King Hezekiah-Overview: Isaiah Devotional Journal 76

Isaiah 36-37    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

King Hezekiah-Part One: Overview

Four narrative chapters concerning King Hezekiah bring the first portion of the prophetic book of Isaiah to a close. At the same time, these chapters serve to introduce the latter half of Isaiah. Barry Webb calls them a “bridge” between the two major portions of the book (1).

Even casual readers will notice that the first portion of Isaiah differs from the latter portion in tone and content. Speaking in general terms, the first portion represents God speaking harshly to his people in terms of accusation and judgment. Historically, the first portion encompasses the permanent carrying off into captivity of the northern kingdom. It also prophesies the carrying off of Judah into exile more than a century later.

Isaiah also judges the nations in the harshest of terms, providing much end time material. Not all the end times, or eschatological, material is bad news, however. Interspersed throughout the judgment of the nations are passages of hope in a future Messiah. This Messiah will bless not just Judah and Jerusalem, but the whole world. This includes Gentiles.

The Lord speaks more fully in the second portion of the book. He develops in greater detail the nature of the coming Messiah. And, for the first time, he introduces the suffering which will characterize Messiah’s life. Overall, however, Isaiah’s message is one of comfort, hope, restitution, and glory.

Who Is King Hezekiah?

Four chapters of straight narrative in the prophetic book of Isaiah is unusual in itself. These chapters resemble a stand alone packet. Indeed, they are a packet, because they appear in 2 Kings 18:13, 17-20:21 in much the same form. This history appears in 2 Chronicles 32:9-26, as well, though shorter. 2 Chronicles devotes four entire chapters to Hezekiah’s complete reign, 2 Chronicles 29-32. Does a reader get the impression that there is something about King Hezekiah which God wants us to grasp?

2 Chronicles records this about King Hezekiah:

20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered. (2 Chronicles 31:20-21 ESV)

Scripture also reports this:

22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22 ESV)

Christianity’s “Every Person”

Hezekiah (though he predates the incarnation) represents what it means to follow Christ and be “Christian.” Within the Christian world, he would be an “every person.” Scripture makes clear that Hezekiah, as an “every person,” was not perfect (Isaiah 38:3 and 39:6-8). Concerning his imperfections, he resembles King David. But also like David, Hezekiah’s heart of faith, expressed by his actions, remained loyal and steadfastly true to his God. I believe the Bible contains so many chapters devoted to Hezekiah’s life and actions because God holds him up as a model for us to imitate in his best areas and learn from in his weakest.

Facts of King Hezekiah’s Reign

Isaiah’s period of prophecy and King Hezekiah’s reign mostly overlap (Isaiah 1:1 and 39:8). Apparently, Isaiah ceased prophesying some time  before Hezekiah died (Isaiah 1:1). This extensive overlap carried practical implications. Because of Isaiah’s physical proximity to Jerusalem and its king, the prophet and Hezekiah interacted on major occasions, such as the invasion by the Assyrians. Also, because of Isaiah’s importance as a prophet, he would naturally have much to say to and about Judah’s king.

Flashback

God himself excoriated the “apostate children” in Isaiah 30:1 forward (Septuagint). In the post for that chapter, I disagreed with many commentators by making the case that verses 1-18 applied not to Judah but to Israel. Given the Bible’s witness to the favor God granted King Hezekiah and his faithful heart, I stand by that assessment. God would never speak to his faithful children using the words he uses to chastise the hard hearted, distant, and disobedient children of chapter 30. Rather, when Scripture does portray the failings of Hezekiah’s character (Isaiah 39 and 2 Chronicles 32:24-31 Septuagint), it does so without the harsh, condemnatory words of Isaiah 30:1-17. The link to the prior post is here: ISAIAH 30 SEPTUAGINT-TWO KINGDOMS: JOURNAL 64.

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1 Webb, Barry. The Message of Isaiah: On eagles’ wings, part of the series, The Bible Speaks Today, Old Testament portion edited by J. A. Motyer. Published by Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1996, page 147.

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