The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 38 Part 1

Isaiah

Our first reading for this week is Isaiah 38:1-8

Note: This account is also related in 2 Kings 20:1-11

How would you respond if a prophet of the L-rd told you that you were going to die? Would you accept it and give thanks to G-d for the time you have had, or would you ask G-d to allow you to live for longer? Up to this point, King Hezekiah had done what was right in the eyes of the L-rd. Unfortunately, however, after Hezekiah was miraculously healed, he did not live in a G-d honouring way. It would have been better for him to have simply accepted what G-d had planned for him, rather than negotiating and trying to change the plans of G-d. From a Kingdom perspective, the plans and purposes of G-d for our lives are always for the best. We should not argue with G-d and try to change things, but we need to simply submit to the revelation of G-d. 

v1: Set your house in order: This is a command. In one sense this is a blessing for Hezekiah. G-d is giving Hezekiah an opportunity to set things in order and to do the things that he has left undone, the things he had wanted to accomplish before he died. 

v2: Turned his face toward the wall: There was an unwillingness in Hezekiah to accept the fact that he was going to die. 

v3: Remember…how I have walked before You: Hezekiah reminds G-d of how he has lived before G-d. 

  • A loyal heart: Hezekiah’s heart was completely given over to G-d’s will.
  • Done what is good in Your sight: Hezekiah puts before G-d a testimony of his faithfulness and of his commitment to how he lived before G-d. 
  • Hezekiah wept bitterly:  He was a broken individual when he heard of his pending death. 

v5: The L-rd, the G-d of David your father: This is a unique and rare Biblical expression. David was a man who greatly desired to worship G-d. Before David died, his desire was to build the temple for the L-rd. His hands were stained with blood, however, so he was not allowed to build the temple. David accepted this, but, before he died, he made preparations for the temple so that his son Solomon could build it. Many of the Rabbinical scholars say that this expression should have been a hint to Hezekiah to remind him to be Kingdom minded. G-d gave Hezekiah a unique amount of time (an additional period of years to live) but He desired that Hezekiah (like David) would use that time wisely and be Kingdom minded. 

  • Fifteen: This is a unique number in Judaism. In Jewish culture, letters can be used instead of numbers (much the same concept as Roman numerals in English). The letters for the number fifteen would be the first two letters used for the sacred name of G-d, therefore these letters are not written for the number 15, but other letters are used instead.

Note: Most scholars say that it was significant that 15 years were given to Hezekiah. They say that the 15 years should have been a reminder to Hezekiah that he needed to live for G-d.

v6: I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria: G-d promised that Assyria would not defeat Judah at all (historically this is correct. The Babylonians were the ones to take Judah into exile many years later). 

  • I will defend this city: G-d Himself defends Jerusalem 

v7: Sign: A miraculous happening – something only G-d can do. 

v8: The sundial of Ahaz: G-d was specific about which sundial this miracle would be observed on. 

  • Ten degrees backwards: Possibly around 40 minutes. There would be no earthly explanation for this, and no man could fabricate this to look like a miracle. This miracle confirmed two things: 

1. That Assyria would not defeat Judah

2. That Hezekiah was going to be given an extra 15 years. In those 15 years Hezekiah had the opportunity to demonstrate the purpose and presence of G-d in his life. He had the opportunity to carry out G-d’s will. 

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