Isaiah 37- 38, Mark 9
In Isaiah 37, we find Hezekiah, the king of Judah, faced with what seems to be an insurmountable challenge. Sennacherib, leader of the Assyrian Nation, is preparing to attack Hezekiah's kingdom. Hezekiah finds himself in an impossible situation because Jerusalem does not have the military power to defend themselves against the army of Assyria. Hezekiah is so distraught that he begins to tear his clothes and goes to the only place he could go - into the temple. Hezekiah lays down before the Lord all that is about to occur and in desperate prayer begs God to give them victory and rescue his people from this Assyrian attack. Hezekiah receives a word from Amoz (son of Isaiah) that the Lord had spoken in response to Hezekiah's plea, "Because you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria," that God would protect His people Israel and give them the victory. Just as God had said, the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and saved the nation of Israel. What an incredible example of the power of prayer, even the prayer of just one person. Let me encourage you to strive to apply this truth in your own lives. Even when our circumstances seem impossible by human standards, God has the power to use even the most terrible situations for our good and for His glory, if only we will trust Him to do that in our lives.
Hezekiah Seeks Isaiah’s Counsel
37 When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the Lord’s temple. 2 He sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, who were wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They said to him, “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘Today is a day of distress, rebuke, and disgrace. It is as if children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all the words of the royal spokesman, whom his master the king of Assyria sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke him for the words that the Lord your God has heard. Therefore offer a prayer for the surviving remnant.’”
5 So the servants of King Hezekiah went to Isaiah, 6 who said to them, “Tell your master, ‘The Lord says this: Don’t be afraid because of the words you have heard, with which the king of Assyria’s attendants have blasphemed me. 7 I am about to put a spirit in him and he will hear a rumor and return to his own land, where I will cause him to fall by the sword.’”
8 When the royal spokesman heard that the king of Assyria had pulled out of Lachish, he left and found him fighting against Libnah. 9 The king had heard concerning King Tirhakah of Cush, “He has set out to fight against you.” So when he heard this, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Say this to King Hezekiah of Judah: ‘Don’t let your God, on whom you rely, deceive you by promising that Jerusalem won’t be handed over to the king of Assyria. 11 Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries: they completely destroyed them. Will you be rescued? 12 Did the gods of the nations that my predecessors destroyed rescue them—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Edenites in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of[a] Sepharvaim, Hena, or Ivvah?’”
14 Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers’ hands, read it, then went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:
16 Lord of Armies, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you are God—you alone—of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. 17 Listen closely, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see. Hear all the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God. 18 Lord, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but made from wood and stone by human hands. So they have destroyed them. 20 Now, Lord our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God[b]—you alone.
God’s Answer through Isaiah
21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Because you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22 this is the word the Lord has spoken against him:
Virgin Daughter Zion
despises you and scorns you;
Daughter Jerusalem shakes her head
behind your back.
23 Who is it you have mocked and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
24 You have mocked the Lord through[c] your servants.
You have said, “With my many chariots
I have gone up to the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon.
I cut down its tallest cedars,
its choice cypress trees.
I came to its distant heights,
its densest forest.
25 I dug wells and drank water in foreign lands.[d]
I dried up all the streams of Egypt
with the soles of my feet.”
26 Have you not heard?
I designed it long ago;
I planned it in days gone by.
I have now brought it to pass,
and you have crushed fortified cities
into piles of rubble.
27 Their inhabitants have become powerless,
dismayed, and ashamed.
They are plants of the field,
grass on the rooftops,
blasted by the east wind.[e]
28 But I know your sitting down,
your going out and your coming in,
and your raging against me.
29 Because your raging against me
and your arrogance have reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth;
I will make you go back
the way you came.
30 “‘This will be the sign for you: This year you will eat what grows on its own, and in the second year what grows from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 31 The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For a remnant will go out from Jerusalem, and survivors from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.’
33 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
He will not enter this city,
shoot an arrow here,
come before it with a shield,
or build up a siege ramp against it.
34 He will go back
the way he came,
and he will not enter this city.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
35 I will defend this city and rescue it
for my sake
and for the sake of my servant David.”
Defeat and Death of Sennacherib
36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 37 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and left. He returned home and lived in Nineveh.
38 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and escaped to the land of Ararat. Then his son Esar-haddon became king in his place.
Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery
38 In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your house in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover.’”[f]
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. 3 He said, “Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly, and have done what pleases you.”[g] And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your life.[h] 6 And I will rescue you and this city from the grasp of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city. 7 This is the sign to you from the Lord that he will do what[i] he has promised:[j] 8 I am going to make the sun’s shadow that goes down on the stairway of Ahaz go back by ten steps.’” So the sun’s shadow[k] went back the ten steps it had descended.
9 A poem by King Hezekiah of Judah after he had been sick and had recovered from his illness:
10 I said: In the prime[l] of my life
I must go to the gates of Sheol;
I am deprived of the rest of my years.
11 I said: I will never see the Lord,
the Lord in the land of the living;
I will not look on humanity any longer
with the inhabitants of what is passing away.[m]
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent.
I have rolled up my life like a weaver;
he cuts me off from the loom.
By nightfall[n] you make an end of me.
13 I thought until the morning:
He will break all my bones like a lion.
By nightfall you make an end of me.
14 I chirp like a swallow or a crane;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes grow weak looking upward.
Lord, I am oppressed; support me.
15 What can I say?
He has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk along slowly all my years
because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 Lord, by such things people live,
and in every one of them my spirit finds life;
you have restored me to health
and let me live.
17 Indeed, it was for my own well-being
that I had such intense bitterness;
but your love has delivered me
from the Pit of destruction,
for you have thrown all my sins behind your back.
18 For Sheol cannot thank you;
Death cannot praise you.
Those who go down to the Pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, only the living can thank you,
as I do today;
a father will make your faithfulness known to children.
20 The Lord is ready to save me;
we will play stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
at the house of the Lord.
21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of pressed figs and apply it to his infected skin, so that he may recover.” 22 And Hezekiah had asked, “What is the sign that I will go up to the Lord’s temple?”
9 Then he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God come in power.”
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transfigured in front of them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good for us to be here. Let us set up three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what to say, since they were terrified.
7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept this word to themselves, questioning what “rising from the dead” meant.
11 Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
12 “Elijah does come first and restores all things,” he replied. “Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did whatever they pleased to him, just as it is written about him.”
The Power of Faith over a Demon
14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes disputing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran to greet him. 16 He asked them, “What are you arguing with them about?”
17 Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.”
19 He replied to them, “You unbelieving generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20 So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father.
“From childhood,” he said. 22 “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23 Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’?[a] Everything is possible for the one who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: Come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 Then it came out, shrieking and throwing him[b] into terrible convulsions. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
28 After he had gone into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 And he told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.”[c]
The Second Prediction of His Death
30 Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know it. 31 For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed[d] into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after he is killed, he will rise three days later.” 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him.
Who is the Greatest?
33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, he called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.” 36 He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes[e] one little child such as this in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but him who sent me.”
In His Name
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone[f] driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”
39 “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in my name who can soon afterward speak evil of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ—truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.
Warnings from Jesus
42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
43 “And if your hand causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, the unquenchable fire.[g] 45 And if your foot causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[h] 47 And if your eye causes you to fall away, gouge it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.[i] 49 For everyone will be salted with fire.[j] 50 Salt is good, but if the salt should lose its flavor, how can you season it? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.