Relationships – Hezekiah and Isaiah

When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”
When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

  • 2 Kings 19:1-7

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. This is the word that the Lord has spoken against him:
“‘Virgin Daughter Zion
    despises you and mocks you.
Daughter Jerusalem
    tosses her head as you flee. …

  • 2 Kings 19:20-21

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.
“‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.
A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:
I said, “In the prime of my life
    must I go through the gates of death
    and be robbed of the rest of my years?”
I said, “I will not again see the Lord himself
    in the land of the living;
no longer will I look on my fellow man,
    or be with those who now dwell in this world.
Like a shepherd’s tent my house
    has been pulled down and taken from me.
Like a weaver I have rolled up my life,
    and he has cut me off from the loom;
    day and night you made an end of me.
I waited patiently till dawn,
    but like a lion he broke all my bones;
    day and night you made an end of me.
I cried like a swift or thrush,
    I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
    I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!”
But what can I say?
    He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
    because of this anguish of my soul.
Lord, by such things people live;
    and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
    and let me live.
Surely it was for my benefit
    that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
    from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
    behind your back.
For the grave cannot praise you,
    death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
    cannot hope for your faithfulness.
The living, the living—they praise you,
    as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
    about your faithfulness.
The Lord will save me,
    and we will sing with stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
    in the temple of the Lord.
Isaiah had said, “Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover.”
Hezekiah had asked, “What will be the sign that I will go up to the temple of the Lord?”

  • Isaiah 38:1-22

At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”
“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.”
The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”
“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

  • Isaiah 39:1-8

A Quote

[Isaiah 39:5-8]: word of the LORD … carried to Babylon. Isaiah predicted the Babylonian captivity that would come over a century later (586 B.C.), another prophecy historically fulfilled in all of its expected detail.
nothing shall be left. Hezekiah’s sin of parading his wealth before the visitors backfired, though this sin was only symptomatic of the ultimate reason for the captivity. The major cause was the corrupt leadership of Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son (2 Kin. 21:11—15).
sons who will descend from you. To a king without an heir, this was good news (that he would have one some day) and bad news (that some of his sons must go into captivity). See 2 Kings 24:12-16; 2 Chronicles 33:11; Daniel 1:3, 4, 6 for the prophecy’s fulfillment.
word of the LORD … good. This is a surprising response to the negative prophecy of verses 5-7! It perhaps acknowledged Isaiah as God’s faithful messenger. peace and truth in my days. Hezekiah might have reacted selfishly, or possibly he looked for a bright spot to lighten the gloomy fate of his descendants.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

Isaiah, in the beginning of his book of prophecy, identifies the boundaries of his ministry.  His ministry, as recorded, was from the end of the reign of King Uzziah through the reign of Hezekiah.  There is a Talmud story, in some texts, of Manasseh, Hezekiah’s heir, getting angry with Isaiah.  Isaiah fled and hid in a hollow cedar tree, but the fringe of his robes was visible.  Manasseh ordered the tree to be cut down, and thus, the reference in Hebrew 11:37 of prophets being sawed in two probably refers to Isaiah.

The point of that historical note is that Hezekiah honored the word of God as spoken by Isaiah, even to offering praises when his indiscretion would lead to the kingdom being lost.  Isaiah was well-established as being a true prophet, and Hezekiah, a good king, followed the lead that Isaiah set.

While Hezekiah consulted Isaiah, his advisors were messengers of doom.  They got Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem upset when Sennacherib’s proclamation was read, but Isaiah knew better.  But even with a king that destroyed the high places for Baal and Asherah worship and the mighty power of God sending the invading army away, the people did evil in the sight of the Lord.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We can infer that Hezekiah called upon the Lord through Isaiah more than twice.  There are other places in the book of Isaiah that due to what is prophesied, it appears to be talking about things happening during Hezekiah’s reign, according to the experts.

Isaiah was already a person of the royal court.  He had access to the palace, but in these instances, they sought Isaiah.  As Isaiah is getting older, we might infer that he stepped away from the political aspects of life.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

While Hezekiah was a good king, he made his mistakes.  Was this due to Hezekiah not coming to Isaiah often enough?  One of the big problems that I see with my walk in faith, and with that of many others, is that we see an easy decision, and we simply make that decision.  We rely on the “gifts” God gave us, and, in turn, do not go to God.  After all, it was simple and non-consequential, but then the ripple effects can be more serious, including us relying on our decision making with bigger things.  This may have led to Hezekiah’s downfall.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

Note how Hezekiah reacted to God’s just judgment for being haughty and not thinking it through when he bragged about his own wealth.  He let the Babylonians know that treasure was to be obtained by destroying Judah, and especially Jerusalem.  That was the political and diplomatic error Hezekiah made.  His pride was what God disliked.  God had just granted him 15 more years because Hezekiah had humbled himself.

I have heard, and read, scholars make the statement that Hezekiah was a good king and then ruined his standing because he made this one blunder, wasting those fifteen extra years.  I do not agree.  Hezekiah is portrayed as a good king, doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, destroying the high places and directing people back toward worshipping God.  He did not become a bad king due to one blunder, but Hezekiah’s problem was more in not directing Manasseh, his son.  Manasseh became probably the worst king of Judah, but he repented late in life.  Yet, he sacrificed children in the Valley of Ben Hinnom.  He did things that were abominable.  Hezekiah may have done well by spending more time with his son, but even then, each individual chooses their own path, and Manasseh chose a dark one.

In Isaiah proclaiming the Lord’s judgment, Hezekiah realized not just his diplomatic mistake and his hubris, he looked to the next king to reign.  He acknowledged that God was still the sovereign ruler over all and His judgment was just.  And Hezekiah was allowed to live out his years without losing his kingdom.

Note that the same thing happened with King Ahab of Israel.  Elijah proclaimed how God would have dogs lick his blood, but when Ahab tore his robes, showing a moment of humility and shame, God passed that part of the judgment onto Ahab’s son.  In Hezekiah’s case, the sin had ripple effects that would destroy his kingdom, but Hezekiah was still a king who trusted in God.  Ahab scoffed at God, but when he realized he had gone too far, he recognized that God had the power to destroy him and his kingdom.  God basically granted the same mercy, passing the curse onto the son or later generations.  Yet, the ultimate destination of these kings may be widely different, one of the worst versus one of the best.  Neither were perfect in either regard, good or bad.

But in looking at this, we are responsible for our decisions, and consulting God is very important.  My wife has even prayed for parking places or traffic that is less heavy,  I am sure she even prays when writing out our weekly menu.  We can all learn from that.

And when we make a wrong move, God can forgive.  If we are his child, he has already forgiven.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
  • Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.

A Closing Prayer

We look to You for guidance.  We need trusted advisors, but we especially need a relationship with You that helps us to go to You with the small things and the big things.  And when we get full of ourselves, we too could use some humbling.  And thank You for those times when You have reminded me that I might just be relying on my own skills too much.  Those skills come from You, but even then, I need to come before You and ask that Your will be done.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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