Preparing to Live by Preparing to Die

Steve Viars December 29, 2007 2 Kings 18:13-19

 

- This is a very unique Sunday in our church calendar...

- on the one hand, we understand that many people from our church family are traveling...

- we should faithfully pray for them for journey mercies, a good time with their family and friends, and also the courage and wisdom as God would give them ministry opportunities in His name...

- so we understand that on a Sunday like this, many from our church family are serving God in places other here today...

- on the other hand, the last Sunday of the year is really very strategic...because it gives us a natural time to evaluate this past year as individuals (its true as a church too, but that’s not really going to be the focus today)...so it gives us a natural time to evaluate this past year as individuals, and then of course to plan whatever strategy needs to be in place for this next year to get to an even better place...

- I’d like to introduce this by asking you a question that will sound a bit morbid---but you’ll have to trust me that there really is a biblical point to be made...

- what would happen if God came to you and said – “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.”

- how much would have to be set in order if that was the case?...

- you could think of it like this...have you ever had someone call you over the holidays and say, hey, we’re in the neighborhood, we thought we’d drop by and see you for a minute...

- in some households, that’s not big deal, because you keep the house in relatively good shape because you may have people drop by unannounced pretty frequently, so you just stay in somewhat of a constant state of readiness (hopefully not in some extreme sense)...but perhaps in an appropriate sense...

- whereas in other households, that would become a major issue...ahh, call for a dumpster, start throwing things out the window, stall them at the front door...

- well, what if that happened between you and the Lord...where He said, set your house in order, for you shall die and not live...

- another way to get at that same point is this...do you agree/disagree with this statement...

Agree/Disagree – You are not prepared to live until you are prepared to die.

- hopefully we would all say...there is a lot of truth in that statement...

- but you still might respond with, but PV, it’s not like God ever came to a person and said that...Really?...

- I think its time we studied the story of King Hezekiah...

- with that in mind, would you please open your Bible this morning to II Kings chapter 18 [page 288 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you].

- now we recognize that a number of people attending our church right now are relatively new to studying the Bible...

- we were just reviewing some statistics about church growth and church attendance recently as a staff and it really is quite amazing what the Lord has chosen to do here...

- we see that as a great blessing, and a great opportunity...

- and if you are new to studying Scripture, we believe we have the responsibility to teach God’s Word in a way that can be understood by as many people as possible...

- the verses we’re going to be reading today have a lot of names and places in them with which you may not be familiar...

- please don’t be intimidated by that...everybody starts somewhere...

- and I promise you this – even if today if the first day you’ve ever stepped foot inside a church...there is plenty in these verses that you will find very practical and applicable to where you live right now...

- you need to keep these two ideas in mind as we study this passage...

1) During a significant percentage of OT history, the nation of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah.

-  from a historical perspective, you can think of Israel’s first king, whose name was ____ (Saul) reining approximately 1050BC. 

- King David reigned approximately 1000 BC, then his son Solomon

- but in 931BC (that’s the key date to keep in mind, the nation split)

- the reason that matters to students of the Bible is that as you read the various OT prophets, you need to know a bit about what time period that person was called of God to minister in, and to what kingdom...and as you read about various OT kings, you need to know what nation they reigned over...

- the man we’re studying today was king Hezekiah, and he was king of Judah, the southern kingdom, between 728-686 BC.

- the other key idea you need to keep in mind is what was happening in the nations around Israel during much of the time of the prophets...

2) There were two primary nations involved...Assyria, and Babylon...

- Both of them were located, interestingly enough, in the land that today makes up Iraq...

- Assyria’s capital was the city of Nineveh....which is close to the modern city of Mosul (we hear about that on the news from time to time)

- Babylon’s capital was the city of Babylon...(which is 55 miles south of Bagdad)

- Assyria was the dominant power first, and they were known for being ruthless...

- they conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC

- later Babylon rose to ascendency, and they conquered the southern tribe of Judah in 586 BC

- so let’s summarize that – the nation of Israel was divided in 931 BC into the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah

- Hezekiah became the ruler of the southern kingdom in 728 BC...

- by then, the northern kingdom was in the process of being conquered by Assyria, and we’re going to learn that the Assyrians are putting heavy pressure on Hezekiah and the southern kingdom as well...

- then later, Babylon would rise in power, and conquer the southern kingdom in 586...

- eventually we’re going to see this morning that Hezekiah is the man in the Bible to whom God said, Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.

- but the bottom line for our purposes is, in our day, the Bible is now complete...special revelation has ceased...so God is not going to come to you and tell you the time of your death...

- but He is going to tell us things like this... Psalm 90:12 - So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

- the point there is...to always be convinced of the brevity of life...and therefore to always have our house in order...

- this particular Sunday of the year is a golden opportunity to do that kind of analysis...

- so we’re talking about Preparing to Live by Preparing to Die.

- from Hezekiah’s life story, let’s look for 4 principles to help you have your house in order.

- here’s how it begins...read 2 Kings 18:1-12

- now, what can we learn from those verses?...perhaps we could say it this way...

I. Be Willing to Stand for Righteousness in Your Youth.

- now, something that might have been confusing is, you may have noticed that in verse 1, Hezekiah is called the “son of Ahaz” and in verse 3 he’s called the son of King David.

A. “Son of Ahaz: (v. 1) – “Son of David” (V. 3)?

- Hezekiah literally was the son of a man named Ahaz...

- but in the Bible, the word “son” is sometimes used to speak of a grandfather, or a great grandfather, or sometimes a person several generations removed...

- that was very typical in Bible times---if you don’t understand that today, some of the lists of people can be very confusing...

- but Hezekiah was the son of king Ahaz...and to complicate matters, they actually reigned together for several years...as co-regents...

- the problem was...king Ahaz was a wicked man...

- that is what’s so wonderful about the fact that when Hezekiah had the opportunity to do so, verse 3 says...

- v. 3 – He did right in the sight of the Lord.

- even though he was only 25 years old (v. 2), which would have been very young to assume that kind of responsibility, he still did the right thing...

B. He removed what would have been offensive to God – v. 4

- His father had allowed all kinds of false worship and Hezekiah grew up around that...but there’s a difference between your past impacting you and your past controlling you.

- the passage goes on to say that...

C. He trusted in the Lord – v. 5

- and when you think about it, he would have had to...

- what other explanation would there be for the choices he made?...so much so, that the verses say...

- v. 5 - 2 Kings 18:5 - He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.

- and then you see the summary in the next verse...

D. He clung to the Lord and kept His commandments.

2 Kings 18:6 - For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.

- now, I think we could reasonably say this – at this point in Hezekiah’s life, he had his house in order...he had stood for righteousness even when that involved his having to clean house spiritually in the nation over which he ruled...

- well, what question do you think I’m going to ask you?...since it’s the end of the year, as you think about this past year, have you accumulated some objects or some habits that would make it hard for you to say that your house is in order spiritually?...

- Kris and I have been saying for the last several months---we need to spend some time on the basement...the basement’s getting cluttered...when we get some time, we’re going to get on the basement...[develop – cleaning it recently]...

- sometimes that has to be done spiritually...where some de-junking needs to occur...

- I wonder if there would be some folks here today who would say...

- before I’m really ready to start the new year, there’s some things I need to deal with before I can really say that my house is in order spiritually...

- it could be anything...

- for example, you might say...you know, I’ve started watching a television program and its not good for me spiritually---I certainly no more in love with Christ after watching the program each week – well, maybe this would be a good time to say—I just need to do business with that...I need to take a Hezekiah like action...

- someone else might say – you know, I’ve developed a friendship with someone whom I’ve allowed to get pretty close to me, and have influence on me, and as I think about it, that is taking me away from the Lord...not closer to Him...

- maybe the nature of that relationship needs to change...

- I wonder how many people have gotten involved in things on the internet that displease God...

- now you might say – PV, I didn’t see where God told Hezekiah to get his house in order yet—did you just make that up?...no, we just haven’t gotten there yet...so let’s dig further into the story...

- [read selected sections from 18:13-19:377]

- here’s the principle:

II. Be Willing to Trust the Lord When It is Hard.

A. The Assyrian’s attack – 18:13-37.

- King Sennacherib comes up to attack Jerusalem...

- and at first Hezekiah tries to pacify him but that never works with a bully...

- so the Assyrians mock the fact that Hezekiah was counting on an alliance with Egypt...(v. 21)...

- but then he even tries to undermine Hezekiah’s reforms (cf. 18:22)

- then he even goes so far as to say that the Lord is actually on their side...(cf. v. 25)

- to make matters worse, this spokesman starts saying these things within the hearing of all the people...(cf. v. 29)...

- so what does Hezekiah do?

B. Hezekiah’s response – 19:1-7

- he did the only thing he knew to do...that was, to pray...

- he had word sent to Isaiah and asked him to pray...(cf. Isaiah’s response in 19:6)

- so what happened next?...

C. The Assyrian’s boast – 19:8-13.

- their response is amazing...

- 2 Kings 19:10-12 - Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them, even Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar?

- and you can almost guess what Hezekiah is going to do next...

D. Hezekiah’s prayer – 19:14-19.

- 2 Kings 19:14 - Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.

E. God’s intervention – 19:20-37

- you read these verses and you can understand why the Scripture would say that Hezekiah was like his “father” David....

- or why “after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.”

- how would you summarize what we’re reading here?...

- he’s a man who believed in solving His problems God’s Way...

- each time there was a new development...he was on his knees...his was taking it to the Lord...”he was spreading it out before Him”...

- and remember what we read earlier, For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.

- are there any possible housecleaning opportunities there?...

- I wonder how many will hear this message today and will be in an unreconciled state with another person in your life?...

- do you really want to go into the new year with that issue remaining unaddressed?...

- maybe it’s time to set that area of your house in order?...

- are there any other areas where perhaps you have not been following God’s Word that need to be set in order before we start the New Year?...

- how would you complete this sentence...in 2008, I need to do a better job of following God’s Word in __________.

- now, you might say, PV, that fine, but I still don’t see where God told Hezekiah to set his house in order...

- here it comes...read II Kings 20:1-11

- here’s the principle...

III. Be Willing to Cry Out to God When You Especially Need Him.

A. Hezekiah’s crisis – 20:1.

- 2 Kings 20:1 - In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ ”

- and we could almost automatically predict what Hezekiah was going to do...

B. Hezekiah’s response – 20:2-3.

2 Kings 20:3 – “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

- what did Hezekiah expect God to do, add more years to his life?

- that’s exactly what God did...

- and do you see the contrast between the mocking king of Assyria, and the faithful servant of God?...

C. God’s intervention – 20:4-11.

- 2 Kings 20:6 - I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.

- now, as we said at the beginning---we don’t have the luxury of God telling us when we have to have our house set in order...we don’t know when we’re going to die...

- but the principle is...since you never know...you should your best to always have your house in order...

- and one of the reasons I wanted to have this conversation today is because I really believe this particular Sunday gives us a particularly good opportunity to do that...

- now, let’s make this as specific as possible...

- [cf. Psalm 90:12]

- let’s think about some ways you may need to get your house in order spiritually, and then practically?....

- Spiritually...

1. Are you sure you’re really a believer?...

2. Have you thought through your Bible study plan for next year?

3. Have you thought about how your home is going to be more Christ-centered next year?

4.  Have you planned a particular area/two where you are going to especially grow to become more like Christ?

5. What are your plans for serving Christ?....

- what would it look like for your life/house to be more in order spiritually?

- Practical preparedness

1. Do you have a will?

2. If you have children, is there a written plan for what would happen if you and your spouse died together?

3. Have you made a budget?

4. Have you spoken to your spouse about areas you want to work on in the marriage?

IV. Be Willing to Make Choices That are Best for Future Generations.

- walk through 20:12-19

A. The Babylonian’s visit – 20:12-13.

B. Isaiah’s confrontation – 20:14-18.

C. Hezekiah’s unfortunate perspective – 20:19.

- 2 Kings 20:19 - Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Is it not so, if there will be peace and truth in my days?”

- conclude by discussing how these decisions will affect future generations.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video