4Then this message came to Isaiah from the Lord: 5“Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life, 6and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. Yes, I will defend this city. 7“‘And this is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised: 8I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!’” So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps. Isaiah 38:4-7
King Hezekiah was on his death bed, literally. Our merciful God heard Hezekiah’s cry for healing and not only brought a miracle of healing but also a miracle of time. For many years I read this as a novelty miracle. Today I’ve come to understand more fully the connection between the miracle of healing and the miracle of time. God gave Hezekiah a choice to have the shadow on the sundial go forward or go backward. Hezekiah chose to go backward because this was the more difficult of the two. That’s the first “ah-ha” moment for me. God is the only one who can take us backward and it’s all for the purpose of taking us forward. Hezekiah couldn’t turn back time, but God could. Hezekiah couldn’t heal his past wounds but God could. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but the God over time can turn back the clock and restore what has been stolen. Why was Hezekiah asking for a sign anyway? Because, he would have to wait three days before going to the temple to present himself healed. Here’s my second “ah-ha” moment. God wanted him to have an assurance that at the end of three days there would a miracle. Does that sound familiar? Jesus was resurrected after three days conquering sin, death and hell. Why three days? Why did Jesus wait? Jesus was turning back time for all those who had not yet had a chance to choose Him in the past prior to the Cross. In fact, tomorrow’s journal reading includes the description of Christ “18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19After being made alive he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—“ (1 Peter 3:18-19). Wow! What God did with the shadow on the sundial he did with the shadow of sin on the souls of men allowing each one to choose Him. We can’t turn back time but we can to turn to the one who holds time in His hands and can heal our past and secure our future.
I feel kind of silly admitting this, but while my mind is being blown at the theological implications of this passage in Isaiah I also have the sound of Cher’s voice in the back of my head singing, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” I”m sorry. It’s just how my brain works. As funny as it sounds, the lyrics of this classic 80’s ballad really do describe the importance of these scriptures today:
“If I could turn back time
If I could find a way I'd take back those words that hurt you and you'd stay
I don't know why I did the things I did I don't know why I said the things I said
Pride's like a knife it can cut deep inside
Words are like weapons they wound sometimes.
I didn't really mean to hurt you I didn't wanna see you go I know I made you cry, but baby.”
You and I can not go backwards and change our past but unless we make peace with our past our mistakes will stranglehold our future. What’s the cure? Well, believe it or not, Cher made it clear- the problem is pride so the cure is humility before the Lord. The only way to make peace with our past is to invite the Prince of Peace into our past and allow Him to heal the hurts.The God who turned back the sundial and turned back the life threatening disease of Hezekiah is the same God who went down to Hell setting the captives free is the same God sitting here right now waiting for me to quit wasting time and start surrendering my past back to Him. I’m not sure how Hezekiah’s voice compares to Cher’s but when he saw time turn back and heard the promise for his future he sang a song before the healing had even come. This song of humility is my prayer this morning…
“17Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
18For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness.
20The Lord will save me,
and we will sing with stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
in the temple of the Lord.”
(read to the tune of “If I Could Turn Back Time”)