If you’ve read the Old Testament then you may remember the story of King Hezekiah. He was a reformer, a righteous king whom we praise for his trust in God and desire to save his nation. There was no one like him (II Kings 18:5-7). But sometimes, even in the best of men, there are flaws that stand out that not only mark a man, but help define him. Hezekiah was such a man. Though I admire Hezekiah very much I find him a bit of a tragic character because of one overriding flaw in his life.
Hezekiah was tragically shortsighted. How so? In these three ways:
- He was shortsighted about his mortality
- He was shortsighted about his kingdom
- He was shortsighted about the future
In case you wonder if these things are all that important, consider that each of these failures in his perspective often plague us as well.
Consider that God revealed to Hezekiah that he was going to die. After weeping bitterly and pleading with the Lord, God sent the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah to tell him, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you” (II Kings 20:5). God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life. But what was the result? During that last 15 years Hezekiah had a son named Manasseh. Manasseh was not only evil, he was so evil that God visited his judgment against Judah, citing Manasseh as a reason why Judah was to be judged (II Kings 21:10-15). Hezekiah’s shortsightedness about his own mortality lead to the pinnacle moment where there was no turning back from God’s wrath.
Hezekiah was also shortsighted about his kingdom. When envoys from Babylon paid him a visit, Hezekiah showed them all of his riches and kingly glory. “There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them” (II Kings 20:13). Without realizing it, Hezekiah had given Babylon reason to look upon his kingdom with lust. So much so that Isaiah returned to Hezekiah, telling him that the riches of his kingdom would one day be carried away to Babylon and that, “There shall be nothing left” (II Kings 20:17).
Yet, what was Hezekiah’s response? “Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?'” (II Kings 20:19). Did you catch it? Hezekiah was only concerned with his kingdom—not the future kingdom his descendants would rule. Just like his shortsightedness with his mortality, Hezekiah didn’t think past his own wall, whether it was the wall he faced as he prayed, or the walls that enclosed his riches and glory, or the wall on which was mounted the door to the future.
Hezekiah truly was a great king. But his focus on his present blinded him to planning for his kingdom’s future. So what can we learn from him so that we don’t repeat his mistakes?
First, your influence does not end with your death. The life you live now has an impact on those who come after you. What legacy will you leave them? Last year I wrote a letter to my descendants. It is one way I want my life for Christ to impact not only my children, but those who come after them.
Second, do not, as Hezekiah, take pride in the blessings of life. Rather, fixate yourself on the blesser of life. Hezekiah trusted God during the struggle of war. But he forgot to trust God for the struggles of the future. How can you trust God for the future beyond you? Just as King David left of wealth of resources for his son, Solomon to build the temple, what can you leave those after you that will encourage them to press forward in a walk of faith?
Shortsightedness may not seem like a significant thing. But as we see in the kings of Judah, it served a tragic end. Live for today, but more so for tomorrow. For one day you will look back and see what your influence has done. It will either bring God glory, or end up with you wishing for a do over.