I usually don’t do this, but this is a response submitted to the last devotional by one of my former SALT students, Jeff Pan, that definitely adds some helpful insights – thanks Jeff!
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.”
A Golden Opportunity
“I think chapter 38 sheds important light on this passage. In chapter 38:4-6, God promises Hezekiah:
“Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.”
And sure enough, by the beginning of chapter 39, we see that God has fulfilled the first part of his promise and healed Hezekiah. Thus, it is incredible that Hezekiah does not trust God to deliver on the second part of his promise (to deliver Israel from Assyria), instead trusting in a potential alliance with Babylon . I wonder if Hezekiah thought that an alliance with the Babylonians would be God’s way of delivering Israel. If this was the case, there is certainly a lesson here for listening closely to God and not trying to fulfill his plans by our own means.
Secondly, Hezekiah misses a unique opportunity to be a witness for God. In verse 1, Isaiah tells us that the son of the King of Babylon came to visit Hezekiah to see Hezekiah’s miraculous recovery with his own eyes. However, Hezekiah is so focused on showing off Israel’s resources to this potential ally, that he misses the opportunity to witness about God’s healing work in his life and about God’s greatness generally.
I wonder if I do the same thing sometimes when I’m faced with someone I really respect or someone who I really want to impress. Religion is generally regarded as a taboo topic for polite conversation and as a result, I find that I often try to avoid talking about my faith when I’m trying to make a good impression. However, I wonder how many opportunities I have passed up to be a witness for God when it really counts.”
1. What are the most difficult situations you find yourself in right now?
2. What are some of the more amazing things that God has done in your life? Does the memory of these moments change your perception of your difficulties?
3. Have you ever missed an opportunity to testify to what God is doing in order to make a good impression with someone?
4. How can we blend a respect for other people’s perceptions, with an honesty with the works of God in our lives?