Don’t Live Too Long
I clearly remember hearing my grandmother say, “Getting old ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.” When I mentioned this to Fran Reynolds (older members will know who she was), she said, “No it’s not. It is all cracks.” There are many wonderful blessings about aging, and there are many hard adjustments to be made. However, it might help us to consider that sometimes we can live too long.
The seventy years preceding the reforms made by Josiah were the worst period in the history of Judah. While Hezekiah had been one of the great kings of the Jews, his son, Manasseh, led Israel in a downward spiral of spiritual depravity which lasted nearly seven decades. There were only two courts in the temple which Solomon built, and in both of them this evil king built altars to worship pagan gods. God described his reign in these words, “Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel” (2 Kgs. 21:9).
At the end of his life, he repented and tried to bring the nation back to God, but it was too late. His son, Amon, led the nation even farther away from God. Just two generations removed from the spiritual heights brought by Hezekiah, the Jews reached the depths of depravity. How did this happen?
It might not have happened had Hezekiah died sooner and Manasseh had not been born. He almost did die! God sent Isaiah to tell righteous Hezekiah, “Set your house in order for you shall die; you shall not recover” (2 Kgs. 20:1). As the prophet left, the king begged God to extend his life, and God heard him. Before Isaiah left the palace, God told him to return and tell the king his life had been extended fifteen years. It was during these fifteen years that Manasseh was born.
Wonder what would have happened had another son replaced Hezekiah? It is hard to imagine that it would have been worse. It would have been far better had Hezekiah accepted the first message of Isaiah and prepared everything for his death. The obvious conclusion is that Hezekiah lived too long.
One of the most tragic things I have ever observed is Christians living too long and in the last years of their lives destroying much of the good they have done earlier. I have seen preachers and elders whose behavior in their last years brought havoc to the church. I have seen parents destroy the righteous influence they had on their family by ungodly actions as they aged. I have watched Christians characterized by kindness become bitter with age and lose their influence for righteousness.
Let each of us live faithful to the very end! God help us to never outlive our righteousness. Do not live too long!