Sunday, July 29, 2012

The sign that the Lord spared King Hezekiah’s life

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.
 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord,
 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.
 ¶Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,
 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.
 And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.
 And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken;
 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. (Isaiah 38:1-8)
In this story Hezekia was sick and Isaiah told him he would die.  (That would be shocking news to anyone.)  Then Hezekiah prayed for his life to be spared and the Lord answered his prayers, and gave him a sign as a promise.  The sign the Lord gives (v7-8) is very interesting.

The promise the Lord gave to Hezekiah was 15 more years of life.  The sign was to be that the shadow of the sundial would go back 10 degrees.  That might seem like an odd sign to give.  A moving shadow.  But behind that moving shadow was something very unusual on an astronomical scale.  It would look like the sun was moving, but we know it was really the earth that moved, that it slowed imperceptibly, then stopped, and reversed its rotation until it had gone 10 degrees backward, then slowed, stopped, and began rotating in the usual direction again, all without any detrimental inertial effects on the earth’s inhabitants. 

Amazing, huh?  Yes, and it is also amazing that all that was done for the sake of one man.  Doesn’t that almost seem like…overkill?   But I suppose that shows just how much the Lord loves the one. 

I also realized that the sign was actually meant to teach Hezekiah something about the Lord’s power.  Not simply that the Lord could move astronomical bodies hither and yon at will, but that the Lord really did have the power to lengthen Hezekiah’s life.  Turning the shadow of the sundial back 10 degrees had the effect of lengthening that day, so Hezekiah was to understand that if the Lord could lengthen one of Hezekiah’s days, He could and would lengthen Hezekiah’s life as promised.

To me this teaches me that the Lord has control over my life span and while I do my part to take care of my body, ultimately the Lord is in charge of how long I live. 


Ramona Gordy said...

I love this record of Hezekiah, one of my favorites. I remember reading commentary on this passage, and the thought was that this was a fore-shadow of the Atonement of the Savior. What is happening is that for a "small moment",(imperceptible) Hezekiah is allowed to "cheat" death,and even though he will die at an appointed time,15 years later,the promise to him and everyone, is that it will be for a "small moment", because of the atonement of Jesus. Note that Isaiah is the "sitting" prophet at that time. Think of all of his prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, of his work and his victory over the grave, over death and Hell.

Psalm 8:1-3
1O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

(The enemy is death, the avenger is Satan)

3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the Son of Man, that thou visit him?

Michaela Stephens said...

Good point, Ramona, I like how you draw the connection to the atonement.