Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you.’
In the Old Religion of the Habiru — of the Hebrews before the conquest of Israel — God is a cosmic Emperor, judging the lesser gods and sending his messengers throughout the world. The Psalmist puts it this way:
God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.
His officer corps are the things of nightmares — the fusion reactors of the stars
From the heavens, the stars fought
From their stations, they fought with Sisera
And his attendants, nightmares themselves, the biological seraphim
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
And the mechanical cherubim:
O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
This God — this deep, unhuman divinity is created the world, as described in Genesis and Job. He is the King of Kings. He judges the nations. And He will send a Savior, who will redeem Creation through His stripes.
The Book of Isaiah pointedly compares Hezekiah, King of Judah, and Cyrus, Emperor of Persia.
At first glance the comparison is ridiculous. Hezekiah is the king who finally smashed the high places, as the Books of Kings and Chronicles called for again and again. And Cyrus is not even Jewish, and blasphemes by calling himself “King of Kings.”
But, perhaps they are both judged. Certainly the destruction of the High Places may not have appeared, at least, to be especially virtuous to those who heard of it
Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.
“But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?”’
Likewise, after foolishly showing his treasures to the Babylonian and thus guaranteeing the destruction of his kingdom, Hezekiah’s reaction is rather shocking…
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”
While in time, Cyrus the “king of kings” is the instrument of the true King of Kings
“Thus says the LORD to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
Not only are Jewish kings compared to non-Jewish ones, even the nations are compared on equal terms. True, while the LORD is not happy with far off Ethiopia…
Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings,
Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,
Which sends ambassadors by sea,
Even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying,
“Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin,
To a people terrible from their beginning onward,
A nation powerful and treading down,
Whose land the rivers divide.”
… Nor is he with the City of David, where He dwells within His tabernacle!
But the word of the LORD was to them,
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little,”
That they might go and fall backward, and be broken
And snared and caught.
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scornful men,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem…”
Indeed, even the non-human is cursed with the human.
The earth mourns and fades away,
The world languishes and fades away;
The haughty people of the earth languish.
And even the animals await their salvation
The beast of the field will honor Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I give waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
This people I have formed for Myself;
They shall declare My praise.
Indeed, for while God loves his trees, the product of human hands on trees is somehow despised
In that day a man will look to his Maker,
And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.
He will not look to the altars,
The work of his hands;
He will not respect what his fingers have made,
Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.
Trees may be for benefit of men, but their lives are too precious to the chopped down to make idols, or to besiege a city
When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s food. Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, to build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued.
What could God be thinking?
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
But what of poor Israel? What of the City of David, King of Israel? What of David’s own sons, the descendants of his father Jesse?
But Let’s step back. Remember the LORD walked the earth. He ate steak and drank milk with his friend Abraham. He won’t forget that.
“But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
God will never forget this friendship to Abraham. It is more solid than the earth, more vast than the ocean
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
It is important to see a pattern here.
In all of Scripture, Abraham is the first man to be sick of God’s sh—- His seemingly empty promises
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
But Abram said, “LORD God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
But a son was promised to Abraham, and Isaac was delivered. And now God once again promises a Son, One who will Himself deliver:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Abraham’s son Isaac would be the father of Israel. This newly promised Son will be the father of an everlasting kingdom:
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will perform this.
But this kingdom without end, in some odd way, will be enacted not just through the Son’s life, but through his passion and death
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
The unhuman God will send a human Son to the world, to save Israel, to adopt the Gentiles, to create a new heaven and a new earth.
Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.
And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the LORD.
The incomprehensible God will send a Son. This Son will be born, establish an eternal kingdom, and die. His passion and death will save the world. The Son’s eternal kingdom will last forever, the LORD Himself will reign.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.