“In those days” (verse 11In 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.’”), that is, in the days of his distress because of the enemy from outside, Hezekiah becomes ill. He even gets so ill that he has to die. Hezekiah therefore has a trial from outside, that is the enemy who has surrounded Jerusalem, and a trial from within, within himself. This second test comes on top of the first and is even greater, because it concerns himself.
What happens to Hezekiah is a picture of the trials of the faithful remnant in the end time that also has an enemy from the outside and also an enemy from the inside. Both enemies are death threatening, but the enemy inside is the worst. The enemy from within is someone from the people themselves, the antichrist.
Isaiah comes to Hezekiah with the announcement that he will die and that he will have to arrange the affairs of his house for that purpose. For us, we must have our affairs arranged in view of the coming of the Lord. This can happen at any moment and that is why we must always be ready for it.
The announcement that he must die causes enormous sadness in Hezekiah. For an Old Testament believer, dying is very sad, especially when he is still relatively young, like Hezekiah, who is about forty years old here. For the promise of the LORD is a long life by faithfulness to Him. That is what Hezekiah the LORD reminds of. If he were taken away now, it would seem as if God is taking him away because of his bad spiritual condition.
The LORD wants Hezekiah to discover the power of death through what happens to him here. He also wants him to discover the power of the resurrection. We see that the Lord always gives richer lessons than we perceive at first sight. Events that we think put an end to certain things are often not intended by God to take something away from us, but to give us something in addition: a greater view of His power.
When Hezekiah has poured out his grief to the LORD, Isaiah receives a new message for Hezekiah. When the word of the LORD comes to Isaiah, he is not even completely out of the door. As a result, he soon returns to Hezekiah with the answer to his prayer.
Hezekiah gets a wonderful answer from the LORD. Isaiah must give him the answer on behalf of “the LORD, the God of your father David”. In this way the gaze is again focused on David as the picture of the Messiah. In the answer of the LORD we can notice seven blessings.
1. The LORD has heard his prayer. We may also know that the Lord hears all our prayers.
2. The LORD has seen his tears. The Lord also knows from us our anguish and repentance for our sins.
3. The LORD tells him that he will recover. God will take care of him and recover his health by letting him experience the power of the resurrection, as the following sentence shows. For us, every prayer that fits into His plan is answered by Him. It is not an incentive for anyone who is ill to claim recovery from the disease. Hezekiah has not claimed any health. He has revealed his need, and this is God’s answer for him.
4. After the promise that he will recover, the LORD says that on the third day he will go to the house of the LORD. The power of the resurrection will make him go to the house of the LORD. For us it means that if we are aware that we have new life, we will take our place in the church.
5. The LORD promises him an extension of his life of fifteen years.
6. The LORD promises that he will be saved from the hand of the king of Assyria.
7. The LORD promises protection of the city. Hezekiah gets this protection because of Who the LORD is and because of the Messiah.
The answer to Hezekiah’s prayer is not by a sensational miracle. A common, everyday and tangible medicine is used for his healing that others have to apply to him. That medicine is a cake of figs. The result is that “he recovered”.
In a spiritual sense figs are a picture of righteousness. Nathanael sits under the fig tree (Jn 1:4848Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”). The Lord Jesus says of him that he is an Israelite “in whom there is no deceit” (Jn 1:4747Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”). Nathanael and the fig tree give a picture of the faithful remnant that does justice. A cake of figs is sweet. Knowing the sweetness of righteousness by doing righteousness brings recovery.
Hezekiah also asks for a sign. There seems to be a certain lack of faith in what the LORD has said. That lack of faith is not ‘punished’ by leaving him in his illness with the accusation that he should have believed. This is often done by contemporary so-called faith healers. Instead, Isaiah gives him a choice of two kinds of signs. In this way God meets the small faith of Hezekiah.
In choosing one of the two signs we see that there is faith in Hezekiah. It is not a question for him whether the signs Isaiah proposes to him can be given. He considers in faith which sign will be most obvious. In that consideration, he chooses the least obvious sign. The accelerated progression of time is not as impressive as putting time back. This is not about the time of a clock, of which you can turn back the hands, but about the sun that is in the sky and that no man can reach, but only God.
When Hezekiah has made his choice, Isaiah cries to the LORD. Also Isaiah does not doubt the outcome. Through his prayer God intervenes in nature. All of nature is set back by the God of nature to a situation of ten steps ago to help a believer believe in Him. The whole course and the whole order are in His hand. He can stop the sun and the moon (Jos 10:12-1312Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”
13So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go [down] for about a whole day.) and also set them back, as He does here.