The Nearsighted King (a meditation)

Reigning between Ahaz his father and Manasseh his son, Hezekiah was a good king of Judah who sought God and worked to turn the hearts of the people back to the One True God after years of chasing idols. Yet later in his life, Hezekiah blundered in pride and the result was a nearsightedness that failed to have care for the future generations so long as things went well in his time.

Isaiah 39 records how, after the king’s near death and recovery, an envoy from Babylon came bearing gifts. Babylon was a growing empire that would in time take down Assyria and for their season become the most powerful force in the world. When the envoy arrived, Hezekiah was so thrilled that he showed them all his treasures and weapons. It seems in an attempt to show off what he, as king over a smaller region, had gained and accomplished.

When the envoy leaves, Isaiah confronted the king and asked, “What did they see in your palace?” Hezekiah answered, “They saw everything.” Isaiah’s response was a message from God that warned the day would come where all these treasures would be carried away to Babylon along with Hezekiah’s own descendants.

It would seem that Hezekiah should have responded with sorrow and prayer as he did with the Assyrian threat in chapter 37 or with his own illness in 38. Maybe he should have tried to bargain with God as Abraham did in Genesis 18 when he interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah and asked, “Will you still destroy it if there are even ten righteous persons found within?” To which God responded and said, “No, I shall not destroy it if there are ten righteous persons.”

Yet Hezekiah had no such response. Instead, we read:

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” (39:8).

Even though Hezekiah’s life on earth would continue only a decade and a half more (38:5), the king refused to be bothered by what lay beyond. So long as he kept his treasures and power while on the throne, he didn’t care what occurred once he was dead.

Yet legacy matters. The whole is the sum of its parts, and if one part is weak then the whole suffers.

Hezekiah wasn’t merely a king, he was king over the nation that God had called his chosen people. He was king over the nation that was supposed to display God’s glory to the world. What was future mattered greatly. At least it should have.

So it is with our lives today, whether we speak of family, nation, or church. What we do now will affect future generations. We should live, play, work, and worship with them in mind. God has not put us on earth merely for our own sake—to live and enjoy 70 or 80 years of life with no care of what happens beyond.

When Peter reminded those he cared about with truths he had taught them before, he said, “So I shall also be making every effort to ensure that, once I am gone, you may be able to call these things to mind” (2 Peter 1:15). This is concern for legacy that pushes aside the myopia to only see what is near to us. This is concern for the Kingdom of Jesus over personal comfort.

The same concern we should have ourselves in all avenues of life.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

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