In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. 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.”
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “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. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”
- 2 Kings 20:1-6
“One prayer in [a book containing written prayers, deemed so earnest they must be written down] – and God knows it well by this time, for I pray it often – goes like this:
“Oh, God, let me die rather than go on day by day living wrong… I want to be right so that I can die right. Lord, I do not want my life to be extended if it would mean that I should cease to live right and fail in my mission to glorify You all of my days!
“As you will recall from second Kings 20, the Lord gave Hezekiah a fifteen-year extension of life. Restored to health and vigor, Hezekiah disgraced himself and dishonored God before he died and was buried.
“I would not want an extra fifteen years in which to backslide and dishonor my Lord. I would rather go home right now than to live on – if living on was to be a waste of God’s time and my own!”
- A. W. Tozer, Jesus is Victor
In two consecutive chapters of 2 Kings, we encounter a prayer by Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah prayed for relief from the Assyrians, under the reign of Sennacherib. Isaiah prophesied and the angels of the Lord went throughout the Assyrian camp, killing 185,000 soldiers. Sennacherib returned to Assyria. Two of his sons killed him and escaped to Ararat. A third son ascended to the throne.
The Scripture above includes the second prayer. Hezekiah is granted the fifteen additional years, but an envoy from Babylon visits. Hezekiah, like a proud peacock, shows them everything. Isaiah explains that now that the Babylonians know that there is something to obtain by conquering Judah, they will be back. This is to what Tozer referred when he talked of Hezekiah wasting those fifteen additional years.
In Hezekiah’s defense, he may have been naïve to show the envoy everything, but he was still a good king. His son Manasseh may have repented late in life, but Hezekiah was the last good king of Judah before the Babylonians returned and fulfilled the prophecy of God through Isaiah.
As for Tozer’s prayer, I agree. I do not welcome the pain that accompanies death, in most cases, but I do not want to dishonor God. I have seen the good and bad situations when visiting a nursing home. When people’s mental faculties falter, it can be a sad situation. Often, they do things that they normally did not do when they had their faculties.
I wish to be praising God with my final breath. I will just leave it at that. I would hate to get maudlin.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.