Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good news for whom?

Through the Bible in 90 days: Day 28

Read: 2 Kings 15:27-25:30

Verse that stood out:
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good." For he thought, "Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?"

For the most part, Hezekiah stands out as a good king in a long list of bad kings. We're told that "he did right in the sight of the LORD, just as his ancestor David had done" (18:3). He tore down many of the places Israel used to worship other gods (including one site connected to Moses). He refused to pay tribute to Assyria but trusted God to take care of Judah. On several occasions he prayed passionately to God and God answered him.

And yet, at the end of his life, after showing off all the treasures of Judah to the kings of Babylon (that's a little like the mouse showing the cat all his cheese!), he receives this terrible news from the prophet Isaiah: "Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried into Babylon; nothing shall be left. . . . Some of your own sons show are born to you shall be taken away." How does Hezekiah respond? With another passionate prayer? After all, God had changed his mind before when presented with this kings request. Not this time. Now at the end of his life, Hezekiah offers no prayer. Instead, he thanks the prophet, goes back to his comfortable palace, and thinks to himself, "Well, at least I'll be dead when all that happens. Might as well eat, drink, and be merry."

How difficult it is to contend for righteousness, to seek God's mercy, when to do so involves caring for someone other than ourselves. In all of Hezekiah's other prayers, he was under direct threat. Now that he's assured of peace and security, his petitions fall silent. How pathetic. And yet, how true to real life. It's difficult to be as faithful in praying for others as we are in praying for ourselves. Take time this Sunday evening to offer a prayer for someone other than yourself.

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