Isaiah 38:1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
Two things are very interesting about this. The first is something we don’t like to accept, and that is that everyone deals with disease and death. Hezekiah had been an exemplary king to this point, but he was still human, living in this fallen world. The second is what immediately follows this statement by Isaiah: God seems to change His mind on the basis of Hezekiah’s earnest entreaty, promising him 15 more years as well as deliverance from Assyria. From one standpoint that seems very strange, because God sees all of time at a glance, so He knew exactly what was going to happen. However, doing things this way, Hezekiah himself was blessed with a further demonstration of God’s individual concern and love for him, and he wrote a beautiful song of testimony and praise (verses 10-29) that has blessed all who have read it in the centuries since then. We are faced with a logical problem here: did God lie through Isaiah, having him tell Hezekiah he wouldn’t recover? That would seem to be an impossibility. We are left with the idea, actually reinforced countless times throughout the Bible, that prophecy is conditional; if the response is correct, the prophesied thing won’t happen. That is famously true in the story of Jonah, who was totally bent out of shape that his prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh wasn’t fulfilled, because the people had repented. Prophecy is often a warning: straighten up or this will happen. Conversely, prophecies of blessing are also conditional, because if we take it all for granted and ignore God, those blessings evaporate. When we seek God we need to receive all that He says to us, and not go astray because of a partial understanding.
I have received a few prophecies, and I have actually delivered more. Since no genuine prophecy originates with man, (2 Peter 1:20-21) we need to rely on the Holy Spirit for the interpretation. We need to receive the words, and we need to let the Lord show us all that they mean. Sometimes that takes many years, as the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament illustrate. We aren’t to discard prophecy or take it lightly, (1 Thessalonians 5:20) but rather thank God for it and ask Him to show us how to apply it in our lives. I have a couple of prophecies about me written down, including one that I myself spoke, that have been a comfort and encouragement to me over the years, but I am to keep myself available and obedient so that they may be fulfilled in God’s time.
Father, thank You for prophecy. The subject came up in conversation just yesterday, and I was reminded that I have prophesied very little in this church, but almost exclusively when I was visiting other churches. Help me be available for whatever You want to say whenever, however, and wherever You want to say it, and help me receive whatever You say to me as well, whatever the circumstances. May Your will be done indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!