Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Bad king Ahaz, father of good king Hezekiah, closed Solomon's Temple and turned the people of God to pagan worship. When he was 25, Hezekiah cleaned up the Temple inside and out, opened its closed doors, and re-instituted the worship of the God of heaven. He even revived the joyous celebration of the Passover, and did his best to lead the confused descendants of Abraham back to obedience to God.
And God honored him: two of Hezekiah's desperate prayers were miraculously answered: (1) God turned away Sennacherib and the Assyrian army, which saved Jerusalem from conquest and destruction; and (2) Hezekiah prayed for healing at the age of 39 from a fatal disease. God had told him clearly that his time had come: "'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'" But God listened and Hezekiah "turned his face toward the wall, and … wept bitterly; 'remember' all the good things I have done and 'have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight'" (Isa. 38:1-3). It's not fair for me to die at 39! So God sent Isaiah to tell him, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears," you will have 15 years more (vs. 5). At 39, 15 years more seems like eternity; Hezekiah was happy. He thanked God publicly.
But there was a problem. The king had been mistaken about that "truth" and his "perfect heart." He didn't know it! Buried therein was unknown sin. If he had humbly submitted to God and died at 39, he would have exited his "office" with a glorious place in history, and his labors at revival and reformation could well have been successful and permanent. He could have "sat" with Abraham, Moses, and David, for his reign would have saved the cause of God from ruin.
But he loved life too exuberantly, being over-confident of his own righteousness. His pride in the divine healing led to the eventual conquest of his kingdom by Babylon; and in those 15 extra years he sired the worst king ever to sit on David's throne--Manasseh (he shed rivers of innocent blood). Jeremiah was later forced to say that the unspeakable horror that overtook the kingdom, the throne, and the people, was "because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah" (Jer. 15:4).
Sometimes it's better to die than to live.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 25, 2001.
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