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Following a dramatic experience with God, Isaiah was called to be a prophet. God’s awesome presence was so profound that he exclaimed, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6.5).
God responded by sending a seraph to pronounce forgiveness. He wrote, “The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out'” (Isaiah 6.7).
After he experienced forgiveness, Isaiah learned of God’s purpose for his life.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’
“And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!'” (Isaiah 6.8).
The greatest need of God’s people in 700 B.C. was to have a similar experience to Isaiah’s.
— They needed to see the awesome reality of God and his holy nature.
— They needed to know the full depth of their sin. Having an inside condition that was arrogant, self-serving, and corrupt made for unclean speech.
— They needed forgiveness that only God could grant.
— They needed to commit their lives to God’s purpose, not their own selfish and willful desires.
How can these four statements become real God’s in people? Isaiah 40-66 is the prophet’s answer.
Like so many of God’s people, King Hezekiah is a mixture of faith and lapses of faith.
The king trusted God to deliver the nation from the Assyrian army (Isaiah 37). When he fell ill with a life-threatening illness, he relied on God (Isaiah 38).
When the king of Babylon sent ambassadors to Hezekiah, he made a serious mistake (Isaiah 39).
The following is an account of the king’s lapse of judgment and faith when envoys came from Babylon.
“Hezekiah welcomed them; he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them” (Isaiah 49.2).
Rudy Ross and I have different views on the motives behind Hezekiah’s actions. Rudy is more generous than I and believes that Hezekiah was giving God glory by showing how God had cared for the nation.
I believe that the king had a tragic lapse of faith and fell into reliance upon human self-sufficiency and pride.
I agree with Rudy that we don’t know the inner workings of Hezekiah’s mind. Even though we don’t know the king’s motives, the next verses show that Isaiah didn’t approve of his actions.
“Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and said to him, ‘What did these men say? From where did they come to you?’
“Hezekiah answered, ‘They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.’
“He said, ‘What have they seen in your house?’
“Hezekiah answered, ‘They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.’
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord.
“‘Some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away; they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon'” (Isaiah 39.3-7).
Isaiah didn’t directly criticize Hezekiah’s actions, which may lean the discussion to Rudy’s point of view. However, he did prophesy that the people and treasures of Judah would be removed to Babylon.
The exile to Babylon is one of the most painful experiences in the history of Jewish people. Yet, the king didn’t seem to grasp the gravity of the prophecy.
He said, “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good.” He thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime” (Isaiah 39.8).
The response of Hezekiah seems to be quite out of keeping with the prayers, praise, and trust of the previous two chapters. His response demonstrates the need that all humans have, including a great king like Hezekiah.
Human Need – God’s Aid
Hezekiah’s faith and lack of trust reveal a need that we all can recognize in ourselves. Paul’s words ring true for humanity, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7.15).
How are we ever going to see God in his glory, repent from our sin, and fully live in God’s purpose for our lives?
Isaiah and the New Testament have an answer for us. The next half of Isaiah reveals an answer. It sets the stage for the good news message of the New Testament.
Through the work of Jesus Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit, God’s people can experience the following:
— We may not have a vision as Isaiah’s, but we can live in a personal relationship with God.
— We will be aware of the poverty of our inside condition, but we also will receive God’s forgiveness.
— As we live to interact with God, we will discover our purpose in life to the glory of God.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.