Read Isaiah 13
A Prophecy Against Babylon
13 A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,
shout to them;
beckon to them
to enter the gates of the nobles.
3 I have commanded those I prepared for battle;
I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—
those who rejoice in my triumph.
4 Listen, a noise on the mountains,
like that of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,
like nations massing together!
The Lord Almighty is mustering
an army for war.
5 They come from faraway lands,
from the ends of the heavens—
the Lord and the weapons of his wrath—
to destroy the whole country.
6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
7 Because of this, all hands will go limp,
every heart will melt with fear.
8 Terror will seize them,
pain and anguish will grip them;
they will writhe like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at each other,
their faces aflame.
9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.
14 Like a hunted gazelle,
like sheep without a shepherd,
they will all return to their own people,
they will flee to their native land.
15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through;
all who are caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
their houses will be looted and their wives violated.
17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes,
who do not care for silver
and have no delight in gold.
18 Their bows will strike down the young men;
they will have no mercy on infants,
nor will they look with compassion on children.
19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
the pride and glory of the Babylonians,
will be overthrown by God
like Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 She will never be inhabited
or lived in through all generations;
there no nomads will pitch their tents,
there no shepherds will rest their flocks.
21 But desert creatures will lie there,
jackals will fill her houses;
there the owls will dwell,
and there the wild goats will leap about.
22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds,
jackals her luxurious palaces.
Her time is at hand,
and her days will not be prolonged.
In this chapter, Isaiah is given the prophecy of Babylon’s downfall. This prophecy goes into very specific detail. This isn’t a fortune cookie prophecy that is purposefully vague so that it will always be true. When the people eventually witness the prophecy come to fruition, they will know it came from the Lord without room for doubt. At the time, Judah’s people might have been confused as to the exact significance of this prophecy as they had yet to discover that the Baylonians were going to conquer their people, take them out of their land, and bring them into exile at Babylon. This is understandable since this event will not occur until about 60 years later. What is even more mysterious to the people of Judah is the mention of Medes.
According to the Enduring Word commentary, this prophecy is made decades before Babylon defeated Assyria and became a superpower, and it will be even longer until the Medes rebel against Babylon. However, despite the decades between the prophecy and the first fulfillment of the prophecy, it all came true. Many times we hear “How can there be a God, when _________ exists in the world?” When one witnesses the fulfillment of a prophecy like this one, it evokes an even stronger reaction of “How can there not be a God, when His prophecies like this are fulfilled by His prophets?”
Furthermore, when prophecies like this one bring us to the conclusion or confirmation that God exists and is supreme over everything, it should make us fearfully realize how important sin is to God. This whole passage of Isaiah 13 goes into gruesome detail of the punishment of “sinners” stemming from God’s “wrath.” His wrath against this city is thorough stating that “she will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations” (v. 20). This is even more impressive and significant when you realize how important Babylon is! Babylon is mentioned 287 times in the Bible (more than any other city except Jerusalem). Babylon is the embodiment of those opposed to God. This can be seen in Revelation 17:5-7 (and many other places throughout scripture).
Merrill Tenney, a twentieth century New Testament scholar, in his book Interpreting Revelation says, “Babylon, to them (the Jews), was the essence of all evil, the embodiment of cruelty, the foe of God’s people, and the lasting type of sin, carnality, lust and greed.” Ultimately, we can expect to be treated likewise for our sin when judgment day comes if it weren’t for Jesus. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus!
- What other aspects of the Bible confirm God’s existence for you?
- What sin do you think of casually in your life?
- Jesus has spared us from what we read in this passage! How do you remind yourself daily of God’s love for you?
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