“And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day’ ” (2 Kings 20:8)?
On a trip to the mountains of Nepal we followed a local bus for several miles. On the back of the bus was printed their slogan, “We make travel fun.” Really? What is so much fun about riding on extremely narrow, rough, crooked roads in high mountains where in order to pass traffic one must literally hang out over steep drops? It is not unusual to see below the burnt out ruins of vehicles that did not safely negotiate those conditions.
Promises are easy to make, but sometimes difficult or even impossible to keep. Whether it is in advertising, political campaigns, or more personal assurances, most people soon learn to take any pledge with at least a little skepticism. We learn to ask questions, such as, “How do I know you can do that?” Or “What guarantees can you give?”
When King Hezekiah of Judah became ill the prophet Isaiah told him he would die. The king prayed for mercy and God granted it. Isaiah returned and assured the king that he would recover and live for 15 more years (2 Kings 20:1-6). When Hezekiah heard the new prophecy his response was to ask, “How can I be sure?” He desired a sign from God — that is something miraculous — as sure proof that he would live.
Such is human nature. We are so cynical that we ask even God for proof that he will keep his promises. Show me a sign. Perform a miracle. Do something special just for me so that I can be certain that my faith is well placed.
And while we are longing for signs we easily forget that they have already been provided. When Paul described the Gospel which he preached throughout much of the Roman Empire, he said it was “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4).
God has provided every necessary evidence of his existence and nature (Romans 1:19-20), his love for mankind (Romans 5:8), and the facts and promises of the Gospel of Salvation. By the resurrection of Jesus from the grave he established beyond question his ability to raise all the dead. By giving his son to die for us he has proven his great and matchless love for us.
Regarding eternal salvation, Paul wrote in another place, “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2). God’s own nature is our guarantee that we can trust his promises. He cannot lie. What he speaks is true, always (John 17:17).
Bus companies and politicians may promise almost anything. One trusts them at one’s own risks. But if God says it, it is true. Him we can believe. In fact, if we are to have any hope we must believe him and follow all of his commandments (Matthew 7:21).