This may come as a surprise to you, but Britney Spears and I probably don’t have much in common. However, there is this…
I can relate. Unfortunately.
I was reminded that our infallibility is a universal theme of human existence when reading 2 Kings. In chapter 18 we meet Hezekiah. He is the new king of Judah and he is a good man.
5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. (2 Kings 18:5-6)
God was with Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah prayed in response to threats from the mighty King Sennacherib of Assyria:
19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.” (2 Kings 19:19)
Here’s how God responded to this simple prayer:
35 That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. (2 Kings 19:35-36)
Fantastic. I love the Bible. The king woke up to find 185,000 dead soldiers. So he broke camp and went home. Uh, yeah, no kidding.
Hezekiah has walked with God and he has witnessed His mighty hand in action. In chapter 20, Hezekiah is ill. He gets this devastating word from the prophet Isaiah:
The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” (2 Kings 20:1)
Hezekiah responds by weeping bitterly. God hears his pain and has mercy. [This is God’s way. He is love (1 John 4:8).] God immediately delivers a new message, again through Isaiah.
5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler 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. (2 Kings 20:5)
Hezekiah rejoices, right? Dancing in the streets! Not exactly. Instead, he asks for a sign. “How will I know that I’m to be healed?” [I love that the Bible uses real people, just like you and me, to teach us about this path we follow toward our loving God.]
9 Isaiah answered, “This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?” (2 Kings 20:9)
God is so patient with us. Here’s how this particular story concludes.
10 “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”
11 Then the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz. (2 Kings 20:10-11)
Amazing. Hezekiah has just been saved from a fatal illness and then witnesses the God of creation exhibit his sovereign power over nature and the sun. How will he possibly respond?
Oops!… I did it again.
12 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness.13 Hezekiah received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine olive oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. (2 Kings 12-13)
At that time.
In Hebrew, the phrase is… at the same doggone time! In the midst of God’s healing and sun moving, Hezekiah shows off. He boasts of all his wealth (his?) to spies from Babylon. These are not good men; they are a vicious people who later attack Israel, destroy its cities, and carry her people off into exile.
Take heart. The Bible was given to teach us. Know this: God wants relationship with you. He sent His son to die for your sins. He knows you are imperfect, but He loves you anyway. He doesn’t expect perfection, but He does want surrender.
Don’t worry, Hezekiah. God knows you will “do it again.” He will not stop loving you. He just asks that you return to Him after each failure. Repent, stand back up, and walk toward Him. He’ll be there waiting with open arms.