2 Kings 20:8-11 NLTse Meanwhile, Hezekiah had said to Isaiah, “What sign will the LORD give to prove that he will heal me and that I will go to the Temple of the LORD three days from now?” (9) Isaiah replied, “This is the sign from the LORD to prove that he will do as he promised. Would you like the shadow on the sundial to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?” (10) “The shadow always moves forward,” Hezekiah replied, “so that would be easy. Make it go ten steps backward instead.” (11) So Isaiah the prophet asked the LORD to do this, and he caused the shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!
Some people have a rough time with this part of the story when Hezekiah asked for confirmation. I’ll admit, I had to pray about this one, as well as forgetting a lot of candy coated answers I’ve been fed about this story. For one thing, I’ve never seen anyone look back to see how Hezekiah got to this point in his life. This story is usually told like, Hezekiah was sick. God healed Hezekiah. But Hezekiah asked for confirmation. Why did Hezekiah have to test God? Then people try to explain if it is okay to test God based on examples so far removed from scripture, I had no idea how their explanations had any relationship to the story about Hezekiah. Or people would teach how wrong it is to test God, and how that is a sign of a lack of faith. But I never saw any of those people teach what real faith is, or how to increase faith in God. Let’s do something different here, and look at the whole story.
Hezekiah’s father was one of the most evil kings Jerusalem saw. Something had to happen to change Hezekiah into one of the most loyal kings Jerusalem saw. That information is not given in one sentence, but spread throughout the story. We have to collect information to see the whole story.
Hezekiah served God, got rid of a lot of the evil influences in the kingdom, and defeated a number of other nations occupying the promised land. Wasn’t that enough confirmation for Hezekiah to establish a lasting relationship with God, and trust God with everything? Not for Hezekiah. Assyria threatened Hezekiah and what did Hezekiah do? He did what he learned from his father. Hezekiah paid off Assyria. Hezekiah took a major step backwards.
That began a series of events, all of them designed to get Hezekiah right with God, to return to the where Hezekiah was when he sent people out to get rid of all those evil influences. From that we could see, Hezekiah was paying attention to working on the outside, while God was trying to get him to clean out the inside. That series of events was designed to get Hezekiah to look inside of himself and see where God really is.
Hezekiah got to the point to talk to God and break down in tears. God healed Hezekiah, and agreed to provide a sign to show he was really talking to God. Why? We can go back to all those false gods inside and outside Jerusalem. Just because a threat leaves, doesn’t mean the influence left.
You would think seeing 185,000 men killed in one night, and seeing a huge army leave would have been enough confirmation for Hezekiah. You would think hearing those prophecies about Assyria fulfilled before their eyes would have been enough for anyone. But remember, all those plagues and miracles in Egypt weren’t enough to change Israel.
You would think a personal visit from Isaiah, one of God’s most reliable prophets would have been enough confirmation for Hezekiah. But in this story it wasn’t. So what do we do with this story and what God had an inspired writer record? Do we read the words, then tell God, “don’t worry about a thing. I got this one figured out myself!” When we follow the way the world looks at this story, and explains this story, we are telling God, we don’t need Him. We make the same mistakes Hezekiah did. What we are doing is pointing fingers at those people who candy coated this story, and placing blame in them. What is God going to do to get us to listen?
When I prayed about this story, I had to first admit, I don’t have the answer. I had to ask Jesus what He wanted to teach in this story. Of course He has the answer, and shows where He placed the answer in scripture. Where is the answer? The answer is more like, where did confirmation begin. When Jesus told me, the answer was of course so obvious, there was no way I could argue with it.
Confirmation began the day God formed Adam with His own hands, gave His breath of life to Adam, and showed Himself to Adam. God was there with Adam the moment he opened his eyes. God confirmed His existence to Adam. God walked and talked with Adam. God spent a whole day with Adam, showing him everything He created before Adam was brought to the scene. That is confirmation.
God could have created this world, popped in Adam and Eve, and let them figure out where everything came from. God didn’t have to show Himself to Adam and Eve, but God chose to walk and talk with Adam and Eve every evening. God confirmed His existence, power, and relationship with Adam and Eve. That is where confirmation began. Conformation is not something we should find difficult to see or explain. Conformation was a part of creation.
God confirmed His existence with Enoch. Later God confirmed a part of His plan of salvation with Enoch. God confirmed His existence with Noah, showing him plans for the ark, and bringing all those animals into the ark, then flooding the earth like He said he was going to do. Scripture is filled with God’s conformation like when He talked to Abram, Issac, Jacob, and finally Moses. All of those examples, and this one with Hezekiah have one thing in common. Each of those conformations shows a direct relationship with God.
Hezekiah may have received a rather unusual conformation, but all Hezekiah did was request a conformation, and God offered that unusual choice. Why did God do that? To show how far God will go to establish that personal relationship He wants with all of us. If we looked back at other confirmations in scripture, we would see a long list of unusual things God did. If we looked deeper, we would see how each was personally tailored to the person God was addressing at the time.
I’ve talked with dozens of people about their personal experiences with God, and how they actually saw God. Each experience is as personal as the individual. But they all have one thing in common. Each person I’ve talked to also explained the state they were in when God talked to them. Each was in a state of emergency when they needed to see God most. And He appeared to them. Why? I can’t explain that. I do know, each of those people trusted me enough to share their stories. They are stories they rarely share with anyone else. In Hezekiah’s experience with God, he must have told people, or the author who wrote that chapter must have been told by God. In either case we can see, experiences like that are meant to be shared.