Dr. Kenneth Samuel: Not In My Lifetime

2 Kings 20:16-19

"The 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 own 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?'"

Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel

I think every generation possesses a certain degree of self-indulgence. The Baby Boomers, of which I'm a part, have certainly reveled in our preoccupations with avant-garde fashion, sexual revolution, status-quo demonization, music protest and drug abuse.

But when does one generation's present indulgence become the next generation's inherited curse? Hezekiah was the thirteenth king of Judah after the monarchy had split. He did much to restore the prominence and purity of the Hebraic religion and cleanse it from the idolatrous practices that had been prevalent in his father's reign. In streamlining the administration and taxation structures of the kingdom, Hezekiah was able to amass considerable wealth for his people, in the form of grain, wine, oil and livestock. He rebuilt and fortified the walls around Jerusalem for its defense and he brought vital water supplies into the city through a tunnel that he constructed through solid rock.

Hezekiah did much to earn his generation's admiration and applause. However, when the prophet, Isaiah informed him that the enemies of Judah would raid his kingdom and take his descendants away into exile, Hezekiah seemed to shrug his shoulders and say: "That's fine. As long as me and my contemporaries are OK."

The myopic mindset of Hezekiah is still alive today. It shows up in the perceptions of those who believe that austerity cuts are the only way out of our current economic crisis. It shows up when we approach the need to cut our budgets without the necessary balance and appreciation for vital investments - investments that will serve future generations and leave resources of opportunity for those who will come after us; investments in education and in appropriate education reform; investments that protect, preserve and heighten awareness of our precious environment and that promote clean, renewable energy; investments in science, technology and innovation that will fuel new markets for career development into the future.

The true greatness of every generation is assessed most accurately by those who stand in its wake.


Dear God, beyond our own immediate preoccupation with pressing budgets and generational icons, give us insight into our present and foresight for those who will inherit the consequences of our actions. Amen.

Taken with permission from the UCC StillSpeaking Devotional.