Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Babylonian Ambassadors

Isaiah 39:1-8

“At that time Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered.” (Isaiah 39:1)

At the time, the Assyrians were the major power in the area and posed a serious threat to Babylon.  Judah’s resistance to the Assyrian threat provided some relief for Babylon.  Merodachbaladan operated on the philosophy, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  Learning that Hezekiah had been sick and had recovered, he sent what was effectively a get well soon card and gift.

“And Hezekiah was glad of them, and showed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.” (Isaiah 39:2)

Excited about his recovery and that Merodachbaladan cared enough to send a letter and present, Hezekiah forgot that while they had a common enemy, they were not friends.  He showed the Babylonian ambassadors everything God had blessed him with and shared how they had been protected from the Assyrians by God.  It never occurred to him that they were in fact potential enemies who would one day turn on Judah and destroy it. 

It was the same mistake the allies made in their dealings with Russia during the Second world War and that I fear we are making in the Middle East today.  Just because Iran and Syria are fighting ISIS only means they do not like ISIS.  It does not mean they like us.   Forgetting that may leave us open to attack. 

“Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon.  Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them.” (Isaiah 39:3-4)

Isaiah was aware that while other countries hated the Assyrians, they were not Judah’s friends.  He questioned who the ambassadors were and why they had come.  Knowing that Babylon was still a major power, Isaiah questioned what they had seen and what intel they might have obtained.  Believing they were too far away to pose a threat, Hezekiah had shown them everything. 

“Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.  And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” (Isaiah 39:5-7)

Isaiah warned him that while they posed no immediate threat, one day the Babylonians would not forget what Hezekiah had shown them.  Like a burglar being shown around a home, they would remember what Judah had and where it was with the intention of returning later to steal it.  When they came, they would take everything, and enslave Hezekiah’s own descendants. 

“Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” (Isaiah 39:8)

Like most politicians today, Hezekiah wasn’t worried about the future or what might happen to his progeny.  All he cared was that there would be peace and truth in his day.  Every action we take today will have an impact on future generations.  Far too often, we do not consider the long term effects of our actions, leaving future generations to deal with our mistakes as well as their own problems.   

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