After another pass at II King 16 & 17 and II Chronicles 27 & 28, Israel has fallen and has been hauled away. God has orchestrated a priest to come back and teach His ways, but the people just add that to their previous worship. Meanwhile Judah is still alive, but not thriving under Ahaz. Both book passages end with the death of Ahaz and the introduction of his successor, his son Hezekiah.
Now the Blue Letter Bible chronological reading list sends us back to Isaiah. Previously in Isaiah, he was prophesying about the end of Israel and two beautiful chapters about the Messiah.
The topic changes away from Israel, Judah, and the Messiah to a denunciation of other nations, starting with Babylon.
According to MacArthur, at the time of this prophesy, Babylon was not yet a world power; but God could see all the way through their rise, fall, and utter destruction.
Verse 1 tells us that Isaiah saw an oracle and the rest of the chapter describes that oracle. I guess I don't know what an oracle is. I thought it was a person or object that could see or know super natural things. I looked in Blue Letter Bible, and the KJV uses the word "burden", which I get; but really has a very different connotation. The Hebrew word is massa, according to Strong's:
- proper masculine noun
- can means burden or lifting up
- or tribute
- or oracle or utterance
On the surface, those are very different things. But my guess, based on much smaller experiences than this is, when the heavens open and your receive a prophesy, or oracle, or telegram from THE LORD, I image it feels like a burden in that you CANNOT dismiss it. I have a few stories of my own that I won't share hnow... but when God prompts you to get up and pray in the middle of the night or pick up the phone and call someone- DO NOT dismiss that burden, you may, literally, save a life.
MacArthur confirms that it is a heavy burden to have to deliver these messages.
In an short summary, on the surface it seems like a vision of the Medes wiping out Babylon as a punishment for their treatment of Judah; but on closer inspection, there are terms and timelines that make me think we're also describing the end time- as Babylon is frequently used as a placeholder for the event of the world in Revelations.
Verses 1-5 describe the Lord calling a distant nation, called by God, to bring tumult, uproar and an army into Babylon. He goes so far as to call these His "consecrated ones" and his "mighty warriors" and states that they are to "execute My anger."
They are coming from a far country from the farthest horizons, the Lord and His instrument of indignation, to destroy the whole land.Isaiah 13:5
I think this puts to rest that God is all about love and wants me to just be happy. Don't get me wrong, God IS love and wants for my good- but He will bring in the Medes (Persians) to tear the joint down when we've made Him righteously angry.
It also shows He is not one of many regional gods. Yes, He claimed Israel as His chosen people; but they were only ever supposed to be a priesthood to the rest of the world. It would definitely be to our benefit to remember that He is sovereign over the "good" guys, the "bad" guys, and the "baddys" being sent to punish the bad guys who took the good guys into captivity on God's command. Get it? He is Lord over all. He created all of us and loves all of us; but we are all capable of incurring His earned wrath.
We need Jesus!
From verse 6-16 it seems more of the Revelations, end times warnings. In both verses 6 and 9 the author specifies the day of the Lord. The "day" is not capitalized, so I may be wrong; but the utter destruction and worldwide description of the punishment seems more global. Words like burning anger, extermination, fury of the Lord of hosts...makes me shutter.
Verses 17-18 seemingly comes back to the Babylonians, specifically, and God stirring up the Medes against them. The Medes won't be interested in the gold and silver the Babylonians will try to use to buy there way out of destruction. They wipe out the men, woman and children, including pregnant mothers.
Verses 19-22 describe the fate of the ancient Babylon- desolate and cursed. People wouldn't go near the ruins for it's reputation of ill fate. Animals will overrun it.
Needless to say, you do not want to be on the wrong side of the Lord's fury. He's compassion is endless and His righteous wrath is just as complete.
The MacArthur Bible commentary seems to support my interpretations of near disaster for this Babylon; but more of it is a vision of the cleansing of God's land before the Messiah king returns.
One final thought, inspired by reading the Wiersbe commentary, Be Comforted. Jerusalem is always the symbol of God city. Even though it has suffered under its sin in this world; it is our city of hope for the fulfillment of God's promises.
Babylon is man's city. Made by man to try and reach God- to become equal to Him, rather than submitted to Him. Babylon may have shiny moments that seem like accomplishment and victory; but Babylon has to fall and be utterly destroyed before the Lord's plan is complete. Rebellion has to be 100% destroyed for the coming of our King.
Jerusalem versus Babylon