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Envoys From Babylon
1 At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. 2 Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”
“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.”
4 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”
“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: 6 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. 7 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
8 “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
This is an interesting passage that I had to read a few times to understand. Hezekiah shows off all the valuable treasures to the Babylonians (not quite the world power they would become), and Isaiah prophecies that those same Babylonians would sack Israel and carry everything off to their land. And Hezekiah’s response is hilarious:
And true enough, in the future, the Assyrian threat that we read about throughout this book would be replaced by the Babylonians, who would defeat Israel and send many of their people into exile.
For me, this leads to a couple of different ideas – first, that it is very, very important to make sure that we allow God’s voice to be louder than our own internal voice. Hezekiah’s priority as king was peace for his nation, and after being threatened by the Assyrians only shortly beforehand, he is even more desperate for peace than ever. But he is so desperate for peace that he no longer listens to God – he hears only his inner voice telling him that political alliances are more important than trusting in God.
We are not kings under duress and don’t fixate on political peace. But we have our own agendas that we often thrust upon God – relationships? Job? And we try to fit God into our agendas, rather than the other way around. The problem is that if we do this, we run the risk of missing something critically important that God might be trying to tell us.
This passage reminds me of something else – not to be quick with Scripture. Hezekiah is not a bad man at all, and is recognized as one of the few faithful kings of Israel, for which God rewards him. But I think part of Hezekiah’s response is born out of impatience, a kind of, “Oh yeah, good good, whatever” response where he really wasn’t listening carefully.
We run that risk as well, being sloppy and flippant with the Word, and not really being attentive to what it is trying to tell us. I know that I run that risk even with this devotional, trying to produce messages three times a week – there is this temptation to do it quick and generically. But I, and we, must resist this urge, and take our time with the Word, because there is an abundance that it has to offer each of us.
1. Have you ever been guilty of trying to force your agenda upon God? What was that agenda? Do you ever find yourself doing this repeatedly?
2. What is it about this agenda item that makes it so high on your priority list?
3. How would you describe your devotional life in the Word? How would you describe the amount of time and effort you put into your devotional life in the Word? Is there any correlation between the two?