Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 12 June 21:
2 Kings 20:1 — “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’”
The story of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-19 is one of the most powerful testimonies of faith in the Bible. The reader can’t help but be humbled by Hezekiah’s example — “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.” (2 Kings 18:5) Unfortunately Hezekiah’s story doesn’t end there and doesn’t end well.
The turning point in Hezekiah’s life appears to have been when God told him it was time for him to die. “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” At first glance, Hezekiah’s response not only seems natural but also seems to mirror Jesus’ appeal to the Father on the Mount of Olives before the Cross — “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me…. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:42-44) However, Hezekiah’s prayer lacked Jesus’ heart and motivation – “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) At some point, Hezekiah became more concerned about himself than about fulfilling God’s will for his life and glorifying Him. At some point, Hezekiah lost the heart of Psalmist – “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (Psalm 63:3)
Hezekiah simply didn’t want to die, whether it was God’s perfect timing or not. In this case, I believe God allowed Hezekiah to live another 15 years to expose the condition of Hezekiah’s heart and to bring glory to Himself. Instead of dying at a highpoint of honorable and faithful service to the Lord, Hezekiah lived on, dooming Judah to captivity and producing Manasseh, one of Judah’s worst kings. Manasseh subsequently reversed all the good Hezekiah had done in his lifetime. On his apparent deathbed, Hezekiah took a turn away from the Lord’s will which led him down a path of ever-increasing self-centeredness and selfishness, shockingly summarized in his last recorded words when Isaiah prophesied of the doom which would befall his family and nation as a result of his actions — “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (2 Kings 20:19) Wow!
- Romans 15:4 — For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction….
Hezekiah’s story is intended to teach us, to warn us: It is not how you start; it is how you finish. Will you end your life on a pinnacle of faithfulness? Strive (and prepare) for your last day on earth to be your best day for God’s glory.
- 1 Peter 5:8-10 — Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
- Proverbs 4:23 — Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
- Colossians 4:2 — Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving….
- Matthew 26:41 — “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:12 — Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 — Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
- Revelation 3:2 — ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.
Like Hezekiah, we will all face the test of death. How we face the test will depend on the relationship we have established with the Lord in life and in our faith and hope in the ultimate victory we have over death in Christ. Like Hezekiah, we must trust God through life, but unlike Hezekiah, we must also trust God through death.
“To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to obey Him…. You can’t know anybody that you don’t spend time with.” (Adrian Rogers) It all depends on knowing God and spending time with Him today and every day. When we follow the Good Shephard in life we will learn to trust Him enough to say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me…. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:4, 6)
- Romans 14:8 — For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
- 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 — So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 — I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Someone once said, “Live as if you will die tomorrow.” However, the Bible says we are to live today dead to the old self and alive anew and eternally in Christ –
- Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Galatians 5:22-26 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- Mark 8:35 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
- Romans 12:1 — I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
- 1 Corinthians 15:31 — I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!
- Colossians 3:3 — For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
- Romans 6:3-14 — Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Ultimately, Hezekiah lacked the faith and courage to surrender His life to the Lord in death. Do you have the faith and courage to die to self and live for Christ today? Will you aspire to live out Galatians 2:20 today and everyday? “… I die every day!” (1 Corinthians 15:31)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 June 20: Strive to make every day with the Lord your best day with the Lord until your last day on this earth with the Lord, into eternity with the Lord. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Present your body as a living sacrifice and experience and proclaim eternal life today.