“Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: ‘Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘God’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life; I’m saving you from the king of Assyria, and I’m covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David’s sake.’’
Isaiah then said, ‘Prepare a plaster of figs.’
They prepared the plaster, applied it to the boil, and Hezekiah was on his way to recovery.
Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘How do I know whether this is of God and not just the fig plaster? What confirming sign is there that God is healing me and that in three days I’ll walk into The Temple of God on my own legs?’
‘This will be your sign from God,’ said Isaiah, ‘that God is doing what he said he’d do: Do you want the shadow to advance ten degrees on the sundial or go back ten degrees? You choose.’
Hezekiah said, ‘It would be easy to make the sun’s shadow advance ten degrees. Make it go back ten degrees.’ So Isaiah called out in prayer to God, and the shadow went back ten degrees on Ahaz’s sundial.” 2 Kings 20:4-11 (MSG)
Sometimes out of desperation for direction, we pray, “God, send me a sign.” We reason that we could actually trust God with our future if we knew it in advance. When I face uncertainty, I just want a sign from God giving me confirmation. But, more often than not, the sign does not come the way that I would expect. I keep waiting for this big moment when I will know beyond a shadow of doubt what to do. But, the reality is that a sign might not increase my trust in God.
After Hezekiah led the people to defeat the king of Assyria, he came face-to-face with the end of his life. In his illness, he looked to the Lord for healing. The prophet, Isaiah, delivered a message to Hezekiah that he would not die but live for 15 more years. And as Hezekiah heard this message, he wanted a sign to know that it was God who had healed him. As a result, the sign that God gave him caused pride to creep into his heart. In 2 Chronicles 32:25 (MSG), it says, “But the sign, instead of making Hezekiah grateful, made him arrogant.” The thing that God used to confirm his power became a source of pride and arrogance for Hezekiah. Hezekiah knew he wasn’t going to die yet, so when Babylonians came to visit, he showed them all of his riches. God was angry as a result of Hezekiah’s response. Hezekiah then had to repent of his arrogance, for it was God who brought about the miracle in his life. The sign was to confirm God’s power, not a ticket for Hezekiah to do as he pleased. There would be future consequences, because Hezekiah mishandled the sign from God by showing the Babylonians his riches.
When God sends us a sign, we have the potential to mishandle it. We want a sign to know we have heard from God. So, we wait, making bargains with God so that He will give us a sign. Interestingly, God works in different ways and at different times. One time He might give you a sign, but another time He may ask you to trust Him. Is God still working in both situations? Absolutely. We want God to spell everything out for us and then confirm it. But if our desire is simply to have proof through a sign, our relationship with God becomes a transaction, and we lose sight of the beautiful life God is calling us to live by faith. Hezekiah’s heart was impacted by knowing that God gave him 15 more years to live. His trust in God began to shift to a confidence in himself. If he was going to live anyway, why not do as he pleased when the Babylonians came to visit? In Hezekiah’s life, we see the tension between walking by faith and receiving a sign from God. Walking with God means that we have to take Him at His Word. God is trustworthy and when we truly understand that, we can stop looking for signs and look to the God who gives confirmation of who He is through His Word.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.