Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
2 Kings 20:12-19 (NRSV)
At that time King Merodach-baladan son of Baladan of Babylon sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. Hezekiah welcomed them; he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses; there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? From where did they come to you?” Hezekiah answered, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. Some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away; they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”
Today we “parachute” into one episode in the life of King Hezekiah of Judah. Hezekiah is described as a king who “did right in the sight of the Lord” and “trusted in the Lord the God of Israel.” It does not take a detailed examination of the books of Kings to find out that these things could not be said of all the kings of Israel and Judah. It certainly was not true of either his predecessor, Ahaz, or his successor, Manasseh.
Hezekiah was ruling in a challenging situation. He had to deal with the presence of very powerful neighboring countries, Assyria and Babylon. And as king of Judah he was obligated to trust and obey God for the security of his country. He was not to place his trust in his own political skills to negotiate treaties nor in the power of his armies. It appears that Hezekiah really tried to do the right thing. And he did most of the time. And he had experienced God as deliverer, but not in our episode. He made the decision to enter into negotiations with Babylon without God’s permission.
But the prophet Isaiah makes it clear that Hezekiah has made a mistake in judgment by working with the Babylonians. And that mistake will have long term consequences for his people even if it did provide Judah with a brief period of peace and security.
As I read this story I am thankful that it is not the only story about humans’ relationship with God in our scriptures. I appreciate that it lifts up the importance of trusting God. And I also appreciate the reminder that our actions may have big consequences beyond our own lives. But I am glad that I can find plenty of places where God acts to redeem those who have sinned.
So…what does it meant to you to trust God completely? What do you find to be the greatest challenge in trusting God?
Gracious God, even though I do not always acknowledge it, I know I do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth.
Make me hungry for this heavenly food, that it may nourish me today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
(Adapted from the 1993 Book of Common Worship, p. 90)
Go with God!