As an editor, I definitely would have sent back today's passage for rewriting. It breaks the cardinal rule of all writers: Show, Don't Tell.
Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. He prayed to God and was given a reassuring sign. But the sign, instead of making Hezekiah grateful made him arrogant. This made God angry, and his anger spilled over on Judah and Jerusalem. But then Hezekiah, and Jerusalem with him, repented of his arrogance, and God withdrew his anger while Hezekiah lived. (2 Chronicles 32:24-26, MSG)
Wow, if I were writing a book about this incident, I would spend at least a chapter describing the illness, Hezekiah's arrogance, God's anger unleashed, and his repentance and restoration. Even the writer of 2 Kings spent most of chapter 20 describing the event.
But not here.
Let's look at 1 Kings 20 for the answers:
- Hezekiah was "deathly" ill. Isaiah the prophet came for a visit, warning Hezekiah that he would die.
- Hezekiah pleaded that God would spare his life, because he had lived for God. (By the way, here again we see the principle of God allowing, perhaps even planning, trials to beleager believers. Hezekiah joins a long line including Job and Joseph.)
- God gave Hezekiah a sign of his choice: the sun dial went back ten degrees.
- Hezekiah was healed.
- A some point after that, Hezekiah showed an emissary from Babylon all of Judah's riches.
- Isaiah warned him that Babylon would conquer Judah.
- The record in 2 Kings doesn't reflect Hezekiah's repentance, but relief that the punishment wouldn't happen during his lifetime.
Why did the writer leave out such an exciting story? It can't be because it reflects poorly on Hezekiah. God doesn't shy away from showing us Bible heroes' weak spots.
Perhaps precisely because we would focus on the story, and not on the moral of the story.
The lesson God wants us to take away: When God gives me a sign, do I respond with arrogance or with gratitude?
Every time recently when I have severely whether or not I should continue writing (my continued poor health raises a lot of questions), God has responded with what I call "neon writing in the sky" kinds of affirmations.
This week, after a troubling phone call from my son, I wondered if all the sacrifices I have made along the road to becoming a writer were worth the price I paid. It was a painful feeling, especially coming on top of bed rest.
God knew I needed encouragement. I received word that I would get another 3-book contract; and an editor requested a proposal from me based on a 100-word blurb that I submitted to her.
Also, I've had four books released in May-June. I've done a lot of interviews about the new books, and all kinds of people are saying "Oh, I love this author! Can't wait to get this book!"
And have heard from fellow authors that I am an inspiration to them.
I face the same choice that Hezekiah did: do I thank God for His continued hand of blessing? Or do I become arrogant and claim it's all my own talent?
If God wrote the account of my life using the tell, don't show, method, how would the description read? Well done, thou good and faithful servant or "I know her not"?