Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 105

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 105

In our study yesterday the Lord heard Hezekiah's prayer and promised to add fifteen years to his life. Today Isaiah shares with us a writing of the king that he wrote after his recovery and we will look at the first half of it this morning.

"A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery: I said, 'In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?'" (Isaiah 38:9-10) Hezekiah became king at the age of twenty-five and it was in his fourteenth year that King Sennacherib began attacking Judah, which would have made him thirty-nine when Assyria began its attack on the nation. We can estimate then that Hezekiah fell ill sometime before Assyria surrounded Jerusalem with an army (because the king of Babylon will be able to freely send envoys to Jerusalem with gifts for the king when he hears of Hezekiah's recovery) but we don't know how long before. He was probably somewhere in his late thirties when he contracted the deadly illness, in the prime of his life as his writing states. 

When a person passes at a good old age we mourn their passing but we cannot say, "He died in the prime of his life! He had so much living left to do!" But when a person passes in youth or midlife we experience an extra measure of grief. I'm a few years older than Hezekiah but if I become seriously ill I would feel the same as he did, that my life is ending in its prime, that I'm still strong and full of energy, that I still have goals to meet and dreams to fulfill. 

In addition to the heartbreak he feels for himself, Hezekiah is heartbroken at the thought of parting with his loved ones. "I said, 'I will not again see the Lord Himself in the land of the living; no longer will I look on my fellow man, or be with those who now dwell in this world.'" (Isaiah 38:11) He doesn't want to say goodbye to his family and friends. He doesn't want to leave the earth before seeing what the Lord will do for the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 

The king now muses over the temporary nature of life. "Like a shepherd's tent my house has been pulled down and taken from me. Like a weaver I have rolled up my life, and He has cut me off from the loom; day and night You made an end of me." (Isaiah 38:12) Hezekiah accepts that his illness is God's will and that his life belongs to the sovereign Lord and that it is His choice to extend or end it. He compares his body to a nomad's tent, easily collapsible. The Apostle Paul also compared our earthly bodies with a tent, but he compared our temporary dwelling to the eternal dwelling we have in Christ, "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (2 Corinthians 5:1) The bodies we live in now are temporary, intended to house our souls for a short season, but the solid structure of the eternal bodies we will receive can never be collapsed or taken down, for those bodies will be like Christ's. The Apostle Peter compared his earthly body to a tent when he spoke of his coming martyrdom. He gave instructions in the faith and reconfirmed the truth of the gospel before leaving this world and then said, "I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." (2 Peter 1:13-14) 

Life is so fragile. All we have is this moment and the breath in our lungs. We can be called out of the world at any second and this is why it is of the utmost importance to have the assurance of an eternal home with Christ. There is no promise of tomorrow. There is no promise of the next heartbeat. On this earth we have but a temporary tent, a wandering nomad's dwelling that can be pulled up and folded away at any time. But in Christ we have the certain promise of an eternal dwelling, a body just like His, immortal and incorruptible, incapable of illness or death. 

If this life were all there is, as the Apostle Paul said, "we are of all people most to be pitied", or as the KJV so familiarly puts it, "we are of all men most miserable". (1 Corinthians 15:19) But Christ rose from the dead so that we who put our trust in Him can share in that same resurrection and eternal life. This fragile tent in which we now reside will someday have its stakes pulled up from the ground and it will be folded away. But if we are in Christ this is not the end. It will be only the beginning. A life truer than this life will be ours, a life more rich and real, a life without pain or worry. The mortal body of Christ was planted in the earth but an immortal body was raised up. He took on the image of man so that we who believe in Him can someday take on His image. We will shed our mortal bodies but He will give us immortal bodies in their place. And at that time this saying will be fulfilled, "The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power". (1 Corinthians 15:42b-43) 

Our worship song link for today is below.

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