Christian Churches of God
Commentary on Isaiah
Messianic Prophecy through Isaiah to Hezekiah
(Edition 1.0 20071201-20071201)
God spoke to Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah. Judah did not fully understand that it was concerning the Messiah and the exact timing of his mission and the formation of the Church of God. Modern Judaism is completely blind to it.
Messianic Prophecy through Isaiah to Hezekiah
In the texts in the Second Book of Kings chapters 18 to 20 and the Book of Isaiah chapters 37 to 40, we deal with a specific prophecy concerning King Hezekiah and the Assyrians, who had besieged Jerusalem.
God had given the prophecy to Isaiah, who recorded it in his works, and the scribes recorded virtually the same texts in 2Kings 18-20.
The text was a specific prophecy about the timing of the planting of the “remnant of the seed of the woman”, and the Body that was to become the Church of God under the mission of the Messiah, and the subsequent movement out of Zion that was to occur with the Church.
Isaiah 34 to 36 is concerned with the prophecy of the salvation of the Gentiles. We find Isaiah 35:3 mentioned in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:11-12.
The text in Isaiah 34 commences with the indignation of God against the nations and His dealing with them. This prophecy looks forward to the end of the age when the nations are given up to slaughter.
The text in Isaiah and in 2Kings must therefore be viewed in relation to its place in prophecy, as revealed to Isaiah. Hezekiah is in fact concerned with the future events of the activities of God in sending the Messiah for His purposes. The entire structure of Isaiah is in effect Messianic. Isaiah 34 commences with the message to the world, which is the inhabited world and all nations (v. 1, Heb. Tebel). The indignation of Yahovah is on them (v. 2). The utter destruction is in fact a devotion to destruction or being placed under a Divine ban (cf. Bullinger, fn. 2). The text says the mountains shall be melted with their blood (hyperbole) (v. 3). The wrath of God is placed upon the nations and they are to be put to the sword (vv. 5,6). They are sacrificed (vv. 6,7) in God’s vengeance (v. 8). The unicorns in verse 7 are the re’emin or rhinoceros. The surrounding nations are to be destroyed because of the controversy over Zion as the final recompense as the vengeance of God. The lands will be made tohu and bohu (v. 11). This is the time of the Day of the Lord. The command is given to search the Book of the Lord – and He has commanded and none of the words of God will fail. He has commanded and the Spirit will gather those for whom God has cast lot. He has divided the lands by line and they will dwell there forever (vv. 16,17). This is Messianic prophecy for the Last Days (see the paper The Day of the Lord and the Last Days (No. 192)).
Isaiah 34:1-17 Draw near, O nations, to hear, and hearken, O peoples! Let the earth listen, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it. 2 For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host, he has doomed them, has given them over for slaughter. 3 Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. 4 All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. 5 For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have doomed. 6 The LORD has a sword; it is sated with blood, it is gorged with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7 Wild oxen shall fall with them, and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall be soaked with blood, and their soil made rich with fat. 8 For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. 9 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into brimstone; her land shall become burning pitch. 10 Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up for ever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. 11 But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plummet of chaos over its nobles. 12 They shall name it No Kingdom There, and all its princes shall be nothing. 13 Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches. 14 And wild beasts shall meet with hyenas, the satyr shall cry to his fellow; yea, there shall the night hag alight, and find for herself a resting place. 15 There shall the owl nest and lay and hatch and gather her young in her shadow; yea, there shall the kites be gathered, each one with her mate. 16 Seek and read from the book of the LORD: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate. For the mouth of the LORD has commanded, and his Spirit has gathered them. 17 He has cast the lot for them, his hand has portioned it out to them with the line; they shall possess it forever, from generation to generation they shall dwell in it. (RSV)
The structure of the text deals with God’s zeal for Zion and its redemption. It is in this context that the subsequent chapters must be viewed.
Isaiah 35 then goes on to declare that Lebanon and Carmel and Sharon shall see the Glory of the Lord and the Majesty of our God. This is Messianic. The Glory of the Lord is Messiah.
Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein. 9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 35:3 is quoted in Hebrews 12:11-12 and that text refers directly to Messiah and the chastening he suffered for us. Isaiah 35:1-2 declares that the desert shall blossom like a rose and the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, together with the excellence of Carmel and Sharon, and they will see the Glory of the Lord (Yahovah), and the Excellency of our God. Thus Messiah was to be in Judah and remain in Zion and return to Zion in the Last Days. We are told in verse 4 that he will come specifically to save us. The miracles he performed were to open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, and so that the lame should leap as an hart and the dumb should sing. He performed these miracles in order to commence the calling of the Church, which was to be watered by the Holy Spirit over two thousand years.
Thus Yahovah has declared that he will come with vengeance and with the recompense of the One True God. We know from both the OT and NT texts that the entity that God will send is Messiah. We are specifically told that the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness and sighing will flee away. This theme is then taken up in Isaiah 40 after the references to the theme of the Assyrian invasion, and it is in that context that the Assyrian invasion and return must be viewed.
In the midst of this Messianic declaration in Isaiah, and by comparison with 2Kings, we then find that we are confronted with the Assyrians besieging Jerusalem in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah. Sennacherib had besieged the fortified cities of Judah and took them, and finally besieged Jerusalem.
The early period of Hezekiah is dealt with in 2Kings 18.
2Kings 18:1-12 In the third year of Hoshe'a son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezeki'ah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechari'ah. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. 4 He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Ashe'rah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had burned incense to it; it was called Nehush'tan. 5 He trusted in the LORD the God of Israel; so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went forth, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria, and would not serve him. 8 He smote the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. 9 In the fourth year of King Hezeki'ah, which was the seventh year of Hoshe'a son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmane'ser king of Assyria came up against Sama'ria and besieged it 10 and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of Hezeki'ah, which was the ninth year of Hoshe'a king of Israel, Sama'ria was taken. 11 The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded; they neither listened nor obeyed. (RSV)
We see that Israel was taken away in the sixth year of Hezekiah. In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah the Assyrians decided to destroy Jerusalem and transport Judah into captivity, as they had done to Israel at Samaria eight years previously. As was the practice of the Assyrians, Israel was taken to the opposite ends of the Empire beyond the Araxes to the north, in what is now Georgia and Armenia. The significance of this event was that Judah would not have been identified, and the Messiah could not have been born in Judea when it was time for him to be incarnated in the virgin, as prophesied elsewhere in Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 37:22 also refers to the virgin as the daughter of Zion who has despised the Assyrian and mocked her. Isaiah 47:1 also deals with the virgin daughter of Babylon and prophesies against her and says she will sit in the dust and grind and no longer be called the lady of kingdoms. In Isaiah 47:6 it is clearly stated that God is to give Judah into her hands and then deal with her. The text in Isaiah and in 2Kings dealing with Hezekiah is prophetic and has nothing to do with that time, except that the second element of the prophecy deals with the return of the Assyrians, and they remain there in Assyria.
Also, Messiah could not have come to the Temple and fulfilled the prophecies as given to Isaiah if Assyria had removed Judah. Thus God decided to intervene and He told Isaiah why and what the sign of the ministry would be. The sign of the Messiah’s ministry was given by God to Isaiah, and spoken to Hezekiah and recorded in both books as a dual witness to the commencement of the ministry. It is for this reason that so much effort was made to destroy the Calendar and the Jubilee system by the later Pharisees and Rabbis.
Isaiah.36:1-22 In the fourteenth year of King Hezeki'ah, Sennach'erib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent the Rab'shakeh from Lachish to King Hezeki'ah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Fuller's Field. 3 And there came out to him Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Jo'ah the son of Asaph, the recorder. 4 And the Rab'shakeh said to them, "Say to Hezeki'ah, `Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this confidence of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? On whom do you now rely, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are relying on Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him. 7 But if you say to me, "We rely on the LORD our God," is it not he whose high places and altars Hezeki'ah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, "You shall worship before this altar"? 8 Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders upon them. 9 How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master's servants, when you rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.'" 11 Then Eli'akim, Shebna, and Jo'ah said to the Rab'shakeh, "Pray, speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall." 12 But the Rab'shakeh said, "Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?" 13 Then the Rab'shakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: "Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: `Do not let Hezeki'ah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. 15 Do not let Hezeki'ah make you rely on the LORD by saying, "The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria." 16 Do not listen to Hezeki'ah; for thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me; then every one of you will eat of his own vine, and every one of his own fig tree, and every one of you will drink the water of his own cistern; 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezeki'ah mislead you by saying, "The LORD will deliver us." Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharva'im? Have they delivered Sama'ria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these countries have delivered their countries out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?'" 21 But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king's command was, "Do not answer him." 22 Then Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Jo'ah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezeki'ah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of the Rab'shakeh. (RSV)
The Assyrians were so confident that they uttered blasphemy against God at the walls of Jerusalem. God is not mocked and He brings all to fruition in accordance with His Plan and in His own time, according to His Calendar.
The text in 2Kings chapters 18 to 20 has much repeated in Isaiah chapters 37 to 40. Some of the text is not repeated in Isaiah, and so the text in 2Kings 19 is used over Isaiah 38. We see from the text in Isaiah 37 and 2Kings 19 that the prophecy concerning what is to happen to Judah is broken into two parts.
2Kings.19:1-19 When King Hezeki'ah heard it, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. 2 And he sent Eli'akim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. 3 They said to him, "Thus says Hezeki'ah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. 4 It may be that the LORD your God heard all the words of the Rab'shakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left." 5 When the servants of King Hezeki'ah came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, "Say to your master, `Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7 Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.'" 8 The Rab'shakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah; for he heard that the king had left Lachish. 9 And when the king heard concerning Tirha'kah king of Ethiopia, [note Tirhakah was not yet king or Pharaoh]. "Behold, he has set out to fight against you," he sent messengers again to Hezeki'ah, saying, 10 "Thus shall you speak to Hezeki'ah king of Judah: `Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, destroying them utterly. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations which my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharva'im, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?'" 14 Hezeki'ah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezeki'ah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezeki'ah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. 16 Incline thy ear, O LORD, and hear; open thy eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennach'erib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 17 Of a truth, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore they were destroyed. 19 So now, O LORD our God, save us, I beseech thee, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou, O LORD, art God alone."
Hezekiah was obedient enough to place his faith in God and ask for deliverance, and God answered Him.
Continuing 2Kings 19:
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezeki'ah, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennach'erib king of Assyria I have heard. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him: "She despises you, she scorns you -- the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you -- the daughter of Jerusalem. 22 "Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and haughtily lifted your eyes? Against the Holy One of Israel! 23 By your messengers you have mocked the LORD, and you have said, `With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I entered its farthest retreat, its densest forest. 24 I dug wells and drank foreign waters, and I dried up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.' 25 "Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of ruins, 26 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field, and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops; blighted before it is grown? 27 "But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me. 28 Because you have raged against me and your arrogance has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.
Here we see God answering Assyria and speaking concerning the virgin daughter of Zion. This is the Church of the Messiah that is being spoken about. What virgin daughter of Zion existed before 28 CE? The virgin was to conceive and bear a child, as we know from Isaiah, and the child was Messiah. God then gives the sign for the virgin daughter of Zion.
29 "And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same; then in the third year sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 30 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward; 31 for out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will do this.
Here we are seeing God declare the timing and the purpose of the sign. In accordance with the Calendar, at the end of the two years of the Seventh Sabbath and the Jubilee year the work was to be undertaken. In the third year of this sequence, which was the first year after the Jubilee, the planting was to be undertaken and the fruit eaten. Then the surviving remnant would again take root downward. Now this was to be fulfilled in two ways. The restoration of Jerusalem and the Law were undertaken by Ezra and Nehemiah at the Jubilee sequence, as we see from the text in Reading the Law with Ezra and Nehemiah (No. 250). This was to point to the Restoration under Messiah and the forming of the Virgin daughter of Zion, which is the Church of God, and the ultimate despatch of the Church into all lands; “For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant and out of Jerusalem a band of survivors”.
Thus Christ could only have commenced his ministry in the first year after the Jubilee. We know that he declared the acceptable year of the Lord from the scroll of Isaiah in 27 CE, which was a Jubilee year, and he commenced his ministry after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, after Passover of 28 CE (see the paper Christ’s Age at Baptism and the Duration of his Ministry (No. 19)).
This sign could not be broken. Hezekiah had nothing to do with the remnant or the captivity. It was not done in his reign (see also the paper The Seven Great Passovers of the Bible (No. 107)).
The sign referred to Messiah and the establishment of the remnant after the Jubilee year. Messiah thus had to commence in the year following the Jubilee of 27 CE. We know from the NT text itself that he did not commence his ministry until after the Passover of 28 CE, after John the Baptist had been imprisoned.
God purposes to send Jerusalem and Judah into captivity to Babylon and not to Assyria, as Assyria was about to fall and the restoration had to take place under the Medes and Persians. If Judah had gone north of the Araxes they could not have returned. There was no remnant during the reign of Hezekiah, as Jerusalem did not fall in his lifetime and not to the Assyrians. After the purpose of the prophecy had been declared by God through Isaiah, the message then turned to what God was to do with the Assyrians.
32 "Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, says the LORD. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." 35 And that night the angel of the LORD went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennach'erib king of Assyria departed, and went home, and dwelt at Nin'eveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adram'melech and Share'zer, his sons, slew him with the sword, and escaped into the land of Ar'arat. And Esarhad'don his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)
The time-frame of verses 36-37 covers 20 odd-years from the king’s return to his eventual death, as described. It was prophecy that the Assyrians would not take Jerusalem nor come near them again – and they did not do so.
The next sequence concerns the remainder of the life of Hezekiah and the actual details of the captivity of Judah to the Babylonians, and for this we compare 2Kings 20 with Isaiah 38.
2Kings 20:1-3, 12-21 In those days Hezeki'ah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, `Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover.'" 2 Then Hezeki'ah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3 "Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight." And Hezeki'ah wept bitterly. … 12 At that time Mero'dach-bal'adan the son of Bal'adan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezeki'ah; for he heard that Hezeki'ah had been sick. 13 And Hezeki'ah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses; there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezeki'ah did not show them. 14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezeki'ah, and said to him, "What did these men say? And whence did they come to you?" And Hezeki'ah said, "They have come from a far country, from Babylon." 15 He said, "What have they seen in your house?" And Hezeki'ah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them." 16 Then Isaiah said to Hezeki'ah, "Hear the word of the LORD: 17 Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. 18 And some of your own sons, who are born to you, shall be taken away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." 19 Then said Hezeki'ah to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good." For he thought, "Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?" 20 The rest of the deeds of Hezeki'ah, and all his might, and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 21 And Hezeki'ah slept with his fathers; and Manas'seh his son reigned in his stead.
1 In those days Hezeki'ah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover." 2 Then Hezeki'ah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the LORD, 3 and said, "Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight." And Hezeki'ah wept bitterly. 4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:
[cf. 2Kgs. 20:4-11]
2Kings 20:4-11 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 "Turn back, and say to Hezeki'ah the prince of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD. 6 And I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David's sake." 7 And Isaiah said, "Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover." 8 And Hezeki'ah said to Isaiah, "What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD on the third day?" 9 And Isaiah said, "This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?" 10 And Hezeki'ah answered, "It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps; rather let the shadow go back ten steps." 11 And Isaiah the prophet cried to the LORD; and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which the sun had declined on the dial of Ahaz. (RSV)
Continuing in Isaiah 38:5-22:
5 "Go and say to Hezeki'ah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city. 7 "This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he has promised: 8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps." So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined. 9 A writing of Hezeki'ah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness: 10 I said, In the noontide of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years. 11 I said, I shall not see the LORD in the land of the living; I shall look upon man no more among the inhabitants of the world. 12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me like a shepherd's tent; like a weaver I have rolled up my life; he cuts me off from the loom; from day to night thou dost bring me to an end; 13 I cry for help until morning; like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night thou dost bring me to an end. 14 Like a swallow or a crane I clamour, I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; be thou my security! 15 But what can I say? For he has spoken to me, and he himself has done it. All my sleep has fled because of the bitterness of my soul. 16 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh, restore me to health and make me live! 17 Lo, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but thou hast held back my life from the pit of destruction, for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. 18 For Sheol cannot thank thee, death cannot praise thee; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for thy faithfulness. 19 The living, the living, he thanks thee, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children thy faithfulness. 20 The LORD will save me, and we will sing to stringed instruments all the days of our life, at the house of the LORD. 21 Now Isaiah had said, "Let them take a cake of figs, and apply it to the boil, that he may recover." 22 Hezeki'ah also had said, "What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?" (RSV)
Isaiah continues with the matters of the further captivity of Judah to Babylon. When the prophecy of Isaiah 39 was given the sons referred to in verse 7 had not yet been born. Manasseh was born in the third of the added fifteen years of Hezekiah. This is the reason for the text in the Song of Degrees in Psalm 127:3-5 following on from Hezekiah’s Song of Degrees in Psalm 126, and the reference in Psalm 128:5-6 to the comment by Hezekiah to Isaiah in 39:8. Hezekiah’s submission to the will of God was as Eli’s (1Sam. 3:18; cf. 2Kgs. 20:19; Job 1:21; 2:10; Jas. 5:10-11).
1 At that time Mer'odach-bal'adan the son of Bal'adan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezeki'ah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2 And Hezeki'ah welcomed them; and he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezeki'ah did not show them. 3 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezeki'ah, and said to him, "What did these men say? And whence did they come to you?" Hezeki'ah said, "They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon." 4 He said, "What have they seen in your house?" Hezeki'ah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them." 5 Then Isaiah said to Hezeki'ah, "Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: 6 Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. 7 And some of your own sons, who are born to you, shall be taken away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." 8 Then said Hezeki'ah to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good." For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my days." (RSV)
Thus it was revealed that God’s purpose was to send them to Babylon into captivity and from there they would be restored, and the virgin daughter of Zion would go forth from Jerusalem in due time. The details of the captivity are covered in the paper Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon (No. 250B). The reign of Hezekiah was not over a Jubilee at any part of it, or even near a Jubilee. Jerusalem was not captured, nor was it ever again besieged during his reign. Judah remained intact and safe. This prophecy and sign was never fulfilled in his lifetime. The Assyrians were sent back home so that the sign given to him could be fulfilled under Messiah many centuries later. That is why Messiah could not commence his ministry before 28 CE, nor after it. What he was doing was declaring the acceptable year of the Lord and reinforcing the Temple Calendar, and declaring that he was in fact the Messiah. That is why he said to his mother at the wedding at Cana: “My time has not yet come”, because it was still in the Jubilee year of 27 CE.
That this was the purpose of the prophecy is revealed in the next chapter. It is beyond doubt that this referred to Messiah, as the texts from Isaiah 40:3-8 are quoted in the Gospels at Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23; and 1Peter 1:24. This text refers to the scattering and the gathering of the people.
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your
God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare
is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's
hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries: "In the
wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway
for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain
and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough
places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and
all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 6
A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7
The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever. 9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" 10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? 14 Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? 15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust. 16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. 18 To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? 19 The idol! a workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts for it silver chains. 20 He who is impoverished chooses for an offering wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skilful craftsman to set up an image that will not move. 21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; 23 who brings princes to nought, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hid from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (RSV)
There is no doubt that the reference is to Messiah and the Church – which is the remnant of Zion – and the subsequent gathering.
Judah is without excuse concerning the prophecy and the Messiah.
The actions had to take place from Jerusalem while the Temple stood, and the remnant had to be planted there and then spread throughout the nations from there. The activities had to take place under the Temple Calendar and in the First year of the Sacred Calendar after the Jubilee. The Pharisees and their successors, the Rabbis, could never have been left in control of the Temple as they would have destroyed the Temple Calendar – as we saw after 70 CE – and broken the prophecies.
There is no other person in human history that could have qualified to do all these things in the right time-frame. Christ had to commence his ministry in 28 CE in order to fulfil the sign of Isaiah, as given to Hezekiah. He did that, as we know from the NT text.
He also had to keep the Sign of Jonah as the sign of his ministry after he began his mission at the right time, and fulfilled the requirements of Isaiah (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13)).
If Christ was not the Messiah then Judah is lost and without salvation. They do not keep the Sabbaths and the Jubilee and so could never qualify under the conditions of Isaiah to have the Messiah at any time after 28 CE. They were in captivity by the next Jubilee in 77 CE and never again have been obedient enough to keep the Temple Calendar.
The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the whole House of Israel, and Judah is his special plant (Isa. 5:7). The text of Isaiah concerns the Messiah and the place he had in Judah. The Gentiles are grafted into Israel, which is now a spiritual edifice not a physical one.