Today: [Isaiah 38] When the Prophet Says You are Going to Die! In this chapter we find one of the most dreadful declaration sone could ever hear from the mouth of a prophet. Hezekiah is informed by the prophet Isaiah to get his affairs in order – he is going to die. Have you ever been told such a thing by a man or woman of God? Sometimes self-appointed people make such shrill accusations and we have no reason to fear them. This was not the case with Isaiah and Hezekiah. This was a word from heaven and it was dire in its prediction. What would you do in such a case? Resign yourself to your fate? Hezekiah demonstrates for us the response to such dreadful a word that literally changes the outcome and brings life from death when we are bold enough like the king to turn our faces to the wall and cry out to God.
[Isa 38:1-22 KJV] 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, 3 And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done [that which is] good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. 4 Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying, 5 Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. 6 And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city. 7 And this [shall be] a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken; 8 Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.
In this chapter we see the impending death of Hezekiah from an unspecified illness. This incident takes place in the aftermath of one of the greatest mass interventions of the Spirit of God recorded in the bible. This is one of the lessons you should be prepared to learn. When you are leading up to a great step of faith the enemy will often be on hand to distract you, discourage you and derail your faith. You have to make a determination when you are in preparation to obey God that you may need to sequester yourself from casual conversation or idle activity with family or friends. In this way you keep yourself focused, not taking that phone call, not immersing yourself in social media or paying attention to what everyone around you is saying.
Likewise, as in Hezekiah’s case, be prepared in the AFTERMATH of a great victory. Realize that the battle is not over. There may in fact come the greatest challenge in the trial when it seems that victory is assured and all is well. In the previous chapter Hezekiah rises to the occasion, intercedes for the city and God moves by His hand to destroy an army of 180,000 Assyrians that had besieged Jerusalem. What else could possibly go right in this moment? Yet suddenly we see the illness that had been weighing on Hezekiah all this time suddenly gets much worse and death threatens to take the king in the midst of the great celebration of God’s deliverance for His people. Learn from this to be circumspect in your conduct and maintain your spiritual vigilance after a tremendous deliverance or answer from God has been made manifest in your life. Realize that the greatest challenge may lay directly ahead. Stay quiet in your soul and watchful in your spirit.
9 The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness: 10 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years. 11 I said, I shall not see the LORD, [even] the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. 12 Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day [even] to night wilt thou make an end of me. 13 I reckoned till morning, [that], as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day [even] to night wilt thou make an end of me. 14 Like a crane [or] a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail [with looking] upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me. 15 What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done [it]: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. 16 O Lord, by these [things men] live, and in all these [things is] the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. 17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul [delivered it] from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. 18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can [not] celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. 19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I [do] this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. 20 The LORD [was ready] to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD. 21 For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay [it] for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover. 22 Hezekiah also had said, What [is] the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?
The prophet Isaiah comes to the king with a word from God. There was probably no other time in Isaiah’s life that he was held more in honor and reputation than right now. He prophesied great victory and God massively came through by the words of the prophet. He is golden. Visits to his website are off the charts. Invitations are pouring in from all over the area, inviting him to come and speak in conferences, churches and conventions – sharing the platform with the most influential prophets of his day. What else could possibly go right? Then Isaiah shows up at the king’s palace and tells him to put his affairs in order because he will soon die. It would seem that Isaiah once again is showing what a tone-deaf, out of step person he is. This was not the time to give a controversial word. You don’t tell the guy in charge that he is going to die – you tell the king what he wants to hear. The collective gasp in the room was no doubt quite pronounced. The guards standing by put their hands on their swords, ready to take Isaiah’s head from off his shoulders. Yet Isaiah has little choice. If he is going to be faithful to the Father – he must say what God gives him to say.
You will notice that Isaiah did not say that God was going to kill Hezekiah. He simply looked by the Spirit at the situation and saw the outcome. This is the simplicity of the prophet – to SAY what you SEE. This can get you into trouble. Bear in mind that what Isaiah says does NOT come to pass. No doubt there were many watching who simply concluded that Isaiah got it wrong. As Paul declares in 1 Corinthians:
[1Co 13:12 KJV] 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The prophetic gifts are imprecise at best. Sometimes the clarity of a thing is not known until after events have taken place if not at all. People are quick to condemn particularly when the word was not to their liking, while at the same time they will take a word they favor and twist it all out of proportion trying to suggest its fulfillment on the weakest of pretexts. Whatever may be the case Hezekiah lives.
I remember when I was pastoring my second church in Bunkie, Louisiana. One of my deacons asked me to go to the hospital to pray with his father. His father, who didn’t not attend our church was gravely ill and the doctors said he would not live more than one or two weeks. As I drove the 40 miles from our little town to where the man lay dying I told the Lord I was not going to give the man false hope. There had been many times I had prayed for people and they lived and many other times I prayed for people and they died. I wasn’t willing to declare that this man would live unless God specifically said to me that He was going to intervene. The man was from a religious background that didn’t acknowledge being born again let alone having any expectation that the Father would intervene in the slightest manner in the affairs of life.
I got on the elevator with my assistant pastor and went to the man’s hospital room. His son, the deacon in my church stood by with tears on his face as I spoke to the man. I cast about in my mind for direction from God and none came. I was resolute in my determination that if God didn’t give me some sign I would not give the man false hope. Then I remembered this chapter in Isaiah. Hezekiah turned his face to the wall. Finally, I spoke up telling the man plainly that God did not tell me that he would live if we prayed for him. I told him I had every expectation that he would in fact die as the doctors were saying. Then I told him the story of Hezekiah turning his face to the wall and God giving him 15 more years. To my surprise, right in front of me the man grabbed the rail of the hospital bed and with all his remaining strength turned away from us, face to the wall and cried out to God. It was one of the most impactful moments of my life. We felt the spirit of God come into the room. We knew something had happened.
The man the doctors said would be dead in a matter of days in fact lived and was discharged from the hospital on the 14th day from our visit. God came through for him because he cried out to God. God came through for Hezekiah even though one of the most reputable prophets in the Old Testament told him he wasn’t going to make it. Always bear this in mind. Everything is negotiable in God. Hezekiah interceded with God for his own life and lived. Abraham interceded with God for the life of his nephew Lot and Lot was delivered. Never just sit idly by with a fatalistic attitude that you cannot influence the outcome. God loves you so much He sent Jesus to die for you. What makes you think He isn’t interested in what you have to say? He will hear you when you cry out to Him and will deliver you even if it is in the final hour.
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