Today: [Isaiah 39] Never Lay Down in a Battle Zone. In this chapter, we see Hezekiah basking in the afterglow of great deliverance and personal rescue by the hand of God. An army of 180,000 has been destroyed supernaturally by the hand of God. Hezekiah is instantaneously healed from a deadly disease by the word of the Lord through Isaiah. Then in the aftermath of this great time of testimony, Hezekiah shows a remarkable lapse in judgment by receiving emissaries who come from the king of Babylon to commend his welfare. Because of not staying vigilant, the pathway is opened for the eventual and total destruction of Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple. The lesson for us is that evil never sleeps. Even in the midst of great victory, Satan often comes to trip us up and lay snares before us. Even when the enemy seems to have retreated and totally destroyed our hand must ever remain at the ready on the sword of the Spirit in our lives.
[Isa 39:1-8 KJV] 1 At that time Merodachbaladan, 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.
In this chapter we see the continuation of an unfolding strategy of hell against Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem. In chapter 37 there was a great deliverance as God supernaturally destroys an army of 180,000 besieging the city. It was a great day for Jerusalem and a shining moment of faith for king Hezekiah. Not only was an immediate problem of foreign invasion resolved, but a generational struggle of faith addressed when the people finally understand that their help only comes from God and not from outside resources such as Egypt and Ethiopia. Then in chapter 38 Isaiah appears before Hezekiah and declares that the sickness he is suffering from is one from which he will not recover. Hezekiah turns his face to the wall and cries out to God and is miraculously healed. Isaiah proclaims the clemency of God toward Isaiah and the king is promised 15 more years of life.
The lessons we can learn thus far in the book of Isaiah are threefold:
1. When you are facing a challenge, look to God through prayer as your primary resource of deliverance. To rely on the arm of flesh, natural solutions or rationale may result in making matters worse. God is a jealous God and takes issue with us when the confidence that belongs to Him is placed on other things.
2. In the afterglow of great victory, there is often an insidious backlash of the enemy as in the case of Hezekiah’s illness that gravely threatened his life at the very moment when all of Israel was rejoicing over the unprecedented supernatural victory over the Assyrians. As Hezekiah, we must be prepared not to be distracted from our total dependence on God even in those times that all seems to be going well and our blessing is all but assured. Never lay down in a battle zone, even when the enemy has retreated.
3. In this chapter, we learn that the enemy after a great victory will often send people into our lives with feigned interest who are intended to reconstitute the threats that God has delivered us from.
The Assyrians are destroyed and Hezekiah is supernatural delivered from a grave illness. The mood in the city of Jerusalem is celebratory, and Hezekiah himself no doubt is feeling at peace and resting in the confidence of the hand of God that has moved so dramatically in Jerusalem and in his own life personally. In the midst of all these positive things happening there are visitors that come from the kingdom of Babylon to wish the king well. They come bearing gifts and warm wishes because (they say) they have heard that the great king Hezekiah was ills. It is as though they were sending him flowers and a get-well card.
Apparently, Hezekiah never paused to ask himself the question as to why Babylon was interested at all in his affairs, or the affairs of his nation. This is a monumental error which ultimately opened the door for the total and complete destruction and captivity of the nation. Because of this one error, Babylon will take occasion to invade Judah, sack Jerusalem, destroy the temple and extinguish almost completely the line of the kings of David. How could Hezekiah be so blind? We can give two examples from elsewhere in the scripture that could help us understand and hopefully, avoid the same pitfalls in our own life.
In the aftermath of Abraham’s great victory over the armies that had taken his nephew Lot in Gen. 14, there was a similar challenge presented to him. Abraham with only 318 men had defeated several armies and recovered not only his nephew but the spoil of several cities of Sodom. Now Belah the king of Sodom is on his way to bestow upon Abraham the reward, honor and prestige seemingly due him as a great conqueror. Before this can happen, Melchisadec intercepts Abraham on the plain of Mamre and warns him not to take so much as a shoe-lachet from king Bela, lest the king of Sodom say that he had made Abraham rich. Had Abraham not heeded this counsel his destiny may have become a total abortion, and he would have gone down in history merely as the lap dog of a Sodomite king.
Then generations later (see Joshua ch. 9), Joshua has entered the promised land and by the hand of God defeated every nation that the Israelites encountered. The victories were supernatural with God coming down and fighting alongside the armies of Israel with hailstones and raining fire from heaven upon the enemies of God. There is total victory on every hand. In the midst of this one of the tribes that Joshua was supposed to conquer, pretended that they had come from a far land, and through flattery and deceit convinced Joshua to cut a covenant with them, that they might be a servant nation to the Israelites. Joshua is fat with success. He thinks this is just what it means to be a great conqueror and while his people had been a slave generation, he concludes that now it is time for other nations to serve them. The only problem here is that for once he neglected to consult the oracle of God through the urim and thummim. When he was small in his own eyes, Joshua would not make a move without seeking the Lord but now he felt he could make this decision on his own. The result was devastating. Over the course of many generations the Gibeonites were a thorn in Israel’s side costing many lives and resulting in many unnecessary wars and strifes. Eventually even the family line of Saul, the first king of Israel is brutally wiped out because of this one careless error by Joshua in a moment that he thought he could afford to leave God out of an important decision.
King Hezekiah has received the entourage from Babylon and in a great lapse of judgment shows these spies all of the wealth of Judah and even the temple itself. Isaiah comes upon this scene and is astonished at the monumental foolishness of the king. Because Hezekiah has acted so thoughtlessly, Isaiah declares that the Babylonians will now come down and bring in full the destruction of the nation, the city and the temple that the Assyrians had just been stayed from doing by the hand of God. Astoundingly we see the density of Hezekiah’s character when the chapter concludes with the king shrugging this off, saying it doesn’t matter so long as it does not happen in his lifetime.
What has happened here? How could such a good and spiritually minded king such as Hezekiah suddenly become the catalyst that would one day bring upon the nation such total and complete destruction? The answer can only be found in Hezekiah’s great sense of self-interest and personal ego. Hezekiah no doubt was strained in his spirit with the rigors of battle and complete upheaval. He perhaps felt as Adam and Eve did in regard to the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, that it was his due to receive the false honor of the Babylonians. This was Joshua’s mistake, and it was the folly that Melchisadec spared Abraham from in regard to Bela, king of Sodom.
What is the lesson for us? Even in the midst of great blessing there are insidious forces ever at work to destroy us. Jeremiah tells us that the heart of man is deceitfully wicked, no man can know it. Most people have lived so long in defeat that they have no idea how to handle victory when it comes. If you live long enough, and obey God deeply enough there will come a time that all your enemies will be put under your feet and total blessing will mark everything that you do. This will be an hour of great challenge when hearing the voice of God and maintaining humble attenuation to every word of the Father will be more important than ever. To lapse at this juncture, relying on your own false wisdom, or sense of entitlement may open you up to greater disaster than you have ever known in your life.
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