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Isaiah 36-39 - Historical interlude

Historical Interlude (36-39)

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS SECTION

1) To note the pivotal role played by the historical interlude contained
   in chapters 36-39

2) To see the fulfillment of prophecies found previously in the book
   regarding the defeat of Assyria

3) To consider Hezekiah's fervent prayers, both for deliverance from
   Assyria and from his illness

4) To note how the visit from Babylonian emissaries provided Isaiah the
   opportunity to foretell the Babylonian captivity

SUMMARY

We now come to a historical interlude in which two events are described.
They both involve Isaiah the prophet and Hezekiah, king of Judah.  The
first event reveals a climax to the first section of the entire book
(The Assyrian Period), while the second event includes a prophecy
pertaining to the setting of the second section (The Babylonian Period).

In chapters 36-37, the prophecies foretold in the first section
regarding the Lord's deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian menace
are fulfilled (cf. 10:12,24-26; 14:24-27; 30:30-31; 31:4-5,8-9).  In the
fourteenth year of King Hezekiah (ca. 701 B.C.), Sennacherib king of
Assyria was capturing the fortified cities of Judah.  He sends the
Rabshakeh to Jerusalem to persuade Hezekiah to surrender and in doing so
blasphemes against the Lord.  Hezekiah is encouraged by Isaiah to trust
in the Lord.  When word of war with Ethiopia comes to the ears of
Sennacherib, he sends more emissaries to threaten the king of Judah.
Hezekiah looks to the Lord for deliverance, and the Lord responds with a
message via Isaiah concerning the fall of Sennacherib.  Then in one
night, the angel of the Lord kills 185,000 Assyrians in their own camp,
forcing the king of Assyria to return home where he is later killed by
his sons while worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god.

In chapter 38-39, we read of Hezekiah's illness and the subsequent
extension of his life.  Told by Isaiah to set his house in order for his
death was imminent, Hezekiah prayed and wept fervently to the Lord.  The
Lord then had Isaiah tell Hezekiah he would live fifteen more years, and
offered the turning back of the shadow ten degrees on the sundial of
Ahaz as a sign he would be healed.  When he recovered, Hezekiah then
wrote a psalm describing his illness and deliverance by the Lord.
Unfortunately, when the king of Babylon heard Hezekiah had recovered
from his sickness and sent him letters and gifts, Hezekiah showed the
emissaries from Babylon all the treasures of his house.  Isaiah then
told the king the time would come when all his treasures and his sons
would be carried away to Babylon.

This ends the first section of the prophecy of Isaiah.  The second
section contains prophecies designed to comfort the people of God when
they found themselves in Babylonian captivity as foretold by Isaiah.

OUTLINE

I. TOTAL VICTORY OVER ASSYRIA (36:1-37:38)

   A. THE THREAT TO JERUSALEM...
      1. The arrival of the Assyrian army and the Rabshakeh - 36:1-3
         a. Sent by Sennacherib in the 14th year of Hezekiah (701 B.C.)
            - 36:1-2
         b. Received by Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah at the aqueduct - 36:
            2-3; cf. 7:3
      2. The demand of the Rabshakeh to pledge allegiance to Assyria
         - 36:4-10
         a. Not to place confidence in Egypt or in the Lord - 36:4-7
         b. An offer of 2000 horses if allegiance is sworn to
            Sennacherib - 36:8
         c. Resistance is futile; claims to have been sent by the Lord
            - 36:9-10
      3. Response by Hezekiah's officials, rebuttal by the Rabshakeh
         - 36:11-20
         a. Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah plead for transactions to be in
            Aramaic - 36:11-12
         b. The Rabshakeh refuses, and speaks to the people in Hebrew
            - 36:13-20
            1) Ignore Hezekiah - 36:13-15
            2) Make peace with the king of Assyria and be led away
               - 36:16-17
            3) Do not put their trust in the Lord, who cannot deliver
               them - 36:18-20
      4. Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah return to Hezekiah - 36:21-22
         a. With orders not to answer the Rabshakeh - 36:21
         b. With clothes torn, reporting the words of the Rabshakeh to
            the king - 36:22

   B. THE VICTORY BY THE LORD...
      1. Isaiah assures deliverance - 37:1-7
         a. Hezekiah's grief, and plea sent to Isaiah - 37:1-5
         b. Assurance from the Lord that Sennacherib will depart and
            perish - 37:6-7
      2. Sennacherib's threat repeated - 37:8-13
         a. Sennacherib informed of war with Tirhakah of Ethiopia
            - 37:8-9a
         b. Blasphemous letter sent warning Hezekiah not to trust in the
            Lord - 37:9b-13
      3. Hezekiah's prayer for deliverance - 37:14-20
         a. Hezekiah receives the letter, spreads it out before the Lord
            in the temple - 37:14
         b. He prays for God to note Sennacherib's words and save them
            - 37:15-20
      4. Isaiah's answer:  The Word of the Lord - 37:21-35
         a. Because of Hezekiah's prayer, the Lord will turn Sennacherib
            back - 37:21-29
         b. A sign to Hezekiah:  by the third year they will be planting
            vineyards and a remnant will go forth from Jerusalem - 37:
            30-32
         c. Jerusalem will not be attacked; the Lord Himself will defend
            the city - 37:33-35
      5. The disastrous defeat of the Assyrians and Sennacherib - 37:
         36-38
         a. The angel of the Lord kills 186,000 Assyrians in one night
            - 37:36
         b. Sennacherib returns to Nineveh where he is assassinated
            - 37:37-38

II. FUTURE CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON (38:1-39:8)

   A. THE EXTENSION OF HEZEKIAH'S LIFE...
      1. Hezekiah's sickness, promise of recovery, and confirming sign
         - 38:1-8
         a. Informed by Isaiah of impending death, Hezekiah prays to the
            Lord - 38:1-3
         b. The Lord promises Hezekiah 15 more years, and deliverance
            from the king of Assyria - 38:4-6
         c. The shadow returns ten degrees on the sundial as a sign to
            Hezekiah - 38:7-8
      2. Hezekiah's psalm - 38:9-20
         a. His feelings and fears while ill - 38:9-14
         b. His praise for God's goodness to him - 38:15-20
      3. Isaiah's cure - 38:21-22

   B. THE ENVOYS FROM BABYLON...
      1. Envoys from Babylon and the treasures of Hezekiah's house
         - 39:1-2
         a. The king of Babylon sends letters and a gift to Hezekiah,
            having heard he had been sick and recovered - 39:1
         b. Hezekiah shows the envoys the treasures of his house - 39:2
      2. The prophecy of Isaiah regarding future exile to Babylon
         - 39:3-8
         a. Isaiah cross-examines Hezekiah concerning envoys' visit
            - 39:3-4
         b. Isaiah foretells the Babylonian captivity and exile - 39:5-7
         c. Hezekiah grateful that at least there will be peace in his
            days - 39:8

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THIS SECTION

1) What is suggested as the theme of Isaiah chapters 36-39?
   - Historical Interlude

2) What are the two main divisions of this section?
   - Total Victory Over Assyria (36-37)
   - Future Captivity In Babylon (38-39)

3) What king came to the fortified cities of Judah and took them? (36:1)
   - Sennacherib king of Assyria

4) Who did this king send to Jerusalem with a great army? (36:2)
   - The Rabshakeh

5) What two entities did this emissary of Assyria warn Jerusalem not to
   trust? (36:6-7)
   - Egypt or the Lord

6) What did he call upon Jerusalem to do? (36:8)
   - Pledge allegiance to the king of Assyria

7) Who did he claim had sent him to destroy the land? (36:10)
   - The Lord

8) What did he warn them not to heed? (36:14-15)
   - Hezekiah's call for them to trust in the Lord

9) What did the king of Assyria promise if they made peace? (36:16-17)
   - Provisions until he took them away to another land

10) What blasphemy did the emissary utter as he concluded his message?
    (36:20)
   - That the Lord was just like the other gods who were unable to
     deliver their countries

11) To whom did Hezekiah send his representatives to ask for his
    prayers? (37:1-4)
   - The prophet Isaiah

12) What were the representatives told about the threats of the king of
    Assyria? (37:6-7)
   - Not to be afraid, for the Lord would cause him to return and fall
     in his own land

13) What prompted the king of Assyria to resend his messengers to
    threaten Hezekiah? (37:9)
   - The report that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia was coming to make war
     with him

14) How did the king of Assyria try to convince Hezekiah not to trust in
    the Lord? (37:10-13)
   - By noting the failure of kings he had already defeated, and the
     gods who could not deliver them

15) When Hezekiah heard this, what did he do? (37:14-20)
   - He went to the house of the Lord, and prayed to the Lord for
     deliverance

16) What did the Lord tell Hezekiah regarding the king of Assyria? (37:
    21-35)
   - The Lord would turn him back, he would not enter the city
   - The Lord Himself would defend the city

17) What then happened? (37:36-37)
   - An angel of the Lord killed 185,000 men of the Assyrian army in one
     night, prompting the king of Assyria to return home to Nineveh

18) What later happened to the king of Assyria? (37:38)
   - His sons killed him as he worshipped in the house of Nisroch his
     god

18) What also happened about that time? (38:1)
   - Hezekiah became sick and was told to prepare for his death

19) What did the king do, and what was the result? (38:2-6)
   - He prayed fervently, and the Lord sent Isaiah to tell him he was
     given 15 more years to live

20) What sign was given to the king that he would be healed? (38:7-8)
   - The shadow on the sundial of Ahaz went backward ten degrees

21) What did Hezekiah do when he recovered from his sickness? (38:9-20)
   - Wrote a psalm praising God for healing him

22) What medicinal remedy did Isaiah prescribe for the king in his
    sickness? (38:21)
   - A lump of figs as a poultice on the boil

23) Who came to visit Hezekiah after he recovered from his sickness?
    (39:1)
   - Envoys with a letter and gifts from Merodach-Baladan the son of
     Baladan, king of Babylon

24) What did Hezekiah show them? (39:2)
   - The house of his treasures and the items in it

25) What did Isaiah tell Hezekiah would happen as a result? (39:5-7)
   - The days would come when all his treasures and his sons would be
     carried away to Babylon

26) What good did Hezekiah see in Isaiah's prophecy? (39:8)
   - At least there would be peace and truth in his days

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