Isaiah 36-39:  Historical Interlude:  Events of Hezekiah’s Reign

Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone.” Isaiah 37:20

A historical interlude now intrudes and separates the two halves of Isaiah.  The events portray tests, proving the words of Isaiah and demonstrating to Israel that if they would only trust the Lord, He could and would deliver them.  Thus, these chapters serve as a pivot on which the book turns.  Israel has rejected the One who is able to deliver, despite this evidence of His power.  Yet, the Lord is by nature the Savior of His people.  The day will come when God will save despite Israel’s current unbelief.  God is the guarantor of this future, so the faithful Israel can look ahead with undiminished hopes.

The same story is told in similar detail in both 2 Kings 18 and 2 Chronicles 32.  Sennacherib has devastated the ring of protective fortresses Hezekiah has built along his borders and threatens to advance against Jerusalem.  His representative calls on Hezekiah to surrender and shouts his message loudly to demoralize the city’s defenders.  But he foolishly ridicules God, and Hezekiah prays that God will act to uphold His honor.  The Prophet Isaiah responds.  God will drive Sennacherib away and not so much as a single arrow will wing its way over the walls of the holy city (Isa. 36-37).

Although the words come true, God’s intervention is no guarantee of future protection.  In fact, Hezekiah’s recovery from an earlier illness (Isa. 38) had led to a visit of Babylonian ambassadors.  Ostensibly, they came to congratulate the king on his recovery, but most likely also hoped to encourage resistance against the Assyria colossus that threatened them both.  The king welcomed them enthusiastically and showed them everything in his kingdom.  He was angrily rebuked by Isaiah, who apparently saw Hezekiah’s welcoming of the Babylonian envoys as a failure to rely entirely on God.  Isaiah announced that one day, after Hezekiah was dead, the little nation of Judah would be subdued by the Babylonians and the survivors of the Jewish people would be torn from their land and sent into captivity (Isa. 39).

Only those who rely completely on God can experience full deliverance.  The people to whom Isaiah ministered had to respond to his message with their whole hearts if there was to be any hope.

Key verse.  37:20:  God’s glory is of first importance.

Personal application.  It is not possible to rely partly on the Lord.

Key concepts.  Assyria, Blasphemy, Cherubim, Predictive prophecy, Babylon