Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.
Though the terminal illness of sin affects us all, God uses daily events to draw us closer to him until we see him in heaven.
Thomas D. Kock
All I want for Christmas is . . . a terminal illness.
Wait. He wants what?!?
Yeah, I’m guessing that a terminal illness isn’t likely to hit the wish list for any of us this Christmas season. But that’s the situation in which Hezekiah found himself.
HEZEKIAH’S TERMINAL ILLNESS
Hezekiah was a young man, probably 39 years old (compare 2 Kings 18:2 and 2 Kings 20:6). He became ill, and it was clear that his life was in danger. Isaiah was sent to him with the message, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” (Isaiah 38:1). We’re told that Hezekiah wept greatly. We’re told that he prayed, reminding God that he’d done his best to serve God faithfully.
Interestingly, we’re not told that Hezekiah asked for a longer life. Perhaps he desired that. Perhaps he even did ask for it, but we’re not told that he asked for it. Regardless, God chose to add 15 years to his life, and Isaiah was sent back to deliver the message.
After his recovery, Hezekiah wrote, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17; read all his thoughts in Isaiah 38:9-20). As Hezekiah looked at that illness, he could see God’s hand of grace. God intended the illness for Hezekiah’s benefit. He doesn’t detail how the illness was for his benefit. We don’t know, but we do know that Hezekiah’s focus became “you have put all my sins behind your back.”
OUR TERMINAL ILLNESS OF SIN
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Ultimately we need a God who is willing and able to put all our sins behind his back. To put it more bluntly, we need a God who is willing and able to forgive us. And as we gaze at the babe of Bethlehem, a descendant of Hezekiah, we see the God who was able—and willing—to come to this earth to win forgiveness of sins for us. That’s what we really need!
Because whether we want it or not, we all have a terminal illness—the terminal illness of sin. Death will happen.
Yes, it’s true that Hezekiah was blessed with 15 more years of life on this earth, but that only delayed the inevitable. Fifteen years later, he died. But every indication we have is that Hezekiah was a believer and went to heaven. So, he didn’t really die! While his body ceased to live, his soul lived on as he entered the glories of heaven!
And someday so will you. You too will enter the glories of heaven because of the Babe of Bethlehem, who lived, died, and rose for you. And as God postponed Hezekiah’s terminal illness to draw him closer, so God will use the events of everyday life to humble you and me, to refocus us, to focus us on the Word, and ultimately to draw us closer to him.
Even if it takes a terminal illness to draw me close to him forever, then I’ll add it to my Christmas wish list. Or a gracious God will add it for me.
Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.
This is the fifth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.
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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 12
Issue: December 2015
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