- Setting the Time
- Fear Not
- Seeing and Hearing for the First Time
- Fighting False Doctrine
- Hezekiah's Death Bed
- Not Ready to Die
- Changing Time?
- Showing Off
- References and Footnotes
- Other Pages to View
Isaiah 34-39 details a coming judgement and the tension between Judah and Assyria. Much of it parallels the narrative given in 2 Kings about King Hezekiah's encounter with Sennacherib, which reads as a proclamation of the coming judgement. Although much of this section details a specific conflict that has already occurred, there's a lot to be learned from the events in these chapters. There are also small tie ins to future prophecy that indicate it has relevance for us today as well.
Setting the Time
In Isaiah 34, Isaiah describes an event in which the heavens are destroyed. This parallels verses near the end of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17 and Isaiah 66:22), as well as verses from the New Testament (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1; Matthew 24:35; 5:18). Each of these verses is about the end times.
If you're reading a more modern translation, the judgement is pronounced upon Edom, but if you're reading the KJV, it says Idumea. Idumea is another name for Edom.
At the conclusion of Isaiah 34, he directs us to a the Word of God so that we might remember and reestablish certain things. Scholars believe Isaiah was specifically referencing the books of Moses, but I think the underlying message is that we should be familiar with the Word of God. We live in the generation of tl;dr (too long; didn't read), but the tl;dr of this chapter is read the Word of YHWH. The only way to know truth from fiction today is to know Whom you serve, and to know that, you have to be an avid studier of His Word.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart,
Be strong, fear not:
behold, your God will come with vengeance,
even God with a recompence;
he will come and save you.
Many times we fear change, we fear doing God's work, and we fear not being worthy of the task appointed to us (re: Moses). However, we should take comfort in Isaiah 35:4, God always provides the strength, as well as a way for His people.
Seeing and Hearing for the First Time
In the end, those who previously couldn't see or hear the truth, will finally understand. The concept of being spiritually blind or deaf can seem odd, but I as you grow in Christ you see how passages begin to unravel themselves. The same passage you read 5 years ago, suddenly means so much more. This is the process of having your eyes and ears opened.
Fighting False Doctrine
Isaiah 36 parallels 2 Kings 18. It takes us to the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign when Sennacherib attacks. Sennacherib reigned over Assyria between 704 and 681 BC.
This story means a lot to me because I see how it applies to today.
Sennacherib isn't a follower of God; he doesn't have a relationship with God and doesn't know God's Word. Instead, he relies on his knowledge of false gods to dictate how he thinks the Israelites should worship God. In this, he confuses the banning of worshiping God at unauthorized altars as abandoning God. This is a lot like the people who talk about "the war on Christmas," which isn't actually about Christ (there are posts on the blog that go into more detail on this). Of corse the people don't know any better because they've been following whatever the leaders tell them too. If your faith is unstable, false doctrine sounds like real doctrine and in an instant, when the false doctrine is shown to be false, you're doubting God. That's how Satan operates.
One thing I have to point out is that Sennacherib's messenger sounds a lot like the devil when he came to tempt Jesus. The messenger is offering them what they think is the world, just as the devil offered Jesus the world.
Hezekiah's Death Bed
Hezekiah is grieved to hear the news and immediately sends for Isaiah. Through Isaiah, God sends the message to Hezekiah not fear (the same message is given to us). God repays the general's blasphemy by causing him to about face and die in his own land.
In God's message to Hezekiah about the fate of the land and of the Assyrian army, he mentions a remnant bearing fruit. Later in the Bible we learn about the Fruit of the Spirit, and see many connections from fruit to actions. For the remnant of Israel to bear fruit, it means they behave in a Godly manner. It means they have taken on traits of God and are manifesting these traits in their daily lives. This is what all followers of Christ should be striving for
As God promised, the Assyrian army is defeated without any confrontation. Imagine if you taunted the one true God and wake to find your army dead. Sennacherib fled to Ninevah, but did not escape death. Just as God foretold, now that he was back in his homeland, it was time for him to suffer his fate. He was not only killed, but killed by his own sons.
Not Ready to Die
In Isaiah 38, we find Hezekiah on his deathbed, but he is not ready to die—really though, who is? Hezekiah prays for more time and is granted 15 years. The first couple reads through this, I never understood why God let Hezekiah live. From what we're told, it seems like Hezekiah was in God's favor; that if he'd died right then, he'd be all set in the after life. However, as soon as he is granted life, he does things that upset God. I would much rather die young and righteous than live to see myself turn against God.
As I was thinking that, I realized that the reason Hezekiah begged for more time is because he had fallen in love with this world. This world is flawed; it's broken and full of pain. God's eternal kingdom will be so much better, but many of us aren't willing to leave this world behind to get there. In the end, it doesn't really matter how long we live. We're here to fulfill a purpose. That purpose may take us 90 years, or it may take 20 years. However, if we're truly walking with the Lord, when the time is up, we won't be afraid to go.
I don't know if God allowing Hezekiah more time on Earth was to teach him not to be afraid of death, for Israel's sake, or something else entirely. What I do know is that God knew what He was doing when He granted Hezekiah's wish.
In Isaiah 38:8, God tells Hezekiah that he's going turn the shadow back on a sun dial as a sign. Apparently, I'm not the only person who read this and was confused. I don't know if God actually set time back, or if the shadow only moved for Hezekiah. The overall point, however is that God was able to provide a miracle as proof of His promise to extend Hezekiah's life. I think it's fitting that the promise is "sealed" for Hezekiah by turning back time. Imagine if we could do a do-over for the Garden of Eden! We could stop sickness from ever happening. There's only two ways to end death: go back in time and stop the fall, or rush forward in time when Jesus has returned, which Hezekiah was refusing to do.
In Isaiah 39 we see Hezekiah seeking approval of the world. In Isaiah 38, we saw that he wasn't ready to leave this world, so it makes sense that his weakness is fitting in. Hezekiah, despite just witnessing a miracle from God, is quick to try to impress the king of Babylon. Babylon was a potential ally against Assyria, which could be part of Hezekiah's motivation. Of course, with God as your ally, you don't need these other nations. The fact that Hezekiah is so willing to "prove" himself to the Babylonian King, shows an insecurity.
My parents used to warn me about telling all of my business. In Hezekiah's case, there's the obvious desire for acceptance or recognition, but there's also the danger that my parents were warning me about. Sometimes, in our insecurity and/or ignorance, we don't realize that what we're showing off can cause someone else to get jealous. By showing the favor that God has bestowed upon him, Hezekiah is setting himself up for scrutiny. The King of Babylon is less likely to say "this nation is more important than I thought" and more likely to think "I have to crush them before they become more powerful than me." We should be mindful of this when talking about our material wealth. Evaluating why we want to share something with someone is probably the best idea.
References and Footnotes
- "Edom". Encyclopædia Britannica; visited May 2019
- John Gills. "Isaiah 34:16 Commentary". Bible Study Tools; visited May 2019
- "Isaiah 38:8 Commentary". Bible Hub; visited May 2019
- "Sennacherib". Encyclopædia Britannica; visited May 2019
Other Pages to View