Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: Hezekiah and Isaiah
Our last talk was on the subject of representatives, and we learned that the Israelites were not a church but that they represented what happens in a spiritual church. So long as they could in any way represent the Church, they remained in the land of Canaan because it represented heaven, but when their worship became altogether idolatrous, so that it no longer was of such a nature as to represent heavenly things, they were forced to leave the Holy Land. As we learned in our last lesson, the ten tribes that comprised the kingdom of Israel were carried away to Assyria and Babylon. The time was coming when the kingdom of Judah, over which the descendants of David reigned, would also have to leave.
The kings of Judah represented the Divine truth, because they represented the Lord who is King of kings. He governs people by means of Divine truth. And so these kings also represented the Divine truth. Do you remember how the Lord Himself suffered when He was on earth? After people had recognized that He was king, escorting Him into Jerusalem with hosannas “to the son of David,” He suffered cruelly, being finally crucified, and His title was placed on the cross, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.” What He suffered represented the way Divine truth was treated by the Jews. In a similar manner Hezekiah, king of the Jews, suffered sickness, thereby representing what the Divine truth was suffering at the time. The truth was given to the Jews in the Word, but they did not treat it rightly; they made fun of it; they spoiled it: and destroyed it.
When people do not live according to the Divine truth, then it suffers pain and distress, just as the Lord suffered on the cross, and as Hezekiah suffered on his sick bed. Hezekiah's sickness was so great that he was near to death. Then he prayed that he might recover, and this represented repentance on the part of his people.
You know what repentance is. It means not only to be sorry that one has done wrong, and hurt the truth by not living according to it, but it means in addition to this, actually to live a better life, to live in accordance with the teaching of the Divine truth. Such repentance was very beautifully represented in Hezekiah's case. After he had prayed, as people do when they repent, Isaiah told the king’s attendants to take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and the king recovered.
How does this represent true repentance?
The fig-tree represents the natural person, that is to say, a person in the world who does what is right as the natural or literal sense of the Word teaches. The fruit of the fig-tree represents the good that such a person does when he or she lives in obedience to the commandments of the letter of the Word.
Isaiah commanded the lump of figs to be taken. Isaiah was a prophet like Elijah and Elisha, and therefore represented the teaching of the Word. His commanding what they should do, and their doing it, of course represents that people who are spiritually “sick” or have done wrong, should stop it, and that they should do good in accordance with the teaching of the Lord.
Then, when Hezekiah was well, he was happy because he could “go up” to the house of the Lord. The temple was built on a mountain, because the heavens where the angels live are on mountains, and to “go up to the house of the Lord” therefore means to become more heavenly like the angels, and so to go up into the house which the Lord prepares for every good person in heaven.
For, as you will remember, the Lord said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” (John 14:2) We are all, by a good life, building houses for ourselves, or rather the Lord builds the house to be in exact correspondence with each person's character. And this is the house into which we go up as we get well of our spiritual sickness and do what is good in the sight of the Lord.
Impress upon your memory the story of Isaiah's coming to Hezekiah at this time. This Isaiah was a great prophet, and the first of the great prophetical books of the Old Testament is named after him because it was written by him. Look up the thirty-eighth chapter in that book, and you will find the some story about Hezekiah.