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Lesson #3

"Prophet of the King"

                          Text: Isaiah 38:1-7

            Collateral Reading: 2 Kings 20:1-11

                                  The Setting

  Isaiah was closely associated with the court events of King
Hezekiah.  The King looked to him for counsel from the Lord
and sought his prayers to the Lord for the nations's sake (2
Kings 19:4).

  Isaiah chs. 36-39 correspond to 2 Kings 18-20.  Isaiah
may have been the record keeper for the reign of Hezekiah.

2 Kings 20:1-3 is identical with Isaiah 38:1-3

READ:  Isaiah 38:1-7
READ:  2 Kings 20:1-11

The Text

  Verse 1.  The events of this chapter occurred about fifteen
years before the death of Hezekiah.  He is stricken with a
malady that was fatal.  Isaiah is sent by the Lord to warn him
"Set your house in order."

  Recently on  one Sunday evening one hundred-forty
people sat together filled with various emotions.  Some were
returning home from a pleasant vacation.  They looked
forward to a happy reunion with friends and family in
Arizona and California.  Others were just beginning a
vacation that they assumed would be filled with fun and good
times.  They anticipated seeing the desert and the Pacific. A
few were going to Phoenix and Los Angeles for business
expecting to complete profitable deals and then return home.

  But this was not the way it was to be.  Some sixty seconds
after zooming down the runway and rising no more than 48
feet into the air their plane crashed back to the ground and
they were headed for eternity instead of Phoenix and Los

  "What is your life?  It is a vapor, that appeareth for a little
time and then vanisheth away."  How proper it really is to
have our house in order at all times!  Knowing just when we
are going to die is not a blessing we usually have.

  Q-1  Personal Thought Question:  What would you do to
set your house in order?

  Verse 2-3.  After hearing this shocking announcement
Hezekiah turns his face to the wall, probably to gain some
privacy from his numerous attendants, and prays to God. 
Hezekiah was a great man of prayer and it's natural in a crisis
like this for one to cast his burden upon the Lord.

  This was not a presumptuous self-righteousness prayer,
but rather Hezekiah knew he had made an honest endeavor to
serve God and do his will.

  Q-2  What do you think might be indicated by Hezekiah's
great weeping?

  Did not the Law promise length of day to the righteous
(Proverbs 3:2; 9:11; 10:27)?  Hezekiah was being cut off in
the prime of life at thirty-nine.  Other wicked kings had lived
much longer!

  Verse 4-5.  While leaving before Isaiah had reached the
third courtyard surrounding the palace he received a new
divine communication.

  This story stands as an illustration of the truth that the
prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James
5:15b).  We have no way of knowing what all is brought
about by the prayers of the righteous!

  Q-3  What is prayer?

  Isaiah retraces his steps to the king's bedchamber with
God's message.  Hezekiah had reigned nearly fifteen years
already, now the Lord was going to give him about that much
more time.

  God, for the sake of His servant David, would not desert
Hezekiah or Jerusalem and let them fall into the hands of the
Assyrians.  At this time Hezekiah did not have a male heir to
the throne.  The King would have time to have a son and
prepare him for the throne.

  In facing the Assyrians at the walls of Jerusalem, it must
have been assuring to Hezekiah to reflect back on the promise
of God.  God is a promise-keeping God.  We know we can
rely on His Word, and that not one thing will fail!

  Q-4  What assurance does 2 Peter 3:9 give us?

  2 Kings 20:7-8.  Isaiah then directed the attendants to
apply a lump of figs to Hezekiah's boil.  It was clear to all that
the healing was of the Lord and not to the figs alone however.

  The Lord had told Hezekiah that within three days he
would be up and about and able to worship the Lord in the
appointed place (v. 5).

  Isaiah had come in boldly and announced the King's
impending death, then returned and announced he had 15
more years, how was Hezekiah to know this was of God? 
During the time of direct revelation God had frequently
offered miraculous signs to confirm his Word.  For example
He had given Moses such signs for Israel and Pharaoh
(Exodus 4:1-9).

  Isaiah had instructed Ahaz to ask for a sign to substantiate
the promise that God would deliver Jerusalem from the Syrian
and Ephramite armies.

  God is not making new revelation to his saints today.  His
Word stands already confirmed, there's only the need for us to
study its record.

  Isaiah 38:7-8.  Apparently visible from Hezekiah's
window was a sundial built by his father Ahaz.  Ahaz had
brought other structures of foreign origin to his capital and
this may have been one of them.  It seems to have consisted
of a pole at the top of a stepped-pyramid.

  Hezekiah could pick his sign.  Did he want the shadow to
go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?  He viewed it an
easy matter for the afternoon shadow to continue descending
the steps, it would anyway!  So the king requested the shadow
to change it's direction and move back upward ten steps.

  The prophet called on the Lord and the Lord made the
shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down.

  Bible scholars who are scientists say one of two things
probably happened, (both of them supernatural in this case): 
1) There could have been a temporary reversal in the rotation
of the earth, or 2) there could have been an abnormal
refraction of the rays of the sun causing the retreat of the
shadow on the sundial.

  If the even happened just in Judah, it was well known that
such an astonishing event had happened.  2 Chronicles 32:31
records ambassadors coming to Jerusalem to inquire of this
miraculous event "done in the land."

                               The Aftermath

  Isaiah records a psalms of thanksgiving from Hezekiah
following 38:8 which is not recorded any other place.

  Hezekiah recovered and about three years later had a son
who would keep the lineage of David and Hezekiah on the
throne.  The Assyrians made several bold but unsuccessful
attempts to bring down Hezekiah and Jerusalem.


1.   What had happened to the northern kingdom of Israel?

2.   What is the lesson from here and from James 4:13-14 that
     we should always have before us?

3.   What advantages would one have if he knew he was soon
     to die?

4.   What would be the disadvantages?

5.   What lesson is there about prayer in this study?

6.   How quickly did the Lord's new communication come to

7.   What promise is given in the Fifth Commandment? 
     (Exodus 20:12)

8.   What two promises did the Lord make to Hezekiah?

9.   Why would Hezekiah ask for a sign?

10.  What sign was given him?

11.  How do you think this sign occurred?

12.  Was the sign detectable outside of Hezekiah's

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