A SECOND (SECOND) THOUGHT…

Speaking of prayers that seem to show that God “changed His mind”, how about the prayer of King Hezekiah? I mentioned this one a while back in passing, but I wanted to finally get a chance to point out a very interesting aspect of this prayer.

 

hezekiah

A little background first…

Hezekiah was king over Judea from 716 BC till 687 BC, who’s bout with a serious illness is well documented  in 2 Kings 20: 1-6.

“In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life…”

Did God “change his mind”? Did He first determine to end Hezekiah’s life and then do a 360 degree turn and decide to extend it instead?

Read this perspective from Joseph R. Nally, Theological Editor of  Third Millineum Ministries, with whom many commentaries agree.*

“God knew what he was doing. He knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). He knew his words would turn Hezekiah around. How do we know this? It is important to note that during this “extra” fifteen (15) years, Hezekiah had a son named Manasseh who became king at age twelve (12). Why is this significant? Manasseh was in the linage of Christ who was pre-ordained before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:19-20) to be born and die for the sins of his people (Rom. 5:15). Matthew 1:10 states, “Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon.” Without Hezekiah’s repentance Manasseh would not have been born and Christ’s lineage destroyed. Thus, this reveals that God’s eternal plan is always on schedule and that he uses secondary causes (i.e. obedience to his word, repentance, prayer, WCF 5: Of Providence, et. al.) to insure they do. This also shows that God did not change his original plan to accommodate the sins of others. God’s plan will never be overthrown (Dan. 4:35; Psa. 115:3, etc.). God is immutable and sovereign.”

Interesting observation. Thought it was worth sharing. 🙂

Are there aspects in your life that would have gone quite differently without the providence of God?

* Clark’s Commentary on the Bible, Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

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2 thoughts on “A SECOND (SECOND) THOUGHT…

  1. Really interesting concept. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I’ve learned that it’s okay (and even fun!) to further question what scholars have to say on a subject. The word used to describe God’s reaction to Moses’ reasoning as to why He shouldn’t destroy the Israelites (because they worshiped the Golden calf) may tell a different story. From what I recall, the Bible literally says that God “repented.” Obviously, it’s not the He turned from his sin, but that he did a 180 with regard to his intended action as a result of Moses’ prayer.

    I don’t think we need to equate God’s perfection with an inability to be able to change course. He is God, so no matter what option he takes, it isn’t wrong. Besides, what’s the point of praying if our prayers make no difference to Him? If his intention is inaction with regard to someone who is very sick but our prayers prompt him to act, doesn’t that mean he’s changed his mind? I find it a privilege that God would listen to me. It’s another sign of one of the many aspects of His grace to us.

    Besides, with this Hezekiah story, wouldn’t it be a lie if God had told Hezekiah that he would die when he knew it really wasn’t going to happen? God cannot lie, so that must have been his intent before Hezekiah prayed. Tricky stuff, but very fun to try to work out! Thanks for the post, Margo, and sorry for the lengthy response.

    • Hello Dave,

      So sorry to take forever to reply. Tending to my elderly mom, but I’ve been meaning to respond! Yes, this is very tricky stuff. There is a mystery to the question of Free will and Predestination that I believe won’t be understood completely on this side of heaven. My view tends towards the side of God’s sovereignty — To wonder why we should pray if God has determined everything anyway is an interesting question. It is like asking if God has predestined the air, why should we breathe? The answer, however simple, is because He has ordained it so. God who has put oxygen here in the exact amount needed to sustain life has also ordained that we should breathe; and the One who has set plans down for our lives also ordained us to pray. He also guides us in how we should pray. I don’t believe God was lying when he told Hezekiah he would die, but He prompted Hezekiah to pray otherwise. Prayer is a link in the chain of ordained facts. It shows that we are in line with God’s plan, and it’s a tremendous thing to know that although He could bring about His will completely on His own, He often creates and uses circumstances and people like us to bring them about…for our good and His glory.

      Thank you for the response. It is a wonderful thing to contemplate our great and complex God; your comment is much appreciated.

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