Isaiah Bible Study (The God Who Saves)

Isaiah 38-39, Renewing Our Commitment

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Hezekiah’s Illness (38:1-3)

Imagine if you knew when you were going to die. What would you do? If the doctors came to you and said to get your affairs in order for you are about to die, what would you do? This is the very thing that happens to the king of Judah, Hezekiah. Isaiah comes to Hezekiah and tells him to prepare for his death. Hezekiah does not go into depression. Hezekiah does not complain. Hezekiah does not lock himself in his room. Hezekiah does not do the things that we typically do when we receive bad news. Isaiah 38:2 tells us that Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. Notice further that his prayer is not really about his physical life yet. He asks the Lord to remember how he has served the Lord. I have been living for you I have walked before you faithfully and with all my heart. I have done what you have said. Lord, remember that I have given you my whole heart and have been faithful to you.

God’s Answer (38:4-8)

God answers the prayer and the heart of Hezekiah bountifully. Hezekiah is told that 15 years will be added to his life. Further, the city of Jerusalem will be delivered from the Assyrian attack. Also, God will give a sign to show he will do this by casting a shadow ten steps back on the dial.

Hezekiah’s Response (38:9-22)

Now we are given information that we do not usually see in the scriptures. Rather than the narrator writing about the events that occurred, verse 9 tells us that this is the writing of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, after he had been sick and then healed. We get to go inside the mind of Hezekiah and what he experienced during this time of difficulty.

Verses 10-14 describe the weight of this news for Hezekiah. Hezekiah begins by recognizing that he is in the prime of his life. He will no longer see people or his Lord because he is going to the grave. As we read this event we recognize that Hezekiah did not receive the answer to his prayer immediately. It is tempting to read the account and think that Hezekiah prayed after hearing this news of his death and God suddenly and immediately answered him. This is not the case. We are seeing the pain in Hezekiah’s heart. Notice the pain of this information to him. “Like a lion he breaks all my bones.” He is just full of pain. It is hard to receive the news that your day is done. He is sorrowful over the loss of his life and his eyes have been toward the Lord in repeated prayer over his life. Prayer is where we must immediately turn in such times. When your life is being crushed and you receive horrible news, you must turn to the Lord. We can ask for God for more life. We do not have to accept that this is the end. Pray to God for healing. Pray to God for more life. May the basis of our prayer not be a selfish cling to this world, but so that we can continue to faithfully serve and worship the Lord. We love being faithful to God and want to show more people that we are faithful because God is good and faithful.

Now Hezekiah specifies his desire. “Oh restore me to health and make me live!” (38:16). Then God answered his prayer. This time was a time of learning for him. This was good teaching for Hezekiah. He was reminded of three things that we must all be reminded of regularly. First, we do not have control over the days of our lives on this earth. We must accept this reality as much as we try to deny or ignore this truth. We must take advantage of what we have today and enjoy what God has blessed us with today. We cannot assume that we will have these blessings tomorrow or next year. God is in control. We have no control. This must compel us to a greater commitment because you do not have control over today. You do not have control over tomorrow. We have no control over what will happen in 2014. It may be a great year, full of blessings and comfort. It may be a miserable year, full of pain and anguish. So we commit ourselves to God who has charge over these things. You have something special today. Appreciate what you have.

Second, Hezekiah learned to appreciate God’s forgiveness of sins. “For you have cast all my sins behind your back.” What a beautiful hope! God cannot see your sins when he puts them behind his back. He has moved forward. We must move forward with Christ. Will you meditate on this hope? Will you consider the amazing blessing that your sin today is behind God? Your sin yesterday is behind God. Your sin last week is behind God. Your sin last year is behind God. We serve a gracious God. These things help us renew our commitment to the Lord.

Third, Hezekiah learns that he must praise God today and all his days (38:18-20). The living must take advantage of the time to praise the Lord and give thanks to the Lord. I hope we will do that this week. I hope you will see the blessings and joy that God has given you in 2013. I hope you can think over your life and see that God has been good to you, no matter how difficult things have been for you this. This has been a hard year for me and my family. But God has been faithful and good to us. No matter what happens, God has been faithful and good to us. Therefore, we will live life knowing that we do not have control, that God has forgiven my sins, and we will praise him every day that he gives us breath.

Hezekiah’s Error (39:1-8)

After reading about the great faith and hope of Hezekiah, we will now read about a great fall. The king of Babylon sent envoys to Hezekiah with letters and gift because Hezekiah had recovered from his illness. But verse 2 tells us of a grave sin. Hezekiah shows off. He shows the Babylonians how great he is. He shows them his power, his wealth, his nation’s prosperity, and his nation’s strength. Hezekiah falls to pride. He falls to flattery. He falls for receiving attention. He enjoys the recognition he receives and likes thinking that he is someone important. It is hard to believe. He goes from his death bed to a “look at me” attitude. His sense of self-importance is causing him to forget about God’s importance. He willingly takes the attention to him and away from God.

Not only is the problem of selfishness an issue, but the greater issue is that the glory of the Lord has been subverted. What a great opportunity Hezekiah had to send a message to Babylon about his sickness, prayer to the true and living God, and the healing that came by God’s hand. What a lost opportunity to be able to point to God about this great healing God had accomplished! This is the problem of selfishness. We take the glory God deserves and try to apply it to ourselves.

The account in 2 Chronicles 32:31 tells us that God did this to test Hezekiah. God had extended great grace to Hezekiah. Now what will you do with it? Will you turn back to selfish living? Will you turn to pride? Will you turn back to the way you were living before, forgetting God and taking his blessings for granted? After grace, we must not fall back into arrogance and self-absorption. What will we do with our new life? We cannot live shortsightedly. We cannot survive the difficulties of life and then think that we are standing on our own. We cannot forget the grace and mercy of God, disregarding the Lord who saved us. This is a great test given to each of us also. Will we lose our commitment or renew our commitment? Every day is a new day to renew our commitment to the Lord.

Conclusion

Renew your commitment to the Lord. First, recognize that you have no control over today, tomorrow, or next year. Take your life to the Lord who rules over all things. Second, renew your commitment by appreciating the forgiveness of sins. See your guilt but know that God has put those sins behind his back. This gives us new hope and fresh lives going forward. Third, renew yourself to praise the Lord every day. Tell people about how God has been working in your life. Finally, don’t turn the attention to ourselves. Direct our heart and attention to the Lord. Let him be the guide for your life.

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