TODAY’S READING: 2 Kings 20–21
It’s curious that humans are so reluctant to go to heaven. Hezekiah was told he would die and he prayed for more time on earth—which was granted. It appears the Lord delayed Hezekiah’s homecoming so the extra time can be used for God’s missionary purposes: “I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David” (2 Kings 20:6). Hezekiah was allowed to live so that God would get more glory among the nations and so that God’s covenant promises to David would not fail. Hezekiah was allowed to live so that the living God would be praised in all the earth.
Whatever life extension we experience is for God’s missionary purposes, for His glory among all nations. If your life on earth has been spared, God intends the extra breath to be spent on His sake, on His Davidic (missionary) purposes. This is not revelatory; it’s just consistent with why we were given breath and brought into the family of God in the first place—that all nations would be blessed in Jesus through us. This is why we were born again. This is why any grace of extended life is benevolently given, not to get rich and show off our treasure to pagans (v. 13), but to spend our treasure on God’s fame among all peoples.
It is intriguing that Hezekiah got this so wrong. Rather than using his extra life for God’s glory among the nations and spending his treasure on making God famous, it seems Hezekiah’s extra time issued the most evil and anti-missionary of all Judah’s kings, for Manasseh was born in this time. If the dedication of Solomon’s temple was the zenith of God’s blessing upon Old Testament Israel, Manasseh was the lowest point. He did “evil in the sight of the Lord according to the abominations of the nations” (21:2). Rather than making Jehovah famous among all peoples, he adopted every wicked worldly practice. He raised up altars for Baal, worshiped the host of heaven, put pagan altars in God’s house and the courts of the Lord, sacrificed his own sons, burning them alive, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, consulted mediums, and raised an Asherah pole in the middle of the temple, seducing the people to do more evil than the nations that God had destroyed (vv. 1–10). Rabbinic tradition says Manasseh ordered Isaiah cut in two. He shed much innocent blood and filled Jerusalem from one end to the other with evil (v. 16). The whole earth was not filled with the glory of God; rather, the whole filth of the earth despoiled God’s once glorious people.
Hezekiah’s extra life brought an evil son and rejoiced in the luxuries of earth. What a waste. If God in mercy has extended your time on earth, it is so you give Him glory among the nations. If in your relief you concentrate your extended breath on your own nuclear family or in the comforts of earth, you will lapse into the same evil of Manasseh. Shocking as it sounds, God spares us for His global family, not for our nuclear one.