Isaiah 13 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
I.C. Burdens of Judgment upon the nations (ch. 13 - 23)
1. The Burden of Babylon; her fall, her king's descent, 13:1-14:27
     In chapter 10, we saw a prophetic view of the completion of judgment upon Israel during the Tribulation, when they would be oppressed by the Antichrist (referred to as "the Assyrian"). But the oppressor would be "cut down... and... fall by the hand of a {lit., the} mighty one," Israel's Messiah (Isa 10:34).
     In chapters 11-12, we saw Christ, the Branch out of the stump and root of Jesse, take His rightful place as King, establishing righteousness, justice and peace throughout His worldwide Kingdom. He is the perfect Judge and He is the Salvation of His people. We also had a glimpse of His vengeance upon the surrounding nations for their miss-treatment of Israel (11:14,15).
     Now, in chapters 13-23, we are given a more detailed look at His judgment upon the nations as He establishes His Kingdom. However, the picture has near and far elements, including judgments which fell upon the nations soon after the first destruction of Jerusalem, and also foreseeing the final judgments in the closing days of the future Tribulation period.
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,
{ie., direct the battle with hand signals, cp. Isa 10:32; 11:15}
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.
the burden of... - In ch.13-23, each message of judgment upon individual nations begins this way.
Each was a 'burden' {ie., a heavy weight} which the Lord laid upon the heart of the prophet. It was something that could not be held to oneself but must be spoken. The judgments uttered would also weigh heavily upon the nations to whom they applied.
the burden of Babylon...- At the time of Isaiah's message, Babylon had not yet come to prominence.
Assyria was the power to reckon with. Yet, within 125 years, Babylon would arise to destroy Jerusalem and to take Judah captive.
     Babylon is mentioned first among the nations to be judged, because it symbolizes Satan's opposition to the city of God. Its first king, Nimrod, "was a mighty hunter before {'against the face of'} Jehovah" (Gen 10:9,10). He hunted the souls of men, turning them away from the true and living God. Babylon's final king, the Antichrist, energized by Satan, presides over a worldwide political and religious system, which unites all philosophies that are acceptable to the natural mind, in opposition to the Truth of God.
the high mountain...- is the empire (world dominion) of Babylon,
which the LORD will bring down to nothing. Jer 51:25.
I have commanded...- The Lord's judgment has already been decreed. sanctified ones... my mighty ones... that rejoice in My highness...-
The LORD's selected instruments are 'sanctified' in the sense that they are 'set apart' to accomplish God's purpose: the judgment of Babylon. Although the gentile kings did the LORD's bidding unknowingly, some eventually honored the LORD.
  • the near term, the Medes would conquer Babylon (v.17; Jer 51:11,20-24).
    The means of their conquest, through 'the gates,' is mentioned in v.2. (This was fulfilled in Dan 5:30,31, when the Medes diverted the Euphrates and entered the city through the river gates.) The Medes came from a country far from Babylon, "from the end of heaven" (ie., beyond the horizon), about 350 miles to the east. This fall of Babylon would occur about 50 years after they destroyed Jerusalem.
  • in the far view, Christ will return in His glory, with the armies of Heaven,
    to destroy the armies of the nations gathered at Armageddon (from many far countries), in the final blow to the world system referred to as Babylon. (Rev 19:11-21).
to destroy the whole land. - ie., the land of Chaldea, the Babylonian empire (v.19).
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
{harmfulness, maliciousness},
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
{oppressive, violent, tyrannical}.
pangs and sorrows... travail...-
in the near view, cp. Jer 50:43; Dan 5:5,6 (re: Babylon)
in the far view, cp. Jer 30:5-10 (re: Jerusalem, and their enemies); 1The 5:3 (re: the world system)
for the Day of the LORD cometh...- when the LORD will fulfill His promises of judgment,
to punish His enemies and purge His people of sin. Isa 2:10-12
the stars... the sun...- These heavenly signs accompany the final judgments. cp. Mat 24:29,30; Luk 21:25-27
cruel {ie., harsh, without mercy}... to... destroy the sinners thereof out of it. - cp. Mat 13:41,42
I will punish... the world for their evil... iniquity...-
Observe the recurring phrase 'I will..." The LORD is the active agent in these judgments, even though He uses the forces of nature and nations to accomplish His will.
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
{a frightened deer},
and as a sheep that no man taketh up
{a scattered flock with no gatherer}:
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]
{ie., captured} 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;
{They will spare no man's life, at any price.}
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.
...a man more precious {ie., valuable, rare} than fine gold...-
Because the destruction is severe, survivors will be few.
Those who see the judgment coming will flee. cp. Jer 51:9
Everyone who fails to flee will perish. v.15; Rev 18:4
their children shall be dashed... their wives ravished {ie., raped} -
The judgment of Babylon is just, for they will be treated as they treated Israel.
cp. Lam 5:11; Psa 137:8,9; Zech 14:2,3
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.
Babylon... as... Sodom and Gomorrah.-
in the final judgment, the great world system will be utterly destroyed. Rev 18:1-2,21-24
it shall never be inhabited... -
The destruction, which Babylon experienced in the near view, is a vivid preview of its final end. After the Medes overthrew Babylon, it began a gradual decline, and eventually fell into ruin. Verses 20-22 are an accurate description of the present state of the ancient city. There have been attempts to rebuild a city called Babylon. However, these were at nearby locations, not on the original site, which is no longer suitable for building due to changes in the course of the river. Because of superstitions, the local people avoid building permanent dwellings in the ruins.
satyrs {perhaps referring to demons}... dragons {ie., serpents, reptiles}...- cp. Rev 18:2
her time is near... her days shall not be prolonged.-
When Isaiah proclaimed judgment upon Babylon, that nation had not yet risen to dominance. Her fall seemed very far off. But ancient Babylon did fall. Likewise, the final form of gentile world dominion will definitely be destroyed under the LORD's judgment, at the appointed time. cp. 2Pet 2:3; 3:3-10
     The message does not end here. The first several verses of ch.14 explain the cause and certainty of this judgment.
[This section continues into the next chapter.]

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