Summary: When Hezekiah was prosperous and successful, he became proud and forget the Source of all his blessings.
The King of Babylon sent envoys to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery from his illness.
• Hezekiah must have felt important. There is something gratifying to have people from faraway places showing interest in you.
• So Hezekiah pay attention to them and showed them all his treasures – from the storehouses to his own palace – the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine oil.
• He showed them even his armoury and all his resources. “There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.” (20:13)
Hezekiah was seeking to impress. It was more than just a casual visit.
• The pagan Babylonians have just become the first foreigners to see probably all the treasures that were accumulated and kept hidden over the generations.
• Whatever the agenda the visitors had, this was a foolish thing to do. But it doesn’t matter when you want to show off.
This was clearly a mistake, by the way the prophet Isaiah reacted. He came questioning Hezekiah.
• “What did they say? Where did they come from? What have they seen?”
• Hezekiah’s reply was: “They saw everything in my palace. There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.” (20:15)
• Then came the key moment, Isaiah responded with, hear what the Lord has to say (20:17): “The time will surely 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.”
That’s the irony. “All that you used to impress others will be taken away.”
• The “everything” you boasted about and used to impress the Babylonians will be taken away by the same Babylonians.
• And they too will take “everything, leaving nothing”. It’s a mockery of his pride.
And not just that, Isaiah says (20:18): "And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs (officials) in the palace of the king of Babylon."
• Isaiah prophesied the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews by Babylon, an event which took place a little over 100 years later.
• Isaiah regarded this error as so troubling that he recorded it in his own book of prophecy (Isaiah 39), which we read at our scripture reading last week.
Then came the even-greater surprise - Hezekiah’s care-less response to Isaiah’s words.
• “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” (20:19)
• “Even if the city falls and our sons are taken away as captives, well, that’s in the future, not at my watch. It’s fine, at least I’m spared from this disaster.”
• Imagine this, the treasures that he has just shown the Babylonians will be carted away ultimately to Babylon, and he says, well, that’s okay.
We see a different side of Hezekiah here. He was self-centred and arrogant. He felt great about himself. He was flaunting his wealth and might with pride.
• He was so carried away by the fact that the Babylonians, living so far away, would be interested in him.
• It’s like getting a visit from the Prime Minister when we are in the hospital.
He was full of self-importance. This came right after his miraculous healing from a near-death sickness, and when God blessed him with another 15 more years!
When God is abundantly good and generous to us, be careful. We can be in danger.
• In danger of forgetting God’s goodness and grace. In danger of thinking that we are someone great and deserving of God’s gifts.
• It’s easy to be so consumed with the gifts that we forget the Giver! When we are healthier than most people, when we are more talented, more capable, more gifted than many. We forget God’s grace.
• We end up worshiping the blessings and boasting about our blessings.
It is helpful to know when exactly this visit took place.
• The King of Babylon heard about Hezekiah’s illness.
• This illness happened BEFORE the Assyrian’s siege that we read about in chapters 18-19. It was before all the trials and threats from Assyria.
• We know this because when he was sick, the Lord came and said in 20:6 that “I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
It was before 18:13 when King Sennacherib of Assyria came and threatened Hezekiah.
• 18:15 says “Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace.”