I have been singing: “My God is for us”.
“In all the vicissitudes and uncertainties of life it is important to know that I am for you. Who then can be against you? There is one who tries everything against you – but I have already won the victory. While you may catch glimpses of him, it is I that call the shots. So remember when you feel discouraged or doubtful – I am for you – I am rooting all the time for your glory – ultimately to bring Me glory – that is My aim. So do not allow Satan to put you in bondage again – I have sat you free – free to enjoy Me and be completely satisfied in Me. Live that life as you serve Me”.
Today I am reading Isaiah ch 38 and 39, which bring to an end the first “book of Isaiah’. Just to give a broader view. The first 39 chapters have covered a period when Isaiah was prophesying to his contemporaries. King Ahaz was a bad king but his son Hezekiah was much better. They are also subtly contrasted with another expected King cf 9:7. The book ends with a prophecy of doom in ch 39:5-7. This describes a devastating invasion by Babylon. This prophecy would only be fulfilled some 100 years later, thus long after Isaiah had gone to be with the Lord. From ch 40 – 56 Isaiah brings a series of prophecies of comfort for the Israelites in their slavery. Of course, a major figure in this section is the Comforter/Suffering Servant/Messiah, which means it is actually looking forward to a time way past the Babylonian invasion.
Looking at ch 38 and 39 we come to the conclusion of book 1. Hezekiah has just faced and resisted the words spoken against Israel by the Field Commander. There is a picture of repentance and turning in trust to the Lord in prayer. He doesn’t seem to be doing too badly. However ch 38 and 39 show up the weak streak in him.
There is a description of a severe illness and the devastating effect it has on him, not only physically but also emotionally. cf 38:3d. He begs God to prolong his life, reminding God of his previous devotion. There is a glimmer of insight in to his thinking though, which leads to the events of ch 39. Cf 39:17 ff. Notice the emphasis on MY benefit in vs 17 and the gist of the prayer that follows.
His mind still appears to be focusing on himself. This is what seems to lead to the foolish mistake that he makes in showing the envoy from Babylon, the riches of Israel. The final proof lies in his last statement in 39:8, where he is only relieved for himself and doesn’t seem to care what happens to the nation as a whole.
Am I being unfair in this assessment? I don’t think so. Firstly, this is a universal problem. Adam demonstrated it in the garden. As you trace the lives of many people in the bible, that seems to be the one area which stands out as a central problem. It is the problem which lay behind Hezekiah’s running to the Egyptians for help, in the first place. Demonstrated by his forgetting to trust the Lord. He also seemed to be acting in a way to ‘save face’.
The question, as we come to the end of Ch 39, is “who will help Israel and for that matter the world, to deal with this problem?” Well that sets the scene for where the Comforter, the Suffering Servant comes in, isn’t it?
In fact he whole of the first book of Isaiah, with all his oracles, demonstrate the lostness of mankind, even God’s own people, the Israelites. It seems to me God has gone to great lengths to show how much we all need the work of the Messiah. It is a fact, that until people can perceive their need, they usually won’t be interested in Jesus. The difficult thing is that, though we may have been set free, we still carry the footprints of sin in our lives. Perhaps the most basic one being self centeredness. That acts directly against God centeredness and our ability to fully trust Him.
I have spent a lot of time considering why God included these two chapters in the story. Of course commentators tend to avoid giving their opinion. I would like to hear what you guys think.