History breaks into the pattern of hope in these chapters.
There’s an abrupt change of style and content – the poetic oracles are replaced by a prose telling of events in the latter days of King Hezekiah. It’s almost entirely a retelling of 1 Kings 18-20 – about which I wrote a few months ago!
Given that almost all scholars agree that this is the last part of the first section of Isaiah, written before the exile, it’s sad that we end up with Hezekiah’s short-term relief that disaster will not fall in his own day.
Isaiah has just been looking into the distance, seeing beyond the coming storm a calm, bright future when God restores his people – and, as I’ve said a few times, we see that completely fulfilled only centuries later in Jesus.
Hezekiah is more like many of us – faced with the consequences of his actions, showing off the treasures of his house to his enemies, he prays and is relieved that Jerusalem will not fall in his time – even though his family and nation will suffer.
The approach most of us take to problems tends to be the same. Whether it’s climate change, or declining church congregations, our motivation to make the sacrifices and changes necessary for long-term good tends to be limited if we can see that we can do nothing and get away with it for the next couple of decades.
We should hear from Isaiah, and have the courage and faith to live and act for the future of generations beyond our own, not hiding behind the cushion of a few more years of safety.
Will we follow Hezekiah or Isaiah?