ISAIAH 37:1 – 39:8 and HEBREWS 8:1–13
Hezekiah immediately takes this matter to prayer. The situation is grave and his only recourse after prayer is to seek out the prophet Isaiah. He sends Eliakim, Shebna and the elders to Isaiah to update him on the developing situation. Hezekiah directs these three men to inform Isaiah of the words of Rabshakeh and that these words might be used against him and Assyria. It needs to be noted that Isaiah was alerted many years earlier that these things would one day come to pass so he was not shaken by their report. Isaiah knew that the Lord was allowing the iniquity of Assyria to grow ripe and that this was now the time for their judgement. It seems oftentimes that the enemy is the most boastful just prior to his plucking. We see this through Assyria’s war general Rabshakeh. Isaiah alerted the men to inform Hezekiah that these boastful words were being made against God and not them. This is an absolute key to understand in these pivotal days before us. Do you remember Nehemiah reminding the people that the words of Sanballet were being made against God and not the restorers (Neh 4:4)? If we are doing the will of God we must not then take the insulting words of the enemy personally.
Neh 4:4 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:
Neh 4:5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
Isaiah saw the bigger picture and knew the heart of God in the matter. At the same time it had to be handled in wisdom. The Word of the Lord came to Hezekiah to not fear and to expect a brief reprieve as the forces of Assyria had to retreat to their own land (vs 6-9). It seems the cycle is repeating itself as Rabshakeh again barks back to the leaders to not rely on the words of Hezekiah to save them. He cites many of the previous victories against other foes as a means of intimidation. These words come once again to the king and he brings his plea to the Lord (vs 15-20). It is an honest prayer that gives the reality of their plight. The king’s petition is a model prayer to emulate in such situations. He petitions the Lord between the cherubim’s and makes mention of his power and sovereignty over all the earth. He then speaks as to how the enemy is actually provoking God in his actions. He then pleads with God that he would destroy them so that the earth would come to know that it is God that sits upon the throne.
In verses 21-37 Isaiah answers to Hezekiah how the Lord saw the situation. The Lord is well acquainted with Assyria and all that it has done through the years. Their strength and power was something that God allowed for the purpose of being his instrument of judgement upon other nations, including the northern tribes of Israel. It was God who called them down to threaten Judah for the purpose of ultimately destroying them. Their cup of iniquity became ripe under the rule of one of the more godly kings of Israel. It is under his reign that the Assyrians will be annihilated and destroyed. It is also for the sake of David that God will vindicate Israel (vs 35). We then see that in the matter of one night the angel of the Lord came into the midst of the Assyrian camp and slew 185,000 men of war. We see in this example that no matter how formidable and imposing the enemy may be God is able to intervene on behalf of His own. The angel of the Lord mentioned in verse 36 must have been powerful in being able to execute such an extreme judgement in one night. The Bible speaks of a powerful angel of the Lord that goes forth on behalf of his own. Is it possible that this could be the same angel seen previously?
Exo 23:20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
Exo 23:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
Exo 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.
Exo 23:23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
This chapter begins with King Hezekiah being near unto death. The word of the Lord comes to Hezekiah through Isaiah that his time to pass on is at hand and that he was to put his house in order. In verses 2-3 the King pleads with the Lord to spare his life and heal him. He cites how he walked before the Lord in truth and with a perfect heart. The Lord then gives word to Isaiah to inform the king that He has heard his words and seen his tears and that he will be given another 15 years of life. This then raises an interesting question. Was it God’s perfect will for Isaiah to live another 15 years or was it God’s will to provoke the king to heighted prayer for the purpose of an extended life?
Firstly, it is clear that this event preceded the destruction upon the Assyrians as was prophesied by Isaiah in the previous chapter (vs 6). The Lord also added a sign to confirm His Word concerning the healing by bringing the shadow of the sun backward by ten degrees. King Hezekiah then makes a recording of his thoughts after God had healed him from his unknown disease. Who could fault him for praying that his life would be extended but then again why did the Lord tell him he was about to die and to put his house in order?
It seems that the Lord was provoking Isaiah for his healing which was immediately answered as further indication that he would also provide the miracle of the deliverance from the Assyrian invaders. He had a personal issue that needed immediate tending and God answered him. He then gave a powerful sign of allowing the shadow to go back 10 degrees. Let us never underestimate how dire Judah’s situation was before the Assyrians’. We can read with the knowledge of what happened but how would you feel if you lived during that time before their deliverance? King Hezekiah had a great responsibility in leading the people and being a strong example of courage and strength in the midst of great opposition. We also need to bear in mind what things will be like in the last days prior to the Lord’s return upon the earth. Hezekiah is greatly moved and grateful for the words of an extra 15 years as given to him by Isaiah (vs 12-14). In verse 15 Hezekiah displays humility in what God had done for him but sadly in later years he becomes proud and abuses the blessings that God had brought to him. In verses 16-17 the king declares his healing but also how God had put away the sins of the past. It is a picture of the forgiveness that David came to know after his transgression.
Psa 32:1 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psa 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
Our God is well able to both heal His people of physical needs as well as their spiritual infirmities by way of sin. This is what Jesus accomplished at the Cross when he died for all of mankind. Hezekiah later went on to record songs of praise due to his healing. This is one of the glorious fruits of the miraculous; it brings forth praise and rejoicing to the most-High God. If everything would have ended here as it relates to Hezekiah it would have been a glorious testimony. Sadly, we see the prominent enemy of pride entering into Hezekiah after such a glorious testimony and rule. We need to pay close attention to this chapter and pray that God would help us in remaining small in our own eyes.
This is the sad account of King Hezekiah looking again to the arm of flesh (Egypt) when he had no reason to. He had been healed of his disease and the treasuries have been restored to great wealth due to the many gifts he received. Keep in mind that prior to the assault by the Assyrians; Hezekiah attempted to pay off Sennacherib with the resources from the treasuries to no avail (2 kings 18:13-16). The Babylonians had motives in seeking after Hezekiah primarily due to their being subjected to Assyrian tyranny much like Judah had been. Why did King Hezekiah feel compelled to open up and display the treasures? It suggests pride as he was giving glory to what he had done as opposed to God. Secondly, it suggests that some sort of an alliance was struck with a neighbour when he was earlier rebuked by God for sending ambassadors to Egypt for help. This was a test of the Lord to see what was in his heart as seen in 2 Chr 32:31. God moved sovereignly on behalf of King Hezekiah at both a personal and national level. This act opened the door for the future Babylonian assault that would come upon Judah. This goes to show how deceptive and powerful pride can be within man. The Book of Job was devoted to this subject to help make clear how deeply embedded pride hides itself within man; even a great man of the likes of Job.
Job 41:1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
Job 41:34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.
The Apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh that helped to keep him humble in light of the great revelation that had been given him (2 Cor 12:7). This is why we must always give glory to God and never take credit for anything that God may do in and through us. It was the downfall of Lucifer and it can easily prove to be our downfall as well, but for the grace of God.
The prophet Isaiah visits Hezekiah and asks about the men from Babylon and what did he show these men (vs 3-4). Hezekiah’s response is amazing because it indicates that he felt that he did nothing wrong. This apparent indifference in Hezekiah is alarming. How could it be for such a man to become so quickly deceived in not only doing what he did but feeling no remorse in doing so? There was no Fear of the Lord in evidence in the life of King Hezekiah at this time. He quickly forgot all that the Lord had done for him (2 Chr 32:24-25). This is a clear cut warning for us. The blessing and treasure of the Fear of the Lord should never be minimized. It serves as the beginning of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. It is one of the 7 Spirits of the Lord and it needs to be sought after at all times.
The word of the Lord came to Hezekiah through Isaiah making clear that the day would come that there would be nothing left in Judah and that all would be carried away to Babylon. Hezekiah opened the door to the Babylonians by casually revealing the treasures of the temple to a heathen nation. That heathen nation would later prove to be their captors. It is interesting to note that Manasseh was conceived at the height of this pride seen in Hezekiah. His seed (Manasseh) later proved to be the vilest and most corrupt king amongst those who came forth from Judah. There would then be the future fulfilment of the carrying away into Babylon under the reigns of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Sadly, we also see the careless regard Hezekiah had for the future generation of leaders that would later arise. The Word made clear as to what would happen in future but Hezekiah took comfort that it would not affect his day. He should have pleaded and cried out that the future generations would be spared from what was to come. He should have taken on a priestly posture in interceding on their behalf. Is this not what is seen in the nations of the earth today? In the natural decisions are being taken that literally mortgages away the futures of the up and coming generations. It applies on both a spiritual and national basis. The sin of Hezekiah is our sin today. King Hezekiah was a great man who allowed the temptation of pride to creep into his life after his glorious healing and deliverance from the Assyrians. Let’s lay hold of God and learn to appreciate the values that King Hezekiah espoused through the majority of his reign while learning the sad lessons of his later years. Seeing we are living in the last days we cannot afford to make this same error. Lord, by your grace and mercy, keep us humble in our own eyes. Help us to be blanketed with that beautiful garment of “humbleness of mind” as seen in Colossians 3:12.
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Paul is now shifting to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ who is already seated in the position of high priest in the heavens. He earlier referred to the priesthood of Aaron of which they would have been acquainted with. He then showed how Melchizedec was a man whom Abraham met who represented a greater priesthood than that of Aaron’s. This was the purpose of what he wrote in chapter 7. He now refers directly to the man who is the great high priest (Jesus) after the order of Melchizedec. Paul will now proceed to contrast the temple in heaven that is administered by Christ with the tabernacle of Moses which was created and administered by man (vs 2). One of the primary purposes of a true priest is to offer up sacrifices (vs 3). When Paul was writing to the Hebrews it was apparent that the functioning of the priests in the temple was still being carried on (vs 4-5). The offerings of the priests were still according to Old Testament law which was meant to only be a shadow and type of the true sacrifice. Do you remember how specific God was with Moses when he began to build the tabernacle and everything else pertaining to it? It had to be done according to the pattern that God gave with no deviation. The Tabernacle of Moses speaks much more of God and his ways than man would commonly know. It speaks of the qualities of God and how He can be approached. It speaks of the consequence of sin and what would have to be accomplished in order to atone for it (Lev 23). Paul is seeking to bring to life the reality of what they were practicing through their Old Testament ritual.
Paul goes on to speak of a better covenant than that which they had observed. He shows how the ministry of Christ is far superior to the Levitical office of priesthood that had been observed since the time of Moses. The Old Covenant could not make people holy, no matter how hard they tried. It is the New and Living way made possible through the Cross that gives man this privilege and opportunity. Christ is the absolute fulfilment of all that the Tabernacle of Moses represents. He is the fulfilment of all that is seen through the Levitical offerings. He is the great high priest who has gone before us who is greater than Aaron, greater than Melchizedec who now intercedes at the right hand of God on our behalf. In verse 7 Paul mentions that if the first covenant had been perfect there would be no need for the 2nd covenant. The first covenant was given to provide a picture and portrait of the 2nd and greater covenant. We could never come into a true comprehension of Christ and all that He achieved if we did not have the truths of the original covenant. The Old Covenant brought to light the reality of sin while showing our inability to fulfil holiness by a series of do’s and don’ts. Everything pertaining to the Old Covenant pointed to Christ who now represents a new and better way. In verse 8 Paul alludes to the promise of the fulfilment of the New covenant which is the law of God being written and established on the tables of our hearts (Jer 31:33, Heb 8:10). God gave the promise of a New Covenant to come even while Israel was serving under the Old Covenant. God also spoke of a time when he would give His people a new heart and spirit.
Ezek 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Ezek 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
They could not do or fulfil the above while serving under the Old Covenant. What a beautiful contrast Paul is able to make in comparing the Old with the New. He is able to show the fulfilment of the shadows, types and patterns that are seen in the Old Testament. He also gives revelation as to the importance of the Law as it is encased in the Ark with the Mercy Seat placed over it. We understand that only the high priest can come into the holiest of all; there are terms and conditions in our ability to approach and go within the veil. When Jesus died upon the Cross the way the veil that separated the most Holy place from the Holy place was torn. A way and path has been made for the church to now enter in but it cannot be done presumptuously. There are qualifications as seen through Moses Tabernacle. There are truths regarding the shadows and types that still apply today. There is a way of approach into the Holy of Holies and there are lessons and keys that need to be gleaned. The true priesthood of God must emerge; the significance of the garments that distinguished the priests of old must be understood so that we can draw near unto God today. A good example would be to look at Joshua the priest from the restoration era (Zech 3:1-8). The promises of God that were given to Ezekiel can become a reality today. The ability to walk in His statutes while having that new heart is a New Testament promise all made possible by what Christ achieved at the Cross.