Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
There once was a man who was vigilant and faithful. Given charge to protect his own or another’s interests, he kept the gate secure, being attentive and watchful. Though others would try to overtake the man’s possessions or knowledge or territory by force, he was always ready, and they were always foiled.
So someone tries the backdoor approach, using flattery and seduction. Poof. Within hours, he is telling her the combination to the safe, or including him in the close circle of confidants.
In Isaiah 39, Hezekiah, king of Judah, seems to follow this line. He is deathly ill, but the Lord gives him a reprieve. As Hezekiah is coming out of his illness, envoys from Babylon come and present themselves “with letters and a present,” expressing gratitude for his recovery. Seemingly out of nowhere, Hezekiah welcomes them into his palace and shows them everything in his vault and storehouses. The envoys take good notes, and many years later the forces of Babylon return and overtake the kingdom of Judah.
Isaiah reckons the events and prophesizes: “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord” (Isa. 39:6).
What do we make of this? There is much that could be said for “Hezekiah’s folly,” or perhaps his vanity, or even his being dulled to the things of God—and we would be wise to pick up no stones. Who among you would cast a stone Hezekiah’s way? Who among you is without sin? Let him or her be the first to cast a stone. In Hezekiah, we may again see parts of ourselves.
There is also much we could take from Isaiah’s word about our own finitude and death. As each of us is “few of days” (Job 14:1), Isaiah’s word is a word to each of us: Behold, the day is coming when all that is in your house and all that you have stored up—all shall be taken away, and nothing shall be left.
For what has a man from all his work and striving? This also is vanity, a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 2). For many of us, the fruit of our work is destined for a rerun of a rerun of Storage Wars.
But most of all, even here, we can find and remember the hope that springs from our redemption at God’s hand. Though our days are numbered, full of sorrow and toil, and though our dullness of heart is a fatal wound—Behold! The day is coming, and has come!
The One who was everything and had everything was made to be nothing on our behalf, so that we who are nothing and have nothing shall be given everything. That which our Father has stored up till this day shall be given us; all shall be given in the place he has prepared for us.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3).