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Isaiah 37-38

Hezekiah Asks Isaiah for Advice

37 As soon as Hezekiah heard the news, he tore off his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he went into the temple of the Lord. He told Prime Minister Eliakim, Assistant Prime Minister Shebna, and the senior priests to dress in sackcloth and tell me:

Isaiah, these are difficult and disgraceful times. Our nation is like a woman too weak to give birth, when it’s time for her baby to be born. Please pray for those of us who are left alive. The king of Assyria sent his army commander to insult the living God. Perhaps the Lord heard what he said and will do something, if you will pray.

When these leaders came to me, I told them that the Lord had this message for Hezekiah:

I am the Lord. Don’t worry about the insulting things that have been said about me by these messengers from the king of Assyria. I will upset him with rumors about what’s happening in his own country. He will go back, and there I will make him die a violent death.

Meanwhile the commander of the Assyrian forces heard that his king had left the town of Lachish and was now attacking Libnah. So he went there.

About this same time, the king of Assyria learned that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia[a] was on his way to attack him. Then the king of Assyria sent some messengers with this note for Hezekiah:

10 Don’t trust your God or be fooled by his promise to defend Jerusalem against me. 11 You have heard how we Assyrian kings have completely wiped out other nations. What makes you feel so safe? 12 The Assyrian kings before me destroyed the towns of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and everyone from Eden who lived in Telassar. What good did their gods do them? 13 The kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah have all disappeared.

Hezekiah Prays

14 After Hezekiah had read the note from the king of Assyria, he took it to the temple and spread it out for the Lord to see. 15 Then he prayed:

16 Lord God All-Powerful of Israel, your throne is above the winged creatures.[b] You created the heavens and the earth, and you alone rule the kingdoms of this world. 17 Just look and see how Sennacherib has insulted you, the living God.

18 It is true, our Lord, that Assyrian kings have turned nations into deserts. 19 They destroyed the idols of wood and stone that the people of those nations had made and worshiped. 20 But you are our Lord and our God! We ask you to keep us safe from the Assyrian king. Then everyone in every kingdom on earth will know that you are the only Lord.

Isaiah Gives the Lord’s Answer to Hezekiah

21-22 I went to Hezekiah and told him that the Lord God of Israel had said:

Hezekiah, you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria.[c] Now this is what I say to that king:

The people of Jerusalem
    hate and make fun of you;
    they laugh behind your back.

23 Sennacherib, you cursed,
shouted, and sneered at me,
    the holy God of Israel.
24 You let your officials
    insult me, the Lord.
And here is what you
    have said about yourself,
“I led my chariots
    to the highest heights
    of Lebanon’s mountains.
I went deep into its forest,
cutting down the best cedar
    and cypress trees.
25 I dried up every stream
    in the land of Egypt,
and I drank water
    from wells I had dug.”

26 Sennacherib, now listen
    to me, the Lord.
I planned all of this long ago.
And you don’t even know
    that I alone am the one
who decided that you
    would do these things.
I let you make ruins
    of fortified cities.
27 Their people became weak,
    terribly confused.
They were like wild flowers
or like tender young grass
    growing on a flat roof
or like a field of grain
    before it matures.[d]

28 I know all about you,
    even how fiercely angry
    you are with me.
29 I have seen your pride
    and the tremendous hatred
    you have for me.
Now I will put a hook
    in your nose,
    a bit in your mouth,[e]
then I will send you back
    to where you came from.

30 Hezekiah, I will tell you what’s going to happen. This year you will eat crops that grow on their own, and the next year you will eat whatever springs up where those crops grew. But the third year, you will plant grain and vineyards, and you will eat what you harvest. 31 Those who survive in Judah will be like a vine that puts down deep roots and bears fruit. 32 I, the Lord All-Powerful, will see to it that some who live in Jerusalem will survive.

33 I promise that the king of Assyria won’t get into Jerusalem, or shoot an arrow into the city, or even surround it and prepare to attack. 34 As surely as I am the Lord, he will return by the way he came and will never enter Jerusalem. 35 I will protect it for the sake of my own honor and because of the promise I made to my servant David.

The Death of King Sennacherib

36 The Lord sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians, and he killed one hundred eighty-five thousand of them all in one night. The next morning, the camp was full of dead bodies. 37 After this, King Sennacherib went back to Assyria and lived in the city of Nineveh. 38 One day he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, when his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords. They escaped to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon became king.[f]

Hezekiah Gets Sick and Almost Dies

38 About this time, Hezekiah got sick and was almost dead. So I went in and told him, “The Lord says you won’t ever get well. You are going to die, and so you had better start doing what needs to be done.”

Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed, “Don’t forget that I have been faithful to you, Lord. I have obeyed you with all my heart, and I do whatever you say is right.” After this, he cried hard.

Then the Lord sent me with this message for Hezekiah:

I am the Lord God, who was worshiped by your ancestor David. I heard you pray, and I saw you cry. I will let you live fifteen years more, while I protect you and your city from the king of Assyria.

Now I will prove to you that I will keep my promise. Do you see the shadow made by the setting sun on the stairway built for King Ahaz? I will make the shadow go back ten steps.

Then the shadow went back ten steps.[g]

King Hezekiah’s Song of Praise

This is what Hezekiah wrote after he got well:

10 I thought I would die
    during my best years
and stay as a prisoner forever
    in the world of the dead.
11 I thought I would never again
    see you, my Lord,
or any of the people
    who live on this earth.
12 My life was taken from me
like the tent that a shepherd
    pulls up and moves.
You cut me off like thread
    from a weaver’s loom;
you make a wreck of me
    day and night.

13 Until morning came, I thought
you would crush my bones
    just like a hungry lion;
both night and day
    you make a wreck of me.[h]
14 I cry like a swallow;
    I mourn like a dove.
My eyes are red
    from looking to you, Lord.
I am terribly abused.
    Please come and help me.[i]
15 There’s nothing I can say
    in answer to you,
since you are the one
    who has done this to me.[j]
My life has turned sour;
    I will limp until I die.

16 Your words and your deeds
bring life to everyone,
    including me.[k]
Please make me healthy
    and strong again.
17 It was for my own good
    that I had such hard times.
But your love protected me
    from doom in the deep pit,[l]
and you turned your eyes
    away from my sins.

18 No one in the world of the dead
    can thank you
or praise you;
none of those in the deep pit
can hope for you
to show them
    how faithful you are.
19 Only the living can thank you,
    as I am doing today.
Each generation tells the next
    about your faithfulness.[m]

20 You, Lord, will save me,
    and every day that we live
we will sing in your temple
to the music
    of stringed instruments.

Isaiah’s Advice to Hezekiah

21 I had told King Hezekiah’s servants to put some mashed figs on the king’s open sore, and he would get well. 22 Then Hezekiah asked for proof that he would again worship in the Lord’s temple.

Footnotes:

  1. 37.9 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11.
  2. 37.16 winged creatures: Two winged creatures made of gold were on the top of the sacred chest and were symbols of the Lord’s throne on earth (see Exodus 25.18; 2 Samuel 6.2).
  3. 37.21,22 Hezekiah, you prayed. . . Assyria: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 37.27 tender young grass. . . matures: The Standard Hebrew Text; the Dead Sea Scrolls and some Hebrew manuscripts “tender young grass, growing on a flat roof and scorched by the heat.” Many of the houses had roofs made of packed earth. Grass would sometimes grow on the roof, but would die quickly because of the sun and hot winds.
  5. 37.29 I will put. . . your mouth: This is how the Assyrians treated their prisoners, and now the Lord will treat Sennacherib the same way.
  6. 37.38 Esarhaddon became king: He ruled Assyria 681-669 B.C.
  7. 38.8 steps: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 8.
  8. 38.13 of me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
  9. 38.14 help me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 14.
  10. 38.15 There’s. . . me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  11. 38.16 Your. . . me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  12. 38.17 deep pit: The world of the dead, as in verse 18.
  13. 38.19 about your faithfulness: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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Galatians 6

Help Each Other

My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.

If you think you are better than others, when you really aren’t, you are wrong. Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others. We each must carry our own load.

Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God has said.

You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up. 10 We should help people whenever we can, especially if they are followers of the Lord.

Final Warnings

11 You can see what big letters I make when I write with my own hand.

12 Those people who are telling you to get circumcised are only trying to show how important they are. And they don’t want to get into trouble for preaching about the cross of Christ. 13 They are circumcised, but they don’t obey the Law of Moses. All they want is to brag about having you circumcised. 14 But I will never brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his cross, the world is dead as far as I am concerned, and I am dead as far as the world is concerned.

15 It doesn’t matter if you are circumcised or not. All that matters is that you are a new person.

16 If you follow this rule, you will belong to God’s true people. God will treat you with undeserved kindness and will bless you with peace.

17 On my own body are scars that prove I belong to Christ Jesus. So I don’t want anyone to bother me anymore.

18 My friends, I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you! Amen.

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Psalm 65

(A psalm by David and a song for the music leader.)

God Answers Prayer

65 Our God, you deserve[a] praise
in Zion,
    where we keep
    our promises to you.
Everyone will come to you
    because you answer prayer.
    Our terrible sins get us down,
    but you forgive us.
You bless your chosen ones,
    and you invite them
    to live near you
    in your temple.
We will enjoy your house,
    the sacred temple.

Our God, you save us,
and your fearsome deeds
    answer our prayers for justice!
You give hope to people
everywhere on earth,
    even those across the sea.
You are strong,
    and your mighty power
    put the mountains in place.
You silence the roaring waves
    and the noisy shouts
    of the nations.
People far away marvel
    at your fearsome deeds,
and all who live under the sun
    celebrate and sing
    because of you.

You take care of the earth
and send rain
    to help the soil
    grow all kinds of crops.
Your rivers never run dry,
    and you prepare the earth
    to produce much grain.
10 You water all of its fields
    and level the lumpy ground.
You send showers of rain
to soften the soil
    and help the plants sprout.
11 Wherever your footsteps
touch the earth,
    a rich harvest is gathered.
12 Desert pastures blossom,
    and mountains celebrate.
13 Meadows are filled
    with sheep and goats;
    valleys overflow with grain
    and echo with joyful songs.

Footnotes:

  1. 65.1 deserve: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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Proverbs 23:24

24 Make your father truly happy
by living right
    and showing
    sound judgment.

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