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What can we learn from a book that was written 2700 years ago about nations that we may be hard-pressed to find on a map?
What if the next chapters in this book will be some of the most difficult to understand?
Are you ready to skip them and go to the “good stuff”?
What if I said that these chapters contain some of the clearest reasons to trust God in all of literature?
The next ten chapters of Isaiah are difficult to read, but if we learn their lesson they will serve us well.
Chapters 13 and 14 centers on Babylon, a terrifying super-power in the Middle East.
Modern Iraq is the location of ancient Babylon. Babylon had a thriving economy and a powerful army. They conquered Israel under Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century B.C.
Babylon was known for its beautiful building, insightful philosophy, and powerful army. The immense abilities of Babylonians were the source of their confidence and pride.
For both Hebrews and Christians Babylon is a picture of the evil that opposes God and his loving purposes for the earth. While we study an ancient civilization, Babylon’s attitudes and actions are a familiar as today’s news.
Isaiah prophesied God’s opposition to Babylon as both a comfort and warning to his people. The comfort was that God was on their side; the warning was to not imitate Babylon.
The End of Babylon
God purposed to put an end to Babylon’s domination of the Middle East. In an oracle from God, Isaiah said:
Listen, a tumult on the mountains
as of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar of kingdoms,
of nations gathering together!
The Lord of hosts is mustering
an army for battle. (Isaiah 13.4)
Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty! (Isaiah 13.6)
Super-powers are formidable enemies for lesser powers like Israel. God’s people should be encouraged because God is in control and not the superpowers.
God charts the destinies of nations. Whether we can see it or not, he is in control.
See, I am stirring up the Medes against them,
who have no regard for silver
and do not delight in gold. (Isaiah 13.17)
In less than a century, Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when the Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon.
Key Thought: God is in control, not powerful nations or evil powers. What happens to his children must first pass through his hands before it gets to them.
When times are difficult, God’s people should look to him and not be overwhelmed by their needs or fears.
If we look at our needs and fears, we may make tragic decisions. This was the case of God’s people in Isaiah’s day.
Isaiah wrote to counsel the people to trust in God, not themselves or other nations.
God, the Just Judge
Abraham asked God this question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18.25).
The answer to Abraham is a resounding, “Yes! The Judge of all the earth is just.”
For this reason, God judges evil, wickedness, and tyrants.
I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant,
and lay low the insolence of tyrants. (Isaiah 13.11)
The pride and arrogance of superpowers like Babylon allow them to believe that they can harm others without accountability.
Isaiah makes it clear that God will hold accountable those who harm others through their self-serving actions.
Key Thought: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5.5).
The people of God should trust God because he gives grace to the humble. Humble people look to God and trust him for what they need.
The proud should know that they are facing the Supreme God, who will hold them accountable for their actions.
Proud, self-serving, and arrogant persons will learn that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31).
The Hebrews of Isaiah’s day were tempted to trust idols, other nations, and their self-sufficiency rather than God. This can be the case for people today like it was then.
They turned God into a “tool” to help them meet their needs.
God wants to be more than a “tool” to give us what we want and need. He wants to live in a love relationship with us.
If our pride leads us to self-sufficiency, let’s correct that and turn to the Lord.
If we are fearful of what’s going on in our lives, let’s trust the Lord who is always at work.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.