Hezekiah and Isaiah (14:25 – 49:6)
The book of Isaiah can be divided into two parts. The first part of the book (ch. 1 – 36) builds up towards the Assyrian invasion and the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. The second part of the book (ch. 40 – 66) focus on the times beyond the Assyrian invasion of Judah. The central chapters (36 – 39) describe how God miraculously crushed the Assyrian invasion and healed Hezekiah of his sickness.
The story of Hezekiah serves as the backdrop for the entire book of Isaiah. All of Isaiah’s words of rebuke and all of the precious words of comfort and hope that gave our nation the strength, not only to survive, but to persevere and to thrive, are hinged on the Hezekiah narrative.
I believe that a study of Isaiah 14:24 – 26 can help us understand the literary design of the book of Isaiah.
“The Lord of hosts has sworn so saying; if not as I planned, so shall come about and if not as I have devised, so shall be established. To break Assyria in My land, I will trample him on My mountains, his yoke will be removed from upon them (Israel), and his burden will be removed from upon his (Israel’s) shoulder. This is the plan that is devised against all the land, and this is the hand that is outstretched against all the nations.”
This brief paragraph follows a lengthy description of the downfall of Babylon, not Assyria (14:3-23). The prophet is teaching us that the destruction of Assyria serves as God’s paradigm, a divine template, for the destruction of many nations.
Assyria’s desire to conquer Jerusalem was coupled with a contempt for God (Isaiah 37:23). This anger towards God inspired the Assyrian king to attack God’s firstborn son here on earth; the Jewish people (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:8). Sennacherib brought all of his might to bear against the Jewish people, and God destroyed him. The destruction of the Assyrian hordes brought light to those who heard of the event and who felt its impact. They learned that those who trust in God, as Hezekiah did, will ultimately be vindicated, and they learned that no power exists aside from God. God alone was exalted on that day.
This then is God’s template for history.
Throughout history, those who hated God, hated His people as well. Most people who have a heart for God will agree with Winston Churchill’s assessment of Hitler. Churchill believed that Hitler was the embodiment of all evil. When Churchill was criticized for making a pact with Joseph Stalin, Churchill responded with the following parable drawn from his Christian world-view: “If Hitler were to invade hell, I would not hesitate to ally myself with the devil himself if that would help to defeat Hitler”.
Think about it; the most evil man that walked this planet hated the Jew. Hitler hated the most secular Jew even more than he hated the most righteous Christian.
Because the Jew is God’s firstborn son; perhaps a wayward son, but a son nonetheless.
Throughout history, God’s enemies persecuted the Jew. And throughout history, the Jew served as God’s mountain upon which these wicked people were crushed. But the prophets foretold of another event, a repeat of the Assyrian invasion, on a greater scale.
Ezekiel prophesied (as did Zechariah 12:3, 14:2) about a great attack upon Jerusalem. An attack that will include all of God’s enemies (Ezekiel 38:15). And God will crush them as he crushed Sennacherib before them – and the God of Israel will be exalted on that day (Ezekiel 38:23).
When the evil is crushed and God’s people are vindicated, then God alone is exalted. It will be then that all the nations will together stand shoulder to shoulder to serve the One Creator of all.
Isaiah saw all of this, but not all at once. He first thought that the Assyrian invasion and its spectacular failure will be the peak and the culmination of history. But God told him that it was not to be. Had God’s plan been finished with Hezekiah and Sennacherib, then the impact would have remained local, it would have mainly affected the Jews and the few nations that surrounded them (i.e. Egypt and Assyria – Isaiah 19:18-25).
God informed Isaiah that he will serve as His prophet for a much grander vision, a vision that encompasses all of mankind (Isaiah 49:6).
Isaiah was God’s mouthpiece to bring a vision of peace for all mankind. Isaiah was the one who painted the hope of God’s Messianic plan in the hearts of all humanity. A vision of peace and harmony, a vision of love and truth and the hope for a world covered with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal