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A LOOK AT WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN GOD DOES KEEP US FROM SUFFERING

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

17 NOVEMBER 1996

BY Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Numbers 20:22-29
Deuteronomy 34:1-8
            2 Kings 20:1-21
            21:1-18
2 Chronicles 32:24-26
            32:33
            33:1-13
Isaiah 38:1-8
            39:1-8

Last week we talked about why God doesn't always keep us from suffering, and we saw that there are three basic reasons:

because of the sin in our own lives;

because of the sin in the land or world, where the innocent suffer along with the guilty among whom they live;

and the third reason was to keep us humble and focused upon God.

Today, we are going to look at what can happen when God does grant us our prayer to eliminate our suffering, even when He knows it's not the best thing to do.

This doesn't mean we are not to pray for the elimination of suffering, for we should, because in the majority of cases the healing is a good thing with good results.

This means that we are to look beyond the immediate request to what could happen afterwards in an unselfish manner.

Today, we are going to look at the last fifteen years of King Hezekiah's life, and at what took place during the reign of his son Manasseh, who succeeded him in the kingdom.

This account, and the message it conveys, was considered so important that it is recorded by Isaiah, Jeremiah in 2 Kings, and Ezra in 2 Chronicles.

Let's begin by looking at what Isaiah tells us in 38:1-8:

1. In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ "

God, who sees the beginning and the end of everything, saw that this was the proper time for Hezekiah to die.

And note carefully that it was God who sent Amoz to Hezekiah; for it was the will of God

This is nothing unusual for God to do, for He did the same thing with Aaron (Numbers 20:22-29) and Moses (Deuteronomy 34:1-8).

Both Aaron and Moses accepted the will of the Lord, and died upon their respective mountains.

But what does Hezekiah do?

2. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord,

3. and said, "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Thy sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Hezekiah didn't want to accept the will of the Lord.

He wanted to preserve his physical life.

Thus, Hezekiah pleads his previous service to the Lord as the reason the Lord should extend his life.

4. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying,

5. "Go and say to Hezekiah, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

6. "And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city." '

7. "And this shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that He has spoken:

8. "Behold, I will cause the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, to go back ten steps." So the sun's shadow went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down.

Thus the Lord spared Hezekiah's life.

Do you remember what John told us about Holyfield’s testimony following his victory over Tyson?

He gave all the credit to the Lord.

Every time they tried to get him to talk about his technique, he just turned the interview back to testifying about the power of the Holy Spirit.

In what manner does Hezekiah testify about his miraculous healing?

Note what we are told in Isaiah 39:1-8:

1. At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.

2. And Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah did not show them.

Instead of being the servant of the Lord, as he had been formerly, Hezekiah's pride now comes to the foreground.

Instead of testifying to these Babylonians about the Lord and about all the marvelous things He had done, and how He answers prayer, Hezekiah shows them his physical possessions.

So what does the Lord do?

3. 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 to me from a far country, from Babylon."

4. And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them."

This leaves us with this question: Did Hezekiah only want his healing so that he could boast of his possessions?

5. Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord of hosts,

6. 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the Lord.

7. 'And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.' "

8. Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good." For he thought, "For there will be peace and truth in my days."

Even Hezekiah's love seems to have gone.

He doesn't even care about the fate of his children or his people.

He seems to care only about himself.

Did God perceive the change coming about in Hezekiah's character, and thus in His mercy, desire to bring Hezekiah home?

I don't know; but it's a good possibility, isn’t it?

Now let's look at what we are told happened following the death of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:33 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-13):

33. So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the upper section of the tombs of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death. And his son Manasseh became king in his place.

1. Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem.

Before we go on, let's think about something.

How many years did God say He would extend Hezekiah's life?

It was fifteen years.

And how old was Manasseh when he became king?

He was only twelve years old.

Thus, Manasseh wasn't even conceived until over two years after God had granted Hezekiah the 15-year extension to his life.

And what kind of a king was Manasseh?

2. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.

3. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he also erected altars for the Baals and made Asherim, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.

4. And he built altars in the house of the Lord of which the Lord had said, "My name shall be in Jerusalem forever."

5. For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.

6. And he made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.

7. Then he put the carved image of the idol which he had made in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever;

8. and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers, if only they will observe to do all that I have commanded them according to all the law, the statutes, and the ordinances given through Moses."

9. Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.

Israel, and perhaps the whole world, would have been better off if Hezekiah had died when the Lord desired him to do so.

And for most of these 55 years of Manasseh's reign, he cared nothing about any of God’s promises, and he obviously never believed in the Lord.

All but a few of his 67 years were filled with evil, and he brought suffering to many, many people.

And he never would have been born, if his father had died when the Lord wanted him to die.

10. And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.

11. Therefore the Lord brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains, and took him to Babylon.

12. And when he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.

13. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

And here is a perfect example of why God might allow us to suffer.

Even an evil person like Manasseh can repent.

And God even answered Manasseh's prayers.

But the evil that he did changed Israel forever.

This is a lesson for everyone.

Every one of us needs to live beyond ourselves.

We need to focus upon the Lord our God and live in His Kingdom, so that we will want to go home when he calls us, and to go without any regrets.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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