Skip to content

Isaiah 47

A Ryrie footnote describes this chapter as a song of triumph over Babylon--as crushed by Persia 150 years later and, ultimately, at the end of rebellion against God in Revelations (Rev. 17:5).

Although the note above mentioned this chapter as a "song of triumph", there are quote marks starting in Chapter 44: 21 that makes all of this text from God.

Starting in Chapter 47, though, the Lord seems to have transitioned to speaking the future deliverer Cyrus of Persia to Babylon herself. Specifically, in verse 1, the virgin daughter of Babylon is called down to the dust, no longer enjoying a throne, or her "tender and delicate" days.

The MacAurthur Bible Commentary states that Babylon is referred as a virgin because she has never been captured.

In verse 2-3 other defeats are catalogued:

  • she'll now be put to work with a millstone grinding meal (manual labor work)
  • Veil and skirt gone
  • uncovered legs
  • "cross the rivers"
  • nakedness uncovered
  • shame exposed
  • "I will take vengeance and will not spare a man."

Her royal garments are trading for work-a-day clothes. She has to "lift her garments" to traverse the rivers like low-ranking slaves conducting their duties.

Our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 47:4

In verse 5 Babylon is told to sit quietly and go into darkness. She is now stripped of her title of queen of the kingdoms.

In verse 6 the Lord reminds Babylon that it was because of His anger for His people that HE gave them into the hands of Babylon. And yet Babylon not only showed no mercy, but also placed a very heavy yoke of the elderly. We know how God feels about a bully and those who show cruelty to the vulnerable. Here is another example of that, even when He is the one giving the victory to the oppressor. They are still expected to show mercy and not cruelty.

Babylon took the victory to their own credit, and in verse 7 we learn that thought they would be queen forever. They go further, according to verse 8, to be confident in their own security and even to try an proclaim God's own essence by claiming to be "I am, and there is no one besides me." To also claim to never "sit as a widow" or know the loss of a child.

Spoiler alert: This is not going to end well for future Babylon-both the Persia defeat and at the hands of Jesus. See Revelations 18 for details on the latter.

The Lord promises, conversely to Babylon's claims:

  • that in just one day, they will suddenly know loss of children and widowhood in full measure (verse 9)
  • Babylon's sorceries, powers, and spells will not prevent these losses

Verse 10:

  • The Lord points out that they felt secure in their wickedness
  • They felt no one saw them
  • Their wisdom and knowledge actually worked against them by deluding them into thinking they were like God: "I am, and there is no one besides me."

One of the main theme her is the long-term toll of pride and false security. How tragic that my generation (Gen X, kids of the 1980's) were so strongly encouraged toward pride and self-confidence. Fake-it-til-you-make-it confidence. Swagger was seen as a thing to be envied and replicated. Look at the fruit it's bore in our children and grandchildren. Entitlement. Confusion. Anger. Rebellion. Not the bill of goods we were promised.

In verse 11, He promises that evil will come on them and charm won't keep it away. Sudden disaster will fall and there will be no atoning.

Persia didn't have to wear down a slowly decaying Babylon but took her in one night by opening the gate from the inside and letting themselves in.

In verses 12-14 He taunts them with everything they have held to in the past that will now be put to the test and fail:

  • spells
  • sorceries
  • these worked in her youth, and led to profit, even causing trembling
  • many counsels
  • astrologer prophesying by the stars and moons
  • now have a chance to prove their ability to save Babylon (hint: it doesn't go well for them)
  • These previous tools used by Babylon become stubble quickly burned up in the flame coming

The chapter wraps up in the end of verse 14 and 15 with God promising there will be no coal or fire to warm them, just as all of these false religious counselors will not be able to provide any warmth or protection in the coming defeat. There will be none who can save her.

The proverbs warn us never to take pleasure in the disaster or a fool or even an unrighteous man. Despite this guidance, I feel a certain satisfaction when I read about God vengeance on those who mistreat His own. I hope wheat I am feeling is a deep hatred of evil, which we see David rail against in his enemies throughout the Psalms. And in the end, Babylon is not unrighteous men, but evil itself that will be defeated. I think we're right to cheer that.

I look forward to the day of incorruptible righteousness. The death of fear and pain. The decent of the New Jerusalem and the wedding feast of the Bridegroom to His church bride.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *