But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 32:25
Last week we saw how Hezekiah besought the Lord for his life and was granted his request. King Hezekiah was renown for his success as king of Judah. His commitment to God brought a spiritual revival to the kingdom. The revival brought with it prosperity, both for the kingdom and for Hezekiah. He enjoyed the support of his people and a stellar reputation. After he recovered from his illness, however, something changed. Maybe the favor he had from God in being both healed of his illness and delivered from the Assyrian army—not to mention his riches—all went to his head. He was given fifteen more years, but he wasted them.
There was once a man named Chester who lived in a town somewhere in the Midwest in the heartland of America. Chester’s hometown can not be found on any map, however. You might say Chester’s zip code was located in a place commonly referred to as the Twilight Zone. Use your imagination and consider Chester’s story with me. He has something to teach us.
One day, as Chester was sitting on a park bench passing time, a stranger offered him his newspaper. He told Chester he would find it very informative. Since Chester had some time to kill he thanked the man and took the paper. Chester then noticed that the date on the newspaper was for the following month. Chester laughed, “This is a joke right?”
The stranger replied, “It’s no joke, friend. As I said, read the paper. You will find it very informative.”
Chester chuckled and said, “Sure pal, thanks for the laugh” as the stranger walked away. As Chester started thumbing through the paper, he stopped to read an article about how some bank robbers were still on the lam after robbing the First National Bank a month ago. Just as Chester was reading the story he heard an alarm go off at the First National Bank, which was adjacent to the park. Chester then watched in amazement as two men wearing bandit masks and toting guns ran out of the bank. The men were carrying sacks that were stuffed with cash. Loose notes were falling out of the sacks as the men jumped into their getaway car and sped away.
Chester started to examine the newspaper more carefully. He started taking notes. He decided that if there was another coincidence like this one he was going to take the paper seriously. The following day, some more things that the newspaper foretold came to pass. Chester realized that this was no joke. The newspaper was indeed from the future. He turned to the sports section and saw which teams won. Chester had never been much of a gambler, but this was different. He asked one of his friends for his bookie’s number and called him to place bets. Just as Chester suspected, each bet paid off. He parlayed his bets and won again. Then Chester went to the business section and saw which hot stocks were going to pay off. Chester realized that he was soon going to be a millionaire. He bought a new suit. He bought some expensive cigars. He felt like a million bucks. He was thinking he might take a trip around the world on a cruise liner. He was thinking about what kind of new car he was going to buy. He was thinking about what kind of house he wanted to buy. He took a seat at a sidewalk cafe to smoke his cigar, enjoy a cup of joe, and read his paper. He had read every article three times by now so he turned to the back of the paper and started to read what was on the last page. Then Chester saw something that changed everything. His name was listed in the obituaries. Suddenly his cruise around the world did not seem so important. Nor did a car or a house. Chester started to think about what was going to happen to him after he died.
Hezekiah was given a message from the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die soon. When you think about it, each of us has a similar message from God: Life is but a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (Jam 4:14) Jesus told stories about foolish rich men who laid up treasure for themselves but were not rich towards God. The rich men in these stories died and found their riches had deceived them. Jesus said For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? He said Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. Whether you are poor like Lazarus (Lk 16) or rich like king Hezekiah, the only question that is going to matter when you die is what did you do with Jesus Christ. (???) Someone said that if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice, and that is true in this case. Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father in heaven. Was He right? You must choose. The hereafter may not come next month, but the hereafter is coming soon enough for all of us, and the decisions we make in the here are going to have a big effect on the after.
BBSo teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Father, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. If any who read this have not yet made a decision for your Son, give them the faith and the courage to do so, in Jesus’ name. Amen.