- Sermon Notes
Teach Us to Number Our Days
2 Kings 20:1-19
March 19-20, 2022
Hezekiah was reigning as king in Judah, Israel in the south, in those days. He was a good king. He was the greatest king since David. He trusted in the Lord and brought about a great revival in Israel. He brought reforms that even Solomon had not done.
The northern kingdom of Israel had already been destroyed by Assyria at this point. Israel in the north had been carried away and displaced to some distant land and other people were brought in to replace them. They inter-married with the remnant of Hebrews who remained. These people later became known as the Samaritans.
As we studied last week, Assyria almost destroyed Judah in the south as well. Hezekiah, to prepare for the siege, engineered a tunnel to divert the Gihon Springs to the Pool of Siloam inside Jerusalem. It was 1,777 feet long and 30 feet underground through solid bedrock. Hezekiah’s tunnel is still active today, though so many walk through it that the water is not used for drinking.
First, Assyria laid siege to Jerusalem and then later Hezekiah received a letter from the king of Assyria warning him not to trust in the God of Israel. But Hezekiah brought that letter to the house of the Lord and laid it out before Him and prayed that God would save them.
God responded by saying, “Because you have prayed to Me about the king of Assyria, I have heard you.” That night an angel of the Lord came through the camp of Assyria and 185,000 soldiers of Assyria mysteriously died.
Sometime shortly afterward, Hezekiah became mortally sick. We don’t know the exact nature of his illness, but we do know that there was a boil of some type associated with it. Perhaps it was a form of cancer, we don’t know for certain. Interestingly, Ben Gurion University studied the chemical compounds in figs as a treatment for cutaneous anthrax based on this account in 2 Kings.
The prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah with a message from the Lord, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” Here the life lessons and spiritual application begin for us as well.
I. Set Your House in Order
- The message that Isaiah brought to King Hezekiah was that he would die and not live and therefore should set his house in order.
- We use the same phrase today. When someone is facing a terminal illness, sometimes a doctor will say to the patient, “There’s nothing more we can do, you should get your affairs in order.”
- For many people, that means putting together a last will and testament so their family doesn’t have to argue about things after they’re gone.
- But is that all there is? If all we leave is something that must be sorted out by a lawyer, I submit that we haven’t left much.
- In other words, wouldn’t you want to leave more than money and things? Wouldn’t you want to leave a legacy? A legacy that might mean that your life meant something, and that you made a difference with your life.
Illus – One of the goals I have in mind to leave something for others is to have a complete set of sermons from Genesis to Revelation. It is a life goal. I would also like to write about the life lessons from each book in the bible.
Many have ‘bucket lists’ of things they would like to do or to experience. I think we should also have a bucket list of things to do for others.
A. Keep your relationships in order
- Setting your house in order suggests that there are things that remain undone.
- The scriptures teach clearly that it is good and godly to keep relationships in order.
Romans 12:18, If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
- Are there thank you notes to write? Are there people you need to call to let them know how much they mean to you?
- Are there people you need to call and ask their forgiveness for something you have done?
- Or maybe you’ve been holding on to hurts and wounds and have allowed bitterness to take root in your heart.
Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one come short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many are defiled.
Illus – St. Francis of Assisi was pulling weeds in his garden when a young student came and asked, “What would you do if you were told that you had only a short time yet to live?” “I would finish weeding this row of vegetables,” St. Francis famously responded. In other words, his house was in order, and he was at peace. He was doing what he loved.
- Paul wrote a similar word of wisdom to the church at Ephesus…
Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin”; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Illus – Which is why I start working out my anger issues after sunset… That way, I have a whole ‘nother day before the suns goes down :>)
B. Set your spiritual life in order
- Hezekiah was told in advance that he would die and that he should set his house in order. Most people don’t get to know the day or the hour in which they will die.
- If you knew the day pr the hour, wouldn’t you have not only your affairs in order, wouldn’t you also have your spiritual life in order?
- Are you ready? Is your spiritual house in order now? Would you be ready if you were to stand before God today? God sees what’s in the heart.
Illus – When I was single, my house looked ordered, but the closets and pantry… not so much.
- Too many people procrastinate spiritually. They know that if they were to stand before God today, it would not go well for them. If God were to weigh them in a balance, they would be found lacking.
Illus – Belshazzar, a Babylonian king, was living the life of the partier and even laughing at the things of God, but then a hand appeared and wrote on the wall, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, uPharsin,” meaning, “God has numbered your days, you have been weighed in the scales and have been found wanting.”
- Is it possible that when the day comes that you stand before God that you could stand before God with confidence? Would that be presuming too much? No, it would be standing on the promises that God has already given you.
2 Corinthians 5:8, We are confident, yes, well pleased, rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Hebrews 10:19, 22, Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.
- Everyone would be found lacking if they were weighed in the balance, our confidence to stand before God is our confidence in what God has done for us in Christ.
Romans 8:31-39, What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
II. Use Wisely the Time God Has Given
- When Hezekiah heard that he would die, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord for more time.
- Hezekiah was only 39 years old when he was told that he would die and not live. Thirty-nine may seem old to someone who is 20, but many people feel that 39 is quite young. I should know, I’ve been 39 many times.
- God used Hezekiah to bring reform and revival to Israel and perhaps he thought there was much left to do, and he asked God for more time.
A. God is listening
- One of the powerful aspects of the story is that Hezekiah understood the power of simple and sincere prayer.
- He turned his face to the wall and started talking to God from the depths of his heart.
- God then turned Isaiah around so he could bring Hezekiah the message that God would add 15 years to his life.
- If we want to use wisely the time that God has given, then we would be wise to understand that in our relationship to God, prayer must be foundational, for that is what causes a person’s life to become effective.
- There are so many scriptures that give insight that God attends to your prayers, that God is listening.
- Question: would God have given Hezekiah 15 more years if Hezekiah had not asked? Answer: no, He would not.
James 4:2, You do not have because you do not ask.
Luke 11:9-10, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
1 John 5:14, This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
- There is something else here also to note. Does God heal people still today? The answer is yes, but according to the wisdom and purpose of God.
- The truth is that death happens to the best of us. Even Elisha died from some kind of sickness. It’s interesting, however that instead of healing Hezekiah directly, God had Isaiah apply a common medicine to the boil.
B. Use your years for wisdom
- There is a great debate about whether it was a good thing or not that God gave Hezekiah 15 more years to his life.
- Some suggest that he didn’t know for what he was asking. And it’s certainly true that sometimes we don’t know how to pray as we should.
Romans 8:26, In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercede for us with groanings too deep for words.
- The truth is that God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, but it was up to Hezekiah to use those years wisely. The same is true to for you and me.
- What have you done with the years God has given you?
Psalm 90:12, So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
- The problem in Hezekiah’s life during those last 15 years is that he did not respond according to the favor which God had shown to him.
2 Chronicles 32:25, But Hezekiah gave no return for the benefits he received, because his heart was proud.
- The Lord had done two amazing things one after the other; he saved Jerusalem from the king of Assyria in an amazing display of God’s power, and he healed Hezekiah from mortal illness and added 15 years to his life.
- One of the temptations of success, even if that success is given by the Lord, is for the heart to become proud. “I must have been special for God to do such things for me,” the heart could easily say to oneself.
C. Finish the course well
- Even though Hezekiah was a great man of faith and the greatest king since David, unfortunately he did not finish well.
- It was during those 15 years that Hezekiah showed the emissaries of Babylon all the treasures which he had accumulated.
- You can see the pride of Hezekiah. It was as though he were saying, “Do you know who I am? You must see all that I have.” In other words, he was showing off to the emissaries of Babylon.
- We should not assume that the years God has given are ours to use for ourselves. “Teach us to number our days; that we might grow in wisdom.”
Illus – The apostle Paul is an example of someone who did finish well. When he was on the road to Damascus, the Lord gave him a task to accomplish; to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
- When he came to the end of his life, he knew he had finished his course, but he also knew that he had finished his course well. That should be our desire as well.
2 Timothy 4:6-7, For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
Hebrews 12:1, Therefore… let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race which is set before us.
1 In those days Hezekiah became [a]mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your house in order, for you are going to die and not live.’” 2 Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Please, Lord, just remember how I have walked before You wholeheartedly and in truth, and have done what is good in Your sight!” And Hezekiah wept [b]profusely. 4 And even before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 5 “Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David says: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I am going to heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 And I will add fifteen years to your [c]life, and I will save you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will protect this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”’” 7 Then Isaiah said, “Take a cake of figs.” And they took it and placed it on the inflamed spot, and he recovered.
8 Now Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I will go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?” 9 Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will perform the word that He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten steps or go back ten steps?” 10 So Hezekiah said, “It is easy for the shadow to decline ten steps; no, but have the shadow turn backward ten steps.” 11 Then Isaiah the prophet called out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow on the [d]stairway back ten steps by which it had gone down on the [e]stairway of Ahaz.
12 At that time [f]Berodach-baladan, a son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah, because he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13 And Hezekiah listened to [g]them, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the balsam oil, the [h]scented oil, the house of his armor, and everything that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. 14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where have they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” 15 Isaiah said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah [i]answered, “They have seen everything that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.”
16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 ‘Behold, the days are coming when everything that is in your house, and what your fathers have stored up to this day, will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘And some of your sons who will come from you, whom you will father, will be taken away; and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” 19 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he [j]thought, “Is it not good, if there will be peace and [k]security in my days?”