In my Bible reading this morning, I came across a principle that exposes every human heart. This reflection can be ‘positive’ but only if we allow God’s Word to show us what our hearts are really like so that we are motivated and empowered to make the necessary adjustments.
Second Kings 20 begins with the prophetic word that King Hezekiah was going to die. Upon hearing this news, the king wept and prayed. In response, the Lord added 15 more years to his life.
Sometime later, an envoy from Babylon (not yet recognized as a threatening powerhouse by Israel) came to visit Hezekiah. He showed them everything he had. Based upon the prophet Isaiah’s response, they were spies who were gaining information.
Listen to Isaiah’s prophecy:
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD: The time is coming when everything in your palace – all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now – will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.'”
So, essentially, in this one chapter Hezekiah has been told of two horrible tragedies – his own death and the death of Israel’s present way of life. Their wealth and many of there people (including his own children!) were going to be taken off into captivity.
In response to the prophecy about his death, we read in 2 Kings 20:2-3 that Hezekiah prayed passionately that he would not die. But, unfortunately, Hezekiah had no such reaction when he heard that his own children would go into captivity.
Listen to how he responded:
2 Kings 20:19 (New Living Translation)
“Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘This message you have given me from the LORD is good.’ For the king was thinking, ‘At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.'”
He wasn’t moved to pray for the people of his kingdom (his own children!) who had such a calamitous future. Why? Because it wouldn’t affect him. He wouldn’t experience any discomfort so he didn’t care what happened to others.
How insanely self-centered!
Yet (and this isn’t going to be a warm and fuzzy application), when we look at the state of our churches (most of them are plateaued or dying) and the state of our country (the moral, financial, social, etc. decline is obvious), where are the people who are praying? Where are the followers of Jesus who see the obvious direction we are taking and crying out to God to spare us?
Is it because we, like Hezekiah, pray passionately about only those things that affect us? Is it because we are unmoved by the tragedy that others will experience so long as we are left untouched? Is it because we think things will eventually fall apart but not on our watch? Is that why we are not motivated to cry out to the Lord?
Lord help us if we are that self-centered. May we recognize this tendency before it is too late and join together to pray for our churches and country … and world!
“There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” – A.T. Pierson
2 Chronicles 7:14 (New Living Translation)
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”