Isaiah 39 – Beware of Subtle Deceptions

Dear Friends,

In Chapter 38, Hezekiah dodged the bullet of his impending death. He seems to be invincible. He also successfully fended off the Assyrian army when they were at the gates of Jerusalem by properly responding to the threat. In that instance, Hezekiah sought God’s counsel before making any decisions. However, in the seemingly innocuous event of some emissaries arriving from Babylon, Hezekiah did not feel he needed to inquire. He was confident he could deal with the situation all on his own.

Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Isaiah 39
1 At that time Merodach–baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered.
2 And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.
3 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon.
4 Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
5 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts:
6 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
7 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
8 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.
Isaiah 39


The Bible says this about Hezekiah: And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered. (2 Chron 31:2) If there was ever anyone who had a right to feel confident, it was Hezekiah. He is one of the most successful people in the Bible. However it is often after a great success, when we are feeling our most confident, that we need to be careful; because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet 5:8) If he cannot get us as a roaring lion (like Rabshakeh eg), he will try to get us as a deceiving spirit. He will use any means (2 Cor 11:3) he has at his disposal. He is subtle, which means he can attack us in ways we were not expecting. Hezekiah, no doubt, was flattered by the gifts and kind words from Prince Merodach. It has been said that whenever somebody butters you up, watch out because they are probably getting ready to roast you. In this case, it looks like the Babylonians were being sincere and there was no immediate threat. However, Hezekiah did not know the end from the beginning as God does. (Isa 46:10) He did not know that over the next one hundred years Babylon would rise to be a world superpower, eclipsing the empire of Assyria. Hezekiah did not know that despite his reforms, over the next century Judah would fall into sin and become weak. Hezekiah did know that he was supposed to be humble (Pr 29:23), but the flesh is weak. His pride got the best of him. He wanted to brag and show off his treasures. (The treasure was not even his, technically. The treasure was acquired over centuries and belonged to Judah. See 1 Cor 4:7.) When Babylon became a world power, their records contained a report of great wealth in Jerusalem, and they wanted it.

This is what the historical record says about this period of Hezekiah’s life:

BBBIn those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the Lord: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign.
BBBBut Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
BBBNotwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
2 Chronicles 32:24-26

Although Hezekiah made a big mistake in showing the emissaries the treasures of the kingdom, he at least he did his best to humble himself and repent after Isaiah reproved him. Considering 2 Chronicles 32:26, perhaps Hezekiah was being humble and accepting of the Lord’s will when he said what he did in Isaiah 39:8. His statement sounds pretty inconsiderate, but maybe he didn’t mean it that way.

The Bible says in the business of the ambassadors from Babylon, God left Hezekiah to test him. (2 Chron 32:31) I pray that God never tests me that way. Since we enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant, hopefully He never will. He promised to never leave us, but He never promised not to test us. Hezekiah serves as a reminder that we need to always be sober and vigilant. (1 Pet 5:8) Isaiah’s prophecy eventually came to pass. Jerusalem was razed, the temple was destroyed, and the treasure of the city was carried away to Babylon. The descendants of Hezekiah became eunuchs in the court of the king. (Dan 1) The paraphrase Bible words Philippians 4:6 this way: Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything. Amen. Hezekiah should have prayed when the ambassadors showed up.

BBBWherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12

Father, I pray that we can take heed to the lesson we have here from king Hezekiah, that we may seek your face to know your will in all things, that we may be humble and not seek to aggrandize ourselves. All glory and honor are yours Father, now and forever, in Jesus’ name. Amen.