I just finished reading Isaiah 36-39 and was struck by my resonating with a sinful attitude in Hezekiah’s life. Hezekiah proudly showed off his wealth/power to Babylonian emissaries. God rebuked him through the prophet Isaiah and told him that a future generation would be conquered by Babylon and all that he showed the emissaries will be taken. Then Hezekiah says to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good” (v. 8). Then Isaiah tells us the reason, “For he thought, ‘There will be peace and security in my days’” (v. 8). That is not a humble response. Hezekiah is relieved and feels safe since it won’t happen to him and he responds with false piety and reverence.
D.A. Carson comments on this:
When Isaiah the prophet tells him what will happen, the king does not repent of his arrogance, or seek forgiveness, or intercede with God. The threatened judgment is slated for the future: Hezekiah refuses to accept any deeply felt responsibility. He piously comments, “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good” — while the writer comments, “For he thought,’Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?’” (20:19). Hezekiah has become a moral and strategic pygmy.”
I get mad sometimes to think he got away with this. Then I realize how much I’ve gotten away with because of God’s grace in Christ’s atoning work for me and my self-righteousness is exposed. But as I read Hezekiah’s story every year, I’m always struck by the same selfishness in my own soul. I can’t help but feel the same sinfulness that Hezekiah felt when feeling relief that the discipline for his sin would not be carried out in his lifetime. I know this is wrong and I want to not feel some sort of relief that it wouldn’t be carried out in my lifetime. But I don’t feel that brokenness. I feel self-centered relief. How am I supposed to respond? I think there should be brokenness and a humble petition to God for forgiveness. There should also be a plea that the Lord would not punish the future generation but me instead. There should also be a thankfulness if the Lord chooses to not punish me in my lifetime, but a God-centered, humble, and broken gratitude, not a self-centered, relieved gratitude. Lord, please help me to have a God-centered heart and not a PJ-centered one. In Christ’s name, Amen.