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A Delayed Judgment

2 Kings 20:19-21


A Strange Statement. Hezekiah responded to Isaiah’s pronouncement of terrible judgment in a rather strange way. “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” (20:19)

At first glance, this is like Hezekiah saying that he doesn’t care about what would happen after he dies, and that he simply cares about the peace and prosperity of the nation in his own lifetime. If that were his intended statement, then it would have been selfish of him. But I don’t think that was how the words were supposed to be interpreted. Remember that Hezekiah was appraised as a king who follows God incessantly, from the beginning of his reign to the end (2 Kings 18:6). I propose, therefore, a different way of looking at this.

An Insufficient Faithfulness. From everything we have learned in the reign of Hezekiah, I think we should have been able to tell that Hezekiah realized his faithfulness was not sufficient to merit Judah’s eternal deliverance. The Passover celebration wasn’t as God intended, for the northern tribes were still mainly rejecting the invitation (2 Chronicles 31:10). The celebration itself was but a pale shadow of the festivals in the days of Solomon. And now, Hezekiah probably realises that his own faithfulness to God was faulty and insufficient. So, he knew that judgment will eventually come and that Israel and Judah had to wait for another Savior – a Messiah who would rule in perfect faithfulness to God.

An Opportunity for Repentance. Week IV bible study video will also show how the overarching theme of 2 Kings 20 is the theme of delayed judgment. How God extended Hezekiah’s own life, and then delaying the judgment on Judah beyond his own lifetime. But if we understand how the Bible consistently speaks about this theme of delayed judgment to mean that God is still patient with His people and provides an opportunity for repentance; we would be able to understand why Hezekiah responded this way. In 2 Peter 3:11-15, Peter speaks about this very same topic. There is a judgment coming, but the Lord delays it. Why? “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance... Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (3:9, 15; NIV).

So the fact that God is still delaying judgment in Hezekiah’s lifetime means that He still provides an opportunity for repentance; and Hezekiah is content with that. “The Word of the LORD you have spoken to me is good.”

But how about us? Do we treasure the opportunities God gives us to repent? Or do we take them for granted? Are we disciplined by God, or are we hardening our hearts to His voice? “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:15).

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Peter 3:15)


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