“Do you want the shadow to advance ten degrees on the sundial or go back ten degrees? You choose” asks the prophet, Isaiah, to Hezekiah, as he needed a sign from God in the story found in 2 Kings chapter 20. Which way would the king choose? He chose for the sundial to go backwards ten degrees, giving him more time. To be honest, most of us feel like King Hezekiah, time-poor, and if we had a choice we’d love an extra ten degrees of time in our day, our weeks, and our lifetime, right?
But what if, like King Hezekiah, God did give you more time, more weeks, even years and you became careless with it? What if you suddenly were caught off guard and squandered that extra time on an opportunity that looked like it was moving you ten degrees toward your dream but instead, it was moving you ten degrees away from it?
Let’s take a look at the story in 2 Kings 20.
The king’s tearful prayer for God to give him more time on earth as he lay on his death bed, was miraculously answered by God as He gave Hezekiah 15 more years to his life. In God’s opinion, Hezekiah was a good king who walked the same righteous path as his ancestor David. (2 Kings 18:3) However, Hezekiah needed to know if his miracle of the extra time was truly from God. And yet, the prophet’s question laid a decision right in the King’s lap. What would the king choose? For the sundial to be turned back ten degrees or forward ten degrees? It was ultimately the King’s choice.
‘Hezekiah said, “It would be easy to make the sun’s shadow advance ten degrees. Make it go back ten degrees.” So, Isaiah called out in prayer to God, and the shadow went back ten degrees on Ahaz’s sundial.’ (2 Kings 20: 11. MSG) Sometimes when we’re moving forward in the steps to fulfilling our dream, our destiny, our calling, whichever one you want to call it, we need to decide whether the opportunities that come our way are firstly from God, and secondly, we need to test out whether our move is going to lead us toward our calling or away from it.
God will never make the decision for us when opportunities come our way He just asks us to choose.
This story is definitely about a miracle, for after praying to God on his deathbed, Hezekiah was given 15 more years of his life. Hezekiah chooses for the sundial to go back ten degrees, a nod to his extra time given by the Creator, the Giver of life. And yet, this good king did not respond well to his extra time.
Further on in this story, Berodach – baladan, one son of Baladan, Babylon’s king, heard Hezekiah was sick, and so, he sent him a get-well-soon card and a gift with his messengers. This pleased Hezekiah no end, and so he decided to not only show the Babylon messengers how many bedrooms and bathrooms the king’s palace had but, ‘…a tour of his treasuries…the silver, gold, spices, oils, armour, and everything else that was in the treasure house. He left nothing out of the tour of his house and province.’. (2 Kings 20:13. TVT)
Did Hezekiah make the right move in revealing every single part of his prized possessions? Was this ten-degree shift in his thinking a good thing? Unfortunately, no, as the flattery gift and get-well-soon card from the Babylonians left him dangerously unguarded and unarmed. The prophet, Isaiah shows up and this is how the conversation with King Hezekiah went…
‘And just what were these men doing here? Where did they come from and why?” Hezekiah said, “They came from far away – from Babylon.” “And what did they see in your palace?” “Everything,” said Hezekiah, “There isn’t anything I didn’t show them – I gave them the grand tour.” (2 Kings 21:11-15)
Isaiah’s stern warning that ‘everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here – plundered and packed off to Babylon. God’s word!” Certainly shifted the conversation another ten degrees off course.
What was most devastating for King Hezekiah, was that Isaiah prophesied that his sons, who were yet to be born, were going to be made into eunuchs in the Babylonian king’s palace. From ‘Hezekiah put his whole trust in the God of Israel.’ (2 Kings 18:5) to trusting the Babylonians and showing off everything he owned only left his unborn sons winding up as eunuchs in a Babylonian palace. This was all his own doing, as Hezekiah’s pride got in the way of his calling because he showed the wrong people every single part of his prized possessions.
Know this, when it comes to your big dream, your calling, your destiny, the enemy will wait patiently until your guard is down and then he’ll try to recast, adjust, change, reshape, and remodel your steps as you keep moving forward ten degrees at a time. He wants the dream God placed in your heart to become barren, fruitless, and impoverished. He wants to castrate and sterilize the plans God has for you. It doesn’t take much to go off course, just ten degrees backwards and your dream will be eunuchized before you know it.
Displacement is a movement that can send you ten degrees in the wrong direction and everything you planted into your field of dreams will become barren and fruitless. King Hezekiah was blessed by God; he was given 15 years of extra life. However, he got sloppy, he got casual and careless with his dream and showed off his prized possessions to the wrong people. He was more interested in stroking his ego rather than stoking the fire of his dream.
Flattery and sweet-talk is a sicky-sweet, deceptive tool the enemy uses. Oh yes, his buttering up will be laid on so thick that your dream will need a cholesterol test afterwards! Seriously though, check the motive behind the flattery of others otherwise you’ll wind up in a place you never intended.
Understand that the vision you carry, the blueprint for seeing your dream come to pass is your prized possession. I’ll say that again, the enemy wants to steal your vision because people perish when there is a lack of vision. Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that ‘where there is no vision, the people perish.’ So please, for the love of all things dream-worthy, be careful in sharing your prized possessions. Find the right people who will help with your plans, steps, and dreams. Ten degrees can feel like ten miles away when you get distracted because you’ve been too busy ‘showing off’ your prized possession to the wrong people.
Keep focused on God, spend time with Him and He’ll show you which direction to go, placing the right people in your life to help move you forward ten degrees at a time.
Where has the enemy’s tactics caused your dream to get ten degrees off course?