Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Look at My Stuff!

Isaiah 39:1-8

Exhibition

1  At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery.
2  Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses— the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

3  Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, "What did those men say, and where did they come from?" "From a distant land," Hezekiah replied. "They came to me from Babylon."
4  The prophet asked, "What did they see in your palace?" "They saw everything in my palace," Hezekiah said. "There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them."

Prophecy

5  Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD Almighty:
6  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.
7  And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

Response

8  "The word of the LORD you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my lifetime."


Comment

God had added 15 years to Hezekiah's life, but what record we have of those additional years does not reflect as well on Hezekiah as his former years. His son Manasseh, born during those years, who later reigned as king did not follow his ways but "he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites." 2Chron 33:2 So also we find Hezekiah apparently provoked the king of Babylon to envy, being one of the reasons for the later captivity of Judah. We see also in verse 8 an attitude of self-centered self-interest in Hezekiah, unconcerned for future generations even of his own descendants.
Application: Many today are obsessed about adding a few years to their life, but haven't really thought through what they would do with those years. The more you have, the more you will be held accountable for - and that includes years.
Now as for Hezekiah exhibiting all his nice stuff, the fact that the Bible includes this account somehow linking it to the coming captivity gives the impression that it was not a wise thing to have done. I suspect that situation much like the census David took which brought judgment upon Israel. "The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." 2 Samuel 24:1  So also in this case in His anger against Judah God incited the Babylonians against them through envy by allowing Hezekiah to show the envoys all his nice stuff. I don't think the envoys were spies. Nor do I question Merodach-Baladan's motivation. But I would imagine that upon hearing the envoy's report of the treasures they were shown induced a seed of envy which grew over the years as is characteristic of kings to accumulate better stuff for themselves, which led to war.
Application: Don't tempt people to envy by unncessarily exhibiting all your nice stuff. In fact one reason why people accumulates stuff is to "keep up with the Jones". One neighbor will boast about his stuff, causing the other to envy and get better stuff which he can then boast in. Privacy therefore should be part of the Christian life. Don't give out personal information like salary or savings unncessarily. Exhibit Christ, not your material things.
This should even apply when it comes to practicing generosity. Consider the church in Acts 4 in which they shared all things in common. However note the story of Barnabus selling a field and laying the money at the apostle's feet. (Acts 4:36,37) The fact that this is event is recorded indicates that it was public knowledge. Notice what happens next. Apparently (as I see it) Ananias and his wife became envious of the honor Barnabus recieved and wanted to publically be perceived as generous as well. For they sold a field and gave part of the money to the church claiming that they gave the whole sum. This lie resulted in their death. The church at that time did not practice what Jesus taught saying,
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matt 6:1-4
Therefore to the extend in which you are able try to keep your acts of generosity anonymous - not only for your own sake, but also that you will not provoke others to envy.


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