The last lesson from this interlude portion of Isaiah comes from Isaiah 39. Here is the story:
Soon after this, Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift. He had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick and that he had recovered. 2 Hezekiah was delighted with the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?”
Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”
4 “What did they see in your palace?” asked Isaiah.
“They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.”
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: 6 ‘The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. 7 ‘Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.’”
8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”
As much as King Hezekiah sought to follow the Lord, he was still a man and a sinner. When he had recovered from his illness due to the Lord’s healing, he welcomed these men from Babylon and showed them around the palace. He let them see all the riches the Lord had provided. Why would he do this? Scripture does not name his sin but it looks like pride on Hezekiah’s part or maybe he was seeking the help from the Babylonians militarily. He wanted to ‘brag’ to the visitors how much he had, what he had gained and accomplished while king. He was showing off and the Lord sent Isaiah to call him up short and let him know there would be consequences for his actions. Whether it was from pride or seeking to rely on someone other than the Lord for their protection, it was sin in God’s eyes. Isaiah mentions by name the enemy that will capture, deport and take their possessions with them, Babylon. God was letting them know that judgement was coming in the future.
As a believer, we need to be mindful of the image we show to others. Self-examination is needed to not let our ‘self’ get too big and our pride become a problem. God desires that we are humble. Isaiah 66:2 “Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Is a great reminder of the attitude that God desires in and from us.
I am also troubled by Hezekiah’s attitude towards God’s message as he called it good because it did not result in immediate consequences for himself but involved future consequences for his children and grandchildren. Shouldn’t we be concerned about our legacy to future generations? God is eternal and redemption is for all mankind, now and in the future until He returns. Psalm 89:1 “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 145:13 “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” Moses spoke of our obligation to our children and grandchildren in Deuteronomy 6:4-8. This portion of scripture is know as the ‘Shema’ and was recited by Jewish believers as their confession of faith. It was recited daily by devout believers. It would have been known to Hezekiah. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” God has tasked each believer with the work of passing on our faith to the next generation.
May we be humble in spirit as Paul describes in Ephesian 4:2 ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.“ and mindful of our witness to the next generation.