“God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart” 2 Chronicles 32:31
King Hezekiah went further than any of the other kings of Judah in turning the people back to worshipping the Lord. “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord” and “he removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it. … He trusted the Lord … he held fast to the Lord” (2 Kings 18:3-6). Hezekiah did all he could to rid Judah of idolatry and return the people to worshipping the Lord. For this reason the Lord was pleased to bless him and preserve Judah for His own name’s sake (19:34).
There came a day when Hezekiah was so sick that he sought a word from the Lord through the prophet Isaiah as to whether he would recover or not. He was told that he would not recover. The Lord put this test to him to reveal what was really in his heart. He didn’t know that it was a test or that it was from the Lord.
We should note that this test came after a life that testified of his love and dedication to the Lord. There was still a matter of the heart that the Lord wished to address before Hezekiah came into His presence. Hezekiah asked for more time on earth before he came into the Lord’s presence. His motive is revealed in subsequent events.
After he recovered from the illness he began to boast in the prosperous life the Lord had given him. As an expression of that he displayed all the wealth he had acquired during his reign. In so doing he accepted personal praise for the nation’s peace and prosperity. He was in fact stealing glory that belonged to the Lord.
The test the Lord brought to Hezekiah in the latter part of his life revealed that pride was still alive and well in his heart. His act of pride and boasting was the final straw that led to Judah’s exile. The Lord did delay the exile because Hezekiah gave evidence of repentance when he believed the word of the Lord (2 Kings 20:18, 19).
Just because we have been walking with the Lord many years is no reason to suspect that we will not face more tests to see where our heart really lies. In reality, it is our latter years that our motive for serving the Lord in the earlier years is revealed. That which we have sown we shall reap up to one hundredfold. We may conceal bitterness, anger, envy, jealousy, pride and a host of other secret sins but if they are not dealt with in confession and repentance in our earlier years they will manifest their fruit in our later years. Likewise, genuine faith, trust, humility and submission to the will of God will also bear its fruit.
If we think we can step back from serving the Lord in our latter years it is because we think Jesus owes us something for our years of service. This may reveal that we have a big heap of wood, hay and straw for His fire and not so much gold, silver and precious stones. It may also reveal that we have been serving Him for our benefit and not out of love and gratitude. Let us put it right through confession while we can and before we reap a harvest we do not want.