Scripture Texts:(To read 2 Kings 20 and Isaiah 38 in new windows, click 2 Kings 20 and Isaiah 38.)
2 Kings 18:13 – 16
In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace. At this time Hezekiah king of Judah stripped off the gold with which he had covered the doors and doorposts of the temple of the Lord, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
1. What would you like to accomplish in the next 15 years of your life?
2. Would you like to know the exact date when you will die? What difference would it make in how you lived now? Buy more life insurance? Save more money for retirement? Spend more time with children or grandchildren? Other?
3. What premonition do you have about when or how you will die? Burn out in the prime of life? Worn out in old age? Or what?
4. Why is Hezekiah so distressed by the message from Isaiah?
- his house is messy
- he hadn’t made out his will yet
- he objects to bad things happening to good people
- he objects to his father Ahaz, (who had been a terrible king) getting to reign longer than him
- his whole relationship with God is thrown into question by such premature death
- he needs more time to complete some reforms he only started
- he would like more time with his children and grandchildren
5. What is the track record of “whole-hearted devotion” on which Hezekiah appeals to the Lord to spare his life (see 2 Kings 18:1 – 8)?
6. Does God heed Hezekiah’s argument or does He have other reasons for healing him?
7. Hezekiah asked Isaiah for a sign that his healing would occur. How does this contrast with King Ahaz’ response to Isaiah in Isaiah 7:11 -14 (when Ahaz was told to ask for a sign but refused to do so)? Which man – Ahaz (father) or Hezekiah (son) – demonstrate more faith? How so? What does God’s response tell you about God and His mysterious ways?
8. Do figs have healing qualities, or is the poultice a symbol? Of what?
9. Hezekiah died in 686 B. C. The Assyrians invaded in 701 B. C. If Hezekiah was 25 when he took office in 715 B. C. (2 Kings 18:2), then how old is he at this time? What would a man his age likely wanted to do in the next 15 years?
10. How do you account for the miracle of the shadow going back 10 steps? Did God reverse the Earth’s rotation?
11. What makes prayer more effective? Perseverance? Emotion? Irrefutable logic? High moral arguments?
12. Can prayer change God’s mind? Is God weak if He does change His mind? What does it mean to say that God never changes?
13. Is it weak to ask God to give miraculous signs? Should His word be enough to ease all doubts?