A TALE OF TWO KINGS

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They were kings. They were sick. But the similarity ends there. Hezekiah was king of Judea and  Ahaziah ruled  Israel. Ahaziah was a contemporary of  prophet Elijah while  Hezekiah  reigned  Judea during the  times of  prophet Isaiah.

Once ‘Ahaziah had fallen  through the lattice in  his upper chamber in Samaria and lay injured’ (2 Kings 1:2). As king, he should have received the best of  medical support. Yet  he was  concerned about his future and wanted to  know  whether  he would recover from the injury.  In similar circumstances, kings used to know the  will of God through  prophets.  Ahaziah also did the same thing, but  with a difference. He ignored the  true God and preferred to consult  a god of his choice. ‘Ahaziah sent messengers. telling them, “Go, inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury” (2 Kings 1:2). Like any other person  who exchanged the glory of   the true God  with  abominable idols, it was  the  undoing of Ahaziah too. God sent  Elijah to  intercept the messengers of Ahaziah who were on their way to  Ekron. Elijah’s words were sharp to the core.  “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not leave the bed to which  you have gone, but you shall surely die” (2 Kings 1:3-4).

Ahaziah never left  the bed. He died according to the  word  of the Lord. Baalzebub could not heal him! Incidentally we read about this Baalzebub in the  gospels too. The Pharisees who  accused Jesus of casting out demons with the  help of the ruler of demons, Beelzebub, were rebuked in the  harshest words by  the Lord. Denying  the divinity of Jesus and speaking against the Holy Spirit  who  inspires Jesus  is the gravest form of blasphemy that  could  not be forgiven ‘ either in this age or  in the age to come’ (Mt 12:32).

Nowhere in the Bible it is mentioned that the injury of  Ahaziah was fatal. His  immediate death was  one that he bought by his own act of forgetting  the true God and embracing a false god.

Hezekiah, the other king too, was sick. But  Hezekiah’s illness was  more serious. ‘ In those days Hezekiah became sick and  was at the point of death’ (Isa. 38:1). His loyalty to  the  Lord was steadfast. The  Scripture testifies; ‘ He did what was  right in the sight of  the Lord, just as his ancestor  David  had done’ (2 Chr. 29:2). For him doing something that would offend  God was beyond imagination.  When Isaiah told Hezekiah that his  days were numbered, he accepted the  words of the Lord, though it was painful. His only recourse then was to  petition the Lord whom he served with unwavering faith. ‘Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord: “Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have  walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done  what is good in your sight” (Isa. 38: 2-3). The prayer was  so simple and having said it  Hezekiah  ‘wept  bitterly’ (Isa 38:3).  ‘The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and it will not rest until it reaches its goal’ (Sir 35:21). Hezekiah’s prayer was  no exception. It did reach its destination  and the response from heaven  was quick. Hezekiah recovered from the illness and lived  for another fifteen years.

 Ahaziah and Hezekiah, two kings of the ‘chosen race, holy nation, and God’s own people’ reacted in different  ways when  faced with adversities. We who are  ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s own  people’ (1 Pet 2:9) are also called to  make decisions every day. Reason might lead us to Ahaziah’s way, but it needs grace to follow Hezekiah. As heirs to a  royal priesthood, our Lord has bestowed upon us this grace in abundant measures. Draw from this eternal  fountain of grace and   muster the faith to  turn our faces to the wall and pray to God in times  of trial with the conviction that no wall can  hide the face  of our God  from us.

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