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Turning Back Life’s Clock. Isaiah 38:1-8


Turning Back Life’s Clock

Isaiah 38:1-8, 2 Kings 20
How many people would like to turn back the clock? For all sorts of reasons? In this passage, God turns back the clock for Hezekiah – literally!

1. Hezekiah’s Tribulation.
Sometime after the events of chapter 36-37 another tragedy hit King Hezekiah. This time the misfortune was intensely personal. Hezekiah was seriously ill.

  • The illness. In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. We are not told what his illness was, but we learn in verse 21 that is was some sort of a ‘boil’ – perhaps a cyst, or even a tumour.
  • The instruction. Hezekiah has a pastoral visit from Isaiah. Imagine what that would have been like. He visited Hezekiah and he tells him, ‘put your house in order, you are a dying man!’

So, a new test faces Hezekiah. How will he react?  

2. Hezekiah’s Supplication.
Hezekiah has grown, spiritually, but right now, hearing this news from Isaiah, he goes completely to pieces and he starts to try to justify himself before God. He is in a blind panic. After all, this is personal. This is about ME! So…

  • He prays. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, now, what could be wrong with that? Aren’t we taught to take all our burdens to the LORD? Aren’t we supposed to cast all our cares upon the Lord, for he cares for us? But let’s look carefully at the CONTENT of his prayer.
  • He pleads. What an imperfect prayer this was! What would you or I have done? Haven’t there been times of distress when prayer seems impossible and words fail us? Look at Hezekiah’s imperfect prayer…
    • It’s a plea based on HIS WORKS!, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, Now, there’s a problem right there! We can never EARN God’s favour, whether in salvation or in healing. We can never earn or deserve MERCY, or it wouldn’t be MERCY! Only Christ’s works were perfect, and deserving.
    • It’s a plea based on PART TRUTH! and have done what is good in your sight. He had. He had been obedient but we don’t do what is good in God’s sight to get something from God. He doesn’t do bargains.
  • He pines. Hezekiah wept! I wonder what lay at the heart of his emotion that day? V11. It may have been regret that his opportunity to serve God on this earth was coming to an end. Cf Phil 1:21-25 Or less worthy reasons?
    • Disappointment with God? He seems to think he deserved better from God.
    • Concern for the future? Was he worried about his throne, his people, his family? How would they survive in his absence!
    • Anxiety about his eternal welfare? Even some professing Christians worry about eternity! Have I done enough, have I paid enough… etc etc.

Hezekiah, at his wits end, turns his face to the wall, prays, pleads, pines…. Thank God he never forsakes us, even when we can’t find the right words to speak to him.

3. Hezekiah’s Confirmation.
In response to Hezekiah’s prayer, we see:

  • The greatness of God’s Grace and Mercy. Despite the glaring imperfections of human prayer, God knows, and cares and hears and answers. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: V5. Hezekiah’s panicky prayer was barely Christian, – it could have been prayed by a Muslim, or Unitarian…. Someone who believes that works can save. Yet God heard and answered, not because of his prayer, or in respect of his prayer, but despite his inadequate prayer.
  • The power of God over human circumstances. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will defend this city. Only God can do this. Our times are in his hands.
  • The renewal of the human condition is God’s work. A miracle occurs! God literally does the impossible. Miracles are miracles because they are miraculous. God can move the sun because he created the sun, and he created time, and because he is the God of the universe. He turns back time, as a sign to Hezekiah that he can restore the king to his previous health! V8-9 God literally turns back the clock on Hezekiah’s life, restoring him to his former health and vitality.

4. Hezekiah’s Medication.
There is a postscript. Just as God had said that Hezekiah would recover from his sickness, so he did. How did God heal Hezekiah? V21 Isaiah prescribed a poultice. Hezekiah’s case, it was in the application of the medication to the wound that the poison was drawn out. A poultice of figs was made, and applied to the cyst and the condition was healed. God promised the healing, and appointed the cure, – the role of the king was simply to rest and trust in the ability of the physician – so that he could apply the cure.

So Hezekiah prays, not much of a prayer, but God hears it and answers it and Hezekiah is healed. In our next study we see the last days of Hezekiah’s life, and his worst mistake ever.

© Bob McEvoy

From → Bible Study, Isaiah

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