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The picture of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 has been interpreted to be that of the devil.
I believe that Isaiah’s prophecy had meaning for the people of his day, so a literal king of Babylon is part of the picture.
However, it is also beneficial to see in this passage the nature of the devil and God’s judgment on him.
The first four verses present the dramatic ending of Isaiah (chapters 40-66) in a nutshell.
When the nations are delivered from the horrors of Babylonian rule, they will rejoice over the king’s demise.
When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
How the oppressor has ceased!
How his insolence has ceased!
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing. (Isaiah 14.3-4, 7)
Both humans and nature rejoice when Babylon is no longer able to terrorize them.
Babylon may be a superpower, but it is no match for God. Before him, all human pride will vanish like a mist.
Great Men Humbled in Death
Kings and rulers are given elaborate funerals, complete with pageantry, music, and honors.
In mock praise the kings whom Babylon defeated rise to welcome the great king who terrorized the earth.
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
All of them will speak
and say to you:
“You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!”
Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
and the sound of your harps;
maggots are the bed beneath you,
and worms are your covering. (Isaiah 14.9-11)
Jesus put it quite well when he said, “What will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mark 8.36).
If you have gained the adulation of the crowds, the fear of your adversaries, and the wealth of the nations at the expense of your soul, you have made a bad bargain.
Fallen from Heaven
These words had meaning for Isaiah’s audience. They identified one of the kings of Babylon.
They have a meaning for us today. They identify the character and the end of the devil.
They also serve as a warning about human pride. Proud humans and the devil are never able to stand before God. Instead, they fall.
How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low! (Isaiah 14.12)
The Day Star refers to the planet Venus that was worshiped in Canaanite mythology.
Babylonian rulers, Canaanite gods, and the devil himself are not able to stand before the One True God.
Both Satanic and human arrogance is not willing servants of God. In the next verses notice the number of times “I will” is mentioned.
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
on the heights of Zaphon;
I will ascend to the tops of the clouds,
I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14.13-14)
The most arrogant thing anyone can do is attempt to take the place of God and rule their own lives.
We usually don’t declare our independence as proudly as the above verses. Instead, we quietly slip into willfulness. Our “I will” prevails over God’s will.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous aptly describes human pride and willfulness.
“Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way” (The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous).
People who have hit “rock bottom,” know what it is like to be brought down. The devil, proud, and willful humans who refuse to humbly submit to God’s direction will fully know it, too.
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14.15)
When tyrants, destroyers, and the devil are brought down by God, people will be amazed at their end.
Those who see you will stare at you,
and ponder over you:
“Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms?” (Isaiah 14.16)
King Herod had all the power and authority of the Roman government. Dressed in his royal robes he listened to the adulation of the crowd.
God wasn’t impressed with Herod. In an instant “an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12.23).
Imagine the shock of the crowd. The mighty Herod in all his power and pomp, eaten by worms!
Think of other cringing “strong men” of our age, when their time of glory was up. They hide in caves and bunkers, fearful for their lives.
Most of all think of the devil.
When seventy of Jesus’ followers returned from a mission trip they said, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.
“See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you” (Luke 10.17-19).
There will come a day when the devil is destroyed. In the meantime, we are called to humbly follow Jesus’ direction.
The best life is found in humble service to Jesus and others, not in willful pride.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.