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Isaiah 13-17 Listen
There's gonna be judgment against Babylon (Isaiah 13)
1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.
4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.
6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:
8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces SHALL BE AS flames.
9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.
15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.
16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.
17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.
22 And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.
The Condition of Babylon in 2008
Pictured here is the Palace Saddam Hussein built over the ruins of Babylon.
This photo was taken from the upper level of the palace overlooking Babylon.
Isaiah is issuing this oracle against the city, not the entire kingdom of Babylon. Notice the comparison between Babylon and another city, Sodom and Gomorrah in verse 19. This took place in 689 B.C. when Sennacherib, the king of Assyria wiped out the city of Babylon. Today Babylon is covered up by sand in Iraq. There was a period after Sennacherib's destruction that Babylon was rebuilt and became a showplace city. In 539 B.C., after having become a world empire, Babylon (the empire) fell again to the Medes and Persians. However, at that time there was no destruction of the city itself as referenced here in chapter 13. The reference in verse 17 to the Medes tends to present a basis for conflicting opinions concerning which historical event fulfills this prophecy. To properly state the historical/prophetical dilemma here: Babylon (the city) was ransacked and conquered in 689 B.C. by Sennacherib, the Assyrian; Babylon (the empire) fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C. leaving the city itself without destruction. Some have suggested that Isaiah was seeing a combination of both events. One thing is for certain: Isaiah's prophecy regarding the fall of Babylon was fulfilled and the city of Babylon remains in ruins until this day as a result of centuries of turmoil.
It should be pointed out, however, that many prophecy teachers are anticipating a rebuilt Babylon on the very spot where ancient Babylon existed which will then be destroyed in Revelation 18 (see notes). They feel that this is necessary for the fulfillment of the violent end prophesied here by Isaiah.
Here's a brief history of the City of Babylon:
The restoration of Israel (Isaiah 14:1-3)
1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
These verses are a little curious. They don't actually say that Jacob will literally rule the whole land of Israel at the point in time referenced in these verses, but rather that Jacob's descendants will possess slaves comprised of strangers and their oppressors. This was probably fulfilled during the exile and return from exile following the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the return of the exiles to Jerusalem beginning in 535 B.C.
Time to poke fun at Babylon (Isaiah 14:4-22)
4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.
21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
And why not poke fun at those wicked Babylonians? Jerusalem successfully resisted Assyria's aggression and attempted takeover in 701 B.C. Yet, here in 689 B.C., Babylon (the city) falls to the Assyrians. The inhabitants of Jerusalem surely did taunt the Babylonians for their inability to resist the terrible onslaught of the Assyrians.
By the way, who is this King of Babylon? Could this be Satan? Some Bible teachers today teach that these verses describe Satan himself and his fall from Heaven. They teach this because it seems to fit as a stereotypical description of Satan and seems supernatural in content. In addition, the mention of the character referenced as "Lucifer" seems to lend credibility to this position. However, "Lucifer" and the corresponding Hebrew word ("heylel") is used only once in the Old Testament and means "morning star." It is not used at all in the New Testament. I'm a little hesitant to embrace these as Satan scriptures because of the lack of any conclusive scriptural reference stating that we're not really talking about the actual king of the city of Babylon at its fall. I'm open to the idea that this may be a reference to Satan in this passage, but I don't feel comfortable teaching it as fact. Get back to me in Heaven, and I'll give you a definitive answer...if you're still interested then.
Assyria has theirs coming as well (Isaiah 14:23-27)
23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.
24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
Assyria's roll would stop and they would fall. This happened in 625 B.C. when the Assyrians fell to the Babylonians. However, perhaps Isaiah is prophesying concerning the failed Assyrian assault on Jerusalem (701 B.C.) during Hezekiah's reign (of Judah) when God miraculously wiped out 185,000 Assyrian troops who surrounded them, causing the Assyrians to give up their quest to conquer Jerusalem at that time. The Assyrians never got another chance before their fall to the Babylonians. For more information on this failed attempt by the Assyrians to conquer Jerusalem, click here to see the summary on II Kings 18:13-19:37; II Chronicles 32:9-22; Isaiah 36-37.
An Oracle Concerning Philistia (Isaiah 14:28-32)
28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
32 What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
Even though the Philistines were just tickled that Israel (Northern Kingdom) and not the land of the Philistines had been taken, their time was coming...and it did. "Palestina" in verses 29 and 31 is translated from the Hebrew word "Plesheth" and should be understood as "Philistines." The KJV also translates this word as "Palestina" in Exodus 15:14 (see notes) and "Palestine" in Joel 3:4 (see notes). In the other four usages, all found in the Psalms (60:8, 83:7, 87:4 and 108:9), the word is appropriately translated Philistines or Philistia. The actual name of "Palestine" to describe the region of today's Israel was a late designation of the second century ascribed to it by the Romans in an attempt to prevent the Jews from laying claim to the land after the Bar-Kokhba revolt of the early second century A.D. Today "Palestine" is still used as a universally accepted designation for the whole region of the "Holy Land" which is deemed to be politically correct in that it conveys no God-given rights of ownership to the Jewish people.
Isaiah prophesies regarding the defeat of Moab (Isaiah 15:1-16:14)
15:1 The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;
2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
3 In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.
4 And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.
6 For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing.
7 Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.
8 For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beerelim.
9 For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land.
16:1 Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
2 For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.
3 Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth.
4 Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
5 And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
6 We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so.
7 Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken.
8 For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah: the lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof, they are come even unto Jazer, they wandered through the wilderness: her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.
9 Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah: I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh: for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.
10 And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.
11 Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.
12 And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.
13 This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time.
14 But now the LORD hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble.
You may recall that Moab was an enemy of Israel just east of the Dead Sea where Jordan is located today. Well...Isaiah tells them that they will fall also; and they did. Isaiah prophesies that their land will be destroyed, apparently by drought, in addition to being overrun by the Assyrians. And Isaiah prophesies that all of this will happen within three years (16:14) after the giving of this oracle. They are told that they should align themselves with Jerusalem and turn to God. They did not do so. They fell to the Assyrians while Jerusalem endured the onslaught of the Assyrians in 701 B.C. As you recall, Jerusalem never fell to the Assyrians. Moab should have listened to Isaiah.
This does not mark the end of the Moabites...at least not at this time. A century or so later Jeremiah issues a prophecy against them in Jeremiah 48 (see notes) which does spell the end of the Moabites as a distinguishable race once and for all.
And then there was Damascus (Isaiah 17)
1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
3 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.
4 And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
5 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.
7 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.
8 And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.
9 In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.
10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
11 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
12 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.
This oracle prophesies the destruction of the capital city of Damascus about 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem on the other side of the Jordan River. The borders of the country itself roughly resemble those of current-day Syria - perhaps a little larger than that - extending up into Mesopotamia. Much of that country rested within the fertile crescent, putting it on course for any invading army approaching Israel or Egypt. It happened as the prophet had foretold. Damascus fell; Rezin was killed (II Kings 16:9, see notes), and Israel was raided (II Kings 15:29, see notes). However, Jerusalem endured.
Currently there is some discussion of a "Damascus prophecy" derived from these verses along with Zechariah 9:1-ff (see notes). It is said that a complete destruction of Damascus (Syria) will lead up to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The discussion centers around the phrasing of verse 1, "The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." Since there is no record that Damascus ever completely ceased to exist, it is said that this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. Isaiah issued this prophecy at some point before 732 B.C. In that year, Damascus was destroyed by the Assyrians (Tiglath-Pileser III). As a matter of fact, the Assyrian Annals record (from their perspective) the reduction of much of the city of Damascus to rubble. It seems most likely that Isaiah was prophesying regarding this destruction rather than one yet in our future. The notion that this destruction (according to the understanding of some regarding verse 1) requires that Damascus never revive, I really don't see that suggestion in this verse. This prophecy was undoubtedly fulfilled with the 732 B.C. destruction of Damascus along with the surrounding region.