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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Isaiah 14: Babylon is broken, and Isaiah prophesies against Assyria and the Philistines

      A prominent theme in Isaiah is that foreigners would join the returning Israelites. It has always been God's intention that, as a result of His faithful people's obedience to His wishes and direction, the whole world would be blessed. His Word would speak to all peoples of the world in their own language, something which organisations such as The Bible Society have long laboured to do. God's Word must never be limited to any particular group of people but must be freely available for every group and nation. Through the family of David the whole world could be saved by Jesus Christ, and Christians everywhere are commanded to share the Good News of salvation, something which they can do both directly and by supporting those missions who seek to spread the Word. 
      Although the prophet refers to Babylon and its annihilation in the real sense, the term 'Babylon' has also been used in reference to any who oppose God, and the inference is that in the end times all who oppose God will be destroyed forever, and all evil will be permanently wiped from the face of the earth. We are reminded how fleeting power is, for although God permitted Babylon to have power for a time in order to fulfil His purpose, once that purpose was complete the Babylonian power was ended. The lesson to be drawn from this for ourselves is to beware of placing trust in human power, no matter how strong it may appear at the time.
      The reference in verses 12 to 14 can be interpreted in different ways. Although it would be easy to interpret 'the fallen one' as being Satan, it is more likely that it refers either to a powerful king such as Nebuchadnezzar or Sennacherib, or to a combination of either one of them together with Satan. Common to all of the viewpoints is the fact that pride opposes God and will result in judgement being brought upon the proud, whether nation or individual.
      Isaiah prophesied the downfall of Assyria, and you can find the fulfilment of this prophesy recorded in Chapter 37, verses 21 to 38, in which Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, is crushed after God sent an angel of the Lord to put 185,000 of his soldiers to death. Sennacherib flees to Ninevah and it was in the temple there that his sons Addramelech and Sharezer killed him whilst he was worshipping his god Nisroch. All who oppose God will eventually face his wrath and be destroyed.

1 The LORD will have compassion on Jacob;
   once again he will choose Israel
   and will settle them in their own land.
Foreigners will join them
   and unite with the descendants of Jacob.
2 Nations will take them
   and bring them to their own place.
And Israel will take possession of the nations
   and make them male and female servants in the LORD’s land.
They will make captives of their captors
   and rule over their oppressors.
3 On the day the LORD gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you,
4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
   How the oppressor has come to an end!
   How his fury has ended!
5 The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked,
   the scepter of the rulers,
6 which in anger struck down peoples
   with unceasing blows,
and in fury subdued nations
   with relentless aggression.
7 All the lands are at rest and at peace;
   they break into singing.
8 Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon
   gloat over you and say,
“Now that you have been laid low,
   no one comes to cut us down.”
9 The realm of the dead below is all astir
   to meet you at your coming;
it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—
   all those who were leaders in the world;
it makes them rise from their thrones—
   all those who were kings over the nations.
10 They will all respond,
   they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
   you have become like us.”
11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,
   along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
   and worms cover you.
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
   morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
   you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
   “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
   above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
   on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
   I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
   to the depths of the pit.
16 Those who see you stare at you,
   they ponder your fate:
“Is this the man who shook the earth
   and made kingdoms tremble,
17 the man who made the world a wilderness,
   who overthrew its cities
   and would not let his captives go home?”
18 All the kings of the nations lie in state,
   each in his own tomb.
19 But you are cast out of your tomb
   like a rejected branch;
you are covered with the slain,
   with those pierced by the sword,
   those who descend to the stones of the pit.
Like a corpse trampled underfoot,
20 you will not join them in burial,
for you have destroyed your land
   and killed your people.
   Let the offspring of the wicked
   never be mentioned again.
21 Prepare a place to slaughter his children
   for the sins of their ancestors;
they are not to rise to inherit the land
   and cover the earth with their cities.
22 “I will rise up against them,”
   declares the LORD Almighty.
“I will wipe out Babylon’s name and survivors,
   her offspring and descendants,”
            declares the LORD.
23 “I will turn her into a place for owls
   and into swampland;
I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,”
   declares the LORD Almighty.
24 The LORD Almighty has sworn,
   “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
   and as I have purposed, so it will happen.
25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land;
   on my mountains I will trample him down.
His yoke will be taken from my people,
   and his burden removed from their shoulders.”
26 This is the plan determined for the whole world;
   this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
   His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
A Prophecy Against the Philistines
28 This prophecy came in the year King Ahaz died:
29 Do not rejoice, all you Philistines,
   that the rod that struck you is broken;
from the root of that snake will spring up a viper,
   its fruit will be a darting, venomous serpent.
30 The poorest of the poor will find pasture,
   and the needy will lie down in safety.
But your root I will destroy by famine;
   it will slay your survivors.
31 Wail, you gate! Howl, you city!
   Melt away, all you Philistines!
A cloud of smoke comes from the north,
   and there is not a straggler in its ranks.
32 What answer shall be given
   to the envoys of that nation?
“The LORD has established Zion,
   and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.”

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