Isaiah 39 – Saw It Coming a Mile Away

Isaiah 39 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans

Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans

Today’s PassageIsaiah 39

You ever get sick, and then get over the sickness, and get so glad to be over the sickness that the son of the king of Babylon sends you presents and so you show him all your stuff? And then a prophet of the Lord kinda rebukes you and prophesies that Babylon will take all your stuff and some of your sons? And also in this scenario you are the king of Judah. The Bible is nothing if not relatable.

In all seriousness, though you’ve probably never been the king of a middle-eastern nation in 700 BC, you may be able to find something familiar or someone to empathize with here. Perhaps, like King Hezekiah, you’ve made the mistake of trusting someone who later took advantage of your openness, or been so happy with your situation that you forgot to be careful. Or perhaps, like Isaiah, you’ve heard about an associate’s poor decision and been all, “You did what?” (My mom would not approve of my use of the phrase “been all” for the verb “said,” but I adopt a colloquial tone and vernacular expressions in my scriptural hermeneutic, so deal with it.)

And it’s a funny thing about predictions in Biblical prophecies: sometimes they’re miraculously specific, but sometimes they’re so obvious that anyone with a little wisdom could see them coming. I’m not denying God’s hand in them; a prophecy is by definition a message from God delivered by a human spokesperson, and the wisdom required for prophecy comes from God. Consider Proverbs 2:6: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” But it doesn’t take a prophetic genius to see what Isaiah sees coming in this chapter. Hezekiah showed the rulers of Babylon everything in his treasuries, and now they’re going to want it all for themselves.

Hezekiah’s response is weird, though. When Isaiah foretells the Babylonian captivity, he replies, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good. …For there will be peace and truth in my days” (39:8). God has just told him that the Babylonians are going to take all his stuff and make the Judean royal family serve in their court, and that’s not what most of us would call good news. But I can think of two reasons why Hezekiah might react as he did. First, when he says, “There will be peace and truth in my days,” he may be inferring that the Babylonian captivity will happen to his descendants, not in his lifetime. Possibly a selfish reaction, but perhaps he’s thinking that at least he can promote peace and truth during his own reign, in spite of what he knows will come.

The second possibility: Hezekiah understands that every word of the Lord is good. If there are going to be undesirable consequences for his political indiscretion, at least God has let him know that they’re coming, and he can learn from his mistakes. Hezekiah doesn’t say that Babylon is good to take all the royal treasuries. He says that God is good to give this message through Isaiah.

Question of the Day: What do you think is Hezekiah’s reason for saying “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good?”

 

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