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Illness and Recovery of Hezekiah
“In those days” (2Kgs 20:1), that is, in the days of his distress because of the enemy from outside, Hezekiah became ill. He even got so ill that he was to die. Hezekiah therefore had a trial from outside, that is the enemy who had surrounded Jerusalem, and a trial from within, within himself. This second test cane on top of the first and was even greater, because it concerned himself.
What happened to Hezekiah is a picture of the trials of the faithful remnant in the end time that also has an enemy from the outside and an enemy from inside. Both enemies are death threatening, but the enemy inside is the worst. The enemy from within is someone from the people themselves, the antichrist.
Isaiah came to Hezekiah with the announcement that he would die and needed to arrange the affairs of his house for that purpose. For us, we must have our affairs arranged in view of the coming of the Lord. This can happen at any moment and that is why we must always be ready for it.
The announcement that he must die caused enormous sadness in Hezekiah. For an Old Testament believer, dying was very sad, especially while still relatively young, like Hezekiah, who was about forty years old at the time. For the promise of the LORD is a long life for being faithful to Him. That was what Hezekiah reminded the LORD. If he were to be taken away then, it would seem as if God was removing him because of his bad spiritual condition.
The LORD wanted Hezekiah to discover the power of death through what happened to him here. He also wanted him to discover the power of the resurrection. We see that the Lord always gives richer lessons than we perceive at first sight. Events that we think put an end to certain things are often not intended by God to take something away from us, but to give us something in addition: a greater view of His power.
When Hezekiah had poured out his grief to the LORD, Isaiah received a new message for Hezekiah. When the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, he was not even completely out of the door. As a result, he quickly returned to Hezekiah with the answer to his prayer.
Hezekiah received a wonderful answer from the LORD. Isaiah was to give him the answer on behalf of “the LORD, the God of your father David”. In this way the gaze was again focused on David as the picture of the Messiah. We notice seven blessings in the answer from the LORD.
1. The LORD had heard his prayer. We may also know that the Lord hears all our prayers.
2. The LORD had seen his tears. The Lord also knows our anguish and repentance for our sins.
3. The LORD told him that he would recover. God would take care of him and recover his health by letting him experience the power of the resurrection, as the following sentence shows. For us, every prayer that fits into His plan is answered by Him. It is not an incentive for anyone who is ill to claim recovery from the disease. Hezekiah had not claimed any health. He had revealed his need, and this was God’s answer for him.
4. After the promise that he would recover, the LORD said that on the third day he would go to the house of the LORD. The power of the resurrection would make him go to the house of the LORD. For us it means that if we are aware that we have new life, we will take our place in the church.
5. The LORD promised him an extension of his life of fifteen years.
6. The LORD promised that he will be saved from the hand of the king of Assyria.
7. The LORD promised protection of the city. Hezekiah gained this protection because of Who the LORD is and because of the Messiah.
The answer to Hezekiah’s prayer was not by a sensational miracle. A common, every day and tangible medicine was used for his healing that others had to apply for him. That medicine was a cake of figs. The result was that “he recovered”.
In a spiritual sense figs are a picture of righteousness. Nathanael sat under the fig tree (Jn 1:48). The Lord Jesus said of him that he was an Israelite “in whom there is no deceit” (Jn 1:47). Nathanael and the fig tree give a picture of the faithful remnant that acts justly. A cake of figs is sweet. Knowing the sweetness of righteousness by behaving righteously brings recovery.
Hezekiah also asked for a sign. There seemed to be a certain lack of faith in what the LORD had said. That lack of faith was not ‘punished’ by leaving him in his illness with the accusation that he should have believed. This is often done by contemporary so-called faith healers. Instead, Isaiah gave him a choice of two kinds of signs. In this way God met Hezekiah’s small faith.
In choosing one of the two signs we see that Hezekiah did have faith. He didn’t question whether the signs Isaiah proposed to him were able to be given. He considered in faith which sign would be most obvious. In that consideration, he chose the least obvious sign. The accelerated progression of time is not as impressive as putting time back. This was not about the time on a clock, where you can turn back the hands, but about the sun in the sky, that no man can reach, but only God.
When Hezekiah had made his choice, Isaiah cried to the LORD. Isaiah as well, did not doubt the outcome. Through his prayer God intervened with nature. All of nature was set back by the God of nature, to a position of ten steps back to help a believer believe in Him. The whole course and the whole order are in His hand. He can stop the sun and the moon (Jos 10:12-13) and also set them back, as He did here.
The Delegation From Babylon
In 2Kgs 20:12 we hear about Babylon for the first time in the history of Israel. Babylon was still an insignificant city and far from being a world power. The king of Babylon had heard of Hezekiah’s disease and healing. That was his reason to visit Hezekiah. However, the king of Babylon was not interested in Hezekiah’s disease. His visit had a political reason. He wanted to try to make Hezekiah his ally to fight with him against Assyria.
The visit became a trap for Hezekiah. He was flattered by this visit. Blinded by the impressive visit, he forgot the LORD. He showed the delegation from Babylon everything he had in his house, all his treasures. That must have made an impression on this delegation. Not a word did he mention about the LORD, and the miracle He did for him. He was silent about Him, Who took away the threat of death from him, and Whom he had come to know as the God of resurrection.
When Hezekiah had answered Isaiah’s questions, Isaiah announced the judgment about all that Hezekiah had shown. He predicted that everything would be taken away and brought to Babylon. Not only things would be taken away, but also people. His descendants would be taken to Babylon to serve as officials of the king of Babylon. Here we hear the first announcement in Scripture about the exile of the two tribes to Babylon.
Hezekiah bowed down under this judgment, accepting that the LORD had done this. With a certain sense of gratitude, he expressed the thought that the judgment would not be meted out in his days.
The Death of Hezekiah
Hezekiah had been powerful. This power was “written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah”, which is unknown to us. A special feature was that Hezekiah brought water into the city from the pool he had made and through the watercourse he had also made. In case of a siege, it was of vital importance to have a secure water supply. Hezekiah had taken care of that. Spiritually, it is also important to be able to take of God’s Word, which is compared with water, in times of trial.
The extra fifteen years also came to an end when Hezekiah dies. This end, as with the other kings of Judah, was weaker than when he began. He was better able to deal with distress than with prosperity. He had been better able to cope with illness than with health. Illness and distress had driven him to the LORD. His health and prosperity had led him to forget the LORD.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 20". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20