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39 The man who was king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan (Baladan’s son), heard about Hezekiah—how he was so very sick and then got better. So he sent envoys to Hezekiah with letters and a gift. Hezekiah was delighted at the kind gesture from so great a king, so he welcomed his guests and showed them the best of Judah’s treasures and talents—silver and gold, precious spices, and oils that wafted the smells of paradise. He gave them a tour of his armory and showed them all of Judah’s military equipment and everything they’d stashed away for future need. Hezekiah held nothing back from their appreciative eyes. He showed them everything in his house and his kingdom.

When Isaiah the prophet heard about Hezekiah’s tour, he hurried to the palace and confronted Hezekiah.

Isaiah: What in the world have you done? Where did these people come from? And what did you talk with them about?

Hezekiah (puzzled by Isaiah’s obvious distress): They came from a great distance simply to extend kind wishes for my recovery from their king! They came from Babylon.

Isaiah: What did you show them? What have they seen in your palace?

Hezekiah: Well, everything. They have seen all that I own. I put all of my treasures on display. I didn’t hold back anything from them.

During Isaiah’s life, the Northern Kingdom (composed of ten Israelite tribes) flourishes and then falls, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah is battered by surrounding nations but persists. Eventually the Southern Kingdom itself falls, not to Assyria but to Babylon. Shockingly, the Babylonians destroy the capital and raze the temple where the Holy One of Israel is uniquely present with the people.

The Lord determines these events because their failings—as Isaiah described in such detail—and their refusal to correct their attitudes and behavior necessitate punishment on the order of national destruction. God’s covenant people have broken their part of the agreement and be-come unfit to live as people of Zion.

The scene has shifted. The situation has changed. The threat from Assyria now seems a distant memory. A new reality encompasses the people of God: Jerusalem and its glorious temple have been destroyed, and the key citizens of Judah have been carried off into exile by the Babylonians.

While tradition credits the entire book to Isaiah of Jerusalem, many scholars think these next 16 chapters are recorded by another prophet years later in the spirit of that great prophet of Jerusalem who proclaimed much of the previous writings. Whether this was Isaiah speaking in the future prophetically or another person used by the Spirit to continue Isaiah’s ministry, the traditions and ideas of Isaiah are so closely followed by the next chapters that they have been collected and included in this large book named after Isaiah. The time and circumstances are different, so the message is a bit different too. It is equally passionate about righteousness, Zion, and the Holy One of Israel. These events occur about two centuries after Isaiah’s death in the land of exile—Babylon.

Isaiah: Listen well to what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has said: “The time is coming when everything in your palace—everything of value kept, passed down, and stored by your ancestors to this present time—will be taken away to Babylon. Of everything that you showed this Babylonian contingent, nothing will be left. Absolutely nothing will remain here,” says the Eternal One. “Even some of your sons yet to be born will be taken to exile. They will be castrated and forced to serve in the Babylonian royal house.”

Hezekiah: The message you have spoken from the Eternal is good.

“At least,” Hezekiah thought to himself, “during my lifetime things will be peaceful and secure.”

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