Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 39

Even when we are blessed and follow the Lord it does not mean we cannot be foolish. This lesson is on display in chapter 39 of Isaiah, which is another very short chapter, but it sets the stage for something much larger. Yesterday we discussed of king Hezekiah was given another 15 years on his life and how he praised God for the opportunity to continue serving Him. We also recently saw, in chapter 38, how God delivered Jerusalem from the armies of the Assyrians. By the time we get to the events of chapter 39, king Hezekiah is feeling pretty good about both himself and how things are going.

1 At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. 2 Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. – Isaiah 39:1-2

This is nothing short of a colossal blunder. During the Cold War in this country many of our secrets were closely guarded from spies. The purpose behind this was so the Soviets would not find out our defense capabilities and defeat us in a proposed war. They did the same on their end, as they did not want us to know how weak economically they were becoming by the end of the Cold War. What Hezekiah does here is basically show the Babylonians everything he had, all his wealth, and in the process he reveals the weaknesses of Jerusalem and Judah.

Now why would he show a potential enemy around like this? Some think that maybe he was trying to entice the Babylonians into being an ally against the remaining Assyrians. Others think it may have been a show of strength in order to scare the Babylonians off. If they saw that the nation of Judah was strong they may second guess any invasion plans they had, especially if the Assyrians had just failed. In either case, Hezekiah was back to his old ways of relying on men rather than relying on God for strength. Here God had accomplished a great feat not just by destroying his enemies, but by lengthening the king's life and moving the sun backwards. This show just how weak we are as humans because we forget to rely on God even when things are easy. It's easy to turn to him in times of crisis and hopelessness. It's something completely different and, in my opinion, harder to turn to God when things are going well.

4 The prophet asked, "What did they see in your palace?"
      "They saw everything in my palace," Hezekiah said. "There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them."

 5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: 6 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. 7 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

 8 "The word of the LORD you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my lifetime." – Isaiah 39:4-8

There were consequences to Hezekiah's mistake, but the Lord recognized that he was still a good king for Judah. Though the nation would eventually suffer for turning away from God yet again, they would not suffer under the reign of Hezekiah. This had to be both pleasing and vexing at the same time. The king knew he would have peace, but he had to have been saddened by the fact his descendents would suffer under the rule of Babylon.


  1. How is your faith when things are going well?
  2. How can we avoid mistakes similar to Hezekiah's?
  3. How would you respond if you knew you would have a peaceful life, but your children would suffer?


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