May 15, 2021
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord of Hosts: ‘The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored-up until this day will be carried off to Babylon...
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord of Hosts: ‘The time will certainly 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. ‘Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought: There will be peace and security during my lifetime.” Isaiah 39:5–8
Sadly, Hezekiah’s greatness is clouded by the sin of pride that developed in his closing years. Merodach-Baladan, the king of Babylon, wanted (according to the Jewish historian Josephus) aid for a rebellion against Assyria. He is identified with Mardukhabaliddina (bummer of a name), who seized the Babylonian throne in 721 B.C., was deposed by Sargon of Assyria, and then came back to rule again for a short time about 704 B.C.
He sent letters and a present to Hezekiah because he had heard about his illness. After having recovered so wonderfully, Hezekiah was congratulated by the Babylonian king. The flattery was too much for Hezekiah. He fell for it, and in a moment of incredible stupidity, he showed the foreign ruler’s envoys all the treasure in his storehouses. It was an act of folly for which Isaiah gave him a severe reprimand. There is a strong hint of boasting in verse 3, as though Hezekiah wanted to underline just how important he was and that such great leaders should show him so much honor. There is only one explanation for Hezekiah’s folly: Pride had grown in his heart.
“But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 32:25
Pride is a vice which clinches so tightly to the hearts of men, that if we were to strip ourselves of all faults, one by one, we should, no doubt, find it the very last and hardest thing to rip away. It would have been better if had Hezekiah died at the time the Lord appointed than for him to live and spoil his testimony in this way. After all, Manasseh, the worst king Judah ever experienced, was born during Hezekiah’s “borrowed” time.
Hezekiah made no opportunity to witness to the Babylonian visitors. Instead, he boasted and this led to the eventual overthrow of Judah by Babylon. In my opinion, Hezekiah’s great folly was not restricted to showing off the kingdom treasures. His great folly was actually the fact that he sought his own glory above the wellbeing of the Kingdom. Once the judgment was pronounced against him, he concurred that it was good. But in his mind, the “goodness” had less to do with justice and more to do with the fact that he escaped direct punishment for his sin. He harbored no remorse for his descendants.
I have met Messianic (Christian) leaders who seemed more concerned with their personal fame than protecting and equipping the next generation. It is incumbent upon us to not just do great things for God but to also prepare the next generation for greatness.