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.
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Isaiah chapter 39 is a pivotal chapter in the book of Isaiah. It marks the transition from the historical narratives that dominate the first part of the book, to the prophetic oracles that characterize the second part. The chapter centers on the visit of the envoys from Babylon to King Hezekiah of Judah, and the prophecy of the Babylonian exile. The main themes of this chapter include pride, foolishness, complacency, and the looming judgment of God. This essay will explore these themes and the meanings they bring to the text.
The chapter opens with the visit of the envoys from Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon. This visit is significant in several ways. Firstly, it reveals the international standing of King Hezekiah. The fact that the king of Babylon would send envoys to him indicates that Hezekiah was considered a significant player in the regional politics of the day. Secondly, it sets the stage for the prophecy of the Babylonian exile. The presence of the Babylonians in Jerusalem is a foreshadowing of their future dominance over the city.
Hezekiah’s response to the visit of the envoys is a key element of this chapter. He shows them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, and everything that was found in his storehouses. This act of showing off his wealth and power is an expression of his pride. He is more interested in impressing the Babylonians with his material possessions than in seeking the counsel of the Lord.
But Hezekiah’s pride goes hand-in-hand with his foolishness. By revealing all his treasures to the Babylonians, he is unwittingly setting the stage for their future invasion. His shortsightedness and lack of discernment will have disastrous consequences for his descendants and his kingdom.
Isaiah’s prophecy of the Babylonian exile is the dramatic climax of this chapter. He tells Hezekiah that the time will surely come when everything in his house, and all that his fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord.
This prophecy is a stark reminder of the consequences of pride and foolishness. Hezekiah’s actions have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to the downfall of his kingdom. His failure to seek the Lord’s guidance and his complacency in the face of the Babylonian threat will result in the loss of everything he holds dear.
Hezekiah’s response to Isaiah’s prophecy is another key element of this chapter. He says, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and truth in my days.” This response reveals Hezekiah’s complacency. He is content with the fact that the calamity will not come in his days, regardless of the consequences for his descendants.
This complacency is a stark contrast to the faith and courage that Hezekiah displayed in previous chapters. It reveals a fatal flaw in his character and underscores the devastating effects of pride and foolishness.
The overarching theme of Isaiah chapter 39 is the looming judgment of God. The visit of the Babylonian envoys, Hezekiah’s pride and foolishness, Isaiah’s prophecy of the Babylonian exile, and Hezekiah’s complacent response all point to the impending judgment of God on Judah.
This judgment is not arbitrary or capricious. It is the just and inevitable consequence of Judah’s rebellion against God. The chapter serves as a sobering reminder that God will not be mocked. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who ignore the counsel of the Lord will face the consequences of their actions.
In conclusion, Isaiah chapter 39 is a powerful and sobering chapter. It reveals the destructive power of pride and foolishness, the tragic consequences of complacency, and the inevitable judgment of God on those who rebel against him. But it also serves as a warning and a call to repentance. It reminds us that our actions have consequences and that we are accountable to a holy and just God.
In a broader sense, the chapter serves as a bridge between the historical narratives of the first part of the book and the prophetic oracles of the second part. It sets the stage for the prophecies of judgment and restoration that will dominate the remaining chapters of the book. It is a pivotal chapter in the book of Isaiah, and its themes and messages are as relevant today as they were in the days of Hezekiah.