“Set your house in order” Isa 38:1
"In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.' " Isaiah 38:1
When death is at the door of King Hezekiah in his prime of life, it was a shocking revelation to him. God wanted him to set his house in order immediately. Isa 38: 1, 10. He was a godly king unlike his father Ahaz. He did that which was pleasing in the eyes of God. Hezekiah was the first king in Judah who removed the worship centers built against the law. His obedience to the scripture and his confidence in the Lord was unparalleled. 2King 18: 1 -- 8. Such a godly king who brought much reform in the spiritual, political life of Judah is now facing a serious sickness that is going to take away his life at the age of around 39. 2King 18:2 cf. 20:6.
Definitely, it was God’s grace and compassion that King Hezekiah got at the least some time to be ready for the inevitable death. We know that, often death comes at an unexpected time and without even a moment for a special preparation we see our dear ones pass away.
How important it for us to remember that, health, wealth or any other thing cannot postpone the divinely appointed time of our departure. What an irony it is that even as we bury the dead we often refuse to consider the fact that we would be the next. We may think, unlike many others that we are healthy and in a better position for surviving any threat to life. But the story of Hezekiah and numerous other instances prove that it is utter foolishness to feel settled and secured when it comes to death.
However a born again Christian is not without hope. He is well aware of the value of the present life as well as life beyond the grave. Our Lord Jesus by His own death annulled the one who had the power of death. So death is no longer a frightening factor for a child of God. Hebrews 2: 14, 15; 2Tim 1:10; John 5:24. For him to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ, and that is gain not a loss. 2Cori 5: 8; Phil 1: 21.
Nevertheless, we should not forget that since death is certain and the time is unknown, we ought to be ready always. The Lord’s words to Hezekiah, ‘set your house in order’ should be a warning call for every believer. Before it’s too late, let us set every area of our life in order like personal, family and official etc.
Why should we wait further for repairing our personal spiritual life and our relationships with one another? When are we going to fulfill all the assignments God has entrusted us? Is it not the time to love and serve one another, even investing our time, energy, and resources in the heavenly places? Matt 6: 20. “Set your house in order” should continue to ring in our ears so that we be energized and enthusiastic in fulfilling all our obligations.
What was the response of Hezekiah? He wept bitterly and poured out his heart before the Lord in prayer. He recalled his godly life and obedience to God’s law. Isa 38: 3, 4. His prayer with tears was normal and appropriate.
We should not forget the vast difference in the basis of prayers as well as the hope of saints under the Old Covenant and our prayers and hope under the New Covenant. God’s miraculous healing and the extension of 15 more years to Hezekiah’s life is noteworthy and may even provoke many questions from human point of view.
What we ought to consider is how Hezekiah made use of the 15 more years God graciously granted to him. Remember, the Lord has already warned him of the imminent death; the difference is now that God gave him a definite period of time. How did he use that extended span of life?
A careful reading of Hezekiah’s later years reveal that he forgot the divine grace and failed to set his life in order. 2Chronicles 32:25 makes it very clear, “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.” Though it is mentioned that he humbled himself later on, he failed to consider that this extended period was to be lived with uttermost care and preparation. 2Chro 32:26
He trusted in his own wisdom and took many decisions against God’s will that had far-reaching consequences. Isa 39:2. His response to Isaiah when he spoke of the Babylonian invasion after his life time very well reveals his irresponsibility, "At least there will be peace and truth in my days.” Isa 39:8c. He was satisfied that throughout his lifetime there will be peace.
Sad, still there are many who do not have any concern for the future generation. They do not set their house in order till the last day of their life. They leave the earth with unsettled issues that later affect their own families as well as the brethren in Christ.
Another interesting thing to note here is that Isaiah had the boldness to share this message from God. Today’s preachers and teachers who are well aware of matters that needed to be set in order before one leaves this shore, fail to communicate this promptly to God’s children. They prefer to teach general lessons but hesitate to deal with personal failures of Christians, in spite of the amount of evidences.
Let us consider each moment as a precious gift of God to fulfill His purposes in and through our lives. With all seriousness and zeal let us set our houses in order, so that there will be nothing undone when the moment comes for us to leave. Such a life will definitely bring glory to the Lord, comfort our hearts and even save our dear ones from many worries. What a blessing it is that we are being warned well in advance, graciously allowing enough time to ‘set our house in order’!
Brevity of life illustrated
Like a shadow. 1Chro 29:15
Like a flying shuttle. Job 7:6
Like a fading flower. Job 14:2; Psa 103:15
Like a sigh. Psa 90:9
Like a withering grass. Psa 102:11; 90:5, 6.
Like a shepherds tent. Isa 38:12
Like a weaver’s web. Isa 38:12
Like a fading leaf. Isa 64:6
Like a vanishing vapour. James 4:14
Beyond the door
A dying man asked his Christian doctor to tell him something about the place to which he was going. As the doctor fumbled for a reply, he heard a scratching at the door, and he had his answer. "Do you hear that?" he asked his patient. "It's my dog. I left him downstairs, but he has grown impatient, and has come up and hears my voice. He has no notion what is inside this door, but he knows that I am here.”
Doctor asked, “Isn't it the same with you? You don't know what lies beyond the Door, but you know that your Master is there."
Source: A.M. Hunter
“ I don't so much pray that my death will be without pain, but that it will be without doubt."
_________ John Piper
“ Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living - that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo."
_________ Charles Spurgeon