Author: Ron Graham
As we saw in our previous lesson, Hezekiah was a good king of Judah, contemporary with Isaiah the prophet. King Hezekiah was shaken and challenged by two very bad times. He took these two terrible trials to God in prayer, and received help from God because he prayed.
This story is recorded three times in the Bible: 2Kings chapters 19 and 20, 2Chronicles chapter 32, Isaiah chapters 37 and 38. For simplicity, in the lesson below, I will give references mainly to Isaiah’s account as we continue to draw lessons from Hezekiah’s experiences.
When God answered Hezekiah's prayer regarding the letter of war from his enemy, God sent out one of his angels of fire. God answered Hezekiah with a miracle, with a result that did not involve any natural cause and did not require any action by Hezekiah or his people other than the prayer he had already offered. But that is not the way God always works, nor the way he usually works.
When God answered Hezekiah's prayer regarding his mortal illness, God worked through natural means —the poultice of figs. Had people not worked to help the boil heal, healing would not have occurred. Most often God expects us to do what we can, after we have prayed, and he works with us.
Among the symbols of security and stability in the promised land, were the special years in which the land lay fallow and the normal seasonal sowing, tilling, and harvest of crops was suspended (Leviticus 25:1-22). This of course helped to assure sustainable agriculture. God greatly encouraged the people, after he defeated Senacherib, by declaring just such a refreshment of their land for the stabilisation and productivity of their agriculture.
Hezekiah was given a miraculous sign to reassure and encourage him. Whilst God does not normally provide miraculous signs, those he has provided, such as the one he allowed Hezekiah, are for our encouragement. Those signs are God’s testimony that he is the One making the promises and will keep them.
God’s concern for the remnant of his people was that they should "take root downward and bear fruit upward". Root and fruit means stability and productivity. These are important not only to nations, but also to churches, local governments, community organizations, businesses, families and individuals.
Many families for example, are unstable and unproductive, and this is a serious problem both for them and for the community which has to support them.
The threat of attack from Senacherib, and the threat of mortal illness to their good king, was denying Judah a stable environment in which they could be productive and make progress.
So God had good reason to answer Hezekiah's prayers, removing these problems so that there could be root and fruit. He will do the same today in situations where stability and productivity is under threat.
The church (the antitype of the remnant of Judah) also needs to be stable and productive. Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus "that you, being rooted and grounded in love... may be filled up to all the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 3:14-21).