2 KINGS 20: Adding Years to Life
When our Mikey passed away, and no medical reason could be found, most of the comments from our kind friends, were about his short 18 years. The “tragedy” rested on the fact that his life was cut short. But when my husband held up his piece of rope on the stage in Australia recently, the first thing I thought was just how short my life is! In fact, when you look at one foot marked out on a rope that’s limitless, it doesn’t matter if you live 18 years or 94. That one foot space-in-time is all short, in comparison to the remain rope marked out for Eternity!
The other thing about this limitless rope, that the Creator God introduced into HIStory as Eternal Life, there’s no such thing as “cut short”. Something that’s eternal can’t be cut. It doesn’t start, stop and then start again. It’s continual. In this case, Mikey’s life wasn’t cut short. However, his time here was relative and incidental when viewed alongside the whole rope. In the eyes of my grandchildren, my life will also be relative and incidental – even if I live to be 100 here and do fantastic things.
With that said, although I can gain hours by flying west, or lose a day in an instant by crossing the International date line, I can’t add years to my life. If I get cancer, for example, I can only pray for (and claim the promise of) the health and resources to achieve what I was originally designed to achieve, in each and every day that’s been ordained for me by my Maker before my birth.[a] But if all the above is true, then why would the Creator God extend King Hezekiah’s mortal life in today’s chapter?
Through a divine “word of knowledge” Isaiah the prophet knew that King Hezekiah of Israel would die and, unlike most of us, he was warned. [v1] King Hezekiah was a faithful follower of the Creator God and, in his last moments, his only prayer was for Father God to remember how he walked in truth before his Maker – wholeheartedly doing what’s right in His sight. [v3] But if this were to be my last day on Earth, I wonder could I nail my life-story down, as Hezekiah did, to the same core thing!
When the time came to meet his Maker, it didn’t matter that Hezekiah built the famous water tunnel for the city of Jerusalem that’s still there today – I walked down it in pitch dark and wrote about it in my second book “Mysterious – Expect the unexpected”. It seemed to not matter that Hezekiah had put his life on the line by having a zealous protection for the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.[b] He went down in HIStory as having a passion for worship and for God’s word.[c] So much so, that he began work on the original Scriptures (the Law) handed down from Moses.[d] He then formed a guild of men (who came to be known as “the men of Hezekiah”) dedicated to serious literary work and who – among other things – played a large part in shaping the Book of Proverbs.[e]
But while all this is an incredible contribution – that has quite miraculously survived 27 tumultuous centuries so that we now hold the record of it in our hands today – it’s his walk through this life with his Maker that counted in his prayer of bitter tears. [v3]
And so, in a compassionate response to the tears [v5], the Creator God added 15 years to King Hezekiah’s life experience here on earth. But have we just discovered the secret to adding years to our life? If so, then why didn’t the Lord the Giver of Life respond in the same way to my bitter tears, when I knelt beside the body of our dead son? The Creator God knew the number of Hezekiah’s days before he was born, so why this theatrical extension that went down in HIStory?
Well, I think the answer to most of life’s perplexities, lies with the Creator’s “bigger picture”. I don’t know much, but what I do know is that the Creator God sees things from where He sits – outside of our planet’s atmosphere and therefore outside our time zone. Watching the earth spin, from where He sits, doesn’t affect Him – though every day ages us as we rotate and revolve like flees on a ball.
But something else should be known about today’s chapter. The Creator God’s epic plan – to “bless” all nations on earth[f] – was at stake in today’s chapter, with the Assyrians at Hezekiah’s door. Every day in Israel’s history, would have a knock-on effect on our Maker’s Global plans for the next 27 centuries. And, at this stage, Hezekiah didn’t have a son. Then, when his son Manasseh was born 3 years later, he grew up to “do evil in the eyes of the Lord”.[g] It therefore makes perfect sense to extend Hezekiah’s life, when HIStory depended on stability and a good king.
With that said, I’ve also noticed from my own life experience, that I’ll often need a serious shake-up before I get started on what I was designed to do. After Mikey left us, for example, I turned from finance to writing. So, could it be that Hezekiah needed this near-death experience? Although he had indeed “walked in truth with his Maker”, he may not have started serious long-lasting work – the sort that his Maker wanted from him. Could it be that all Hezekiah’s contributions to HIStory, that I’ve listed above, took shape in the 15 years after his “close encounter” with his Maker? Having been kept alive with a time limit, had Hezekiah’s perspective on life (and how short life really is) completely changed?
While this may have been necessary for this King of Israel, in the grand scheme of things, what happens next doesn’t seem to be necessary at all!
Upon giving Hezekiah 15 extra years, the Creator God goes “over the top” with an offer that defines physics. He sends the sun backwards 10 steps! [v8-11] Not only is the Creator God the Lord the Giver of Life, He’s also creator of the sun and moon and everything else. He therefore has the ability to send the sun back ten degrees, or make the sun stand still for a full day.[h] But when our Mikey left so unexpectedly, one thing was true: although our Heavenly Father is able to move mountains, in practice He usually doesn’t. Instead, he gives us the GRACE to climb mountains.
In this way, my Maker is able to put the “machine of ME” through its paces and see me at my best (or worst) as someone created in His own image to be like Him. My inherent “free will” to make right choices and judgements, as I travel each day along my one-foot piece of rope, is crucial to how my eternal story pans out.
As his story drew to a close, Hezekiah, in today’s chapter, didn’t seem to fair well in either his choices or his judgements. His choice to show complete strangers all his national treasures wasn’t wise. King Solomon’s wealth was on display when the Queen of Sheba came visiting[i], but the nation’s armoury and treasuries (especially in the Temple) weren’t a personal possession to pride oneself on. [v13] One can only think that it was a moment when Hezekiah (as good as he was) had let his guard down.
Complacent, desensitized judgement often shows up with age besides bad choices. As wise as King Solomon was, for example, his latter years saw him slide.[j] Today’s chapter draws to a close with King Hezekiah hearing a prophetic outcome arising from his unwise choices. A shocking outcome included his grandchildren being exiled into Babylon! [v14-18] But Hezekiah simply said that God’s word is good! The problems that he’d caused would be pushed into the next generation! [v19]
In a world obsessed with anti-aging and adding years to one’s life, I don’t want more years in which to fail. With so many thoughtless moments already in my own life, I don’t want to become desensitized by my culture, as the years go on. But how will I know what’s right in the Creator’s eyes, except by walking with Father God every day – just as Hezekiah had once done – and by keeping close to my Maker’s Handbook of LIFE, and HIStory that’s been carefully preserved for me.
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Psalm 139:16
[b] 2 Chronicles 29:3-19
[c] 2 Chronicles 29:20-27,30
[d] 2 Chronicles 31:21
[e] Proverbs 25:1
[f] Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 26:4 and 28:14
[g] 2 Kings 21:1-2
[h] Joshua 10:13
[i] 1 Kings 10:4-5
[j] 1 Kings 11:4-6 and Nehemiah 13:26