See also Excellent Timeline
Judgment & Character
Comfort & Redemption
Righteousness & Justice of Jehovah
& Glory of Jehovah
"A throne" Is 6:1
"A Lamb" Is 53:7
See Introduction to Isaiah by Dr John
Title, Author, Date,
Background, Setting, Historical, Theological Themes,
Interpretive Challenges, Outline by Chapter/Verse. Excellent
Grace To You
- same intro as in
MacArthur Study Bible (print)
The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw:
(Oracle: Isa 14:28 15:1 17:1 19:1 21:1,11,13 22:1,25 23:1 Jer
23:33-38 Eze 12:10 Na 1:1 Hab 1:1 Zec 9:1 12:1 Mal 1:1) (Babylon:
Isa 14:4-23 21:1-10 43:14 44:1,2 47:1-15 Jer 25:12-26 50:1-51:23 Da
5:28-6:28 Rev 17:1-18:24) (Saw: Isa 1:1)
See Timeline for Isaiah
See Map of Babylonian Empire
As you read and study the
great prophetic book of Isaiah, keep the
remembering that chapter 12 marks the end of the first major section
of Isaiah (refer to the preceding Table). Isaiah takes an abrupt
turn to the oracle concerning Babylon beginning in Isaiah 13:1
followed by additional oracles to the nations through chapter 27.. Isaiah
1-12 precedes from worst (Isa 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) to best,
from divine judgment to divine comfort, chapter 12 (Isa 12:1-6) culminating in the promise of salvation and the presence of
the Savior (Isa 12:6). Isaiah 13-27 records God's prophecies against
10 Gentile nations that opposed Israel, as well as judgments against
Judah and Israel.
introductory comments on this section are worth pondering...
The threatenings we find here
against Babylon, Moab, Damascus, Egypt, Tyre, etc., were intended for
comfort to those in Israel that feared God, but were terrified and
oppressed by those potent neighbours, and for alarm to those among
them that were wicked. If God would thus severely reckon with those
for their sins that knew Him not, and made no profession of His name,
how severe would He be with those that were called by His name and yet
lived in rebellion against Him! (Ed: E.g., study Hebrews
And perhaps the directing of particular prophecies to the neighbouring
nations might invite some of those nations to the reading of the Jews'
Bible, and so they might be brought to their religion.
JUDGMENT OF THE GENTILES
BEGINNING WITH THE
The oracle concerning Babylon
- Note that this oracle extends through the end of Isaiah 14.
As discussed below Babylon is
the second most mentioned city in the Bible and is found from Genesis
to Revelation. Genesis 11 identifies it as the seat of man's prideful
rebellion against God's authority and Revelation 18 predicts the final
fall of this "great" city. Isaiah 13-14 give us previews of coming
attractions. The interpretation in this commentary is based on a
literal approach to the Scripture and as discussed below identifies
Babylon as a city with both a past fulfilled history and a future yet
to be fulfilled prophecy.
The ESV Study Bible offers a
more generic, "symbolic" interpretation of Babylon seeing it as "the
proud evil that sets the whole world against God (Isa 13:11, 19; cf.
Ge. 11:1–9; Isa. 14:26; Da 4:30; Rev. 14:8; 17:5; 18:2, 3)." While
this statement is true, it does not address the fact that Babylon is a
literal city, which is the approach taken by these notes, which will
go into some detail to defend the interpretation of Babylon as a
literal city, not just in Isaiah's day but also in our day, a city in
Iraq which will one in the future rise to a position of power and
prominence before its final demise in the Revelation.
Isaiah finished his prophetic
career in 685BC, almost 100 years before Judah finally fell before the
Babylonian Empire (586BC). At the time of this prophecy, Babylon was a
significant nation, but they were definitely behind the Assyrian
Empire in status. Yet the Lord who knows the end of all things can
speak of the judgment on the pride of Babylon hundreds of years before
the judgment comes.
Oracle (04853) (massa'
from verb nasa' = lift up, carry, take away, see "lift up" in
Is 13:2) literally describes a burden or something which is carried
about and emphasizes the effort necessary to carry the item (Ex 23:5,
2Ki 5:17, 2Ki 8:9). Figuratively, in the prophets massa'
indicates a divine prophecy with a message of judgment, a prophecy,
analogous to a "heavy load" because it announces threat of heavy
judgments. The other picture of "weight" is that the prophet is
heavily laden with a message from God that he must deliver. It
is a weighty or burdensome kind of message to deliver, an utterance
which speaks chiefly of doom. Specific burdens deal with Nineveh Nah
1:1), Judah (Hab1:1), Damascus (Zech 9:1), Jerusalem (Zech 12:1),
Israel (Mal 1:1), Zabad who murdered King Joash (2Chr 24:27), King
Joram (2Ki 9:25).
Figuratively massa' can
also describe "iniquities...as a heavy burden" (Ps 38:4) or people
being burden (Nu 11:11,17;Dt 1:12;2Sa 15:33;Job 7:20). Massa' is once
used to describe delight or strong yearning in one's heart (Eze
24:25). In 2Chr 17:11 massa' describes a tribute which is a forced
payment from a submissive nation to a superior nation. Massa' can
describe a burden in the sense of an oppression or hardship, something
that causes distress (Hos 8:10).
Massa' - 60v in the
KJV - Ex 23:5; Nu 4:15, 19, 24, 27, 31f, 47, 49; 11:11, 17; Deut
1:12; 2 Sam 15:33; 19:35; 2Kgs 5:17; 8:9; 9:25; 1Chr 15:22, 27; 2Chr
17:11; 20:25; 24:27; 35:3; Neh 10:31; 13:15, 19; Job 7:20; Ps 38:4; Pr
30:1; 31:1; Isa 13:1; 14:28; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1; 21:1, 11, 13; 22:1, 25;
23:1; 30:6; 46:1f; Jer 17:21f, 24, 27; 23:33f, 36, 38; Ezek 12:10;
24:25; Hos 8:10; Nah 1:1; Hab 1:1; Zech 9:1; 12:1; Mal 1:1 KJV
= burden 57, song 3, prophecy 2, set 1, exaction 1, carry away 1,
tribute 1; 66
Matthew Henry on
oracle says that this section describes...
The threatenings of God's word
press heavily upon the wicked, and are a sore burden, too heavy for
them to bear.
The NET Bible Note says
that Isaiah 13-23...
contains a series of judgment
oracles against various nations. It is likely that Israel, not the
nations mentioned, actually heard these oracles. The oracles probably
had a twofold purpose. For those leaders who insisted on getting
embroiled in international politics, these oracles were a reminder
that Judah need not fear foreign nations or seek international
alliances for security reasons. For the righteous remnant within the
nation, these oracles were a reminder that Israel's God was indeed the
sovereign ruler of the earth, worthy of His people's trust.
Young emphasizes the
consoling and encouraging aspects of Isaiah 13-23 noting...
That these prophecies appear in the
Biblical book of Isaiah was not for the benefit of the Babylonians but
for the people of God (Ed: Israel, especially the believing
remnant). From them they would learn that the hostile power of the
world in its most powerful manifestation would finally be brought to
ignominious defeat and ruin. No power that sets itself against God, be
it as haughty and pretentious as was Babylonia, can prevail. Thus,
Israel would learn that God does not permit to go unpunished the
wickedness of those who have set themselves against the Lord and
against His anointed, and who oppose His people. To see the opponents
of God’s purposes punished would bring consolation and encouragement
to the Jews, for it would teach them how precious their salvation was
in God’s sight. But they would also learn that they too were deserving
of punishment, and that only by God’s mercy had a remnant been spared.
Then, too, the raging of the nations is but a carrying out of God’s
purposes. He is in control of all things. A topsy-turvy world is not
really topsy-turvy. Even the darkest moments are in God’s providential
control and rule.
Ed: The Book of Isaiah - 3 Volume Commentary. Eerdmans Pub.
THE TIMING OF
OF THIS ORACLE
When does this oracle against Babylon take place? This question
will be addressed in greater detail throughout the notes on Isaiah 13
but first it is worth noting that there are
several clues to the timing from the following passages...
(1) Isaiah 13:6 - The Day of
the Lord - See in depth discussion below.
(2) Isaiah 13:10 - Isaiah
describes major cosmic alterations in the sun, moon and stars, and
this is something that has not yet occurred in the history of the
(3) Isaiah 13:19 -
Isaiah compares Babylon to Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah were completely
devastated, but that has not yet happened to Babylon as documented
more fully below.
The implication from points 1-3 is
that the final and full fulfillment of Isaiah 13 has to be future to
our day. This genre of interpretation is not popular with those who do
not espouse the belief that God is sovereign and in complete control
of the future history and course of this present world. Popular or
not, this "futuristic" approach is the only interpretation that can
rationally, reasonably explain Isaiah's prophecies.
Henry Morris notes that
Isaiah records that he saw..
these things, though they were all
far in the future. Evidently, God gave Isaiah a series of visions,
projecting him into the future, so he could see the events as actually
Isaiah the son of Amoz
- Isaiah in beginning a distinctly new section clearly claims
authorship to abort those of liberal persuasion who would try to
invoke a new author! Comparing Scripture with Scripture strongly
supports Isaiah's authorship as we note the similarity in the
Israel is to become a remnant: Isa
10:21, 22 with Isa 17:4–6; 24:1–13.
The return of the remnant: Isa 10:20, 21 with Isa 17:7, 8; 20:5, 6;
and Isa 27:9.
Cry of deliverance in darkness: Isa 9:1 with Isa 11:1 and Isa 24:14.
Destruction of oppressor: Isa 10:16-19, 33, 34 w/ Isa 14:25; 16:4;
17:12-14; Isa 18:4–6.
Regathering of Israel: Isa 11:11–16 and Isa 14:1 with Isa 27:13.
Turning of the nations: Isa 11:10 with Isa 14:1b; Isa 16:1, 2; 18:7
Nations serve Israel: Isa 11:11 with Isa 14:2.
Nations partly experience Israel’s rule: Isa 11:14–16 with Isa 14:29.
Coming peace: Isa 9:4–6 and Isa 11:2–5, with Isa 14:1, 2, 7, 8, 29,
30; 16:4, 5.
Redeemed sing hymns of praise: Isa 12:1-6 with Isa 24:14–16; 25:1–5;
Just as in Jeremiah and in Ezekiel
the prophecies of the foreign nations are grouped together, so also in
Isaiah. This section, therefore, may be compared with Jeremiah 46–51
and Ezekiel 25–32. The prophet speaks concerning Babylon, Assyria,
Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Elam, Media, Arabia, Tyre,
and then concludes the prophecies with a description of judgment of
the world and of the last things (chaps. 24–27).
Concerning Babylon - We are
at first surprised that this does is not read "concerning Assyria",
for Assyria has been the subject of discussion in the preceding
chapters as the major protagonist of Israel and Judah. In addition, at
the time of this prophecy Babylon was by no means a threatening power
and she did not achieve that status until almost a century later.
Babylon (0894) (babel)
means confusion. Genesis 11:9 gives the name as Babel (perhaps from
balal "to confuse") but probably intended as a parody, a word play
referring to what happened when the languages were confused. Even our
derivative English word "babble" is an example of onomatopoeia, a word
which imitates an actual sound, and thus is essentially the same in
Babylon is mentioned more in
the Scriptures than any other city except Jerusalem.
Babel - 262x in 233v in the
NAS - Ge 10:10; 11:9; 2Kgs 17:24, 30; 20:12, 14, 17, 18; 24:1,
7, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 20; 25:1, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 27, 28; 1Chr 9:1; 2Chr 32:31; 33:11; 36:6, 7, 10, 18, 20; Ezra
1:11; 2:1; 7:6, 9; 8:1; Neh 7:6; 13:6; Esther 2:6; Ps 87:4; 137:1, 8;
Isa 13:1, 19; 14:4, 22; 21:9; 39:1, 3, 6, 7; 43:14; 47:1; 48:14, 20;
Jer 20:4, 5, 6, 21:2, 4, 7, 10; 22:25; 24:1; 25:1, 9, 11f; 27:6, 8, 9,
11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22; 28:2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 14; 29:1, 3, 4,
10, 15, 20, 21, 22, 28; 32:2, 3, 4, 28, 36; 34:1, 2, 3, 7, 21; 35:11;
36:29; 37:1, 17, 19; 38:3, 17, 18, 22, 23; 39:1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11,
13; 40:1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11; 41:2, 18; 42:11; 43:3, 10; 44:30; 46:2, 13,
26; 49:28, 30; 50:1, 2, 8, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 28, 29, 34,
35, 42, 43, 45, 46; 51:1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 24, 29, 30, 31, 33, 34,
35, 37, 41, 42, 44, 47, 48, 49, 53, 54, 55, 58, 59, 60, 64; 52:3, 4,
9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 26, 27, 31, 32, 34; Ezek 12:13; 17:12, 16, 20;
19:9; 21:19, 21; 23:15, 17, 23; 24:2; 26:7; 29:18, 19; 30:10, 24, 25;
32:11; Da 1:1; Mic 4:10; Zech 2:7; 6:10
Babylon is transliterated
into Greek and occurs 12x in 11v in the NT - Matt 1:11, 12, 17; Acts
7:43; 1Pet 5:13; Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21.
The first mention of Babel
is in Genesis in which it was referred to as the kingdom of Nimrod, a
leader who was a "mighty hunter before Jehovah" ("before" could
also be translated "mighty against"!)...
He was a mighty hunter before
the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like
Nimrod a mighty hunter before
the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel (Hebrew = babel;
Lxx = babulon) and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
The next mention of Babel is
in Genesis 11 where we see man's rebellious heart and God's righteous
And the LORD said, "Behold, they
are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what
they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be
impossible for them (See
Tower of Babel
Images for tower of Babel). "Come,
let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not
understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad
from there over the face of the whole earth (Ed: Note that this
"rebellious spirit" of Babylon now covered the earth!); and they
stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and
from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole
earth. (Genesis 11:6-9)
clearly serves as a prototype or picture of man's rebellion against
God and immediately precedes Genesis 12's introduction of God's plan
to redeem fallen mankind through a man named Abraham who would be the
father of the nation of Israel and ultimately of the Messiah (Gal
3:16). It is therefore not surprising that we see this conflict that
begins in Genesis 11 (man's way of "salvation") and Genesis 12 (God's
way of salvation) continuing to its final and dramatic culmination in
the last book of the Bible, specifically in Revelation 17 and 18.
More than any other name,
therefore, ‘Babylon’ typifies humankind’s will to be its own
Babel refers to the ancient city on
the eastern bank of the Euphrates about twenty miles south of Baghdad,
near the modern village of Hilia in modern day Iraq. Its first
occurrence in the Bible pertains to the Tower of Babel episode in
which man in a titanic social revolt attempted to throw off the rule
of God and achieve unity and peace without God (Ge 11:9). The symbol of their
unity was the tower, and the strength of their unity was their common
language. As a result, God judged them by confusing their speech.
According to the Sumerian Enmerkar Epic, at one time men
praised Enlil "with tongue," possibly a reflection in secular history
of this event.
Babylon was indeed one of the
greatest of ancient cities - The splendor of ancient Babylon was
spectacular, covering over 1000 acres surrounded by a double-walled
system of defense that encircled the city. These walls were over 85
feet thick and 11 miles long, with the outer walls being approximately
25 feet wide and reinforced with towers every 65 feet (cp Jeremiah
51:12, 58). There were eight major city gates named after various
Babylonian deities (e.g., the famous
The city was dominated by a
ziggurat, 288 feet high, known as the
Tower of Babylon. It was constructed from nearly 60 million fired
bricks. On the top of it stood the temple of
(Jer 50:2). The Greek historian Herodotus claimed that it contained a
solid gold statue of
envisioned the proud city that usurped Jerusalem's headship as a head
of gold (Da 2:32-note,
Daniel saw its true bestial character as a lion (Dan 7:4-note).
Daniel based his prayer for Israel's release on Jeremiah's prediction
that the captivity would last seventy years (Jer 25:11-12; Jer 29:10;
But whereas Jeremiah predicted the length of the captivity, Isaiah
foresaw the way of Israel's exodus from Babylon through the conquest
Cyrus (Isa 41:1, 2, 3, 4; Isa 43:14; Isa
44:28, 45:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Isa 46:11 ["bird" = King Cyrus])
Resources on Babylon:
Babylon - Bible Dictionary (part 1);
Bible Dictionary (part 2)
Babylon - Wikipedia
As one reads the OT prophecies
concerning Babylon especially prophecies that state "Babylon, the
beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the
pride, will be as when God overthrew
Gomorrah." (Isa 13:19), the question arises is
this "Has Babylon ever been destroyed to the extent that it became like
Sodom and Gomorrah?" The historical evidence strongly supports the
premise that Babylon has never been completely destroyed which
in turn supports the interpretation that Babylon will be subject to a
literal future destruction. As of 2011 Babylon is an insignificant
place in Iraq, but is anything too difficult for God? (Ge 18:14, Jer
32:17, 27, Isa 46:9, 10) Is is too difficult for Him to cause/allow
Babylon to arise from the ashes to become the leading metropolis of
the world? I think not! It follows that the prophecy in Isaiah 13 has
never been fully fulfilled and is yet future to our time. It is
fitting that Babylon which has been called “the seat of the
civilization that expressed organized hostility to God” (Tenney) in
Genesis, should meet its final and utter demise in the book of the
Revelation as recorded by the apostle John...
And the kings of the earth, who
committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her (the city
of Babylon), will weep and lament over her (the great city) when they
see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the
fear of her torment, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great
Babylon, the strong city!
For in one hour your judgment has come.'
cp Rev 18:16, 17, 18, 19-note)
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you
saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment
for you against her (Babylon)." And a strong angel took up a stone
like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "Thus will
Babylon, the great
be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.
Comment: Note carefully how
a literal reading of John's description indicates that Babylon is an
a rebellious city
which will finally receive her just judgment from God and will finally
be completely destroyed forever just as was Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa
Dr John MacArthur commenting
on Isaiah 13:19ff agrees that Isaiah's reference to Babylon's demise
had only a partial fulfillment in her defeat by the Medes and Persians
and that a final fulfillment will occur in the future...
From the near future (Medes
defeating Babylon - Isa 13:17), Isaiah returned to the distant future.
The ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies of Babylon’s desolation
will come in conjunction with Babylon’s rebuilding and utter
destruction when Christ returns (Rev 14:8; 18:2). Obviously,
Isaiah was unable to see the many centuries that separated Babylon’s
fall to the Medes from the destruction of the final Babylon by God
(see Revelation 17, 18). (The MacArthur study Bible)
Those who say that Babylon
of the ancient world was utterly destroyed are choosing to ignore the
truth that Babylon was still a literal city in the first century AD.
Peter mentions Babylon in his first letter (see below). While some
have said this was "code language" and that he really meant "Rome,"
(Ryrie Study Bible. The ESV Study Bible actually goes so far as to
say this description refers to the "church of Rome"!) this is simply
not good hermeneutic technique! There is nothing in Peter's letter to suggest
this is not the literal city of Babylon and thus there is no
Scriptural support for interpreting this name symbolically. If Peter
had meant "Rome," he could have easily written the name "Rome."
(See related topics:
The Art and Science of Interpretation,
The Rise of Allegorical Interpretation
Understanding Symbols and Figures)
She who is in Babylon,
chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son,
Mark. (1Peter 5:13-note)
Henry Morris comments:
Babylon had a large Jewish population, and Peter had gone there to
evangelize and make disciples among them since his special calling was
to the Jews, as Paul's had been to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7). Some
have speculated that Babylon was a mystical name for Rome, but no
basis exists for this idea, with no indication that Peter had ever
been there. Paul wrote a letter to Rome about this same time and had
no hesitancy in calling the city by name (Romans 1:7).
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. Hard bound)
Online Version - For notes on a chapter type eg, Daniel 12 in box =
"With all of these words")
J Vernon McGee: I
think “Babylon” here means Babylon, although some think it is a
figurative name for Rome. Simon Peter is too practical to have used a
W A Criswell: Peter is
probably alluding to the Babylon on the Euphrates, a part of
that Eastern world where he lived and did his work, rather than Rome
(with Babylon being utilized as a cryptic word). Evidence for this
position includes the following: (1) There is no evidence that Rome
was ever called Babylon until after the writing of the Book of
Revelation in A.D. 90-96, many years after Peter's death. (2) Peter's
method and manner of writing are not apocalyptic. On the contrary,
Peter is a man plain of speech, almost blunt, who would not interject
such a mystical allusion into his personal explanations and final
salutation. (3) Babylon is no more cryptic than Pontus, Asia, or the
other places mentioned when Peter says the elect in Babylon send
greetings to the Jews of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia,
Asia, and Bithynia. (4) Babylon, no longer a great world capital in
the time of Peter, was still inhabited by a colony of people, mostly
Jews, many of whom Peter befriended and won to Christ.
W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
(written in 1871): Babylon—The Chaldean Babylon on the
Euphrates...How unlikely that in a friendly salutation the enigmatical
title of Rome given in prophecy (John, Rev 17:5), should be used!
Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter
addresses was derived. Philo [The Embassy to Gaius, 36] and Josephus
[Antiquities, 15.2.2; 23.12] inform us that Babylon contained a great
many Jews in the apostolic age (whereas those at Rome were
comparatively few, about eight thousand [Josephus, Antiquities,
17.11]); so it would naturally be visited by the apostle of the
circumcision. It was the headquarters of those whom he had so
successfully addressed on Pentecost, Ac 2:9, Jewish “Parthians…dwellers in Mesopotamia” (the
Parthians were then masters of
Adam Clarke: After
considering all that has been said by learned men and critics on this
place, I am quite of opinion that the apostle does not mean Babylon in
Egypt, nor Jerusalem, nor Rome as figurative Babylon, but the ancient
celebrated Babylon in Assyria, which was, as Dr. Benson
observes, the metropolis of the eastern dispersion of the Jews; but as
I have said so much on this subject in the preface, I beg leave to
refer the reader to that place.
It is unfortunate that otherwise
literal, conservative interpreters (even men like C. I. Scofield)
should have fallen into the trap of interpreting all the NT uses of
Babylon symbolically as a "code word" for Rome and/or
Catholicism. In Revelation 18:10 John describes "Babylon, the strong
city" and in Revelation 18:21 he calls "Babylon, the great city." If
these passages are read normally and literally, the interpretation is
clear that Babylon is a city! God's holy Word does not ever, not one
time, state that Babylon is Rome or that Babylon is Roman Catholicism.
To invoke these interpretations is to not be diligent to rightly
divide the Word of Truth (2Ti 2:15-note),
but to be influenced by the opinions of men. The fact that Babylon is currently not a
strong, great city at the dawn of the new millennium (2011), in no way
gives the interpreter the liberty to interpret "city" as a symbol for
a religion or another named city which is not mentioned in the
city is named Babylon and still
exists. Whether one was in favor or opposed to America invading Iraq
is unrelated to the fact that this event did occur, and did result in the
liberation of one of the most oil rich countries in the world.
can raise up a nation like Israel in one day (May, 1948), it is no
problem for Him to see that Babylon is rebuilt into the leading city
of the world! Prior to
the liberation of Iraq, I had always wondered how God might revive
ancient Babylon into a great city (I had always interpreted Babylon in
Scripture literally), but now I find that scenario much more likely in
view of the rich resources in Iraq (oil and people, historically a
very intelligent people).
Tony Garland addresses
the question of whether the prophecy of Babylon's destruction is was
complete (as complete as Sodom and Gomorrah) or whether Babylon might one day be
When one examines the historical
record concerning the fall of the city of Babylon in 539 B.C. to
Persia (Da 5:30, 31), it is clear that the term “destruction”
is much too strong a word to describe what actually transpired.
Babylon has never been destroyed at the hands of a catastrophic attack
as prophesied in the OT (see
Babylon’s Predicted Destruction.
On the night that Belshazzar, king
of the Chaldeans, was slain and the city came under the control of
Darius the Mede, it “fell” politically, but not physically. There was
no large-scale attack upon the city. In fact, many within the city
were not even aware for quite some time afterwards that the city had
been taken. The city was taken by diverting the waters of the
Euphrates. This allowed armed forces to wade under her defenses
without much of a fight:
The city fell by complete surprise.
Half of the metropolis was captured before the rest of it was “aware”
of the fact, according to Herodotus. Cyrus diverted the waters of the
Euphrates and by night entered the city through the dried up channel
(Da 5:30, 31). 1
Rather than being physically
overthrown, as predicted by Isaiah (Isa. 13, 14, 47) and Jeremiah
(Jer 50, 51), the city and its occupants were treated with
On...Oct. 29, 539 B.C., sixteen
days after the capitulation, Cyrus himself entered the city amid much
public acclaim, ending the Chaldean dynasty as predicted by the Hebrew
prophets (Isa. 13:21; Jer. 50f). Cyrus treated the city with great
respect, returning to their own shrines the statues of the deities
brought in from other cities. The Jews were sent home with
compensatory assistance. He appointed new governors, so ensuring peace
and stable conditions essential to the proper maintenance of the
Babylon generally flourished under
the Persians, although there is record of a revolt against Xerxes I
which resulted in a harsh response:
Under the Persians, Babylon
retained most of its institutions, became capital of the richest
satrapy in the empire, and, according to Herodotus, the world’s most
splendid city. A revolt against Xerxes I (482) led to destruction of
its fortifications and temples and the melting down of the golden
image of Marduk.3
In subsequent campaigns which took
control of Babylon, rather than being violently overthrown, the city
slowly decayed due to competition and neglect:
On October 12, 539 B.C., Babylon
fell to Cyrus of Persia, and from that time on the decay of the city
began. Xerxes plundered it. Alexander the Great thought to restore its
great temple, in ruins in his day, but was deterred by the prohibitive
cost. During the period of Alexander’s successors the area decayed
rapidly and soon became a desert. From the days of Seleucus Nicator
(312-280 B.C.), who built the rival city of Seleucia on the Tigris,
queenly Babylon never revived.4
Even when Greece, the great leopard
beast of Daniel’s night vision (Dan. 7:6) came calling in the person
and empire of Alexander the Great, the city was not destroyed:
[On] Oct. 1, 331 B.C., Alexander
marched to Babylon, where the Macedonian was triumphantly acclaimed,
the Persian garrison offering no opposition. He offered sacrifices to
Marduk, ordered the rebuilding of temples that Xerxes allegedly had
destroyed, and then a month later moved on to Susa.5
Alexander subsequently returned to
Babylon with great construction plans to make it his capital, but
these were interrupted by his death in 323 B.C. After Alexander, the
city was ruled by a series of kings including Seleucus I (323-250)
during which Babylon’s economic—but not religious importance—declined
sharply due to competition with the establishment by Antiochus I of a
new capital at Seleucia on the Tigris (274 B.C.). Later, the city
remained a center of Hellenism, supporting Jews in Palestine who
opposed Herod.6 After the destruction of the
by Rome in A.D. 70, many Jews left Jerusalem for the area of Babylon.
This trend increased after the Bar Kokhba war.7 The region of Babylon
became an important center for Jewry outside Israel:
After the destruction of the Second
Temple in 70 C.E., and especially after the war of Bar Kokhba (132-35
C.E.), some scholars went down from Palestine to Babylon. The arrival
of “Abba the Tall,” Rab, in approximately 219, brought about a period
of prosperity in the study of the Law in Babylon. Rab in Sura and
Shmuel in Nehardea gave public instruction in the Law and trained many
pupils. In this period academies were established, and they continued
to exert an influence on Jews, not only in Babylon but throughout all
the lands of their dispersion, as late as the 12th century.8
Although the city still stood when
Roman emperor Trajan entered it in A.D. 115, by about A.D. 200 the
site of the city was deserted.9 Thereafter, the city was mostly
forgotten until the 1800s when archaeological expeditions began to
investigate the site. In the mid-1960s, the Iraqi Department of
Antiquities carried out further work at the site. “The Ishtar gateway
. . . was partially restored together with the Procession Way . . .
The Ninmah temple was reconstructed, and a museum and rest house built
on the site, which is also partially covered by the village of
PLAN OF BABYLON (1944)
Click to enlarge
In more recent times (Ed:
See also quote below from Joel Rosenberg), Saddam Hussein built
himself a palace on a man-made hill beside the footprint of the
original city. Then, in 1987, he ordered construction of a replica of
Nebuchadnezzar’s vast palace on the original site. Museums were also
built. But since his fall from power in 2003, his private palace was
ransacked by mobs and two museums at the site were looted. During
almost this entire time, there have been people occupying the site or
living nearby—in stark contrast to the predictions of Scripture
concerning the uninhabitable wasteland it is predicted to one day
Historic Fall - included citations)
I fully agree with Garland's
summary statement that in the book of the Revelation...
Babylon simply means...Babylon! The
only problem with taking Babylon in its literal sense is one of timing
and faith. Because the modern site of Babylon in no way resembles what
is described in the book of Revelation, there is opportunity for doubt
concerning what God has said. This is nothing new: “Has God indeed
said...?” (Ge 3:1).
What is the explanation for this
reluctance to believe that John meant Babylon when he wrote “Babylon”?
Even at the time John was writing, Babylon was still a viable city,
with a substantial colony of Jews (the famous Babylonian Talmud
originated in or near there, about 500 years after the time of Christ)
and there was a significant Christian church there as well (1Peter
5:13). At the very least, it would be confusing to John’s first
century readers, as well as to later generations, for him to write so
much about Babylon when he really meant Rome...or “the false
church.” (Henry Morris - The Revelation Record)
The current situation in regard to
the literal city of Babylon reminds us of the position of many earlier
interpreters concerning the predictions of the OT in regard to Israel.
Prior to her reestablishment in 1948, it was difficult for many to
believe that unfulfilled passages concerning a people who had been
dispersed for nearly 2,000 years could ever be taken in a literal
fashion as pertaining to a physical nation yet future. Today, we
thrill to read those interpreters who held to a literal understanding
of Israel over the many years when Israel seemed but a dusty
recollection of history. May we be found among a similar cadre of
interpreters in our own time concerning the city of Babylon! (See topics defending
the interpretation that "Babylon is Babylon":
Old Testament Context;
A Literal City;
Back to Shinar)
As noted above, the most
concentrated use of the name Babylon in the New Testament is found in
the book of the Revelation (Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). It
behooves the diligent Berean (Acts 17:11) student to observe these
uses, paying careful attention to the uses in Revelation 17 and
Revelation 18. You might want to take a moment to read those chapters
before you look at the chart below which compares those two chapters.
IDENTITY OF BABYLON
REVELATION 17 & 18
is the same
BABYLON THE GREAT
Babylon the great
Babylon the great
identity is the same
THE GREAT CITY
The woman is
the great city
the great city
"clothing" is the same
PURPLE & SCARLET
the woman was clothed in
purple and scarlet and
adorned with gold
and clothed in fine linen and
precious stones and pearls
Woe, woe, the great city, she who was
purple and scarlet, and
adorned with gold
and precious stones
Having in her hand a gold
full of abominations
In the cup
which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her
to kings' acts is the same
With whom the kings
of the earth committed of immorality
And the kings of
the earth have committed acts of immorality
Relationship to the nations is the same
DRUNK WITH IMMORALITY
Those who dwell on the earth were made
with the wine
of her immorality
For all the nations have
of the wine
of the passion of
Relationship to believers is the same
And I saw the woman drunk with
the blood of the saints,
and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus
And in her was found
and of all who have been slain on the earth
destruction is the same
These will hate the harlot…and will
her up with fire
She will be
burned up with fire
of destruction is the same
has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose
has remembered her iniquities…for the Lord
Who judges her is strong
"Babylon" in Revelation 17 and 18
describes the same literal city
Comment: Notice how the
metaphor or symbol of a "woman" is not left to your
imagination but is specifically stated to be "the great city"
in Rev 17:18-note.
The allegorical interpretation of this passage began in the
second century AD and has been promulgated and passed down from
one generation of commentators to another. The challenge and
difficulty for the diligent student of Scripture to disregard
what they have been taught regarding Revelation 17 and 18 and to
objectively interpret the passages with a
normative, literal reading,
paying careful attention to the
Scripture with Scripture
(Revelation 17, Revelation 18, Isaiah 13). When one is
prayerfully allows the Spirit to illuminate the text using these simple
guidelines, there is little doubt that these two chapters
describe a great literal city of Babylon that will exist
in the end times. This is the same Babylon which will
finally and fully fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah 13 of a great
city which God will make a desolation and
from which God will exterminate...sinners (Isaiah 13:8)
Other Resources that Discuss the
literal City of Babylon in the end times:
What is the Identity of "Babylon"
in Revelation 17-18?
Andy Woods (excellent)
Identity of Babylon in Revelation 17-18 - comparison of Scriptural
Identity of Babylon in Revelation 17-18 Pt 1- BSac 144:575 - Dr C. Dyer
Identity of Babylon in Revelation 17-18 Pt 2- BSac 144:576 - Dr C. Dyer
Joel Rosenberg wrote the
following article in 2009...
Largely overlooked by the Western
news media...was an enormously significant story. The government of
Iraq is moving forward with plans to protect the archaeological
remains of the ancient City of Babylon, in preparation for building a
modern city of Babylon. The project, originally started by the late
Saddam Hussein, is aimed eventually at attracting scores of "cultural
tourists" from all over the world to see the glories of Mesopotamia's
most famous city. What's more, the Obama Administration is
contributing $700,000 towards "The Future of Babylon Project," through
the State Department's budget.
Officials hope Babylon can be
revived and made ready for a rich future of tourism, with help from
experts at the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the U.S. embassy,"
reports the Reuters news agency. "'The Future of Babylon' project
launched last month seeks to 'map the current conditions of Babylon
and develop a master plan for its conservation, study and tourism,'
the WMF says. 'We don't know how long it will take to reopen to
tourists,' said Mariam Omran Musa, head of a government inspection
team based at the site. 'It depends on funds. I hope that Babylon can
be reborn in a better image.'
The Bible prophecies in Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Revelation that indicate the ancient city of
Babylon in Iraq will, in fact, be rebuilt in the "last days" of
history and become the wealthiest and most powerful city on the face
of the planet....Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Abdul Ameer Allawi told me
in 2006 at the peak of the insurgency...
archaeological, and biblical tourism is a big opportunity for Iraq. I
think rebuilding Babylon is a wonderful idea, as long as it is not
done at the expense of the antiquities themselves.
The rebuilding of Babylon (seems)
like a far-fetched idea....But skeptics and cynics take note: now that
the insurgency is dying down, the Shia-led government of Iraq is
actually moving forward with this historic and prophetic project. They
say Babylon will be "reborn." And they're right. It will be. (See
Joel Rosenberg on Babylon)
13:2 Lift up a standard on the bare hill,
raise your voice to them, wave the hand that they may enter the doors
of the nobles.: (Lift up: Isa 5:26 11:12 18:3 Jer
50:2 51:27,28) (Hill: Jer 51:25) (Wave: Isa 10:32
11:15) (Enter: Isa 45:1-3 Jer 51:58)
is speaking in this
Lift up (05375) (nasa')
means to lift up literally or figuratively, to bear or carry
(especially the guilt of sin - Ge 4:13, Lev 5:1, 17, Nu 5:31, Lev
16:22 scapegoat = "bear") and finally to take or to take away (as in
forgiveness - Ex 34:7, Nu 14:18, Mic 7:18)
On the bare hill - A
lofty, conspicuous spot which could easily seen by the army.
Standard (05251) (nec)
generally refers to a rallying point or standard the purpose of which
was to draw people (soldiers) together for some common action for communication
of important information (war). People would rally together around a nec
for various purposes, one of the most important being the gathering of
troops for war. We have already seen nec used in Isaiah 5:26
where it pictures God raising a standard among the nations, signaling
Assyrian warriors to muster against sinful Israel. As in the present
passage, the standard was usually raised on a mountain or other
high place (Isa13:2; 18:3; 30:17).
Isaiah 11:10 (cp Isa 11:12)
personifies nec describing Israel's Messianic King to be lifted up
(compare Jn3:14; Php 2:9) so that all men might rally around Him.
Nec - 21v in the NAS
- Ex 17:15; Nu 21:8, 9; 26:10; Ps 60:4; Isa 5:26; 11:10, 12; 13:2;
18:3; 30:17; 31:9; 33:23; 49:22; 62:10; Jer 4:6, 21; 50:2; 51:12, 27;
Ezek 27:7. NAS = banner(2), distinguishing mark(1), sail(1),
signal(4), standard(12), warning(1).
Nobles - These are those
in power who will overtaken and destroyed in the Day of the LORD.
I have commanded My consecrated ones, I have even called My mighty
warriors, My proudly exulting ones, to execute My anger.:
(I have commanded: Isa 23:11 44:27,28 45:4,5 Jer 50:21-46) (Mighty:
Jer 51:20-24 Joe 3:11 Rev 17:12-18) (My proudly: Ezr 1:1-11
6:1-22 7:12-26 Ps 149:2,5-9 Rev 18:4-8,20-24 19:1-7)
ELYON: THE MOST HIGH GOD
SOVEREIGN OVER THE NATIONS
I have commanded - This
pronoun is emphatic, indicating that it is Jehovah Who is speaking.
As we begin Isaiah 13-27 which
deals primarily with specific judgments against the Gentile Nations,
it behooves us to remember that the
God is in
complete control of the rise and fall of all nations (America,
are you listening? And beloved child of God, what is there in your
life over which you think He has no control or even no interest?
Remember He is near [Heb
and He is in control and able to control =
(Daniel speaking to King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon) O king, and this is the decree of the Most
High (See study of
El Elyon: Most High God - Sovereign Over All),
which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from
mankind, and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and
you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of
heaven; and seven periods of time (seven years) will pass over you,
until (When doing your
inductive Bible study
, always take note this important
expression of time)
you recognize that
The MOST HIGH is Ruler over the
realm of mankind,
and bestows it on whomever He wishes.
(Daniel 4:24, 25)
(Daniel continues) "While the word
was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King
Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed
from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling
place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to
eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you,
until you recognize that the
Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on
whomever He wishes.'
(Daniel 4:31, 32)
(Listen to Daniel's prayer prompted
by God's revelation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2) Daniel
answered and said, "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, (Why?)
wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and
He removes kings and establishes
He gives wisdom to wise men, and
knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound
and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness, and the light
dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:20, 21 22)
God) made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the
face of the earth, having determined (prostasso = issued an
"official directive" or command testifying to God's providential care
and supervision of history [All "history" is His-story!]. Prostasso is
= God issued
this order at some point in time in the past and it stands or remains
in place.) their appointed times ("Allotted periods", "Epochs"
- See study of
and the boundaries of their habitation, (Why?)
that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope (pselaphao =
feel around for something as those who is spiritually blind seek to
know God through natural and moral revelation apart from special
revelation [The Bible - the Word of God]. Pagans struggle to know God
but conscience alone is not enough!) for Him and find Him, though He
is not far from each one of us for in Him we live and move and exist,
as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His
offspring.' (Acts 17:26, 27, 28)
I have commanded - The
sovereign God issues this command underscoring the fact that He is in control of
all the events on earth. How does this interact with free will?
This is a mystery but both doctrines are true, whether I can
understand them or not and even whether I believe them or not!
BY THE HOLY ONE
Consecrated (06942) (qadash)
means to set apart for a specific use. In the present context qadash
has no moral connotation and thus
does not refer to believers, for the Medo-Persians did not believe in
Jehovah God. Nevertheless they were set apart by the Holy God to do His holy
work and execute His good and acceptable and perfect will, much like an inanimate vessel might be set apart for some religious
My consecrated ones - In
context this refers to the Medes (Isa 13:17), whom God ordained to
overthrow Babylon in 539 BC (Da 5:30,31). While the Babylonians were
feasting and mocking God, the Persians were entering the city through
the channel of the Euphrates River, which they had diverted. As a
result the Persian caught the Babylonians completely unprepared, for
they were so vainly confident that their great walls could not be
breached by any enemy. In a sense they were correct. The Persians
didn't go over the walls but entered under the walls!
As the ESV Study Bible
The enemies of Babylon do not
consecrate themselves to God; he consecrates them to his own purpose
(cf. Isa 10:5–15; 45:1).
The army referred to in these
verses is clearly God’s because He said He summoned His warriors
to carry out His anger against Babylon; that is, they would do
His bidding. This army was a great multitude.... like an amassing of
entire nations. Coming for war they would assemble from faraway lands,
from the ends of the heavens. This is not a specific geographical
description as much as a way of saying that his great army would
include soldiers from many places. Though Isaiah was writing about the
military strife in his day, a similar mustering of vast armies will
occur just before the millennial kingdom (Rev. 17:12-16).
My proudly exulting ones
- Literally "My exulting ones of arrogance." As Motyer says "These
warriors exult in their own self-confident arrogance but (unknown to
themselves) they have been claimed by the Lord for his purposes."
To execute My anger -
These consecrated ones are God's instrument in the day of vengeance
and righteous wrath of the Holy God.
A sound of tumult on the mountains, like that of many people! A sound
of the uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! The LORD of
hosts is mustering the army for battle.: (Sound: Isa
22:1-9 Jer 50:2,3,21-46 51:11,27,28 Eze 38:3-23 Joe 3:14 Zec
14:1-3,13,14 Rev 19:11-21) (Like: Joe 2:4-11 Rev 9:7-19) (Lord:
Isa 10:5,6 45:1,2 Jer 50:14,15 51:6-25 Joe 2:1-11,25 Rev 18:8)
Though Isaiah was writing about
the military action that would be carried out by the Medes against the
Babylonians in his day, this passage looks forward to another mustering of vast armies
that will occur just before the return of Christ to establish His millennial kingdom (Rev 16:12-16-note).
we see a description of the 10 kings and beast (Antichrist) that will hate the
harlot (the rebuilt city of Babylon) turning on her, making her desolate, eating her flesh and
burning her up with fire.
A sound of tumult on the
mountains - See Joel's similar description (Joel 2:2, 5) of the
Day of the LORD.
Motyer on tumult on
Jerusalem often heard the sound of gathering forces on the hills
around. This is the picture here: it will be pre-eminently the case on
the Last Day (Ed: Aka "the Day of the LORD") (Ezek. 38:14-23).
Like that of many people
terms of comparison = simile
Of nations gathered together
- As discussed more fully below, this description is related to the
specific time known as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6). This cannot
refer only to the historic defeat of Babylon by the Medes, because
this passage indicates more than one nation is gathered for battle.
While one cannot be dogmatic about the "gathering" of the
nations for battle, we know that John describes the greatest gathering
of the nations in the history of the world in the Revelation...
And they gathered them together to
the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon (Armageddon). (Rev
for notes and a picture of Megiddo)
Comment: Note that
Armageddon is commonly referred to as a battle, but that is
not an accurate designation. Armageddon is the place in Israel that
the nations of the world will gather in preparation for the
battle most likely in the
Valley of Jehoshaphat.
LORD of hosts - See study
Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of armies.
Muster (06485) (paqad)
in this context means to draw up troops for marching or for battle.
This verb includes the ideas of counting, numbering, listing,
recording. Muster in English = the act of assembling troops for
formal military inspection and preparation for duty (war).
The LORD of hosts is
mustering the army for battle - Isaiah again emphasizes that even
in the midst of the chaotic sounds of coming war, God is in total
control and it is He Who is mustering the armies.
Tony Garland comments...
As has often been the case in the
past, the nations will be led of God to participate in the campaign
which leads to their ultimate demise. Believing themselves to be
shrewd, they will be deceived by unclean spirits—all the more
effective since they themselves are deceived—to walk straight into
God’s trap which He has prepared for them. In a similar way to how
Cyrus and Gog, neither of whom knew God, were instruments of His will
(Isa. 44:28; Eze. 38:16; 39:2), so too will the rebellious kings of
the end be mere puppets in their own destruction....
In this passage set within the
context of The Day of the Lord (Joel 2:2, 31), Joel indicates all
nations will be gathered to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (a compound from
Hebrew Yahweh and shaphat, meaning “Jehovah has judged”) where He will
enter into judgment with them. For what reason will God gather the
nations at this time—yet future to our day?
“On account of My people, My
heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have
also divided up My land.” [emphasis added] This point is extremely
important to understand: this passage is not talking about the Church!
God is not talking about defending the faithful in general—in terms of
some sort of “spiritual land” which the nations have trespassed! No,
He is talking about His heritage Israel (cf. Jer. 50:11)!
Notice that there will already be a
gathering of Israel back into the land, but God is furious with all
nations on account of their opposition to Israel’s God-given right to
His land! We can hardly overemphasize the importance of
understanding the issues surrounding possession of the land which God
gave Israel. Our modern age is moving rapidly to embrace the mindset
of Babylon of the end...Even evangelical Christians, who should know
better, embrace such a view. Many stand opposed to Israel’s struggle
for her Promised Land. They see Israel’s rejection of her Messiah,
Jesus Christ, to warrant her implacable opposition by God and as
justification for their own latent anti-Semitism. They believe all her
promises have passed or been forfeited (Ed: To the "church")
and the secular state she is now is to be opposed. But Almighty God
says otherwise: “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God,
the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the
Holy One of Israel” (Jer. 51:5)....
The nations will assemble with
their own agenda. Being ignorant of the Scriptures, and rebellious in
any case, they will not be aware that they have already begun to drink
from the cup of God’s wrath. They are already intoxicated and on their
way to fulfill their own destruction. (A
Testimony of Jesus Christ - The Preparation)
They are coming from a far country, from the farthest horizons, the
LORD and His instruments of indignation, to destroy the whole land.:
(from a far: Isa 13:17 Jer 50:3,9 51:11,27,28 Mt 24:31) (Instruments:
NLT - They came from countries
far away. They are the Lord's weapons; they carry his anger with them
and will destroy the whole land.
His instruments of
indignation - This once again emphasizes the fact that God is in
full control of the end time events associated with the Day of the
The whole land - Or "the
whole earth." This phrase takes the prophecy against literal ancient
Babylon and expands it to include the "whole earth." As discussed more
fully below, Isaiah's prophecy is directed at historic Babylon but
also at the future Babylon which the apostle John describes as a
literal "great city, Babylon" (Rev 18:10-note,
cp Nebuchadnezzar's boast about ancient Babylon - Da 4:30-note).
To destroy the whole land
- This description was not fulfilled when the Medes defeated Babylon,
so it must describe a time yet future when Babylon will indeed be
utterly, finally and forever destroyed. (cp the description of
destruction in Isa
13:19, 20, 21, 22!)
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction
from the Almighty.: (Wail: Isa 14:31 23:1 52:5 65:14
Jer 25:34 49:3 51:8 Eze 21:12 30:2 Joe 1:5,11,13 Zep 1:14 Jas 5:1 Rev
18:10) (Day of the LORD: Isa 13:9 34:8 Eze 30:3 Joe 2:11,31 Am
5:18 Zep 1:7 2:2,3 Mal 4:5 1Th 5:2,3) (As destruction: Job
31:23 Joe 1:15)
Wail for the Day of the LORD
is near - To wail is to howl, to lament, to weep loudly, to mourn
sorrowfully, to utter a prolonged high-pitched cry of grief or misery.
Why? Because the day of judgment draws nigh. It is an awful day, a day
when God pours out His righteous wrath without restraint.
Is near - Beloved, let us
seek to continually ponder this
so that we might live in the light of the nearness of the return of
the LORD (Second
Coming), and might make daily choices to discipline
ourselves for godliness (1Ti 4:7, 8-note).
Why? Because in the light of the "length" of eternity, the Day of the
LORD is always near, and each passing day brings it even nearer! This
time expression in Isaiah reminds us of John's (and his record of
Jesus') words of the end times in the Revelation...
Blessed is he who reads and those
who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are
written in it; for the time is near. (Rev 1:3-note)
(Jesus) 'I am coming quickly;
- Keep on holding fast - make the choice daily to hold fast. Enabled
by grace and the indwelling Spirit, make this your lifestyle in a
world that is rapidly going in the opposite direction!) what you have,
in order that no one take your crown. (Rev 3:11-note)
And he said to me, "These words are
faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the
prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which
must (not "may" but must!) shortly take place. (Jesus now
speaks) "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who
heeds (Beloved, we must not just hear with our ears, but
heed with our hearts!) the words of the prophecy of this book."
(Jesus) "Behold, I am coming
quickly (Note how Jesus repeats this truth for emphasis to those
who have ears to hear!), and My reward is with Me, to render to every
man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev 22:12-note,
Oswalt writes that...
It is a day when human strength
will be helpless, when creation itself will tremble, when the almost
boundless capacity for human cruelty will be unleashed.
Motyer sums up the Day of
The Day’ is the culmination and
termination of history. Step by step Isaiah depicts its seven aspects:
it is the Day when the Lord implements his wrath (Isa 11:2–3), marked
by worldwide mutual destruction (Isa 11:4–5) from which there is no
defense (Isa 11:6–8); it is cosmic in its effect (Isa 11:9–10), moral
in its motivation (Isa 11:11); it reverses the work of creation (Isa
11:12–13); there is no escape, only horrific suffering (Isa 11:14–16).
It will come as destruction
from the Almighty - There is no question of Who is bringing this
time of great destruction on the world. Only God could deliver such a
blow. The Almighty (Shaddai -
see related study
EL Shaddai - God Almighty)
is the One Who initiates and carries out this devastating day.
Day of the
LORD - Is 2:11, 12, Is 2:20, 21, Is 13:6, 13:9, 34:8, 61:2
Jeremiah 30:7, 46:10 Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3 Joel 1:15, 2:1, 11, 31, 3:14
Amos 5:18, 20 Obadiah 1:15 Zeph 1:7,1:8,14, 15, 18, 2:2, 3 Zech 14:1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Malachi 3:2, 4:5
Day of the LORD in the NT - Acts 2:20 1Th
5:2 2Th 2:2,2:3,2:4 2Pe 3:10-note
day of the Lord is a familiar Old Testament image for the ultimate day
of God’s judgment, His final day in court when He settles the
injustices of the world. From the above Scriptural references (and
others) one can piece together the following portrait of the Day of
Even a cursory study indicates that this day is not a reference to a
single 24 day but to an extended period of time as illustrated in the
diagram which will be explained below.
Reginald E. Showers says that ...
The Day of the Lord refers
to God's special interventions into the course of world events to
judge His enemies, accomplish His purpose for history, and thereby
demonstrate who He is--the sovereign God of the universe. (Maranatha,
Our Lord Come. Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry,
IVP Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms defines the Day of
the LORD as
A biblical phrase prevalent among
OT prophets who pointed to a future event or era (not necessarily a
single twenty-four-hour day) during which God would visit judgment
on Israel or the world. The NT authors interpreted the phrase in a
futuristic sense but saw in Jesus Christ the beginning of the
fulfillment of the Day of the Lord. For believers in Christ the Day of
the Lord is an anticipation of hope; for unbelievers it holds only
judgment leading to damnation. (Grenz, S., et al. Page 34. Downers
Grove, Ill. IVP)
Mayhue in his article on the Day of the Lord (DOL)
The DOL is a biblical phrase
used by God’s prophets to describe either the immediate future or the
ultimate eschatological (Ed: eschatos = last - refers to
prophesy) consummation. It is not a technical term in the sense that
it always refers only to one event in God’s plan.
It may designate a divinely-sent
locust plague (Joel 1:15) or the providential fall of Babylon (Isa
13:6) or of Jerusalem (Zeph 1:14, 15, 18; 2:1); and in one given
context it may describe first a judgment and then a corresponding
deliverance (compare with the above prophecies Joel 3:14, 18 and Zeph
3:8, 11, 16; cf. also Obad 15, 17; Zech 14:1, 9, 10, 11). (from Payne,
The Imminent Appearing of Christ)
DOL is used to describe
several events and is limited only by its mention in biblical
revelation. Each appearance of DOL must be interpreted in its
context to determine whether the prophet expected the immediate
historical act of God or Yahweh’s ultimate eschatological visitation.
(Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 74.) DOL is not bound to a
definite time duration. It could last only for hours or it could
continue for days. Only context can determine DOL longevity, and even
then only general approximation can be made. (The
Prophet’s Watchword Day of the Lord -- By Richard L. Mayhue Grace
Theological Journal 6:2 Fall 1985)
The Day of
the Lord is so unique and significant that it is also referred to
As is often the case with Old Testament prophecy
usually has a two fold fulfillment, near and future.
For example in Isaiah
is mentioned repeatedly, referring to a time of God's judgment, the
near fulfillment usually (but read the context) predicting Babylon's
coming conquest of Judah and the far future (but surely not far from
where we are beloved, living in the 21st century!) similar to events
before he second coming of Christ. If you are intrigued by "that
I would encourage you to study the following 45 uses of the phrase
in Isaiah, taking care to read the verse in context so that you might
interpret the passage correctly as a few of the passages do not appear
to refer directly to the
day of the LORD. Enjoy!
for the 45 uses of that
in Isaiah). Below is a "sampling" of uses of
from Isaiah to encourage you to take some time and study this
important time period of God's "calendar"...may this awesome truth not
just inform you but transform your innermost being so that if you are
not living expectantly, you might, like the saints of Thessalonica,
begin to eagerly look forward to the return of God's Son from heaven,
Whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, Who delivers us from
the wrath to come. (in the "Day of the LORD")" (1Th 1:10-note)
Isaiah 2:11, 17, 20
11 The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will
be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in
12 For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning against
everyone who is proud and lofty, And against everyone who is lifted
up, that he may be abased.
17 And the pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will
be abased, and the LORD alone will be exalted in
men will cast away to the moles and the bats their idols of silver and
their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship
the Branch of the LORD
(the Messiah) will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the
earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel
remnant of Jews - see below).
Now it will come about in
that the remnant of Israel (click
discussion of remnant)
), and those of the house of Jacob
who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them,
but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant
will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
As an aside it is worth noting that
Isaiah provides more information on the future Day of the
Lord and the Millennial Kingdom than any other OT prophet and many
of his descriptions are not found anywhere else in Scripture (see note
A TIMELINE OF
THE DAY OF THE LORD
Heaven & earth
70th Week of Daniel
Day of Lord
Day of the Lord begins >
Day of Lord begins
Reign of Christ
Day of the Lord begin?
You will read
descriptions in some commentaries that state the Day of the Lord
follows the rapture of the church (1a)
("pre-tribulation rapture"- see
discussion of when the rapture occurs)
(1Th 4:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18-see notes
the event which most evangelicals feel immediately precedes the last
seven years of
Seventy Weeks of Daniel, and is
popularly known as the Tribulation, although nowhere in
Scripture is this seventieth week of 7 years specifically designated
"the Tribulation" (let me know if you find a passage that contradicts
this conclusion - remember that "the Great Tribulation" only refers to
the last three and one-half years of this seven year period). The
alternative inception date is Mid-Tribulation (1b).
First, we must
understand the basic timing of this last "Seven Year Period" (Daniel's
Seventieth Week) which can be divided into two 3.5 year
segments, a conclusion based upon study of
records the following prophecy he received from the angel Gabriel in
answer to fervent prayer...
And he (the Antichrist) will
make a firm covenant with the many (the Jews/Israel) for one
week (one seven year period), but in the middle of the week
(after 3.5 years) he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain
offering (in the rebuilt Jewish temple) and on the wing of
abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete
destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes
desolate." (Da 9:27-note).
The Lord Jesus
quoted from Daniel 9 as He explained the timing of the events
immediately preceding His triumphant return because He wanted the Jews
(and all mankind) living during the tumultuous time of
Daniel's Seventieth Week to have an
easily identifiable event that would indubitably signal the beginning
of the the
which represents the final
outpouring of God's wrath during the last 3.5 years of the
Seventieth Week of Daniel...
Therefore when you see the
ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION (referring to the Antichrist or some
desecrating action he makes) which was spoken of through Daniel the
prophet (reference to Da 9:27-note,
also in Daniel 11:31,
12:11), standing in the holy place (indicates the Jewish Temple
will be rebuilt, cf Re 11:1, 2-see notes
11:2) (let the reader
understand)...there will be a
(a specific 3.5 year period synonymous with the "Time of Jacob's
Distress" in Jer 30:7 -
click other synonyms)
such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now,
nor ever shall...but immediately after the tribulation
(the Great Tribulation) of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND
THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the
sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign
of the Son of Man will appear in the sky (Sign = the Lord returning on
the clouds), and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they
will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and
great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET
and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one
end of the sky to the other." (Matthew 25:15-31)
Now keeping in
mind the timing of this dramatic event (the abomination of desolation)
described by Daniel and Jesus, read Paul's second letter
to the saints at Thessalonica where he addresses the false teaching
that the persecution the Thessalonians were now experiencing was part
of the great tribulation. He references the same crucial historical
event as Daniel and Jesus in order to assure these fearful saints...
Now we request (plead, implore, beg
of) you, brethren, with regard to the coming (parousia)
of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him (Paul links
the coming with the gathering which is compatible with his description
of the rapture in 1Th 4:13, 14-note,
1Th 4:15, 16-note,
1Th 4:17, 18-note),
that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure (literally
"mind") or be disturbed (frightened) (false teaching about the Rapture
and the Day of the Lord appears to have had a devastating impact on
the Thessalonian saints) either by a spirit or a message or a letter
as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the
apostasy (a very specific presumably identifiable time of rebellion
against God) comes first, and the man of lawlessness (the
Antichrist) is revealed (apokalupto
= literally has the veil
removed exposing to open view what he had before hidden regarding his
evil character. The
points to a definite time, a specific historical event), the son of
= ruin not annihilation), who opposes and exalts himself
above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes
his seat in the temple of God (which Jesus referred to as
"standing in the holy place"), displaying himself as being God."
(2Th 2:1, 2, 3, 4)
When does Paul
state that the Day of the Lord will begin? First, he says
the apostasy will occur. Then he states when and where the man
of lawlessness will be revealed. Specifically he states that the
revelation of the Antichrist must precede the Day of the LORD.
Although many favor the Day of the Lord beginning at point (1a)
in the above diagram (after the pre-tribulation rapture), when one
compare Scripture with Scripture, there is certainly support for
considering the beginning for the Day of the Lord at the
midpoint of the 7 Year period of Daniel (1b).
More on the Day of the Lord
Day of the Lord charted with Other
Prophetic Days - Clarence Larkin
Lecture on Revelation, part 4
The Day of the Lord by Jeff Miller
The Day of the Lord by A C
The Day of the Lord by Tony Garland
When Does the Day of the Lord Dawn?
by Tony Garland
THE DAY OF THE LORD LOOK LIKE?
of the descriptions in the OT references, we see that this Day is
coming, cruel, with fury and
burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate
its sinners from it
(Isaiah 13:9), "a day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His
foes...a slaughter for the Lord GOD of hosts" (Jeremiah 46:10), "a day
of clouds, a time of doom for the nations" (Ezekiel 30:3), "near, and
it will come as destruction from the Almighty" (Joel1:15), "surely it
is near" (Joel 2:1), "great and very awesome, and who can endure it?"
(Joel 2:11), "the great and awesome day" (Joel 2:31), "near in the
valley of decision" (Joel 3:14), "It will be darkness and not light"
(Amos 5:18), "even gloom with no brightness in it" (Amos 5:20), "(a
day when) your dealings will return on your own head" (Obadiah 1:15),
"near and coming very quickly...in it the warrior cries out bitterly,
a day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of
destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of
clouds and thick darkness" (Zephaniah 1:14,15), "the day of the LORD'S
wrath and all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy,
for He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, of all the
inhabitants of the earth" (Zephaniah 1:18), "the day of the LORD'S
anger" (Zephaniah 2:2), "His coming...is like a refiner's fire and
like fullers' soap" (Malachi 3:2), "the great and terrible day"
(Malachi 4:5), "will come just like a thief in the night"
(1Thessalonians 5:2), "it will come about in that day that there will
be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day
which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come
about that at evening time there will be light. And it will come about
in that day that living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of
them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea;
it will be in summer as well as in winter." (Zech 14:6, 7, 8)
Notice that the Day of the Lord
is frequently associated with seismic disturbances (Joel 2:1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11; 2:31; 3:16), violent weather (Ezekiel 13:5, 5,
7, 8), clouds and thick darkness (Joel 2:2; Zeph 1:7, 8, 9, 10), and
cosmic upheaval (Joel 2:3,30). Joel tells us that as a result of the
Day of the Lord there will also be physical blessings,
fruitfulness, and prosperity (Joel 2:21, 22, 23, 24; 3:16, 17, 18, 19,
20, 21). In short the Day of the Lord results in judgment
poured out upon sinners and blessings for repenters! This Day also
brings about the fulfillment of all God's promises (especially to the
promise of the Land - Ge 15:18) to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, this fulfillment
being consummated in the Millennial Kingdom on earth. To do away with
the "millennium" as many do is to make it impossible for God to
fulfill His Covenant with the remnant of believing Israel.
Scriptures on the Day of the Lord are only a sampling of descriptions,
beloved. This Day will
be so awful that men's hands will hang limp, they will writhe like
women in pain, their faces will be red hot because of what is
happening. This day is the day when the wrath of God inextricably
exterminates sinners and sin forever from earth in preparation for the
new heavens and new earth in the Day of God.
SHOULD BE OUR RESPONSE
TO THE TRUTH ABOUT THE
DAY OF THE LORD?
The Day of
Lord is coming, and it will
come suddenly and will be an awesome and terrible day. It is a day of
gloom and of destruction from the Almighty. It is a day which includes
Christ's Second Coming to defeat the Antichrist (Re 17:14-note,
Rev 19:11, 12, 13, 14,1 5, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 - see notes
Re 19:11ff) and to reign and
rule on earth for 1000 years (Millennial Reign) as King of kings and
as Lord of lords (Re 20:4, 5, 6-see notes
6). And finally Peter tells us
that it is the day in which the world as we know it will finally and
irrevocably come to an end.
the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the
heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed
with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
cp Rev 20:11-note
"no place was found for them")
On the basis of
these awesome events Peter exhorts us...
Since all these things are to be
destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy
conduct and godliness,
looking for (prosdokao
= continually as your lifestyle, with great anticipation and
hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the
heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with
intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking (prosdokao
for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you look
present tense) these things,
= Command issued with a sense of urgency!) to be found by Him in peace, spotless
and blameless (2Pe 3:11, 12, 13-note;
Comment: Note Peter's emphasis on "looking!" Notice also that Peter
clearly teaches the study of prophecy is not simply to satisfy our
curiosity for the sensational but to radically impact our lifestyle as
God's Spirit gives us hearts to see the things of eternal importance
Beloved, what (Who = Jesus) you are looking for will (should) affect
what (Who) you are living for! Those who enjoy studying prophecy
should (theoretically) be the most holy and godly among us! And if
they are not, their purpose for studying prophecy is misguided!
Dear reader, if
you are not a believer, let the doctrine of the Day of the Lord
awaken in you a sense of urgency to
Seek the LORD
while He may be found.
Call upon Him while He is near
And as Isaiah
records elsewhere (in the King James translation):
Look unto me,
and be ye saved,
All the ends of the earth
For I am God, and there is none else.
righteousness through faith in His atoning sinless sacrifice. Believe
in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be rescued from eternal loss
and separation. There will be no excuses in the Day of the Lord.
No second chances. No bribing the Righteous Judge.
DAY OF THE LORD
has a nice summary of the teaching on the Day of the Lord (DOL)
Isa 2:12 is the first mention of
DOL in Isaiah’s prophecy. This chapter emphasizes the future
establishment of God’s kingdom (Isa 2:2, 3, 4 ), the present sinful
state of Israel (Isa 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9), and the future day of reckoning
(Isa 2:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 ). The
prophet appears to look beyond the near to the far future in the
judgment emphasis of Isa 2:10-22 , just as he had looked to the
eschatological kingdom in Isa 2:1-4. There are several indicators of
millennial conditions in Isa 2:1-4 (cf. Rev 20:1-6). Mt. Zion will be
the world capital and all the nations will come to it (Isa 2:1, 2) in
order to seek God’s word (Isa 2:3). God will judge between the nations
and war will be no more (Is 2:4,5). This eschatological emphasis in
Isa 2:2, 3, 4 makes it reasonable to conclude that eschatological
judgment is in view in Is 2:10-22 , rather than to God’s chastisement
of Judah by Assyria and Babylon.
DOL is described by Isaiah as a time of universal humiliation for all
who are proud (Is 2:11, 12, 17). In contrast, the splendor of God’s
majesty (Is 2:10, 19, 21 ) will be displayed and the Lord alone will
be exalted in that day (Is 2:11, 17). Isaiah’s portrayals of DOL here
should be interpreted as referring to that time immediately preceding
the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth. It is a day when God’s
majesty will be outwardly manifested (Is 2:10, 19, 21), and the
population will be driven in terror to caves for protection (Is 2:21 ,
cf. Re 6:16, 17).
The timing and terminology of Is 2:21 are strikingly similar to the
description of the sixth seal in Re 6:16, 17. If these passages are
correlated, it can be concluded that the sixth seal is a part of DOL
and occurs at the end of the Tribulation. The correlation also
confirms that Isa 2:12 refers to the far future. As will be noted
later, Zec 14:1 and Mal 4:5 also emphasize only the far eschatological
implications of DOL.
Isaiah 13 is the next chapter to be considered. It is an oracle
concerning Babylon. Is 13:1-8 deals with God’s use of Babylon as his
instrument of indignation for the destruction of Israel (Is 13:5, 6 ).
This reminds one of Habakkuk’s dismay that God would do such a thing
(Hab 1:2, 3, 4). The DOL was near in the mind of Isaiah (Is 13:6),
although it would not come for over one hundred years. It would be a
day of destruction, terror, and pain (Is 13:8). There is little doubt
that this refers to the near eschatological event fulfilled by Babylon
from 605-586 B.C.
However, there is good reason to believe that Isa 13:9-16 speaks of
DOL implications for the far future. The near emphasis returns in Isa
13:17-22 where the end of Babylon is described. That the far future is
described in 13:9-16 is shown by the cosmic disturbances (Isa 13:10,
13 ; cf. Matt 24:29; Rev 6:12, 13; Joel 2:31) and the universal
judgment of mankind (Isa 13:11 ; cf. 2:11, 12 ). Ladd accurately
describes the interplay of the near and far views:
These two visitations, the near and the far, or, as we may for
convenience call them, the historical and the eschatological, are not
differentiated in time. In fact, sometimes the two blend together as
though they were one day.
Isaiah 13 calls the day of the
visitation of Babylon the Day of the Lord. The Lord is mustering a
host for battle (Isa 13:4-6), he will stir up the Medes against
Babylon (Isa 13:17). Therefore, men are to “wail, for the day of
the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come!”
(Isa 13:6). This historical Day of the Lord is painted against the
backdrop of the eschatological Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord
will bring disaster to the earth and a disruption of the heavenly
order (Isa 13:9-13). Judgment will fall both upon the world of nature
and upon men (Isa 13:7) when God punishes the world for its evil and
the wicked for their iniquity (Isa 13:11).
Here is a picture of universal
judgment. The Day of the Lord is the eschatological judgment of
mankind; but the two are seen as though they were one day, one
visitation of God.
Isa 13:6, 9 is therefore similar to other passages previously noted
which portray the DOL in one context as both a near historical
and a far eschatological happening. (The
Prophet’s Watchword Day of the Lord -- By Richard L. Mayhue Grace
Theological Journal 6:2 Fall 1985)
Therefore all hands will fall limp, and every man's heart will melt.:
(All hands: Isa 10:3,4 37:27 51:20 Jer 50:43 Eze 7:17 21:7 Na
1:6) (Every: Isa 19:1 Ex 15:15 Na 2:10)
All hands will fall limp
- The hands emphasize the place where their human power
resides. They will be demoralized from fear and astonishment at the divine judgments they
are witnessing and experiencing! Before the
unrestrained wrath of God men's hands will fall down utterly helpless, impotent
and unable to resist the enemy.
These descriptions paint a picture of destruction and terror which is
almost unimaginable. Beloved, this should prompt in the heart of every
believer a Spirit led boldness to share Christ with those in our
sphere of influence, so that they might escape this dread day by
placing their faith in "Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to
come." (1Th 1:10-note)
Every man's heart will melt - Courage would vanish form their
hearts (Isa 19:1; Ezek. 21:7;
Nah. 2:10). In Shaddai's presence the mountains themselves dissolve
(Ps 97:5; Isa 34:3; Mic 1:4) and the nations are powerless before Him
(Nah 2:11; cf. Jud 15:14).
organs respectively of personal action and reflection. The terror of
the Day brings total personal paralysis. (Motyer,
J. A. Vol. 20: Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old
Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press)
They will be terrified. Pains and anguish will take hold of them. They
will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look at one another in
astonishment, their faces aflame.: (Pains: Isa
21:3,4 26:17 Ps 48:5,6 Jer 30:6 50:43 Da 5:5,6 1Th 5:3) (Faces
aflame: Joe 2:6 Na 2:10)
anguish...writhe...astonishment...faces aflame - Observe how
Isaiah piles up descriptions to try to convey the horror of the coming
Day of the LORD.
Terrified (0926) (bahal)
means to tremble inwardly, to become agitated, to palpitate, to make
alarmed. The Lxx uses the verb tarasso which means to stir up, to
trouble, to disturb with various emotions such as fear, to shake or
agitate like water in a glass sharply jarred, to cause inward
commotion, to take away his calmness of mind, to disturb one's
equanimity (Mt 2:3)
All men will tremble inwardly
when confronted with the Day of the LORD, which bring something
unexpected, threatening and disastrous! This
will be the reaction of all those who live as if the Day of the LORD will never
They will writhe like a woman in labor - Not a picture of
fruitful labor pain but a picture of pain that leads to an inescapable
outcome! The image of the woman
in travail is used in Scripture to describe a time of judgment (Isa
21:3; 26:17; Jer 6:24; Micah 4:9–10; Mt. 24:8, where “sorrows” is
“birth pains”; 1Th 5:3-note).(Isa. 21:3; 26:17; Jer. 4:31; 6:24; 13:21;
22:23; 30:6; 48:41; 49:22, 24; 50:43; Micah 4:9-10). Usually, it was
the suffering of Israel, but here it pictured the misery of Babylon.
They will look at one another in astonishment: be in consternation: be amazed, be astonished, marvel. The root
meaning is "be astounded, dumbfounded, bewildered, " with an element
of fear, whether because of an amazing or fearful sight or a
terrifying sound. Frightening or bewildering events may cause people
to look at each other in amazement (Ge 43:33)
The historic fulfillment of this
prophecy against Babylon is recorded by Daniel during the reign
Suddenly the fingers of a man's
hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster
of the wall of the king's palace, and the king saw the back of the
hand that did the writing. Then the king's face grew pale, and his
thoughts alarmed him; and his hip joints went slack, and his knees
began knocking together. (Da 5:5, 6)
Their faces aflame (Literally = their faces are faces of
flames) - This Day will be so awful that men's faces will
be flushed and red hot because of the events that occur in the Day of
the LORD. They may also be flushed by the embarrassment at their sins
against such a Holy God, although Jeremiah tells us hearts of men can
become so callous that they even forget how to blush! (Jer 6:15, 8:12)
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, cruel, with fury and burning
anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its
sinners from it.: (Cruel: Isa 13:15-18 47:10-15 Jer
6:22,23 50:40-42 51:35-58 Na 1:2,6 Mal 4:1 Rev 17:16,17 18:8 19:17-21) (He
will: Ps 104:35 Pr 2:22)
Behold (hinneh) is
an interjection inserted to get the reader's attention. The idea is
"listen closely" to the following description of the dreadful day.
Day of the LORD - See
description in Isaiah 13:6.
The day of the LORD is coming
- The Greek translates coming with the verb erchomai in the
which pictures this day as continually on its way (See
As Motyer says "at any moment the Day is already there,
awaiting the Lord’s command to dawn." Isaiah would not be a very
popular evangelist in our modern era, a time when most shun and
deprecate the preaching of the righteous wrath of God. It is
interesting that the book of Romans follows the pattern of giving the
"bad news" (Romans 1-3) before revealing the "good news." Is it wise
to deviate from this Pauline pattern?
Cruel, with fury and burning
anger - Notice how the Day itself is personified. Again Isaiah piles up synonymous descriptions of the Day
of the LORD, as if the dread and horror of that day could not be
adequately portrayed in words.
- These are both severe words, the former describing the wasting
effect on the land and the latter the extreme destruction of the
people of the land. It is as if words cannot adequately describe the
dreadful coming Day of the LORD.
Desolation (08047) (shammah
from shamem = desolation caused by great disaster, usually
result of divine judgment) This word stresses the horror caused by
desolation of judgment. The
translates shammah with
eremos which means desolate, deserted, unsettled. A desert or
wilderness that is barren, empty, wasted.
The Hebrew shammah
conveys a similar picture to the Greek description (eremos)
of a land of waste, which causes those to see it to be horrified
and appalled by the extent of God's judgment.
Exterminate (08045) (shamad
- also in Isa 14:23, 23:11, 26:14, 48:19) always expresses complete
“destruction” or “annihilation.” The destruction depicted by shamad
usually involves a rather sudden catastrophe such as warfare or a mass
killing. Used to describe the destruction of the idolatrous high
places of Baal (Hos 10:8) and his images (2Ki10:28).
translates shamad with
which pertains to destruction but not annihilation. It
basically has to do with that which is ruined and is no longer usable
for its intended purpose. That is the term Jesus used to speak of
those who are thrown into hell (Mt 10:28). All people are created by
God for His glory, but when they refuse to come to Him for salvation
they lose their opportunity for redemption, for becoming what God
intends for them to be. They are then fit only for condemnation and
He will exterminate its sinners from it - One express purpose
of the Day of the LORD - extermination of sinners! Not a popular
topic, even in the modern church! This description of
the Day of the LORD supports the premise that this Day has been fulfilled in history but is yet future. The
only day that could possibly fulfill this literally is the Second
Coming of Jesus when sinners are in essence "exterminated".
this case the prophet moves forward to the Babylon which is the final
evil world city to be destroyed with all its inhabitants (see
Revelation 17,18). So this has a partial fulfillment when Messiah return's in
Rev 19:11 and a final fulfillment when "the heavens will pass away with
a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth
and its works will be burned up". (2Pe 3:10) (Rev 20:11 "from Whose
presence earth & heaven fled away and no place was found for them" ).
This OT prophecy helps define the timing of the Day of the LORD as
going up to the end of the Messianic Age, the Millennial Reign of
Christ on earth.
Oswalt on "sinners"...
The word conveys the idea of an
archer who misses the target. So it is with sin, whether conscious or
unconscious. It is to miss the goal God has envisioned for us. The
inevitable result is devastation and destruction.
Even Edward Young who
is not always literal (or futuristic) in his interpretation of
Isaiah's prophecies agrees that...
Isaiah speaks of the destruction of
sinners from the earth; he uses language that seems to transcend a
mere reference to Babylon. Over Babylon the judgment pours out, for it
will also pour out over all the earth. The language, therefore, is
also to be understood of the final judgment. Day of wrath and anguish!
In that day who can stand?
13:10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not
flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises and the
moon will not shed its light.: (Isa 5:30 24:21,23 Eze
32:7,8 Joe 2:10,31 3:15 Am 8:9,10 Zep 1:15,16 Mt 24:29 Mk 13:24 Lk
21:25 Rev 6:12-14 8:12)
A PICTURE OF
Stars...constellations...sun...moon - The alterations in the
heavenlies emphasize the dreadful, fearful character of the Day
of the LORD and support the premise that the Day Isaiah is describing
is yet future. It is interesting that these signs should accompany
divine judgment for darkness also fell upon the land for 3 hours
during the time God's wrath fell on His own Son (Mt 27:45, Mk 15:33,
Darkness is a repeated
description of the Day of the Lord - . Amos 5:18; Joel 2:2, 31; 3:15;
Ezek. 32:7; Mic. 3:6. Cf. also Matt. 24:29; Luke 21:25; Rev. 8:12.
Don't read this too fast! Just imagine the fear and panic that the
world will experience when it is plunged into terrible darkness when
the heavenly bodies cease to shine! And what a fitting metaphor, for
the world without Jesus, the Light of the world (Jn 8:12, 12:46, 1Jn
1:5, Ps 139:11, 12, 2Co 4:6-note),
lies in the grip of spiritual darkness (Acts 28:16, Mt 4:16, Mt 8:12,
22:13 Lk 1:79 Jn 1:5, 12:35, Col 1:13-note,
1Th 5:4, 5-note,
1Jn 2:8, 9, 10, 11, Jude 1:13). And furthermore, this temporal worldly
darkness sinners will experience is only a "preview" or "foretaste" of
an even more horrible darkness that awaits all who refuse the kindness
of the Lord (Ro 2:4-note)
and His gracious offer of redemption in Christ (Jn 3:19, 20).
The first work of creation was the
introduction of light. But now that light will vanish, and darkness
will stand forth as a characteristic of the day of Yahweh. The stars
had been created to give light, but they are now to withhold it. With
them their constellations, such as Orion and other brilliant
constellations, also refuse to shed their light. Even more, the sun in
particular, which is the great light to rule the day, when it breaks
forth from the darkness of night at morning time, will itself be
darkened. Both halves of the day are therefore dark. The judgment is
universal. No sun; and even the pale light of the moon is lost. Over
all is darkness, deep, profound, still.
Oswalt adds that...
There is something entirely fitting
about this, for evil always flourishes in the night-time hours (John
3:19, 20). Thus, if evil prefers darkness, darkness it shall have.
Moreover, God is light (1 John 1:5; Ps. 139:11, 12), and the heavenly
bodies are but reflections of him. (In Gen. 1:14, 15, they are called
“light-bearers.”) Thus, when God has withdrawn his blessing from the
world, it is appropriate that the “lights” go out (cf. Matt. 27:45,
There is probably another
implication of these statements about the heavenly bodies. As noted in
the comments on ch. 2, the ultimate expression of human pride is
idolatry, the sin of making deity in the human image. The central
figures in the pantheons of the idolatrous cults were the heavenly
bodies: sun, moon, and stars. These bodies were endowed with human
traits but were vested with superhuman power which could be
manipulated by human beings through magic. Thus, their worship was an
attempt to project humanity upon the stars in order to make humanity
master of its own destiny (Isa 24:21; 34:4, 5; Jer. 7:18; 8:2; 44:17,
18, 19; Ezek. 8:16, 17, 18). It is in that context that Isaiah
announces the extinguishing of the heavenly lights in God’s great day.
There is no universal power in the stars that human beings can capture
for themselves. The stars are the obedient reflectors of a Light which
lies beyond them (Isa 40:26).
Jesus describes this aspect of
the Day of the Lord declaring...
But immediately after the
tribulation of those days (Mt 24:21) THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE
MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken and then the sign
of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of
the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE
CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. (Mt 24:29, 30, cp Rev
The Bible Knowledge
The statements in 13:10 about the
heavenly bodies (stars...sun ...moon) no longer functioning may
figuratively describe the total turnaround of the political
structure of the Near East.
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985.
Italics mine. My comment on the commentary. Why take this
figuratively when the plain [literal] sense makes good sense in
light of Mt 24:29 (see the importance of
Compare Scripture with Scripture)
which perfectly parallels Isaiah's describes in Isa13:11? The
Bible Knowledge Commentary is normally a very conservative and
literal resource but comments such as this underscore the importance
for every Christian to be equipped to carry out their own
inductive Bible study,
so that they might be able to discover truth for themselves and be
able to discern questionable comments in even highly respected
commentaries (cp Acts 17:11-note).
Henry Morris comments on
Isaiah 13:10 that...
This prophecy of fearful signs in
the heavens (Matthew 24:29), with the darkening of the sun (Revelation
6:12), is to be fulfilled in the future days of tribulation judgment
on the earth. As often the case in these prophecies of the Old
Testament, the vision blends both precursive and ultimate judgments
together. (Defender's Study Bible)
13:11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for
their iniquity. I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud
and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.: (punish:
Isa 14:21 24:4-6 Jer 51:34-38 Rev 12:9,10 18:2,3) (The arrogance: Isa
2:17 5:15 14:12-16 Jer 50:29-32 Da 5:22,23)
The Psalmist emphasizes
that the LORD exerts His sovereign sway over the entire world...
The LORD has established His throne
in the heavens, and His sovereignty (Hebrew = malkut = royalty, reign,
dominion, kingdom) rules (masal = reigns, exerts dominion) over all.
Thus I will punish
(Remember that Jehovah is speaking) the world (earth) for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity -
Jehovah's declaration of a global judgment leaves no doubt that the
Day of the
LORD involves more than the defeat of Babylon by the Medes in 539BC.
As an aside, it is good for all
of us to remember (in light of passages such as this one) that God promises
vindication for all unjust treatment! If you have been mistreated or
wronged or maligned (and who hasn't?), take heart from this passage
defer taking your own vengeance for the wrong committed against
you. One aspect of the Day of the Lord is that "all books will be
balanced", a truth which should comfort the afflicted and afflict
the "comfortable!" The day of vengeance is coming, for the non-lying God says...
I WILL REPAY
(cp Ro 12:17-note,
Ro 12:18, 19, 20, 21-note,
cp Is 33:1)
Arrogance of the
proud...haughtiness - Hubris (pride) is something that calls forth
God's intense displeasure!
Arrogance (01347) (ga'on
from root meaning "to rise") describes arrogance as overbearing
conceit or the boastful assertion of more than one has a right to
(Used again in Isa 13:19, 14:11).
translates ga'on with
huper = over, above, + phaíno = shine) is the haughty
person pictured with his head held high above others. This man who
because of his feeling of personal superiority is puffed up with a
high opinion of self, and regards others with contempt, as if they
were unworthy. The noun
huperephania is usually
translated pride which is one of those sins which Jesus says proceeds
out of a man's heart (Mark 7.22).
The same sin of pride that led to Israel’s judgment (Isa 5:21; 9:9)
will cause Babylon’s downfall (Isa 47:5,7,8; Rev 18:7).
Proud (02086) (zed)
conveys the basic idea of pride, presumptuous attitude or a sense of
self-importance, often exaggerated to defiance and rebelliousness (Pr
11:2, Jer 49:16; 50:31, 32; Eze 7:10)
It is not only at the Last Day but
also in every interim experience of divine anger that pride is
a killer, leaving utter ruination and emptiness in its wake. (Ibid)
Warren Wiersbe comments
it is clear that Isaiah’s
prophecy describes something more significant than the ups and downs
of an ancient city. The prophets often began a message by focusing on
local events, but then enlarged their vision to reveal something
greater. Isaiah saw in the fall of Babylon a picture of “the day of
the Lord” (Isa 13:6, 9, 13), that time when God will pour out His
wrath on the whole world (Isa 13:11). The image of the woman in
travail is used in Scripture to describe a time of judgment (Isa 13:8;
21:3; 26:17; Jer. 6:24; Micah 4:9, 10; Matt. 24:8, where “sorrows” is
“birthpains”; 1Th 5:3). Isaiah looked beyond that day to the day when
the Babylonian world system would be destroyed (Revelation 17–18).
(Wiersbe, W. W. Be Comforted. An Old Testament Study. Wheaton, Ill.:
13:12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind
than the gold of Ophir.: (Isa 13:15-18 4:1 24:6 Ps 137:9)
I will make mortal man
scarcer than pure gold - Jehovah is still speaking. Because
of God's visitation human mortality will be extremely high, but not
complete. God will spare a faithful precious and exceedingly honored
Ophir - This is a town probably located on the southwestern coast of Arabia
(cf. Job 22:24; 28:16).
The picture is that of almost
complete annihilation of mankind...when could this occur? The book of
the Revelation describes such an extreme loss of human life and
supports the premise that Isaiah is describing another future aspect
(widespread death of mankind - see Rev 9:15-note,
of the Day of the LORD.
13:13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth
will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts in the
day of His burning anger.: (I will make: Joe 3:16 Hag
2:6,7,21,22 Mt 24:29 Heb 12:26,27 Rev 6:13,14) (earth: Jer
4:23,24 Mt 24:35 2Pe 3:10 Rev 20:1) (Anger: Ps 110:5,6 La 1:12
I will make the heavens
tremble, and the earth will be shaken - Isaiah 24:18; Joel 2:10;
3:16; Haggai 2:6-7, 21-22. Isa 34:4; 51:6; Hag 2:6. God is in control
of the universe! This passage also indicates that our finite human
sins will one day have cosmic implications.
Think about this truth
the next time you are considering carrying out some willful sin!
Fury of the LORD...the day of
His burning anger - In Isaiah 13:9 we read a parallel description
of the Day of the LORD as cruel, with fury and burning anger.
The fulfillment of God's wrath is described by John in the Revelation,
specifically in Revelation 6-19 as well as in 2Pe 3:10, indicating
that the Day of LORD spans an extended time (although some association
this Day only with the time of the "Tribulation.")
In the Revelation of Jesus
Christ, the apostle John records the heavens trembling and the
And I looked when He broke the
sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake (cp Rev 8:5-note,
and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair (cp Isa 24:23, Mt
24:29), and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the
sky fell to the earth (cp Rev 8:10, 11-note,
as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14
And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and
every mountain and island were moved out of their places (cp Rev
15 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and
the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves
in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to
the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the
presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the
Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to
stand?" (Rev 6:12-17-notes)
13:14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep
with none to gather them, they will each turn to his own people, and
each one flee to his own land.: (Isa 17:13 1Ki 22:17,36) (They
will each turn: Isa 47:15 Jer 50:16 51:9 Rev 18:9,10)
Isaiah 13:14-18 focuses on the
savagery that will be manifest in a world that has rejected God and is
experiencing His Day of wrath.
Like a hunted gazelle...like
terms of comparison - simile.
Notice the "pun", sheep (unbelieving) without a Shepherd (the Good
Shepherd) will be easily dispersed and lost (eternally) in the day of
The exact meaning of this
passage is uncertain but it could describe "a mass exit from Babylon,
foreigners returning to their own lands." (MacDonald)
Like the flight of spooked
animal, so too will be the flight of the fear filled inhabitants when
their great city is attacked. They will realize it was not an
impenetrable fortress and they will return to seek refuge in their
places of origin, with their own people.
three facets of the Day: no
protection (14), no escape (15), no mercy (16). They gathered in
arrogant triumphalism (3–5), now they have everything to flee from
(14) and nowhere to flee to (15). Humankind without God is
without safety and without home. (Ibid)
Humans are frightening to the shy
gazelle, but indispensable to the helpless sheep. The Babylonians will
find the Lord as their enemy and lose Him as their shepherd. All they
can do is flee the land.
13:15 Anyone who is found will be thrust through,
and anyone who
is captured will fall by the sword.: (Isa 14:19-22 47:9-14
Jer 50:27,35-42 51:3)
through...fall by sword - A veritable massacre is the Day of the LORD
and not a day of
mercy. That day has passed, and all that remains for those who have
rejected God's longsuffering and patience is His unhindered wrath.
Dear reader, if you are
skeptical about these prophecies and continue to disbelieve God's
offer of salvation, may God grant you grace to take heed and accept
the acceptable time for this day of grace will not last forever
- 2Co 6:1,2, cp Ps 32:6, Ps 95:8, Isa 55:6, 7, Jn 12:35, 36. Read
Jesus' warning in Luke 13:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30-note.
means swept away, snatched away.
13:16 Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces
eyes; Their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished.:
(Little ones: Ps 137:8,9 Ho 10:14 Na 3:10) (Their: La
5:11 Zec 14:2)
- Apt descriptions of the horrible conditions in the dreadful Day of
the LORD. So called "civilized" nations are still barbarians at heart,
if their heart has never been "circumcised" by grace through faith in
Excursus on Circumcision Of the
Heart). Out of
their evil hearts issue despicable deeds which know no bounds or
Little ones...wives -
Even women and children will not be spared in the Day of the LORD.
in context means violated or raped.
13:17 Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them, who
will not value silver or take pleasure in gold.: (I am
going to stir up: Isa 13:3-5 21:2 41:25 Jer 50:9 51:11,27,28 Da
5:28-31) (Will not value: Pr 6:34,35)
LORD IS THE
OF WORLD HISTORY
Behold (hinneh) is
inserted to get our attention.
I am going to stir up the
Medes against them - The verb "stir up" is in the causative with
God as its subject and we see the active involvement of God in
history. He is not aloof or passive. He is not simply a spectator. He
is in complete charge, manipulating his plan. All his actions are
purposeful. Events do not happen by chance.
This emphasis is clearly
discernable in the OT passages which use the verb stir up --
Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria,
was stirred up by the Lord against the tribes in the Transjordan area
(1Chr 5:26). God aroused the Babylonians against Jerusalem (Ezek
23:22). Then God stirred up the Medes against Babylon (Isa 13:17; Jer
50:9; Jer 51:11). It was the Lord who
incited Cyrus to allow the Jewish exiles to return to Judah (2Chr
36:22; Ezra 1:1) and who in turn urged the exiles to return (Joel 3:7). When apathy had overtaken the returned exiles, the Lord agitated Zerubbabel and Joshua through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to
carry the construction of the second temple to its completion (Hag
Motyer adds an important
In all this, of course, the
Lord is no puppet master making automata jump to his bidding (cf. Isa
10:5-15). People are simply being themselves (Titus 3:3-note).
Isa 14:26 notes that the guiding power in history is the ‘stretching
out of his hand’. Yet in so many ways the Day is the withdrawing of
his hand as he judgmentally leaves sinners, unrestrained, to implement
all the savagery of the fallen nature. The more people turn their
backs on God, determined to ‘be themselves’, to be masters of ‘their
own world’, the less human they become, therefore the less humane.
When the Day comes, sin will take centre stage as the total and savage
destroyer it has always been, and those who did not want God will get
what they wanted: they will be given up (Ro 1:24-note,
to be themselves. (Ibid)
Medes (see note) - Iran will be used to
judge Babylon. Da 5:30, 31 is the "near" fulfillment of this
prophecy and a foreshadowing of the fall of Babylon in
Revelation 17, 18/
Who will not value silver or
take pleasure in gold - These soldiers will not be deterred from
their task of destruction. They cannot be bribed or bought off! They
are motivated to carry out their merciless conquest! This picture was
historically fulfilled with the fall of Babylon to the Medes, but will
be repeated in the horrible conditions of war associated with the
future Day of the LORD.
13:18 And their bows will mow down the young men. They will not
even have compassion on the fruit of the womb, nor will their eye pity
children.: (Mow down: Isa 13:16 2Ki 8:12 Ho 13:16 Na
2:1 3:10) (eye: 2Ch 36:17 Eze 9:5,6,10)
Bows - The Medes were men
of the bow.
Mow down (term
even have compassion...nor will their eye pity - Isaiah piles up
vivid descriptions of the savagery of the armies in the future
Day of the LORD, even as seen in the armies of the Medes when they conquered
Babylon in 539BC.
They have no concern for life (young
men), no restraint of pity (infants), no thought for the
future (children)—nothing but the fulfilment of their own
13:19 And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the
Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.:
(Babylon: Isa 14:4-6,12-15 Jer 51:41 Da 2:37,38 4:30) (When
God overthrew: Ge 19:24 Dt 29:23 Jer 49:18 50:40 Zep 2:9)
THE MIGHTY CITY
Babylon, the beauty of
kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride - Notice how quickly
the passage moves from the transient beauty and lofty pride of men to
the low, abysmal, eternal fate of Sodom and Gomorrah! And so it is
with the pride of men - God allows a brief day in the "sun" but an
eternity in darkness! As I heard someone say
This life is as close to heaven as
an unbeliever will ever get and as close to hell as a believer will
ever come! And all God's children cry "Hallelujah!"
Daniel agrees with
the preeminence of Babylon above all other human kingdoms of the earth
declaring to Nebuchadnezzar...
You, O king, are the king of
kings (The best men can offer - cp Rev 19:16-note,
the best God provides), to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the
strength, and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the
beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into
your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head
of gold. (Da 2:37, 38-note)
Sodom and Gomorrah (terms
of comparison) - This
suggests a near and far fulfillment. Babylon was first defeated by the Medes
(Isaiah 13:17) around 540 B.C. (Daniel 5:30,31), some 175 years after
Isaiah's prophecy. However, Babylon continued as an important city
until well after the time of Christ.
Having announced and described the
Day of the Lord, Isaiah turns to the foreseen fall of Babylon. It is
typical of the Old Testament to see coming calamity against the
backdrop of ultimate calamity. (Ibid)
It is passages like Isaiah 13:19
which present problems for those commentators like Matthew Henry which
see all the prophecies in Isaiah 13 as past history. Henry wrote...
Babylon...should be wholly destroyed. None shall dwell there. It
shall be a haunt for wild beasts. All this is fulfilled.
To the contrary these prophecies
(and similar prophecies by Jeremiah) have not been fulfilled!
(1). Capture of the city by the Medes (Isa
13:17) did not result in a destruction similar to that of Sodom and
Gomorrah (Ge 19:24, 25, 26, 27, 28)
(2). The city was not uninhabited forever (Isa. 13:20,
21, 22. Babylon was
first defeated by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17) around 539 B.C. (Daniel
5:30,31), some 175 years after Isaiah's prophecy. However, Babylon
continued as a city until well after the time of Christ.
(3). The destruction was not accomplished by a nation from the
north—Medo-Persia was to the east—(Jer. 50:3);
(4). The destruction of Babylon did not result in Israel or more than
a remnant of Judah seeking the Lord or returning to Zion (Jer. 50:4,
(5). The destruction of Babylon did not involve the breaking of the
walls and burning of the gates (Jer. 51:58).
13:20 It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to
generation; Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, nor will shepherds
make their flocks lie down there.: (Isa 14:23 Jer
50:3,13,21,39,45 51:25,29,43,62-64 Rev 18:21-23)
It will never be inhabited or
lived in from generation to generation - Babylon as discussed
above has been inhabited since ancient times. To be sure, it has not
been a major city for centuries. Suffice it to say, this prophecy has
yet to be fulfilled and will not be fulfilled until the end times city
of Babylon is rebuilt and then destroyed (See Rev
18:8-23, especially Rev 18:8, Rev 18:21, 22, 23).
Nor will the Arab pitch his
tent there, nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there -
This indicates Babylon will be so destroyed that it will be unfit for
any human habitation. There are still tents and flocks in the area of
modern day Babylon, so this prophecy has not been fulfilled.
Oswalt writes that...
The point is that humanity cannot
sustain itself by itself. It cannot expect in its own strength to
produce more and more of everything until it fills the earth. There
has come the day, again and again, in war, in famine, or in pestilence
when a self-sufficient portion of humanity has been brought face to
face with its insufficiency. Thus far, in his mercy, God has allowed
the torch to be passed to other civilizations, but as we move more and
more toward a global society, Babylon’s burden becomes more and more
the word addressed to the entire earth. Goďs glory will fill the
earth, not humanity’s. If we will not learn that voluntarily, we must
learn it involuntarily.
13:21 But desert creatures will lie down there,
and their houses
will be full of owls; Ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats
will frolic there.: (Isa 34:11-15 Rev 18:2)
Babylon will be a dismal,
desolate, deserted place inhabited by animals that gravitate toward
dark and lonely settings!
Owls - Various English
versions translate as "owls" (e.g., NAB, NASB), "wild dogs" (NCV);
"jackals" (NIV); "howling creatures" (NRSV, NLT).
Ostriches - Unclean birds
which is fitting given Babylon's uncleanness (Rev 18:2-note).
Shaggy goats - This same
Hebrew word is translated "goat demons" in Lev 17:7. The KJV
translates this as
A satyr is "Mentioned in Greek mythology as a creature composed of a
man and a goat, supposed to inhabit wild and desolate regions." (E B
13:22 Hyenas will howl in their fortified towers and jackals in
their luxurious palaces. Her fateful time also will soon come and her
days will not be prolonged. .: (Fortified
towers: Isa 35:7) (Her fateful time: Dt 32:35 Jer 51:33 Eze
7:7-10 Hab 2:3 2Pe 2:3 3:9,10)
The absence of human inhabitant
(20) and the replacement of humankind by beasts (21–22) emphasize the
finality of the overthrow. (Ibid)
Note the irony - Babylon which
was once filled with the noise of godless humanity bustling carelessly
around will one day be filled with the howls of hyenas! The once
mighty city is silent except for the cries of night dwellers!
Her fateful time - "not a
calendar date but a season appropriate to an event. Assyria destroyed
Babylon in 689BC (see Isa 21) but it recovered; likewise it was
intact after Cyrus captured it (539BC) but its continued
nuisance-value provoked Darius Hystapes to desolate it in 518BC, and
so it has remained." (Motyer)