The Bible is clear: “God is…not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (Num. 23:19)
Yet the Word of God records a very interesting story in 2 Kings 20 where it seems that God changed His mind:
“About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill,” (vs 1)
Now Hezekiah was one of the only kings in Jewish history where it is record, “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.” (2 Kings 18:3), and he was reasonably upset when Isaiah came to tell him he would die: “This is what the LORD says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.” (2 Kings 20:2)
Notice that God has spoken, Hezekiah will die; and remember that when God speaks, His Word will not return to Him empty: “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Let’s notice what Hezekiah does next: “When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, ‘Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.’ Then he broke down and wept bitterly.” (2 Kings 20:3)
Then notice what happens, even as Hezekiah is uttering his prayer: “But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the LORD: ‘Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, “This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the LORD.”‘” (2 Kings 20:4-5)
Did you catch that, friends? Hezekiah’s prayer appears to have changed God’s mind!
But did it really?
Let’s think about what we know about God. We know it is His will to heal us: He said, “…I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” (Ex 15:26); and as we previously stated, God does not change His mind (See Num 23:19)
So how can we reconcile what we know about God with the story of King Hezekiah?
There is only one way, friends: Hezekiah’s prayer didn’t change God’s mind, it simply wasn’t God’s will for Hezekiah to die!
Have I stretched the story a bit to fit my own knowledge of God?
Not at all. Let’s look:
We know from the story of Job that it is the devil who brings on illness (See Job 1,2), and that though it isn’t His will, God does permit this to happen. Thus, it wasn’t God’s will for Hezekiah to die, God was simply telling Hezekiah what was planned for him.
But wait. If it is God’s will to heal us, why didn’t God just heal him right away? Why did God permit the devil to strike him with illness in the first place?
I don’t have all the answers to the “why” questions, but let’s remember that God has given man the power of choice (“God has given us the power of choice, but once we have made the choice, it has power over us.” Eph. 1:12). To have healed Hezekiah outright without consulting him would have removed his choice in the matter. Instead, God informed Hezekiah of what would happen, and when Hezekiah then turned around and begged God in prayer, he was choosing to ask for God’s intervention.
But was that all there was? Was the prayer the only prerequisite to Hezekiah’s healing?
We know that Jesus was only able to heal “according to their faith” (Matt 9:29), and since God is an unchanging God, faith was a prerequisite for Hezekiah as well. Hezekiah chose to ask God to intervene, and he had faith that God would do so.
Hezekiah was, indeed, healed. He went on to live another 15 years. It was Hezekiah’s choice to turn to God for healing, coupled with his faith in the healing God, that “opened the door” so to speak for God to heal him.
About 13 years ago, I received a little vision. In the vision, I saw that my life would end about 18 months in the future. I, too, chose to turn to God and beg for my deliverance, and I, too, put my trust in Him. Over 10 years ago, that day came and went, and not only am I still here, but during these past 10 years, I have survived many potential life-taking situations including cancer.
Friends, it isn’t God’s will for us to be sick, suffer, lose our lives, and if it isn’t yet our time, (which God has pre-determined long before we are born–See Ps 139), we have the power to overcome whatever it is we are facing. Our power is conditional upon only two things: 1) That we turn to God for our deliverance; and 2) that we have faith that He will come through for us.
Whatever it is that you are facing right now, think about this story: choose to turn to God and put your trust in Him. When you do, you can rest assured that if it isn’t your predetermined time to leave this earth, God will come through for you in a miraculous way.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.