Hezekiah and the Sun Dial
Isaiah 38:1 “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.”
Hezekiah had just had a victory over one of the greatest armies of that time; the Assyrians.
God had interfered with Sennacherib, Assyria’s king, from destroying Jerusalem, and defeating God. (Of course that could never happen; but Sennacherib had boasted of doing so; foolish man!)
But now Hezekiah is taken with a disease, which will be fatal if God does not help.
Isaiah is sent for; and in the middle of a life of usefulness, Hezekiah is told to prepare for his death.
2 Kings 20:1 “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, set thy house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live.”
Some believe the pestilence which the angel of the Lord put on the Assyrians; was the same that came upon Hezekiah. It was a boil, or plague-sore; that afflicted him.
(Why send this on Hezekiah? It is not said, but perhaps a little pride had entered his heart, and God was trying to show it to him.
How often we take the praise that God should have, and put it on ourselves; or at least a little of it. )
Hezekiah was approximately thirty-nine years of age, and he had no son to be heir to the throne. God had promised that David’s line would have a man on the throne, and yet there was none to take over after his death.
These were many of the things he thought of as he lay dying.
What could he do?
He was a very good king and had done many things that had glorified God to the people in both Judah and Israel (this was a the time of the two kingdoms).
He had “removed the high places, and brake the images” (idols) that people had worshipped.
He “trusted in the Lord God of Israel;”
2 Kings 18:6 “For he clave (gave his whole heart) to the Lord, and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.”
Hezekiah sees himself as dead. What could he do?
He turns his face to the the wall, probably toward the Temple; and prays:
First: he tells the Lord that when he dies, he will leave many things undone. “The residue of my years.”(Isaiah 38:10)
Second : he thinks on the wasting of his body. In weakness, he contemplates more weakness till death.
Third: he prays that God will “undertake for me”. (Isaiah 38:14). For there is nothing he can do. He is a king, a good king, yet nothing exempts him from death. So God is his only hope.
Forth: He begins to feel that God will act, and in fact; God is acting. He prays, “but Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back.” (Isaiah 38:17)
It is good to remember our sins, when we are praying to the Lord. That we may be sure they are confessed up to date.
This word “love” here is a very affectionate love.
(And certainly by looking forward to the merits of Christ, all Hezekiah’s sins were purged.)
Isaiah has given his message, and is leaving the palace, when God speaks to him:
2 Kings 20:4-6 “And it came to pass afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of My people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the House of the Lord.
And 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 for Mine own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.”
God has heard Hezekiah’s prayer, and answered it with peace.
Even in this miraculous message, there is a use of means: a way for the disease to be healed.
Hezekiah would have three more days of illness; then health.
Isaiah 38:21 “For Isaiah had said, Get them a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover.”
Hezekiah is grateful, and asks Isaiah for a sign.
2 Kings 20:8 “And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the House of the Lord the third day?”
Now we might think this was a bad thing; but it actually was often the way God affirmed His Word in the Old Testament.
2 Kings 20:9-11 “ And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, the Lord will do the thing that He hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or back ten degrees?
And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees, nay, but let the shadow turn backward ten degrees.
And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord; and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.”
Hezekiah asked that the sun might go back ten degrees; symbolizing that God gave him more life.
Isaiah prays for it; and it is accomplished.
Ten degrees the sun went backward. (Most believe that the sun dial of Ahaz was outside the sick chamber of Hezekiah; and that he could see the shadow cast by the dial actually go back.)
But it was not only that sun dial, that went backward. All over, they went back ten degrees.
Fifteen years were added to Hezekiah’s life. Fifteen more years, to do good for God and His people.
Our lives are in the Lord’s hand.
But no matter how long we have here; what He calls us to do with them is:
1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whither therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”