ACCEPTING God’s ‘PERFECT WILL’ in our LIVES
April 20 Bible Reading: 2 Kings Chapters 19-21
"In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.'" Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, "Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years." (2 Kings 20:1-6)
Hezekiah has the distinction of being one of the few righteous kings who "did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done" (2 Kings 18:3). He was sandwiched between an evil father Ahaz (17:1-2) and a more evil son Manasseh (21:1-2). His name means “Yahweh has strengthened” and it is possible that he decided to live a righteous life with strength from God. After ascending the throne of Judah he enacted great religious and political reforms (including the removal of idolatrous practices and centers), restored the temple worship and resumed the nationwide observance of the Passover (2 Chr. 29–31). His 29-year reign over Judah produced one of the best periods of government since the time of King David!
It is no wonder that God was so pleased with King Hezekiah that He gave Hezekiah as advance notice that his time on earth was about to complete. These were the exact words that God told Hezekiah: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live’ (v. 1b). What a wonderful privilege that Hezekiah got to know God’s perfect will in his life through the news of his impending demise! He had fulfilled his role on the earth and God had decided to call Hezekiah to his heavenly abode to be with God in his presence forever! This statement was not out of judgment but out of love from God!
However, Hezekiah chose to pray against God’s perfect will in His life! He appealed to God to consider his exemplary righteous life of obedience as he indeed had served God wholeheartedly during his entire life. In fact, Isaiah 38:10–20 expresses the anguish of his soul at that time. His prayer recognized that his life was in God’s hands and God rewarded those who faithfully serve Him (see Deut. 5:30–33; 30:15, 16). Persistent prayer and weeping before God resulted in Hezekiah getting a temporary reprieve from immediate death.
Hezekiah got more than what he had asked for – he had 15 years of life added to his lifespan as God mercifully answered his prayer for length of life. However, we now know that God gave him a son Manasseh after three years in his life’s extension period, and Manasseh took over the throne after Hezekiah’s death, when he was 12 years old (21:1). He ruled for 55 years in Jerusalem, but he was one of the most evil kings ever to rule over the kingdom of Judah. "For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them" (21:3).
So, Manasseh reversed all the godly reforms that Hezekiah had enacted in his life, and angered God so much that He said the following: "I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down" (21:13b). Manasseh killed many innocent people all over Jerusalem, and made the entire kingdom of Judah follow his sinful and evil practices (21:16).