The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 39

Isaiah

Our next reading is Isaiah 39

Note: This is also narrated in 2 Kings 20:12-19

A fundamental principle in Scripture is to care about, and be a G-dly influence in, the lives of other people. When we have received the love of G-d into our lives that love manifests itself in a love for others – and, prophetically, in a love for the next generation. We are called to prepare the next generation for the Kingdom. Even most unbelievers have this principle of setting up the next generation (their children and grandchildren) to have success. 

For most of his life Hezekiah walked faithfully and obediently before G-d. However, he did not finish his life well. We should be individuals that are sensitive to the time that G-d has given to us. As we grow older, we should mature in the faith and should understand spiritual things better. We should desire to grow more faithful, more obedient, and be a greater vessel for good in regard to the purposes of G-d in our lives.

In trouble and in war time, when threatened by an enemy, Hezekiah trusted G-d and G-d proved Himself to be a Deliverer. G-d restored Hezekiah’s kingdom, and the Assyrians did not capture Jerusalem.

v1: At that time: Immediately after King Hezekiah was healed.

  • King of Babylon: At this time the Assyrians were still the leading empire. The Babylonians were not yet as strong as they were going to be. People were not yet intimidated by Babylon. 
  • Sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard: The king of Babylon was intrigued and interested in how Hezekiah had been healed from a fatal disease. This miracle captured this Babylonian king’s attention.
  • Recovered: Become strong again. 

v2: Hezekiah was pleased: Hezekiah rejoiced that word had reached Babylon about how G-d had heard his prayer and had healed him. 

  • Them: The king of Babylon had sent some individuals to Jerusalem to visit King Hezekiah and to verify what had taken place. 
  • The house of his treasures: A type of warehouse where Hezekiah stored his personal possessions and possibly a warehouse where he stored the kingdom’s treasures (the wealth of the nation). 
  • Precious ointment: Anointing oil

Note: When Hezekiah received this envoy from Babylon it does not appear as if he gave any glory to G-d. Instead, Hezekiah showed these people what he considered his glory (his own personal treasures) as well as the glory of the nation of Judah – the kingdom’s wealth and treasures. 

v3: Note: We can surmise from the context that Isaiah knows what has happened and he knows what Hezekiah has done. 

  • They came to me from a far county: Many scholars see this as a statement of pride. Hezekiah emphasises that these people have come from far away to see him. The problem here was that these men had come to hear a testimony about what G-d had done in Hezekiah’s life, instead they received a tour of all his material wealth. 

v4: He: Isaiah

  • They have seen all: G-d’s miraculous healing of Hezekiah did not lead him to humility. Instead, it caused him to become proud. Showing his wealth symbolised his pride. G-d’s work in Hezekiah’s life did not lead him to have a greater appreciation for G-d, but rather it caused Hezekiah to think that he himself was great.

Note: It is very dangerous when people who have been entrusted with leadership over others think that all the power, resources and authority belong to them, and that they can use it all for themselves. This mindset and activity leads to disaster – physically and spiritually. 

v5: Hear: This is a word that demands a response. We hear in order to obey. Hezekiah needed to hear what Isaiah said and then he had the opportunity to respond (correctly or incorrectly). Hezekiah did not respond appropriately. He did not repent of what he had done, nor of the attitude in his heart. 

  • The L-rd of hosts: This prophetic name of G-d (the L-rd of the armies) carries great authority and power. It is a name which is akin to a declaration of war – the Mighty and Sovereign L-rd will be against the one spoken against if there is no change, no repentance. When G-d reveals Himself as the L-rd of hosts it usually speaks about a coming judgment.

v6: Behold, the days are coming: This was going to be a future reality for Judah. 

  • Nothing shall be left: It has been emphasised twice in this chapter that Hezekiah showed the Babylonians everything and that there was ‘nothing…that Hezekiah did not show them.’ (Isaiah 39:2, 4). G-d now emphasises here that the kingdom of Judah is going to suffer a total loss where every single thing of value will be carried off to Babylon, and whatever is left in the land will be destroyed. 

v7: Take away some of your sons who will descend from you: This judgment was not only upon Hezekiah’s sons, but also upon the future generations who would descend from him (This judgment lasted for 70 years). Many of these people would not make it back to the land of Israel. They would either die in exile or decide not to go back to the land once the exile ended. Many of the children of Israel would not remain committed to the call of G-d upon their lives. 

  • Palace: In the Hebrew this is a word that often has spiritual connotations attached to it. It does not only mean a palace but can also be referring to a sanctuary or a temple. 
  • Eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon: These children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to play a role in the Babylonian government, some of them even getting involved in idol worship. This is not a good thing but is bad news. 

Note: When Hezekiah heard this devastating prophetic proclamation about exile for his posterity and that all was going to be lost, we would expect him to become repentant, humble himself and beg for G-d’s mercy and forgiveness. We would expect him to pray as fervently as he did, with his face to the wall, when he had heard that he was going to die. We would expect that G-d would be gracious to him and, in the same way that He removed Hezekiah’s disease, that He would remove this horrible prophetic punishment from Hezekiah. Hezekiah, however, did not behave like we would have expected him to. 

v8: At least there will be peace and truth in my days: Hezekiah was unconcerned with the next generation. He was only concerned about the fact that all went well for him while he was still alive. This was not a good response on Hezekiah’s part. He thought too much about his own life and about his own experiences. As believers this should never be the way that we think or behave. As believers we should be very concerned about the next generation, influencing them to value the will, plans and calling of G-d. 

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