Reading King Hezekiah’s story in Isaiah this morning. Most notable about this king? He received an extension . . . an extension on his life. Knowing that his days on earth were drawing to a close (because God had told them they were), King Hezekiah interceded on his own behalf and God said, “Yes.”
Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.”
(Isaiah 38:4-5 ESV)
Pretty amazing if you pause to think about it. I don’t think God was “bluffing” when, through Isaiah, He told Hezekiah to set his house in order because Hezekiah would not recover from the sickness that had brought him to the point of death (38:1). I kind of think that Hezekiah had come to the end of the days God had written for him in His book–“the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:16). And yet, God tacks on another 5,400 days to Hezekiah’s earthly lifespan. Due, certainly, to God’s sovereign purposes. But also in response to Hezekiah’s impassioned plea. God heard Hezekiah’s prayer.
Says something about Hezekiah as a prayer.
It seems that when Hezekiah addressed heaven, heaven listened. When the King asked, he was heard. When he knocked, the door was answered. How come? Well I think, at least in part, due to the fact that when Hezekiah entered the presence of the Almighty, he first took off his shoes.
I make that observation based on another prayer of Hezekiah I read this morning. One that happened earlier in his life when he was out-numbered and being badgered by an arrogant Assyrian horde. And though the situation was desperate, though there may have been good reason to frantically start launching petitions heavenward, Hezekiah reminds himself of who he is about to address. He remembers who God is and that to enter into His presence, no matter how great the emergency is, is to stand on holy ground. And, when you are about to enter onto holy ground, taking off your shoes is just the right thing to do (Ex. 3:5).
. . . and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see . . .
(Isaiah 37:14b-17a ESV)
The enemy was at the gate, yet Hezekiah first reminded himself who was enthroned on high. They were almost 200,000 fighting men. Yet God is the God who alone is over all the kingdoms. They threatened to take over the city. But Hezekiah prayed to the One who made heaven and earth. No doubt Hezekiah approached the LORD with a great sense of angst over the situation, but He also approached with a great sense of awe as he looked up from the footstool of the Sovereign.
And I’m thinking this is part of the power in Hezekiah’s prayer life. A prayer life that repelled an enemies army and that moved the hand of God to grant 15 more years of life. A prayer life seemingly marked by an intentional awareness of the majesty, glory, and power of the One being petitioned. A prayer life marked by a recognition that to boldly approach the throne of grace is, in fact, to enter onto holy ground. A prayer life marked by first taking of his shoes before entering into God’s holy presence.
O how I need to be careful of “rushing in”, delivering my list of petitions, and then rushing out. How I need to recognize the holy ground I’m graciously permitted to stand upon and to make the time to take off my shoes.
Because of His grace. All for His glory.