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Chapter 24

Theme: Pride following Miraculous Answer to Prayer
Focus on: Hezekiah
Reading Portion(s): Isaiah 38, 39; 2 Kings 20; 2 Chronicles 32:24 to 33.
- Important Background Information
- Helps you find strength in God
What this article teaches you
God sends miraculous answers to prayer. This mostly happens when the prayer is made with great weeping and bitterness of heart. Often God also provides a sign that is a sure proof that the miracle will occur. Such a miraculous healing occurred in the life of King Hezekiah.

Many heard about it. They came to him. When they came he showed them every treasure that he had in his storehouses. He did this in pride. He forgot that God had given him the recovery and the miraculous sign. It was a moment when God left him to test him. And that moment revealed his pride. Let us not grow proud over what God has done for us. Let us give all credit to God for it belongs to Him and not to us

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King Hezekiah became ill. Most likely he became ill immediately after the great destruction of the Assyrian army--who were then camping against Judah--by God's angel. His illness was sure to take his life. To confirm this fact God sent Prophet Isaiah to him with the message to put his house in order.

This message really broke down the heart of this righteous king. In great anguish of heart Hezekiah turned to the wall and prayed. He asked God to remember how faithfully he had walked in His ways with wholehearted devotion. He asked God to remember the good he had done. Then he wept bitterly.

He had prayed thus as soon as he got the message from Isaiah that he was going to die. So before Isaiah had left the middle court, God's word came to him. God told him to go and tell Hezekiah that his tears were seen and prayers heard. He was asked to go and tell Hezekiah that he would recover and that fifteen more years would be added to his life. Moreover God promised him that He will defend the city of Jerusalem for His name's sake and for the sake of David.

In accordance with Isaiah's direction a poultice of figs was prepared and applied to the boil and Hezekiah recovered. At the same time an amazing thing occurred. Hezekiah had asked Isaiah to give him a sign to know that he would certainly recover. And in accordance to Hezekiah's wish Isaiah prayed to the Lord and made the shadow on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps. This so happened because Hezekiah had said that the shadow going forward ten steps is a very simple thing. So God did the difficult thing to give him the sign he had asked for.

Then came the crucial moment in the life of Hezekiah. God left him at this point of time to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.

This was how it happened. At that time when Hezekiah recovered envoys came from Babylon. They were sent to him by Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon who had heard of Hezekiah's illness and recovery. They came also with the purpose of asking him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in his land.

When they came to Hezekiah he received them gladly and showed them everything that was in his storehouses. In fact, there was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that the king did not show them. It was a proud display of all his treasures.

Then prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah asking him about the envoys. One crucial question that Isaiah asked the king was about what the envoys were shown in the palace. To this question Hezekiah replied that the envoys saw everything in the palace and that there was nothing among his treasures not shown to them.

Prophet Isaiah then delivered a message of judgment. He told Hezekiah that a time will surely come when everything stored in his palace will be taken to the land of Babylon. It was also told him that nothing will be left and even some of his descendants will be carried away to be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. After hearing this message Hezekiah comforted himself with the thought that there would be peace and security in his lifetime.

At first look, we may find nothing wrong with Hezekiah's display of his treasures. But the Bible clearly records the fact that Hezekiah's heart had become proud after his recovery from illness. The Bible also adds that he did not respond to the kindness that God had shown him.

It is important to note that the envoys had come to know about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land. This miraculous sign was associated with Hezekiah's illness and recovery. Yet when the envoys came Hezekiah instead of giving credit to God made a proud display of his treasures. He forgot the fact that it was God who had given him all this wealth, power and honor. More importantly he forgot the fact that it was God who added fifteen more years to his life. Instead he was found glorying in his achievements as if he had achieved everything on his own.

We should not forget the fact that Hezekiah was given the miraculous sign and recovery from his illness after a heart-rending prayer and bitter weeping. We often turn to God like how Hezekiah did in the moments of our greatest need. God often does us good in response to our prayers. He gives us marvelous victories and great achievements and amazing recoveries that the world takes note of. Then the people of this world including our friends and neighbors who know not God send their envoys to us after hearing of the good that God did to us.

It is at this point that God leaves us to test us and know what is in our hearts. And it is at this point that we often fail miserably. When the envoys come to us we speak to them as if we had achieved everything that God gave us. We display our trophies and our certificates. We tell them that it was all ``luck'' and ``good fortune'' and ``coincidence.'' Without giving God the credit and honor we substitute some cheap words instead. This is pride of heart. For this sin, know that everything of your treasures will be carried away.

Because of Hezekiah's pride the Bible records that the Lord's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Know that it is not you alone who will suffer. But many among your own family might suffer because of your pride.

But the record ends on a positive note of God's mercy. Hezekiah repented of his pride. And the Lord's wrath did not come upon them during the days of King Hezekiah.

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