Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hezekiah's Prayer (part 2 of 3)

Hezekiah continues, and Isaiah reports him saying “My dwelling place is taken away from me like a shepherd’s tent.  I rolled up my life like a weaver rolls cloth; from the loom he cuts me off.  You turn day into night and end my life” (38:12).  Likewise, in this as before, it is possible to hear and see Jesus.  His physical body, the one that went to the cross, that dwelling place in which the Creator God had come to His people and struck a tent for a period of time, was taken away from Him.  It was, of course, replaced with a new body, which, when one is in union with Him (believing the Gospel and living according to the idea that Jesus is Lord of all), provides the context for a hope for the same. 

Hezekiah speaks of the turning of day into night and the end of his life, and the reader is forced to consider the darkness that crept over the land when Jesus hung upon the cross, as physical death crept over and eventually consumed Him.  Hezekiah exclaims, “I cry out until morning; like a lion he shatters all my bones; you turn day into night and end my life” (38:13).  As it is once again possible to read about the turning of day into night and the ending of life, it is also possible to reflect on the fact that the ordeal that Jesus underwent lasted from evening to morning, and continued on the through the middle of the day.  Also, though His bones were not broken, He is reported to have been scourged (a common practice for those slated to be crucified), which might very well have left Him with exposed bones---as victims of scourging were often flayed to the very bone.   

Moving on from his lamentation in regards to day and night, Hezekiah goes on to pray, “Like a swallow or a thrush I chirp, I coo like a dove; my eyes grow tired from looking up at the sky” (Isaiah 38:14a).  How often can it be imagined that Jesus, in the midst of groans and grunts and gasps of pain, casts His eyes toward the heavens?  Indeed, it must have been a weary cry when, eyes directed heavenward, as He sees the darkness rolling into the daytime sky, that Matthew reports Jesus making another one of His role-affirming plaintive cries of “Eli, Elli, lama sabachthani?  That is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46b) 

In correlation, because of his reportedly wearisome looking to the sky, Hezekiah says, “O sovereign Master, I am oppressed; help me!” (38:14b)  In humble acceptance, Hezekiah goes on to conclude, “What can I say?  He has decreed and acted” (38:15a).   Much like Jesus, in the garden before beginning His travailing ordeal, would say “My Father, let this cup pass from Me!  Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Matthew 26:39b).  Truly, Jesus is only properly heard from within and according to Israel’s narrative, which includes the works of the prophets.  It is quite probable that Jesus (and His biographers) knew well the words of Hezekiah as reported by Isaiah, thus taking up the words of one of Israel’s kings from the midst of his own suffering, is appropriate and quite suited to Jesus’ own role as Israel’s King. 

Skipping ahead to the sixteenth verse of this chapter, Isaiah continues to give voice to Hezekiah, and the king is heard speaking and saying “O sovereign Master, Your decrees can give men life; may years of health be restored to me.  Restore my health and preserve my life” (38:16).  Undoubtedly, Jesus stood resolute on this way of understanding the God of Israel.  In the role that He had come to understand was His alone, He is presented as one who trusted that His Father, His sovereign Master, could decree life.  While Hezekiah would enjoy an addition of fifteen years to his natural life, the decree of the sovereign Master towards Jesus would result in a Resurrection to an indestructible, eternal life (the life of the age to come entering into the present). 

Hezekiah experienced a restoration of health and a preservation of life, but for him, physical decay would never give up on the relentless march that would eventually take him to his grave.  For Jesus, it was so much more than a restoration and a preservation.  Jesus’ restoration was a complete renewal of His physical being, as He was given a glorified, Resurrection body, suited for the new creation of the covenant God’s eternal kingdom (now broken into the world) that had begun with His Resurrection.  Jesus did not merely have His life preserved.  He was given a new life---an eternal life.  On both counts, that of restoration and preservation in the manner experienced and enjoyed by the called Lord and Savior, those that are in union with Christ await the same. 

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