Hezekiah was a good and righteous man. He became king of Judah in 715 B.C. following the death of his father Ahaz. Hezekiah inherited from his idolatrous father a kingdom discontent politically and spiritually. Hezekiah cleansed the temple of the Assyrian cult and restored Judaism.
Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king of Judah. He reigned as king for 28 years. He died at the age of 53. So our text takes place when Hezekiah is only 38 years old.
Isaiah, the prophet, has the unpleasant task of going to Hezekiah and telling him he will die. “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Doesn’t that sound so heartless and cruel? It is like being in the doctors office and hearing the words, “you have six months to live.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” Somehow in all of this we hear the words of the Apostle James, JAM 5:16 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
We as Christians underestimate just how powerful our prayers are and that God hears every word. There are three ways that God responds to our prayers: God will say yes, and answer our prayer, just as He did with Hezekiah. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, `This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. The second way God answers is to say no. The problem with no, is that we don’t want to think that God is saying no. So we interpret no as, God isn’t hearing my prayers. Or that God is ignoring me. We have a way of accepting “no” as God being unsympathetic, uncompassionate or not caring. When the reality is that “no” may be the best thing for us. The third way God answers prayer is to say, yes but later. Waiting is not always the easiest thing to do. However, that is why sometimes we have prayed about something for years before it is answered.
There is an old Dutch proverb: “God cures and the doctor gets the money.” God has always been in the healing business. The frank truth is that we probably make more out of healing than we really should. The awesome truth is that at some point God’s healing mercies for our bodies cease and His grace for dying begins. All healing is tentative. The mortality rate is still 100%. We talk about all those dead people who came to life after the crucifixion of Christ and walked into Jerusalem. While they lived again, they died again.
Scripture teaches that sickness and illness came into the world as a result of sin. However, not all illness is the result of sin. Some illness is physical, some is environmental, some is the result of being exposed to a germ. Regardless of the source, whether it is a spiritual problem or an environmental problem, God offers healing. When a Jew was ill, it was to the Rabbi he/she went rather than to the doctor. The Rabbi would anoint him/her with oil and prayed over the person.
In New Testament times there was the idea that sickness was due to sin. The Rabbis had a saying, “There is no death without guilt.” and “No man gets up from his sickness until God has forgiven him all his sins.” MAR 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Healing was important in the New Testament times because it showed or identified that Jesus was the Christ. Many symbolic forms were used. Laying on of hands, authority to heal in the name of God. Anointing with oil, the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Anointed cloths, remembrance of the power of God.
But all evolved around prayer and the decision of God. Prayer can change God’s mind. But the Church holds the key, for it is not the faith of the one being healed that is questioned. It is the faith of the one bringing the healing in the name of God that must have the faith. Do we live with such certainty in our lives?