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Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 5

Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Isaiah 36-39: The Assyrian Siege of Jerusalem

Chapter 22: Hezekiah Healed

Isaiah 38:1-3 says,

1 In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live’.” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

We are not given a specific time in which this event occurred, but it probably happened while Jerusalem was yet in danger. Isaiah 38:6 says, “I will deliver you and this city” as if this was a future event. At the same time, it occurred after Isaiah was on speaking terms with the king, which did not occur until the city had been surrounded and threatened with destruction (Isaiah 37:1, 2). Hence, we are to understand the close connection and near simultaneous timing.

In Isaiah 37 Jerusalem was in mortal danger; in Isaiah 38 Hezekiah was in mortal danger. The two chapters are closely connected, as we will see. Jerusalem had been condemned to destruction in Isaiah 29:3, 6 but then had been given a temporary reprieve in Isaiah 37:36. Likewise, Hezekiah too was to “die and not live,” but he too was given a temporary reprieve so that he could bring forth an heir to the throne.

Deliverance Promised

Isaiah 38:4-6 says,

4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city’.”

Perhaps this word is to be connected to the same promise of deliverance that was given just before the Assyrian army was destroyed in Isaiah 37:35, 36,

35 For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake, and for My servant David’s sake. 36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians…

We see that the terminology is the same in both passages and in both cases God cites His promise to David. So God gave Hezekiah an extra fifteen years of life and also postponed the utter destruction of Jerusalem up to the present day (2021).

The Sign of Deliverance

Isaiah 38:7, 8 says,

7 “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that He has spoken: 8 Behold, I will cause the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, to go back ten steps.” So the sun’s shadow went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down.

The “stairway” (mahala) was part of the famous sundial that Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, had built. Each step marked an hour of time that could be read as the sun rose or fell. The Hebrew word mahala literally means “a journey to a higher place, an ascent.”

In commemoration of this event, we see the “Song of Degrees” (KJV) or “Song of Ascents” (NASB) which are the fifteen songs from Psalm 120-134. The fifteen psalms give us the spiritual meaning of the fifteen years added to Hezekiah’s life and spiritual journey.

A poultice of figs was applied to “the boil” (2 Kings 20:7; Isaiah 38:21), whereupon the king recovered. It was an infection of some sort. Likewise, 2 Kings 20:8-11 tells us that the prophet gave the king a choice as to which direction the shadow on the sundial would go. 2 Kings 20:8 says,

8 Now Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day?”

Compare this with Isaiah 38:22, which says,

22 Then Hezekiah had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”

Notice that the account in 2 Kings 20 says that the king was to be healed on “the third day,” allowing him to “go up to the house of the Lord.” For this reason, the third “Song of Ascents” begins, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1).

These three days also apply to Jerusalem as a whole when we relate this prophecy to the Jubilee prophecy in 2 Kings 19:29, 30,

30 … in the third year sow, 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.

Hezekiah himself became the sign of this prophecy, for he went up to the house of the Lord on the third day, and by recovering from his mortal illness, he was able to “take root downward and bear fruit upward.” That is, he produced an heir (Manasseh), who was the “fruit” in this case.

Manasseh was born three years later, for at the end of the fifteen years, when Hezekiah died, his son was twelve (2 Kings 21:1).

All of those short-term fulfillments were but signs of long-term prophecy. The end of the story will be the final destruction of Jerusalem but also will see the prophetic “birth” of the overcoming remnant of grace. Like Hezekiah himself, this remnant will go up to the house of the Lord on “the third day,” dating from the time that Christ’s death and resurrection heals us in the middle of the feast of Tabernacles.

The true poultice of figs prophesied of the coming of the Messiah-King of Judah (“fig tree”). Just as a poultice grinds the figs into a mash, so also did Christ have to die in order to apply His healing power to us and ultimately to all of creation. From the standpoint of prophetic timing, the healing began with Jesus’ third-day resurrection, but it is not completed until the third millennium, for a day is as a thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).

When we apply Isaiah’s prophecy to the feast of Tabernacles, we see that going up to the house of the Lord on the third day refers to the presentation of the sons of God on the eighth day of the feast, according to the law of the presentation of firstborn sons (Exodus 22:29, 30).

In John 7:14 we see Christ coming in the middle of the feast, that is, the fifth day. The presentation of the sons occurs on the eighth day.

Hezekiah’s Writing

Isaiah 38:9 says,

9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:

What follows in verses 10-20 is what Hezekiah himself wrote after he recovered from his illness. Isaiah 38:10-14 begins,

10 I said, “In the middle of my life I am to enter the gates of Sheol; I am to be deprived of the rest of my years.” 11 I said, “I will not see the Lord, the Lord in the land of the living; I will look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world. 12 Like a shepherd’s tent, my dwelling is pulled up and removed from me; as a weaver I rolled up my life. He cuts me off from the loom; from day until night You make an end of me. 13 I composed my soul until morning. Like a lion—so He breaks all my bones. From day until night You make an end of me. 14 Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove; my eyes look wistfully to the heights; O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.”

So far, this reads like a funeral dirge, expressing Hezekiah’s feelings when he faced death and when Isaiah gave him no hope of recovery (Isaiah 38:1). These thoughts were behind Hezekiah’s tears as he prayed to God for mercy (Isaiah 38:2, 3).

Isaiah 38:15, 16 continues,

15 “What shall I say? For He has spoken to me, and He Himself has done it. I will wander about all my years because of the bitterness of my soul. 16 O Lord, by these [thoughts and beliefs] men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live!”

It is clear that the king was writing about his state of mind when he despaired for his life. He compared his situation with the general condition of men whose mortal condition is the root of “bitterness.”

Isaiah 38:17 says,

17 “Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; it is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”

It appears that Hezekiah believed that his illness was divine judgment for his sins, perhaps his sin of depending on Egypt and Ethiopia for deliverance instead of turning to God until the city was surrounded by the Assyrian army.

Isaiah 38:18-20 concludes,

18 For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness. 19 It is the living who give thanks to You, as I do today; a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness. 20 The Lord will surely save me; so we will play my songs on stringed instruments all the days of our life at the house of the Lord.”

This commentary on the nature of death applies to the mortal souls of men, for “the soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4). The “old man” of flesh is the soul, even as Adam was made a living soul (Gen. 2:7, KJV), whereas the “new man” is spiritual, even as Christ Himself (1 Cor. 15:45). The soul man has been mortal since the original sin, but the spirit man, being begotten by our heavenly Father, is immortal.

Hezekiah’s writing was an expression of despair and bitterness that is common to all men. As such, his soul describes the hopelessness of the souls of all men. The soul has been condemned to death, and this cannot be changed. Realizing this implants bitterness in our souls, which becomes the source of much evil. However, God has provided another way, for when God begets a new creature in our spirit, we are able to transfer our identity from the mortal soul to the immortal spirit and thus find true healing and salvation.

See my pamphlet, How death affects your Body, Soul, and Spirit.

At the conclusion of Hezekiah’s writing, Isaiah 38:21, 22 concludes the story:

21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” 22 Then Hezekiah had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”

The answer to this question was given before the question. Thus, we read, “Isaiah had said” and “Hezekiah had said.”

The Jubilee sign that Isaiah gave Hezekiah in Isaiah 37:30-32 was also important because it was given ten years late. Dating from Israel’s Jordan crossing, they were supposed to begin counting the years toward their Sabbath years and Jubilees. The year 722-721 B.C. was their 14th Jubilee year.

This was the sixth year of Hezekiah in Jerusalem, the year that Samaria fell to the Assyrian invaders (2 Kings 18:10). There is no evidence that Hezekiah actually kept that Jubilee. In fact, none of the kings of Israel or Judah actually kept any of their Jubilees or rest years. We know this because God held them liable for this. I proved this in my book, Secrets of Time.

The Assyrians invaded Judah eight years later in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13). This was the year 713 B.C. It probably took some time to conquer and deport the 46 cities of Judah; but while the king of Assyria was laying siege to Lachish near the southern border, he sent Rabshakeh to give Hezekiah the ultimatum. Again, we do not know precisely how much time passed, but it was long enough for Assyria to capture Lachish and move on to Libnah, where Rabshakeh reported to the king (2 Kings 19:8).

King Hezekiah appealed to Isaiah, who gave him a promise of deliverance and the Jubilee sign as a double witness. The sign itself spoke of a three-year period of time, where the people would not be able to sow or reap their crops in the first two years but would be able to do so in the third year.

These three years—at least from the prophetic standpoint—began with the Assyrian invasion of Judah, when the people were unable to sow and reap. Hence, these years began in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah (713 B.C.), which was eight years after the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C.

The third year of the Jubilee prophecy, then, was 711 B.C., which was ten years after the fall of Samaria. We see from this that essentially God was establishing a Jubilee ten years late.

Reversing Time

When Hezekiah was healed of his infection from the boil in Isaiah 38, he was given another sign that ties closely with the Jubilee sign in the previous chapter. The sign was that the sun’s shadow would be reversed ten steps on the sundial. In other words, God would reverse time. But for what purpose? How was this a sign of Hezekiah’s deliverance?

The key is found in the word “return” or “go back.” The shadow of the sun was to “go back ten steps” (Isaiah 38:8). In the Jubilee sign, God said in Isaiah 37:34, “By the way that he came, by the same he will return.” Again, the prophecy in Isaiah 37:29 concluded, saying, “And I will turn you back by the way which you came.” In each case, the Hebrew word shuwb is used, which means “to return, turn back, go back.”

Hence, just as God caused the Assyrian king to “return” to Assyria, so also God caused the shadow on the sundial to “return” ten steps. The first sign was about the timing of the Jubilee declaration; the second showed how the Jubilee could be declared ten years late and still be lawful and on time. When the declaration came ten years late, God reversed the time “ten steps,” turning back the clock in order to make the Jubilee declaration in 711 B.C retroactive to 721 B.C.

Hence, the fourteenth Jubilee was declared at the proper time, though ten years late. The God who created time is the Lord of Time and has the power to manipulate it according to His word to accomplish His purposes.

The Prophetic Application

In October of 1994, I drove with two others to Winnipeg in Canada to speak at a Bible conference. It was a long trip from Seattle, giving me a lot of time to think, pray, and discern the voice of God. God pointed out the story of Hezekiah, but I could not quite understand what He was showing me. We arrived at the hotel about midnight, and after checking in, we immediately went to bed.

But just before going to bed, I opened my Bible to the story of Hezekiah, and only then did I begin to understand what He was showing me. We were repeating the Jubilee sign that Isaiah had given to Hezekiah.

Earlier, in 1991, I had come to see that 1986-1987 was the 120th Jubilee from Adam. (See Secrets of Time.) The problem was that no one in authority had declared the Jubilee at the proper time. But 1994 was eight years after that Jubilee. The year 1996 would be ten years after the Jubilee. I knew then that the timing of that conference in Winnipeg in October of 1994 marked the time of the eighth year. The stage was being set to declare the Jubilee in 1996. We knew that God would then make it retroactive to 1986 so that the 120th Jubilee from Adam would be effective.

In other words, we were experiencing the same revelation that Isaiah gave to Hezekiah long ago. In Hezekiah’s day, the Jubilee was real, yet it was only a type and shadow of greater things to come in our own time.

I was led to teach about this at the Bible conference in Winnipeg. Two years later, on the Day of Atonement, September 23, 1996, I was led to declare the 120th Jubilee from Adam, bearing witness in the world to what God was declaring in heaven. This, I believe, was a declaration of deliverance and healing in our time, even as it was in the days of Hezekiah. Because faith comes by hearing, this revelation solidified my faith that God would indeed deliver us from Mystery Babylon. I believe that God will cause the king of Babylon to turn back (shuwb) in the way that he came.

In a more positive side to this prophecy, the world as a whole will see a great “return” to God in the form of repentance, for that too is the meaning of shuwb. Whereas Hezekiah was witnessing the fourteenth Jubilee, we are witnessing the 120th Jubilee. Fourteen is the biblical number for release and deliverance; but 120 is the number associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Both numbers are highly significant, but we are seeing a greater fulfillment in our time, because the Holy Spirit will change the hearts of the people and bring them into the image of Christ.

Having heard the revelation of God in 1994 and having followed through with the declaration in 1996, this is a matter of faith to me. Others may question my hope of seeing this great end-time outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but it is a reality to me. Others may think we are entering a time of the rule of “Antichrist,” but I have already seen by the Spirit the fall of “Antichrist.”

Though we today, like Hezekiah, are being threatened, I have heard the word of deliverance and have borne witness of God’s intent to deliver us as well. Those who have not received such a word can only stand aside and see what might happen. Soon-coming events will prove whether or not the word I received was truly from God.