And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” II Kings 20:9 ESV
Harley was a black German Shepherd who has crossed the rainbow bridge. He did not like hardwood or tile floors. Throw rugs were placed strategically around his home to allow him access. Sometimes when Harley would get where he was going he would have to walk backwards to return to his starting point. Dogs walking backwards are cute. Christians backtracking are not so cute.
II Kings 20 tells the story of Hezekiah’s illness. The prophet Isaiah went to him and told him to get ready because he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed, reminded God of his years of devotion and wept in prayer. God changed his mind and told Isaiah to go back and tell Hezekiah that he heard his prayer and would heal him. God added fifteen years to his life.
Hezekiah asked what sign would be given to know he was healed? Isaiah asked him if he wanted the shadow on the sundial to go back ten steps or forward ten steps? He thought it sounded more difficult for the shadow to go back ten steps. Isaiah 38:8 states, ‘”I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.'” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down. Going backwards was a good thing in this incident in the life of King Hezekiah.
I read a book by Charles Swindoll entitled Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back. It was a book about persevering through pressure. Often we journey through life and we are making progress. Suddenly, something happens and we are knocked down and backwards. It is a struggle to keep moving forward. We do not want to lose all of the ground we have gained. Job 17:9 tells us, “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.” Philippians 3:14 says, “I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 56:9 tells us, “Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me.” If God is telling you to retreat from a situation, then obey. Hezekiah watched the shadow go backwards and lived to tell about it. Pressures in life can leave us spinning backwards but when you are in the Lord’s army, we should be continually advancing to become more like Him. Make sure you are at least one step closer to God than yesterday.