From Isaiah 13-17
Jerusalem and Judah have been judged and punished by the LORD through Babylon and Assyria. But the people of Judah are no ordinary people. They are God’s people. Babylon and Assyria now come under the LORD’s judgment for what they have done to Judah. Today we will look at a passage where Isaiah pronounces judgment on Babylon. Have you heard of the day of the LORD? How would you describe it?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
13 The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
2 On a bare hill raise a signal;
cry aloud to them;
wave the hand for them to enter
the gates of the nobles.
3 I myself have commanded my consecrated ones,
and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger,
my proudly exulting ones. (Is 13:1–3)
The wrath of God is expressed through the people he has raised up against Babylon. It is not unheard of in the scriptures to perceive human movements as actions and attributes of God.
4 The sound of a tumult is on the mountains
as of a great multitude!
The sound of an uproar of kingdoms,
of nations gathering together!
The LORD of hosts is mustering
a host for battle.
5 They come from a distant land,
from the end of the heavens,
the LORD and the weapons of his indignation,
to destroy the whole land. (Is 13:4-5)
The LORD will punish Babylon with his host. They are weapons of his anger. I’ve never lived through or seen a war. By that I imagine blood, death, destruction and fear. The idea of hearing about a nation of people invading my homeland or another’s and thinking this is something God is doing is not a thought that comes naturally to me. But this is how they thought. Through such and such an army God will destroy these people.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
7 Therefore all hands will be feeble,
and every human heart will melt.
8 They will be dismayed:
pangs and agony will seize them;
they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at one another;
their faces will be aflame. (Is 13:6-8)
The day of the LORD (Is 58.13; Jer 46.10; Eze 13.5; 30.3; Joel 2.1,11; Amos 5.18; Mal 4.5) is an often repeated expression that speaks about the LORD’s great day of judgment when he sets everything right. The righteous will stand, the wicked will be punished. In the immediate context Isaiah is saying Babylon will come under judgment. They will fear. They will be punished. They will be destroyed.
9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people more rare than fine gold,
and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the LORD of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And like a hunted gazelle,
or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
and each will flee to his own land.
15 Whoever is found will be thrust through,
and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed in pieces
before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
and their wives ravished. (Is 13:9–16)
People will die, some will be scattered to other lands. Some will try to flee and will be caught. Isaiah does not paint a pretty picture of what will happen when the day of the LORD comes. Isaiah couches the day in terms of war amongst men, women and children in painfully realistic ways.
Story of Israel
Babylon was conquered, but by Persia. That was when Judah was allowed to return to the promised land as we have read in Nehemiah and Ezra. Persia was then conquered by Greece (Alexander the Great). And then Greece by Rome.
Story of Jesus
This brings us to the time of Jesus. After Jesus died and rose again his followers, the early Christians were persecuted by the Romans empire. Because of their Jewish history, the early Christians thought Rome was a kind of Babylon. In encouraging his Christian audiences the apostle John predicted likewise the downfall of Babylon (Rome).
21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
23 and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”
19 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3 Once more they cried out,
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”
4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” (Rev 18:21–19:4)
Isaiah predicted Babylon would fall. Perhaps between then and now more Babylons will rise up and kill God’s people. But like the first Babylon, the LORD will judge them on the day of the LORD and restore his people to his kingdom as he has promised.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.