PART 10 THE FACETS OF DEATH

PART 10 THE FACETS OF DEATH

10

WHAT WAS THE REQUEST MADE BY A KING THAT GOD GRANTED WHICH WAS NOT ASKED BY ANY OF THE OTHER KINGS OF ISRAEL?

Is it possible that we could request God for more years to live on this earth? The next story tells us about a king who did just that. Did God grant his request? Let’s find out. If you have your Bible open, then please go to the book of 2 Kings.

                                 

Suggested Reading: 2 Chronicles Chapters 29-32; 2 Kings Chapters 18-20

King Ahaz of the Southern Kingdom of the two tribes of Judah has died. His son Hezekiah succeeded him at the young age of 25. Before we take a look at a time in his life when he was sick unto death, what might we be able to find out about him that might have caused God to find favor with him? And by the way, his name in Hebrew means “the Lord strengthens.”

2 Kings 18:5-6 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.

His father allowed the worship of Baal to continue throughout the land, while the temple at Jerusalem was closed. Hezekiah was quite different from him in terms of his spiritual disposition. He was a king who put his trust wholly in God. He clave (adhered faithfully) to the Lord, having persevered through the whole of his life.33 This says to me that he not only believed in Him but learned, appropriated, and instituted the tenets of the Mosaic Law.

This was evident in the first year of his reign when he had both the outside and inside of the temple cleansed from idolatrous paraphernalia. Following this cleansing, the doors of the temple were reopened, and the priests and Levites returned to its service. Then, He sent out letters throughout Israel and Judah encouraging the people to come to the temple at Jerusalem and observe the feasts of the Passover and Unleavened Bread that had been neglected for some time. Because of this invitation, many came and worshipped the Lord. After the days of observing these feasts were over, the people got together and went throughout all the cities in and about Jerusalem destroying anything related to idol worship. Wow, what a beautiful Old Testament revival.

2 Kings 18:11-12 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: Because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.

Unfortunately, over a period of time, the other Jewish kingdom, the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, reverted back to idolatry. In the 6th year of the reign of Hezekiah of Judah, the counterpart nation was invaded by Assyria and taken away into captivity. Eight years later, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, has aspirations to invade the Southern Kingdom. This is an incredible story, one that truly exemplifies Hezekiah’s character.

2 Kings 18:13-15 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house.

As Hezekiah’s father Ahaz had agreed to send Sennacherib tribute money every year in exchange for their safety from his attack, so Hezekiah gave him tribute money in order to avoid a confrontation. After the ransom money was paid, Sennacherib was not satisfied. He decided to send a delegation to meet up with a counterpart one sent by King Hezekiah. They were advised by the Assyrian messengers to surrender; otherwise, the inhabitants would be killed and the capital city of Jerusalem destroyed. 

2 Kings 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

2 Kings 18:31 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:

Hindsight is always 20-20. The Mosaic Law strictly forbad the giving of tribute money to a foreign nation. It’s clear that Hezekiah made a mistake. However, the mark of a humble, mature man or woman of God is that he/she recognizes their error, repents, and goes forward. Word got back to the king that unless an agreement for more tribute was reached, all would be lost. Upon hearing this, did Hezekiah respond again in fear as he did earlier and give in? No, he went to the temple and prayed to God. He also notified various individuals of the kingdom of what was going on. One of whom was the prophet Isaiah, who told the messengers sent to him by the king to go back to him and let him know that God will take care of Sennacherib.

2 Chronicles 32:17 He wrote also letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand.

2 Kings 19:14 And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

In the meantime, the king of Assyria decided to stoke up the heat. He sent messengers again to Jerusalem, albeit with a letter that was only to be given to Hezekiah. In this, he mocked his God, saying that as the gods of other nations could not prevent their invasion and destruction by the former leaders of Assyria, so his God will not be able to protect him. What Hezekiah does next is truly inspiring. He goes to the temple and spreads the letter out before the Lord and prays, reading the content of such out loud. After which, he worshiped and praised Him and then asked for help. 

2 Kings 19:20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.

2 Kings 19:32 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.

Unbeknownst to Hezekiah, God heard his prayer and gave him an answer in respect to it from the prophet Isaiah, who had the response sent back to him. He received assurance that the Assyrian army would never enter Jerusalem. How was this possible since the Assyrian army was considered invincible?

2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

2 Chronicles 32:21 And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.

God, in his unique way, sent the angel of the Lord into the Assyrian camp, causing about 185,000 men to be killed. As a result, the Assyrian army decided to withdraw and go back home to the city of Nineveh. Soon after, King Sennacherib decided to enter into the house of Nisroch, his god for worship. Little did he know that two of his sons would be waiting for him there and killed him in this very place with the sword. 

Now that we have become acquainted with this king, who at times deviated from obeying the tenets of the Mosaic Law, what we have found out about him is that he learned the lessons taught, brushed himself off, and changed course. He continually sought the Lord and his prophets as well he should of. God came through and took care of business. But what does all this have to do with the subject of death?

2 Kings 20:1-6a In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years;…

We are told that he was sick unto impending death. The prophet Isaiah came to him and let him know that his life on earth was coming to an end. What do you think his response was? He prayed to God, reminding Him as to how he walked with Him faithfully during his days as ruler of His people, and if so, if it is His will, he asked Him to heal him of whatever it was that was going to be the cause of his death so that his life would be prolonged. God gave Word to Isaiah to tell Hezekiah to go into the temple on the third day, and He would heal him, and at such time, there would be added unto him fifteen more years of life to live on this earth.

I wonder for any of you reading this if you believe it? Or do you think this is a fairy tale? If you do believe this actually could have happened, might you be thinking about what could have caused God to grant Hezekiah’s request?

I believe that two things contributed to Hezekiah’s healing. First, he prayed unto the Lord in reminding Him of his own faithfulness, having walked before Him in truth and with a perfect heart upon His initiations. This got God’s attention. And second was the deliverance of the nation from the Assyrian army that was attained not from the king’s own efforts but in his refusal to continue in sin by paying tribute money, by seeking out a man of God for counsel, and by setting before the Lord in the temple a letter from the enemy king asking Him for help in this respect.     

So, God answered both of Hezekiah’s prayers. One for the deliverance of the nation and the other for himself. I’m not saying that God will always answer a believer for deliverance from persecution or personal healing, but what I am saying is if we are walking uprightly, He will hear us and respond accordingly in His time and manner.

I would like to leave you with two articles. The first one pertains to another example of prayer deliverance from impending death, and the second for another example of personal prayer healing from sickness unto death. Enjoy!

 

PASTOR IN INDIA SHARES HOW ONE MIRACULOUS PRAYER SAVED HIM FROM DEATH AT HANDS OF HINDU RADICALS  

A pastor in India who was brutally beaten by a group of Hindu extremists because he was leading many Hindu people to Christianity has shared how one powerful prayer subdued his persecutors.

Biswas, the pastor of a church in northern India, shared with persecution watchdog Open Doors how a group of ten Hindu extremists from a local temple arrived at his door one day, shouting his name.

"When I got [there,] I saw ten men waiting for me. I knew that all of them were Hindu extremists from my city," he recalled. "They pointed a revolver at my head, and then, without any warning, they started kicking and punching me. They kept shouting abuse, blaming me for tricking people and luring them to change their religion to Christianity."

"I suddenly heard one of them say loudly “We killed your mentor one year ago, now it's your turn,” he continued. "This reminded me quickly at that time about one of the senior pastors in my area who had been murdered one year [ago,] by unknown assailants; he had been the one who had also led me to Christ. They were referring to him as my mentor. I knew now that these men were the ones who had killed him, and they were acknowledging it with boldness. I was shivering with fear."

Biswas said he asked God, "Is it my turn after all because I am sharing your Gospel, will they kill me too?"

But in his mental and physical agony, Biswas realized he could also pray for deliverance: "I then prayed in my heart, [“God who saved Daniel in the den of the lions, save me.”]

What happened next was a "miracle," the pastor said: "Just after I had said the prayer in my heart, one of the attackers told the others to stop and said let's just make him pay a huge fine. The God who saved Daniel from the lion's den saved me from being killed that day."

Eventually, the Hindu extremists allowed Biswas to go in exchange for a hefty fine worth eight months of his salary, which he was supposed to provide them the very next day. He arranged the money from a local [moneylender] immediately on a very [high-interest] rate as he had no savings.

Amid this financial crisis, Open Doors stepped in, providing the pastor with the finances he needed.

"I am so grateful. I will never forget what Open Doors has done for me through its partners. Please convey my thankfulness to all those who have supported me," he said.

The persecution watchdog urges Christians in the international community to pray for Biswas and his family as they continue to face abuse at the hands of Hindu extremists.

"Keep praying for us," [Biswas's] wife said. "We need more strength. We know we are being [monitored,] and our lives are constantly under threat. But we want to continue with our ministry; however, we are worried about our children."

Christians have experienced severe persecution in several Indian states this year, which has resulted in pastors being beaten and churches being destroyed. Often, the abuse is carried out at the hands of Hindu extremists.

In recent months, a number of worship services have been [interrupted,] and church buildings being taken over and converted for other purposes. Hindu hardliners have often accused believers of forcefully converting villagers to the Christian faith.

Morning Star News reports that in November, at least three Christian families converted back to a tribal religion in Jharkhand state, India, after Hindu extremists destroyed their homes, leaving them in fear of losing their land and resources.

In July, Pastor Srinivas Sapa told persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern that Hindu radicals in the village of Sangameshwar, north of Hyderabad, destroyed the only church building there.

"All that the Hindu radicals want is for Sangameshwar to be a 'Christian-free' village," Sapa said.

"Of all the 50 odd Christians who are native to Sangameshwar, most were born in the village and are now panicked over the situation," he added.34

 

Here is the second article on personal prayer. This one has to do with healing from sickness unto death.

 

JESUS MIRACULOUSLY HEALED WOMAN’S ‘INCURABLE’ CANCER

She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, which is considered incurable. But with Jesus-centered faith, prayer, and a powerful dream, God brought a miraculous healing that confounded her doctors.

“They said I had 3-5 years to live,” says Tecla Miceli. “It was [dreadful,] and I was scared to death,” she says. Tecla grew up in Sicily and came to the U.S. as a 16-year-old with her parents.

Fortunately, she [caught cancer] at an early stage. Tecla was opposed to chemotherapy so doctors agreed to monitor the progression of the cancer with bone surveys and blood tests every 60 days.

“The oncologist did a [spinal,] and it came out at 17 blood plasma [level,] and the threshold is 5,” says Gary LaFerla, her son, who accompanied his mother to the doctor visits. At 17%, doctors were willing to wait on the chemo.

But after three years of monitoring Tecla, doctors noticed an alarming increase in cancer cells. “It was [full-blown cancer], at least 27% in her blood,” Gary says.

Raised as a nominal Catholic, Tecla was born again through the influence of Gary and his sister Laura, who [was] involved at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California.

Nicky Cruz, the former gang member, was speaking when Tecla visited Calvary Chapel for the first time. Moved by his message, she felt compelled to go forward. “I felt a big flame in my heart literally pushing me to go up there,” she recounts.

“I accepted [Christ,] but I didn’t know what I was doing. I drove home and I felt different. I never wanted to sin again. The next [morning,] I woke up with a smile on my [face,] and I felt so peaceful.”

Tecla finally grasped her daughter’s previous words. “For the first [time,] I really understood what Laura meant when she told me about the peace of the Lord that fills the heart of a new believer and how the sky looks bluer and the grass greener.”

“Throughout my [illness,] Laura prayed with me daily and gave me positive and encouraging words of faith in Jesus.”

Tecla’s faith became a vital component as she faced a potentially deadly health crisis. “This cancer eats the bones from the [inside,] and they will collapse,” Gary noted. “It can be very painful.”

After 36 months, the scan of Tecla’s head now revealed cancerous lesions covering her skull. “She was weak all the time, sleeping a lot, not able to move much,” Gary recalls. “She had blood [spots] all over her arms and legs. She was very anemic.

“It’s a horrible type of cancer.”

Tecla’s doctors wanted a bone marrow biopsy from her spine before they started chemotherapy.

“I had a whole week to think and pray and was petrified all the while,” Tecla recounts. “I didn’t know if I wanted chemo or if I should just die naturally. I was crying all the time.”

One evening son Gary had dinner with his mother because he was flying out of Orange County the next morning.

After their [meal,] he said, “Mom, let’s kneel down and pray.” They both knelt down together. “Mom, the psalms are full of God’s promises. I want you to read all of them and stand on God’s promises. We will be praying for you.”

Tecla spent the entire week [on] her patio reading the psalms and praying. “That’s all I did. I prayed that God would heal me.”

She poured out her heart to God: I know I have done it all, I’ve been married, have children, grandchildren, finished college, but I’m not ready to die yet. If you heal [me,] I will tell of your miracle to anyone that wants to [listen;] she told God.

That night – shortly before her bone marrow test – she had a remarkable dream.

“I was outside a market and noticed I had a cart filled to the brim with long loaves of bread. I tried to give some away but [only,] some would take it.”

Then she found herself dangling from a foot-wide ledge, 30 feet above the ground. “I looked down, thinking I’m going to fall. All these people were looking up. I was hanging from a ledge, but my hand was holding a big thick nail with my right hand.”

She thought she was going to fall and would surely die. “Then I realized the nail I’m holding is slowly creating a crevice and is sliding down. It was slowly bringing me down to the floor. When I reached the [floor,] I cried because it was a [miracle”.]

“It’s a miracle, don’t you know it’s a miracle,” she cried out when she landed safely. “God is real. Don’t you believe me?” She took her shopping cart and started offering bread to people. Some took the [bread,] and others did not.

Tecla awakened the next morning feeling perfect peace. “I understood the bread to be the Bread of Life,” she says.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

A few days later, Tecla had the bone marrow test, a painful procedure that required a strong sedative, but she woke up peacefully [and, surprisingly] had no pain after the test.

Gary and Tecla went to meet with the doctor to go over the results. Her first chemotherapy was set to begin the following Monday.

The oncologist had an unusual expression on his face as their appointment began. “You know how problematic this industry has become,” he began. “Look at this. I’m curious. I already know we’re at 27-32, so she’s at full-blown cancer.

“But look at this test I took from the spine…this came back at 5 or 6. That’s impossible. Blood plasma never retracts. It is an axiom of medicine. They must have made a mistake at the lab,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.

One of Tecla’s students happened to be a radiologist, who was convinced a more recent scan of Tecla’s skull was a mistake.

The two doctors managed to connect by phone during the appointment. The oncologist hung up the phone and said, “Well, this is completely stupefying to me… I don’t [agree,] but I don’t know what to say.

“Do you believe in God?” Tecla asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

Then Tecla proceeded to tell the doctor about her dream and the prayers for her healing.

The doctor looked at them both with curious amazement and then said, “In 25 years of [practice,] I have never seen anything like this before.”

The doctor finally admitted that all her numbers were down, lower than when she first got diagnosed. Tecla began to [cry,] and Gary was amazed.

“The doctor called it an anomaly — his way of explaining away a miracle,” Gary recalls. “But he too started crying because he was really moved by it.”

When the doctor regained his [composure,] he said, “You are free to go and live your life…I will continue to monitor your blood tests.”

From that point forward, her tests were all clean.

“It was a miracle,” Tecla exclaims. “Both my son and daughter and their families had each of their churches praying for me all that [time,] and I want to thank them all.

“Prayer [works,] and God does hear!”35

Again, all I have to say is wow, wow, and wow.

The next story we are going to take a look at is very personal for me as it illustrates very clearly but very sadly the uncertainty of death.

 

Endnotes

33The Pulpit.

34Leah Marieann Klett. “Pastor in India Shares How One Miraculous Prayer Saved Him from Death at Hands of Hindu Radicals”, 2018, THE GOSPEL HERALD WORLD. <https://www.gospelherald.com/articles/71900/20181204/pastor-india-shares-one-miraculous-prayer-saved-death-hands-hindu.htm>

35Mark Ellis, “Jesus miraculously healed woman’s ‘incurable’ cancer,” 2018, GODREPORTS

<http://godreports.com/2018/05/jesus-miraculously-healed-woman-with-cancer-considered-incurable/>.

 

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Synopsis
What was the request made by a king that God granted which was not asked by any of the other kings of Israel?
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