Jump Start # 2395
2 Kings 20:1 “In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.”
There are many fascinating lessons that come from our verse today. One is so obvious, but it is often overlooked. Hezekiah was sick. He was very sick. He was mortally ill, which means he was going to die. When one is that ill, they are most likely in bed and too weak to do anything. I expect he had family or servants giving him sips of water and wiping his forehead. The prophet comes. The prophet has a message from God. We see that. Great lesson. What we sometimes overlook is that God, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit has allowed you and I to be in that bedroom and to hear what was said. Through inspiration we are allowed to eavesdrop. This happens over and over and over in the Bible. Private conversations are revealed, recorded and we are allowed to lean into those conversations and learn so much. Jesus’ temptation by Satan, was a private matter. But we learn what was said. The serpent talking to Eve was a private matter, but we are allowed to be there through inspiration. Philip talking to the Ethiopian, yet another example.
Other than the Lord, most of those people had no idea what they said would be written down, studied, quoted, preached and read hundreds and even thousands of years later. Here is what got me thinking about this. I received a hand written letter the other day. It was not written to me, but to someone in Oregon. It was written by a famous Indiana preacher in 1861. The letter not only tells of the hype surrounding the start of the Civil War, but it mentions the town that I now preach in. This letter has been saved for more than 150 years. And, the man who wrote this letter probably had no idea that someone else, that being me, would frame it and put it on his office wall. He probably thought the letter would be read and tossed away.
We don’t write many letters any more. Texts aren’t saved and most emails are read then deleted. But all of this got me to thinking, what if the Holy Spirit took some of our conversations and left them for others to know, read and use long after we are gone. I wonder how we’d feel about that. Now, that won’t happen, but it sure makes a person think.
There are two great lessons that come out of our verse today.
First, sick Hezekiah was told to get his house in order. God said he was going to die. When God says that, there is no one higher that you can appeal to. No one is above God. If a doctor said we were going to die, we could still pray. God is greater than doctors. But when God says you are going to die, that’s it.
Getting your house in order—what a great expression. I don’t think the Lord meant, clean house, put away stuff, pick your clothes up off the floor, put away the dishes and toss some of that junk. Those things make a house look neat and tidy, but the house God had in mind was Hezekiah’s heart. No one could do that except Hezekiah. Each of us can only get our own house or hearts in order. What God is saying, is that you are about to die, are you ready? Are you ready to meet Me?
You and I don’t have prophets telling us that we are soon to die. Each day could be our last day. So, we need to live with clean hearts and houses that are in order. Have we been putting off forgiving someone? Why? Get your house in order. Is there someone that you intend to talk to about Jesus? What haven’t you? Get your house in order. Have you been hiding in sin and you know there are things that are not right spiritually in you? What are you waiting for? Get your house in order.
If you do this, first, you won’t worry about death. Bring it on, because your love and God’s grace will carry you through. Second, you’ll be living the best that you can. Don’t spend another night with pigs like the prodigal did or in the belly of a fish, like Jonah did. Your best is when you are walking with the Lord.
Second, as soon as Isaiah left, Hezekiah turned to the wall and prayed. I expect he prayed like he never has before. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t grab the booze. He didn’t point fingers at God. He didn’t run to his family. He turned to the wall and prayed. I expect you and I would be a lot better off if we looked at the wall more in prayer and less at TV or our cell phones.
He prayed and God heard him. Before Isaiah left the palace, God told him to turn around and go back and see the king. It is amazing how fast all of that took place. Words up to Heaven and a message back to the prophet. God can move fast. Prayers can be answered in an instant. God not only heard the prayers, but the text tells us that he saw the tears of Hezekiah. God knows. God sees. There are tears on our pillows at night. We try to keep them from being seen, but God sees them. There are people who have hurt us. God knows. There are broken hearts because of grief and sorrow. God knows. There are times we are scared. God knows. He sees. He sees the tears and He hears the prayers. Even in the darkest moments, of one who is facing the doorway of death, God is there.
Hezekiah was granted more years to live. Some of his choices after this weren’t the best. It seems his house got out of order and he forgot the great God who answered his prayers. We too can be like that. In a crisis, around the hospital bed, in the funeral home, we can pray great prayers. God hears. But after the crisis passes, and we return to life, we can put God on the back burner. What a shame that is.
As I was looking at that 150 year old letter today, I wondered if someone would read one of these Jump Starts 150 years later?