded with the Lord. And he cried. God knows our hearts. When we’re scared, upset, hurt, angry, whatever – we can be honest with Him and tell Him so; after all, He already knows it. Hezekiah’s prayer, along with his genuine faithfulness to the Lord, moved God to action.
“But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the Lord: ‘Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of My people. Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. 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, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for My own honor and for the sake of My servant David’” (II Kings 20:4-6).
The God of the Universe sent Isaiah the prophet to tell Hezekiah, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears,” and in response, God promised not only to heal him, but He gave Hezekiah three specific promises: (1) “Three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord;” (2) "I will add fifteen years to your life;” and (3) I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria.”
These three promises were followed by instructions for Hezekiah’s healing and a glimpse of the illness that troubled him: “Then Isaiah said, ‘Make an ointment from figs.’ So Hezekiah’s servants spread the ointment over the boil, and Hezekiah recovered!” (II Kings 20:7).
“The boil” that afflicted Hezekiah was apparently the source of an infection that had spread throughout Hezekiah’s body and had brought him to the point of death. Furthermore, this oozing sore rendered Hezekiah unclean so that, even had he been physically able to go, he would not have been allowed inside the Temple.
But God miraculously changed that, telling Isaiah to have Hezekiah’s boil treated with an ointment made from figs. Through Jesus Christ, the Living Word, the entire world was simply spoken into existence. He needed no one’s help to cure Hezekiah. Yet He chose to work through others. While He is still in the healing business, He doesn’t always choose to heal and, when He does, He not always but oftentimes uses medical professionals to bring about the healing.
Even as Christians we sometimes forget in our prayer priorities that Jesus Christ has already healed us of a sickness far greater than any physical illness – the penalty of death for our sins. By all means, pray for the physically and mentally ill; but also remember those whose sin sickness will lead to eternal death unless they turn to Jesus.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates