Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 2

2 Kings 20:1-22:2; Acts 21:17-36; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 18:9-10

Have you ever been so sick you thought you were dying, so you prayed to God for a longer life? That’s what our passage today is about and, believe me, it did not turn out so good for the one who asked for longer life!

King Hezekiah is ill. The revered prophet, Isaiah, has visited him and told him to set his house in order for he is going to die. Hezekiah, unable to accept this verdict, prays to God to extend his life. God agrees and sends Isaiah back to inform Hezekiah. His boil will heal.

All seems well.

And then the mistakes begin. Hezekiah is visited by an emissary from a little-known land called Babylon. Up to this point in the Bible, Babylon has scarcely been mentioned. This ‘harmless’ far-off country holds no threat for Hezekiah so he innocently shows off the treasures of his nation to the foreign ambassador.

And Hezekiah fathers a son during these extended years of his life. The son is Manasseh, arguably the very worst king Judah ever had. Though Manasseh does repent late in his life, the Scriptures are filled with the accounts of his wrongdoing: “He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger” (2 Ki. 21:6); “Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites” (vs. 9).

So was Hezekiah’s prayer to extend his life a good thing? Looking at the aftermath, it certainly doesn’t seem so.  Maybe the lesson is, be careful what you pray for! Hezekiah seems to take the news that Judah will one day fall to Babylon with quite a bit of ease, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” (2 Ki. 20:19).

Judah did fall to Babylon in 586 B. C., and the nation went into exile in Babylon.

But God is still at work with His people. In the New Testament, about five centuries later, we see that the Jerusalem council has decided not to require Gentile converts to honor Jewish laws. And while reporting this, the council comments “thousands of Jews have believed” (Acts 21:20). God’s work among the Jewish people has continued.

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and they are saved.” Yes, the Jewish people sinned and went into exile, but God wasn’t finished with them.

And He’s not finished with us either when we sin and mess up and ask for longer life when we are sick. We can always run to Him at any time, after any mess-up, and find that He is a strong tower of safety and salvation for us in times of need.

Thank you, God, for Your continuing work in our lives.

- Nell Sunukjian

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.

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