“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous” – Proverbs 13:22
We had a Bible study at our house last night with some good friends from church. During the conversation, we ended up in 2 Kings discussing Hezekiah, followed by Manasseh, followed by Josiah. Hezekiah was a good king. He turned Israel away from false religions and destroyed the despicable practices of those religions (which included burning children in fire as a sacrifice).
Somewhere along the way though, Hezekiah seemed to slide back from his ardent dependence on God. In 2 Kings 20 he receives envoys from Babylon and shows them all of his treasures, and all the treasures in the house of the Lord. Then, the prophet Isaiah came to him with the following exchange from 2 Kings 20:16-19:
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
“The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
Think about this, now. The prophet Isaiah, who Hezekiah well knew spoke the truth from the Lord, comes and tells Hezekiah that bad things are coming. The treasures in his palace will be taken away to Babylon. Nothing will be left. Some of Hezekiah’s own descendents will be taken in captivity, and some of them will be made eunuchs (and you know what that entails).
Hezekiah’s response? “That’s fine, as long as it doesn’t happen until after I’m gone.” Wow!
To be able to say “I don’t care what horrible things happen to my kids and grandkids, as long as things are all sunny and happy while I’m alive” … that’s something.
How about this one: “I don’t care if Social Security and Medicare collapse, taking the prosperity of generations away with it – as long as I get my benefits before I die.”
Or how about this one: “I don’t care if the business we work for collapses and falls apart, leaving all of the younger workers unemployed and destitute, as long as I get the benefits that the union negotiated for me back in the good old days.”
Somebody is going to have to take the hit, here. Somebody is going to have paid far more into the system than they get out (whether it’s the safety-net entitlements or the union employees in private industry). The longer the day of reckoning is held off, the harder the fall will be.
(Side note: I don’t mean to use any of this to discredit the life of Hezekiah and the massive impact he had on the nation of Israel. He was a good king. The statements at the end showed that things had gotten a little sideways for him before the end.)