Major Prophets – Isaiah 13-16

A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,
    shout to them;
beckon to them
    to enter the gates of the nobles.
I have commanded those I prepared for battle;
    I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—
    those who rejoice in my triumph.
Listen, a noise on the mountains,
    like that of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,
    like nations massing together!
The Lord Almighty is mustering
    an army for war.
They come from faraway lands,
    from the ends of the heavens—
the Lord and the weapons of his wrath—
    to destroy the whole country.
Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
    it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Because of this, all hands will go limp,
    every heart will melt with fear.
Terror will seize them,
    pain and anguish will grip them;
    they will writhe like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at each other,
    their faces aflame.
See, the day of the Lord is coming
    —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
    and destroy the sinners within it.
The stars of heaven and their constellations
    will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
    and the moon will not give its light.
I will punish the world for its evil,
    the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
    and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
    more rare than the gold of Ophir.
Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
    and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
    in the day of his burning anger.
Like a hunted gazelle,
    like sheep without a shepherd,
they will all return to their own people,
    they will flee to their native land.
Whoever is captured will be thrust through;
    all who are caught will fall by the sword.
Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
    their houses will be looted and their wives violated.
See, I will stir up against them the Medes,
    who do not care for silver
    and have no delight in gold.
Their bows will strike down the young men;
    they will have no mercy on infants,
    nor will they look with compassion on children.
Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
    the pride and glory of the Babylonians,
will be overthrown by God
    like Sodom and Gomorrah.
She will never be inhabited
    or lived in through all generations;
there no nomads will pitch their tents,
    there no shepherds will rest their flocks.
But desert creatures will lie there,
    jackals will fill her houses;
there the owls will dwell,
    and there the wild goats will leap about.
Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds,
    jackals her luxurious palaces.
Her time is at hand,
    and her days will not be prolonged.

  • Isaiah 13:1-22

For a link to Isaiah 14:1-32, press HERE.

A prophecy against Moab:
Ar in Moab is ruined,
    destroyed in a night!
Kir in Moab is ruined,
    destroyed in a night!
Dibon goes up to its temple,
    to its high places to weep;
    Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba.
Every head is shaved
    and every beard cut off.
In the streets they wear sackcloth;
    on the roofs and in the public squares
they all wail,
    prostrate with weeping.
Heshbon and Elealeh cry out,
    their voices are heard all the way to Jahaz.
Therefore the armed men of Moab cry out,
    and their hearts are faint.
My heart cries out over Moab;
    her fugitives flee as far as Zoar,
    as far as Eglath Shelishiyah.
They go up the hill to Luhith,
    weeping as they go;
on the road to Horonaim
    they lament their destruction.
The waters of Nimrim are dried up
    and the grass is withered;
the vegetation is gone
    and nothing green is left.
So the wealth they have acquired and stored up
    they carry away over the Ravine of the Poplars.
Their outcry echoes along the border of Moab;
    their wailing reaches as far as Eglaim,
    their lamentation as far as Beer Elim.
The waters of Dimon are full of blood,
    but I will bring still more upon Dimon—
a lion upon the fugitives of Moab
    and upon those who remain in the land.

  • Isaiah 15:1-9

Send lambs as tribute
    to the ruler of the land,
from Sela, across the desert,
    to the mount of Daughter Zion.
Like fluttering birds
    pushed from the nest,
so are the women of Moab
    at the fords of the Arnon.
“Make up your mind,” Moab says.
    “Render a decision.
Make your shadow like night—
    at high noon.
Hide the fugitives,
    do not betray the refugees.
Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you;
    be their shelter from the destroyer.”
The oppressor will come to an end,
    and destruction will cease;
    the aggressor will vanish from the land.
In love a throne will be established;
    in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
    one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
    and speeds the cause of righteousness.
We have heard of Moab’s pride—
    how great is her arrogance!—
of her conceit, her pride and her insolence;
    but her boasts are empty.
Therefore the Moabites wail,
    they wail together for Moab.
Lament and grieve
    for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth.
The fields of Heshbon wither,
    the vines of Sibmah also.
The rulers of the nations
    have trampled down the choicest vines,
which once reached Jazer
    and spread toward the desert.
Their shoots spread out
    and went as far as the sea.
So I weep, as Jazer weeps,
    for the vines of Sibmah.
Heshbon and Elealeh,
    I drench you with tears!
The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit
    and over your harvests have been stilled.
Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards;
    no one sings or shouts in the vineyards;
no one treads out wine at the presses,
    for I have put an end to the shouting.
My heart laments for Moab like a harp,
    my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.
When Moab appears at her high place,
    she only wears herself out;
when she goes to her shrine to pray,
    it is to no avail.
This is the word the Lord has already spoken concerning Moab. But now the Lord says: “Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab’s splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble.”

  • Isaiah 16:1-14

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Isaiah 13:1-23:18 ‘prophecies against nations’: “These eleven chapters group together prophecies against foreign nations, much the same as those in Jeremiah 46-51 and Ezekiel 25-32.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 13:1-14:27 ‘Babylon and Assyria’: “The section 13:1-14:24 deals specifically with Babylon and 14:25—27 with Assyria, though Babylon was not yet a world power at the time of this prophecy. Isaiah foresaw a time when Babylon would overthrow the current dominant nation Assyria and be an international force.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 13:1-5 ‘The gathering of Yahweh’s host for battle’: The call has gone out for the Lord’s hosts to gather to do battle against Babylon. This introduction employs what is known as ‘Day of the Lord’ language. As such, it is a mixture of historical and suprahistorical references. The Lord’s army is made up of earthly warriors from faraway lands as well as some of the heavenly host, God’s holy ones from the ends of the heavens (vv.3-5).

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 13:1 ‘burden’: “This word is used in the sense of Isaiah’s having a heavy responsibility to deliver the message. It is used fifteen other times in the OT in superscriptions like this (14:28; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1; 21:1, 11, 13; 22:1; 23:1; Lam. 2:14; Nah. 1:1; Hab. 1:1; Zech. 9:1; 12:1; Mal. 1:1). Babylon … Isaiah … saw. This chapter foretold the city’s destruction. Even during the Assyrian Empire, the city of Babylon was formidable and stood at the head in the list of Israel’s enemies to be conquered.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 13:4 ‘The Lord of hosts musters the army’: “Lit. ‘the LORD of armies musters the army.’ See … 1:9. This anticipated the end-time coming of the Lord to crush the final Babylon and to dash His enemies in pieces and establish a kingdom over all nations (Rev. 19:11-16).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 13:6-22 ‘The Day of the Lord is near’: In an ever-increasing crescendo of staccato phrases, the poet/prophet paints a picture of unimaginable destruction. This is the day of the Lord. It strikes terror in the hearts of all (vv.7-9) as it comes upon the land.
“The author then turns his attention to the heavens. This is especially appropriate in an oracle against Babylon, as this city was well known for its astrology and worship of the heavenly bodies. The stars will not be able to show their light (v.10).
“As yet the particular enemy (Babylon) has not been specifically identified. God’s punishment will be for all evil, arrogance, and ruthlessness. God is so outraged that he extends his wrath into the cosmic realm (v.13). Vv.14-16 describe the chaos and the savagery that accompany an invading army.
“The Medes (v.17) were a people of what is now central Iran. In 539 b.c. they and the Persians captured Babylon. Babylon, with its hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world, was considered to be the most magnificent city of its time.

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 13:6-16 ‘the timing of destruction’: “In verses 6-16, Isaiah spells out the timing of the destruction. It will happen during ‘the day of the LORD,’ a phrase he uses three times (verses 6,9,13). It will be a time of terror (verses 6-8) that results in the mass destruction of humanity throughout the land of Babylon (verses 9-12). In fact, the destruction will be so great that people will become rarer than even the fine gold of Ophir (verse 12). Verses 13-16 describe the devastation of Babylon within the day of the Lord, which will include the flight of Jews and other foreigners and the violent deaths of the nationals.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 13:8 ‘in pain as a woman in childbirth’: “The comparison of labor pains is often a figure to describe human sufferings in the period just before the final deliverance of Israel (21:3; 26:17, 18; 66:7ff.; Jer. 4:31; 13:21; 22:23; Hos. 13:13; Mic. 4:10; 5:2, 3; Matt. 24:8; 1 Thess. 5:3). Usually, it was the suffering of Israel, but here it pictured the misery of Babylon.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 13:17-22 ‘the results of the destruction’: “Verses 17-22 go on to spell out the results of the destruction. Verse 17 identifies the leaders of the confederacy as the Medes, though many nations from all directions will take part. The Medes are located north of Babylon in what is now southern Turkey and northern Iraq. (It’s possible that the modern-day Kurds are descendants of the ancient Medes.) The Medes will lead these armies to destroy both the population (verse 18) and the city of Babylon (verse 19). Isaiah says the human population will be replaced by desert animals (verses 21-22). However, these are not literal animals. The Hebrew word used here is seirim, a word that refers to demons in goat form (Leviticus 17:7), and the fact that Babylon will become a residence of demons is verified by Revelation 18:2. The passage closes with the fact that once the appointed time comes, there will be no delay in the execution of this prophecy.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 13:17 ‘Medes’: “This people from an area southwest of the Caspian Sea, north of Persia, east of Assyria, and northeast of Babylon later allied themselves with the Babylonians to conquer Assyria c. 610 B.C. and later with the Persians to cause the fall of Babylon (539 B.C.).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 13:19-22 ‘in the distant future’: “From the near future, 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 Rev. 17, 18).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 14:1-23 ‘How the mighty one has fallen!’: The taunt song (vv.4b-21) forms the major part of the next section. It is preceded by a reference to God’s compassion on Israel (vv.1-4a). In brief form, these verses convey the message of chs. 40-55. As such, they certainly presuppose Israel’s exile, anticipate the imminent destruction of Babylon, and look eagerly to the return.
“When the day of devastation comes, the exiles are encouraged to take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, at whose hand they suffered so intensely.
“What a taunt song it is! It celebrates Babylon’s end with unrestrained joy. Such is this wonderful deed of the Lord that all the lands and created things cannot refrain from singing.
“The second stanza (vv.9-11) moves to the underworld where the spirits of the departed prepare to meet the Babylonian king who has become just like them, with this exception: While they sit on thrones (v.9), he is to be on a bed of maggots and worms (v.11).
“The third stanza (vv.12-15) is reminiscent of 2:6-22, where we are told that “the Lord has a day in store for all the proud and lofty…they will be humbled.” The arrogant pride of the king of Babylon knew no limit. He would ascend to the highest heights and dare to make himself like God. Alas, now he has been brought down, down to the grave.
“In the fourth stanza (vv.16-20) we read the words of onlookers as they pass by a great battlefield. Apparently they see the Babylonian king slain there. Unlike the other royalty of the world who have their tombs, this one is covered only with the corpses of others killed in battle (cf. Jer 22:19 for the stigma of a king not having proper burial). Vv.20b-21 declare the end of the monarch’s descendants.
“As if to add credibility to his song, the prophet now concludes with direct address from the Lord himself. It provides a fitting summary to the entire poem as well.

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 14:1-3 ‘release from Babylonia captivity’: “While having some reference to the release from Babylonian captivity, the primary view in this chapter is identified in these opening verses. The prophet looked at the final Babylon at the end of the tribulation. The language is that which characterizes conditions during the millennial kingdom after the judgment of the final Babylon. The destruction of future Babylon is integrally connected with the deliverance of Israel from bondage. Babylon must perish so that the Lord may exalt His people. God’s compassion for physical Israel receives fuller development in chapters. 40-46.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 14:1-2 ‘Israel’s final restoration’: “Babylon’s fall will coincide with Israel’s final restoration (14:1-2). In contrast to the eternal destruction of Babylon, Israel will be restored. God intends to get the people of Israel back into the land, and He will use Gentiles to help gather them. Furthermore, Gentiles will become servants to the Jewish people in the messianic kingdom.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 14:3-23 ‘more specifics on the fall of Babylon’: “Isaiah then returns to prophesying about the fall of Babylon—more specifically, the king of Babylon (14:3-23). Verses 3-8 describe the breaking of the king of Babylon’s staff, and verses 9-11 tell of the arrival of the king’s soul into hell. The souls that preceded the king to hell rise up in astonishment at the discovery that he, too, has suffered the same demise as they. Elsewhere in Scripture we are told the final ruler over Israel will be the Antichrist, so this is most likely a prophecy of the Antichrist described as ‘the king of Babylon,’ for Babylon will be his world capital during the Tribulation.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 14:9-11 ‘Hell … Sheol’: “The two English words represent the same Hebrew word. Those kings of the nations already in the place of the dead stage a welcome party for the arriving king of Babylon.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 14:12-14 ‘fallen from heaven … be like the Most High’: “Jesus’ use of verse 12 to describe Satan’s fall (Luke 10:18; cf. Rev. 12:8-10) has led many to see more than a reference to the king of Babylon. Just as the Lord addressed Satan in His words to the serpent (Gen. 3:14, 15), this inspired dirge speaks to the king of Babylon and to the devil who energized him. See Ezekiel 28:12-17 for similar language to the king of Tyre and Satan behind him.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 14:12-14 ‘Sitting on a stolen throne’: “Long ago there was one by the name of Lucifer, to whom God gave a position higher than any other creature—at the very throne of God. One day pride took over and he said, ‘I will arise, l will set my throne above God‘s throne.’ And he became proud and God cast him down (see Isaiah 14:12-14). That’s the devil.
“And it is the devil who is leading the world now, ‘the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’ (Ephesians 2:2), right out there among the leaders of society, our politicians, our literary men, and all the rest. This is true not only in North America, but all over the world from the day Adam sinned. We’re guilty of offending His majesty, of insulting the Royalty that sits upon the eternal, uncreated throne. We’re guilty of sacrilegious rebellion.
“It isn‘t as if you’re doing Jesus Christ a favor by coming forward and signing a card with a big grin. It’s a matter of realizing that you’ve been occupying a stolen throne—one that belongs to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. You’ve been saying, ‘l AM THAT l AM,’ in capital letters, when you should say meekly and reverently, ‘O God, l am because Thou art.’ That’s what the new birth means. It means repentance and faith.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God II

Isaiah 14:13-15 ‘Pride leads to trouble’: “God hates pride with a perfect hatred. He drives his sword through the heart of it and cuts it in pieces. None can be great and mighty and boast of what they are able to do without provoking the King of kings to put forth against them some of his great power. Let none of us talk about climbing to heaven by our good works, or getting there by our merits, lest it should happen to us also that we should fall into Sheol.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 14:24-27 ‘The prophecy against Assyria’: This oracle is a testimony to the certainty of Yahweh’s plan. He swears it; it will be done. Assyria will be destroyed. Numerous themes from ch. 10 are restated here: V.25a—’I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down’—is reminiscent of the invasion up to the very gate of Jerusalem in 10:29-32. The references to the removal of the yoke and burden in v.25b alludes to 10:27. And of course the outstretched hand that cannot be turned back finds its antecedent in the refrain: ‘Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised’ (10:4; also 9:12, 17, 21). While the historical situation of this oracle is uncertain, it may well refer to the miraculous defeat of the Assyrian Sennacherib in 701 b.c.

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 14:28-32 ‘The prophecy against Philistia’: This oracle is dated at the time of Ahaz’s death. Although there is uncertainty regarding the exact year of his death, it was probably in the mid-720s b.c. At about the same time, Shalmaneser V, the king of Assyria, died. It was this death that occasioned the oracle. Isaiah warns the Philistines not to rejoice, because Shalmaneser V is dead (‘the rod that struck you is broken’), for his successor would be even more oppressive. Indeed, Sargon II crushed the Philistine rebellion with great severity. It was during this period that Philistia sent messengers to Judah urging the nation to join the rebellion (v.32a). What was Isaiah’s word to his countrymen? Trust in the Lord who has established Zion (v.32b), and do not trust any human alliance.

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 14:29 ‘Philistia’: “Israel need not think an alliance with the Philistines would save them from the Assyrians, since Assyria would conquer this neighbor of Israel too. rod … broken. The prophet pictured the Assyrian weakness, their conquest of Philistia notwithstanding.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 15:1-16:14 ‘Moab’: “The demise of Moab taught Israel not to depend on that nation any more than others, but to depend on the Lord.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 15:1-16:14 ‘The oracle concerning Moab’: The reader is struck immediately by the different tone of this oracle as compared to that of the two preceding oracles. Here the prophet is in anguish over Moab’s destruction; there he was exuberant over Babylon’s demise. In general, the oracles against the nations show no sympathy for the nations. Thus this outpouring of concern over Moab is striking.
“What are we to make of this highly unusual approach toward a rival foreign nation? Is the lament a hollow one, being the epitome of sarcasm, when in reality Isaiah is delighted at Moab’s unenviable fate? No, the lament seems to be genuine. Isaiah and his people are so overwhelmed by the extent of Moab’s devastation that they are in shock. They have no thought of rejoicing, only amazement and pity.
“The first stanza (15:1-4) mentions several cities located throughout Moab, thus showing the wide path of destruction. In vv.5-9 the prophet identifies with the feelings of the Moabite warriors. He realizes that even though they flee, there appears to be no end to their suffering. The flow of blood will be unceasing.
“In 16:1-5 the Moabites make a plea to Jerusalem to grant them aid and protection. The section concludes with a cryptic reference to the future Messiah, using the words of ch. 11. It is as though a foreign nation, in the midst of its oppression, is enabled to see the Israelite Messiah and is thus given hope for its own future.
“What could have brought on such disaster? Moab’s pride caused their downfall (16:6). This has resulted in the withering of their fields and the trampling of their vines. Once again the prophet himself takes up the lament.

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 15:5 ‘My heart will cry out.’: “The prophecy expresses much greater sympathy for Moab’s plight than for the other nations to be judged, even allowing for a surviving remnant (16:11, 14). a three-year-old heifer. This phrase should not be translated, but rather is the proper name of Eglath-shelishiyah, a city of unknown location. Luhith … Horonaim. These are two more cities whose locations are unknown.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 16:9 ‘I will bewail.’: “Isaiah displayed genuine emotion over the destruction of so rich an agricultural resource. This reflected the Lord’s response, too.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)


My Thoughts

This and a few following studies will be rather morbid.  God, through Isaiah, is detailing things that will soon happen, but the oddity is that at this writing of these chapters of Isaiah, the Assyrians are the world power and Babylon is just a fortified city along the route.  So, in pronouncing a curse on Babylon at this state is rather an interesting proposition.  Some uncaring despot would love the idea.  The despot gets to be great, but a few generations later, his empire will be destroyed.  Many would take that for they would be dead, buried with tons of gold around them.  He who dies with the most toys wins!!

And oddly, this prophecy starts with God mustering a great army. By Isaiah 13:17, we learn that the army that God will raise up are the Medes, but in true poetic fashion, the army will at least seem to come from the ends of heaven, bolstered by the will of God to punish an empire that has yet to form into an empire.

I focused on Ophir out of all this curse, the rare gold of Ophir.  I guess my interest is when writing quizzes that need an “O” word, Ophir keeps popping up.  Ophir is mentioned 12 times in the Bible.  This is the last mention of Ophir.  It is odd that they mention the “rare” gold of Ophir because ten of the 12 times that Ophir is mentioned, it is mentioned regarding gold.  I am thinking this pertains to the quality of the gold.  Otherwise, why specifically use the gold of Ophir in the building of Solomon’s temple?  The other two references to Ophir are the person himself.  He is a son of Joktan, a Semite, brother of Peleg, who is Abraham’s great-great-grandfather.  Ophir is mentioned in genealogies in Genesis 10 and in 1 Chronicles 1.  From Peleg to Reu to Serug to Nahor to Terah to Abram (Abraham).  Of all the cousins, Ophir is mentioned due to the gold.  But I would think that comparing the gold of Ophir with the gold of heaven, Ophir might lose its luster.

Isaiah 14 starts with a bit of End Times, millennial reign, prophecies.  Other nations bowing down to Israel will not happen until then.

I have mentioned that Elijah taunting the prophets of Baal and Asherah atop Mount Carmel was excellent trash talking, but here God trash talks in the “taunt song.”  God is almighty God, but it is a prophet of a nation that Babylon will defeat that is trash talking their future conqueror, knowing that God will not let that act go unpunished.

A few of the things that stood out to me as that Babylon will never have anyone live there.  Revelation calls for a revival of Babylon, but that may be a figurative Babylon, or a Babylon near the unknown location of the original city.  I am presently reading a book by Michael L. Brown, PhD, Jezebel’s War with America.  Oddly I have read a few books on modern day “Babylons.”  It seems that whenever you want to describe someone or a nation as pure evil, Jezebel and Babylon appear as the likely names.  Both are mentioned in Revelation.  For Jezebel, one mention in Revelation 2:20.  For Babylon, six mentions, not counting the NIV headings that are not part of the inspired Scriptures, the last being the total destruction of Babylon at the end of Revelation 18.  Dr. Brown says it of Jezebel that we need not get hung up on gender or individuals or nations, but the use of Jezebel and Babylon as something of pure evil is something we need to be aware of and already exists within our society today.

To mirror a line from the taunt song with Jezebel is that Babylon and Jezebel will not be placed in the graves of their ancestors, which to most kings and queens is a nasty curse.  They are erased from history in such a fashion.

And then, with hardly a preamble other than to say that the Lord says it…  And Assyria, the present superpower will meet a similar fate.  Two thirds of the chapter on Babylon and then only four verses on Assyria.

The Philistines, who have been a thorn in the side of the Israelites since the days of the Judges, are finally dealt with.

And Isaiah 15-16 talk about Moab.  Moab was the offspring of Lot’s incestuous relations with his daughters.  They have been nearby the Promised Land and they have had a long history of allying themselves with anyone who wanted to destroy their Israelite neighbors.  Couple that with the abortion method of the day, sacrificing children to the gods, and you have a detestable people.  Yet, Ruth was a Moabitess.  That fact shows that there is no limit in God’s Mercy, if we will repent and turn to Him.

As far as Messianic notes in this prophecy, the first few verses of Isaiah 14 talk of the millennium reign, and Isaiah 16:5 speaks of One who will reign, a Son of David with righteousness and justice.

And as for the photo, hanging pots in a greenhouse do not compare to the hanging gardens of Babylon, but I hope someone made the connection.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“Isaiah 13:1-14:2 – A Prophesy against Babylon: 1. Where in our culture, and in your life, do you see the attitudes typified by Babylon? What do you learn about God’s response to these attitudes from this prophecy? What parallels do you see between this destruction of Babylon and the judgment God will bring upon the whole earth in the last days (see Rev 6:12-13; 18:2, where ‘Babylon’ represents human pride)?
“2. Babylon stood for wealth, refined culture, and political power. What 20th century culture holds these values as the most important ones? How have you seen these values blind people to the reality of God‘s values such as truth, justice, and love? How are you experiencing the tension between this dual set of values today?
“3. What helps you keep God‘s values primary? In what area is that especially hard for you right now? How can your small group help in this regard?
14:3-22 – The further prophecy against Babylon: 1. How does this taunt song taunt you? Is there any sense in which you have experienced pride going before the fall? What is the ‘pomp’ and ‘noise of your harps’ that distracts you from living for that which is really important?
“2. What historical and contemporary events exemplify God’s judgment upon a people (or leaders) caught up in their pride and superiority: Hitler and WWII? Pol Pot in Cambodia? Idi Amin in Uganda? Other: ? What does this imply about what a believer‘s role ought to be in a situation where these forces seem to be in control? Do you think it’s right to rejoice over their destruction as Isaiah does here? Why or why not?
“3. From your experience, what is the relationship between pride in yourself and cruelty towards others? Why is that so? What is the difference in purpose between (a) the fear of God’s judgment and (b) the terror the Babylonians inspired in others?
“4. What does it mean to you that God has absolute power over all who would try to exercise or usurp power? Where does that challenge you? How does it encourage and strengthen you?
14:24-27 – A Prophecy against Assyria: 1. ln view of this, how should Israel respond to God? How should the world? How then do you’?
14:28-32 – A Prophecy against the Philistines: 1. What alliances (getting in with the ‘right’ people, hoarding wealth, etc.) might keep you from fully trusting God? What does this prophecy tell you about those alliances?
15:1-16:14 – A Prophecy against Moab: 1. What part of your world suffers most because of political chaos and war? When you hear of the oppression and suffering people experience due to these situations, what do you feel? Say? Do? How do you think God responds to such misery?
“2. Isaiah held out the Messiah as the only real hope for his hearers and readers. in what way is the reign of Jesus Christ the only real hope for people suffering in the world? How does his rule serve as a model for how believers ought to respond now towards the poor, the homeless and the hungry?
“3. In what ways have ‘today’s necessities’ become ‘tomorrow’s luxuries’? What is one of the false gods you once trusted in? How did that god serve only to wear you out? How does that god look to you now, compared to the King described in 16:5?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are five sets of questions for Isaiah 13-16 as stated above.

In the question that discusses judgments against world leaders, the second question 2, most people might know Hitler, but the other two were not long removed from the time the Serendipity Bible was first published.  They used the “Other:” knowing that their examples might quickly become dated, but part of the question then could become, “If no one has heard of Pol Pot or Idi Amin, could disappearing into anonymity be part of God’s judgment?  Or is the lack of knowledge due to a poor education in recent history?”

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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