Put your house in order
The beginning of Solomon’s reign was far more illustrious than its end. As with David his father, his downfall was a matter of the heart. He should have been a man after the LORD’s heart. And as christ he should surely have demonstrated faithful love for his bride,
“But king Solomon loved many strange women” (1 Kings 11:1)
No, not Lady Gaga. These were women…
“…of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.” (1 Kings 11:2-3)
Just imagine it. A thousand mothers-in-law. The end was nigh!
After Solomon died, the kingdom was split. The northern kingdom (10 of the 12 tribes) was known as “Israel” and was ruled by Jeroboam. After him came 19 more kings – all of them adjudged “evil” in the books of 1 and 2 Kings. The northern kingdom was then “carried away” into exile by the invading Assyrians.
The southern kingdom (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) was known as “Judah” and was ruled by Rehoboam. After him came 19 kings also. They did slightly better than their northern cousins but still, only 8 of them were adjudged “good”. And eventually they too were “carried away” into exile by the invading Babylonians.
Our phrase for today comes around 200 years after Solomon’s reign. Hezekiah was the King of Judah 13 generations after Solomon. He began to reign aged 25, but just four years later, this happens:
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. (2 Kings 20:1)
Hezekiah pleads with the LORD and receives an answer from the prophet:
I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. (2 Kings 20:5)
Every phrase here is dripping with resurrection importance. But it’s only as we read on to the next chapter that we realize it wasn’t just Hezekiah that was saved from death. Hezekiah was granted 15 extra years of life , but when he finally died his son, Mannaseh, was just 12. Suddenly the reader realizes that, when he fell ill, Hezekiah was childless. If he had died, the seed of David would have died with him.
And so the LORD raises up the seed of David on the third day. For the sake of the LORD’s house He is merciful and spares Hezekiah. But it’s only for 15 years.
Soon enough Hezekiah certainly “shalt die”! And his house will have to be “put in order” again. As will his childrens’ after him. As we consider this line of kings, we might think that it’s these men who reign. But a moment’s thought tells us no – it’s death that reigns. Even Jesus, the Seed of David, will go down to death. But His death is the death-killing Death. And His resurrection is the life-giving Life.
Therefore with Jesus, it’s not so much a case of “thou shalt die and not live.” It’s more a case of “thou shalt die and then live.” And for all those who come to Jesus that becomes our pattern. Dying then living.
Therefore we, like Hezekiah, should be ready for death. We will go the way of all the earth. But we won’t “put our house in order” with fear or fatalism, but in faith. We will entrust ourselves to the Risen King who says: “Because I live, ye shall also live.” (John 14:19)