Royalty and Ruin


Visitors from Babylon See the Wrong Things

In the midst of his prosperous reign King Hezekiah was suddenly stricken with an illness beyond human power to help. When Isaiah appeared with the message, “Thus says the Lord:‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live’” (Isaiah 38:1), his last hope seemed removed. RR 124.1

The outlook was dark, yet the king could still pray. So Hezekiah “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” 2 Kings 20:2, 3. RR 124.2

The dying ruler had served God faithfully and strengthened the confidence of the people in their Supreme Ruler. Like David, he could now plead: RR 124.3

Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of troubles. Psalm 88:2, 3
RR 124.4

Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come. Psalm 71:9, 18
RR 124.5

“Before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, ... the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.’”’” 2 Kings 20:4-6. Directing that a lump of figs be laid on the diseased part, Isaiah delivered the message of mercy. RR 124.6

Hezekiah pleaded for some sign that the message was from heaven. “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day?” “This is the sign to you from the Lord,” the prophet answered, “that the Lord will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?” “It is an easy thing,” Hezekiah replied, “for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.” RR 124.7

Only by the intervention of God could the shadow on the sundial be made to turn back ten degrees. So “the prophet cried to the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.” Verses 8-11. RR 125.1

Restored to strength, Hezekiah vowed to spend his remaining days in willing service to the King of kings: RR 125.2

I said, “In the prime of my life I shall go.”
“But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”
“We will sing my songs with stringed instruments
All the days of our life, in the house of the Lord.” Isaiah 38:10, 17, 20
RR 125.3

In the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates lived an ancient race that was destined to rule the world. Among its people were wise men who gave attention to astronomy. They noticed the shadow on the sundial turn back ten degrees. When King Merodach-Baladan learned that this miracle was a sign to the king of Judah that the God of heaven had granted him a new lease on life, he sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to congratulate him and to learn, if possible, more of the God who was able to perform so great a wonder. RR 125.4

The visit of these messengers gave Hezekiah an opportunity to give glory to the living God, the upholder of all created things, through whose favor his own life had been spared when all other hope was gone. What groundbreaking transformations might have taken place if these seekers after truth had been led to the living God! RR 125.5