99. The Downfall of Babylon was Prophetically Seen by more than those that prophetically saw it rise

P.S:

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Artists impression of Cyrus’s troops entering Babylon

Just a post script to our last bit of sharing about biblical prophecy and the downfall of Babylon. I was in a state of awe, and attempting to rouse my readers to enter into the same degree of “Wow Factor Appreciation” at the fact that Isaiah and Micah saw Babylon’s rise and fall when the Babylonians were still “neighbour friendly” and comparatively peaceful and small. A prophetic view that anticipates over a century of history is astonishing as a stand-alone fact (bypassing the fact that that both Isaiah and Micah saw in advance the birth and birthplace of Christ 700 plus years in advance before it occurred, with Isaiah even seeing the actual locations where He would minister, how He would die and even the resurrection, as well as His Second Advent which could take place before you have finished reading this article or even in another thousand years’ time). I don’t want any first time Bible readers out there to be thinking that it was only Isaiah and Micah that had the prophetic goods in this department, for that would not be true. There were those prophets who saw ahead in an equally miraculous manner the fall of Babylon and they saw it while Babylon had burgeoned – and was still burgeoning into a monster Empire of horror and cruelty. It may be argued that the Babylonian empire was not quite as inhumane or torturous as the Assyrians – but they were not exactly pacifists or non-violent by any means. (That’s supposed to be a joke!)

 

Even if only Isaiah and Micah saw the rise and fall of Babylon a century or more before it started to even build empire, once Babylon was present and violently attempting to rule all the known Middle East, Hebrew prophets saw clearly that no matter how huge and powerful the empire had become, it was surely to fall – simply because Yahweh said so. History tells us that the fall of Babylon was as spectacularly dramatic as its rise was meteoric. Apart from a reference to a “Babylonish garment” in Joshua 7:21, there is no Biblical reference to Babylon after Genesis 11 until the great prophecies of Isaiah, Micah,  and then Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel who each unfolded God’s plan for the ancient city as well as the rest of the world. This prophetic fellowship of Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel, as well as the earlier duo of course saw the “vision extraordinaire” well beforehand. Most of the Biblical prophecies relating to Babylon are in relation to the captivity of the Judah i.e.: the 70 year exile in Babylon. God’s revelation to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel concerning the ultimate end of the captivity is plain to see in the text of them all.

 

We have the apocalyptic statements of Daniel concerning Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams that tell us as plainly as a child’s picture book that Medo Persia

 

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Simultaneous to Cyrus entering Babylon through the dry moat, Belshazzar’s knees were knocking as a hand appears and writes on the wall “Mene. Mene. Tekel. Upharsin.”

The northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 722-721 BC. (We shall see more about Assyria’s fall in another thought soon.) The southern kingdom (Judah) had been spared that catastrophe (see Isaiah 37) but, due to her ever degenerating and festering apostasy, was on a clear course to a fender-bender exile creating pile-up with Babylon in a generation or two after Isaiah’s departure to Sheol. The prophets warned that if Judah persisted with national mass rebellion, Yahweh would raise up Nebuchadnezzar as His “servant” and instrument of discipline to punish the errant Hebrews. Many of them would be killed; others would be captured and taken away as prisoners by the marauding Babylonians, as per Jeremiah 25:9. The Chaldean monarch, however, would not be divinely commended or rewarded for this endeavour; rather, after his subjugation and almost his annihilation of Judah, the Lord would punish him. By that divine judgement the Babylonian empire would inaugurate a self-initiated excursion of death enroute for obliviousness and extinction. Jeremiah summed up the history of this affair in the following way:

 

 

Israel is a hunted sheep; the lions have driven him away: first, the king of Assyria devoured him; and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones. Therefore thus says Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria (Jeremiah 50:17-18).

 

It would seem that “Old King Neb,” went beyond the purpose for which God had raised him up. Babylon itself and Babylonian culture, it has to be said, by all extra biblical and archaeological accounts was the quintessence of arrogance, superiority and pride. Daniel’s recorded interactions with both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar vindicate this observation. Nebuchadnezzar’s boast virtually sounds like he had the delusion of having actually created the earth upon which his empire stood. Writings from the Chaldean libraries have exemplified the proud, arrogant and conceited temperament and disposition that characterized nearly all the Babylonian rulers. Babylonians in general felt absolutely secure within their mighty fortress, and believed that the capital city simply could never be conquered.

 

fall5babylon“I shall be mistress forever…. I am, and there is none else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children” (Isaiah 47:7-8).

 

The city of Babylon straddled the Euphrates River about fifty miles south of what is now modern Baghdad in Iraq.  It was the most remarkable, as well as the largest city of its day. The father of all historians Herodotus, who lived between 484 and 425 BC, tells us that he once visited the Babylon and said that “in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it” He also claimed the incredible. The huge Metropolis was laid out in an exact square, fifteen miles on each side, he said. He wrote that the city was surrounded by a moat more than 260 feet wide. He stated that the walls were 75 feet thick and 300 feet high, with 15 large gates of brass on each side. Sounds like a wonder of the world to me. Some of the greatest of the Hebrew prophets said that Babylon was the “glory of all the kingdoms” (Isaiah 13:19), the “golden city” (Isaiah 14:4), the “lady of the kingdoms” (Isaiah 47:5) who was “abundant in treasures” (Jeremiah 51:13), the “praise of the whole earth” (Jeremiah 51:41), and “great” (Daniel 4:30). However, if Yahweh tells His prophets that Babylon is going to fall, one needs to merely sit back and wait to see how such a feat could be done.

 

It is understandable how that many people who lived in its day, sympathetic with Babylon or not, must have believed the wisdom of the age that a city in an Empire of this nature would last “forever” and was unable to fall.

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Artists impression of King Cyrus entering Babylon. October 539 BC

 

 

(1) Babylon’s fall was announced unequivocally.

Isaiah 21:9. Chapter 46. 47:1-2

Micah 4:10 (implied)

Daniel Chapter 2.

Jeremiah 50:2. 50:17-18 (Chapters 50 and 51 generally) (2 Chronicles 36:19-21)

(2) The time of the beginning of her end was declared.

Isaiah 47:1-2

Jeremiah 25:11-12 (2 Chronicles 36:19-21)

Ezekiel 21:21

(3) The invading forces were specified.

Daniel Chapter 2

Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 36:19-21)

(5) The final result—Babylon’s utter dissipation—was portrayed quite graphically.

Isaiah 47:1-2

Daniel Chapter 2

Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 36:19-21)

(6) The rise of the Medo-Persian Empire in the fall of Babylon.

Isaiah 21:2.  45:1.

Daniel chapter 2.

Jeremiah 51:11   (2 Chronicles 36:19-21)

 

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The conquering Medo-Persians set about disposing of those Babylonians that resist.

What actually happened? The historical facts are not disputed. The story goes like this.

  • The Babylonian ruler, Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 B.C.), was succeeded by his son, Evil-Merodach (562-560 B.C.), who is mentioned in 2 Kings 25:27-30 and in Jeremiah 52:31-34.
  • Next came Neriglissar (560-556 B.C.), an evil conspirator who was defeated and slain in battle by the Medes and Persians.
  • Labashi-Marduk subsequently came to the Chaldean throne in 556 BC, but was assassinated after a few months.
  • Finally, there was Nabonidus, who ruled from 556-539 B.C. His son, Belshazzar, was co-regent with his father. Belshazzar was occupying the city of Babylon when it fell (see Daniel 5). Inscriptions have been discovered which make it clear that Nabonidus had entrusted the “kingship” of the capital city to his son while he campaigned in Arabia for about a decade.
  • When Cyrus advanced against Babylon, Nabonidus marched east to meet him, but fled before the Persian general’s army.
  •  Later, after Cyrus had captured the city (539 BC), Nabonidus surrendered to the Persians. And so, the biblical prophecies regarding the conquerors of the city of Babylon were fulfilled exactly.

 

Without doubt, whether one is a believer or not, whether one is Jewish or Christian, and whether or not one has an interest in biblical prophecy, it has to be said that the entire mystery and depth of God’s revelation to mankind is seen in the multiple strands of character, personality and humanity that are the Hebrew writing prophets. They are glorious. They are the bottom line of the wonderful truth that the unknown and presently unresolved mysteries of God’s purposes are even more exciting than the stuff we know and understand.

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98. What the Other Brothers in Prophecy said about the rise and fall of Babylon

IMB0So then! What did Isaiah’s compatriots in prophecy speak forth concerning the nasty regime of Babylon? Not much really! Needless to say, there was totall agreement in their message concerning the “Soon arising in a generation or two superpower of the Middle Eastern world, post Assyria.” When I say “not much” I am talking in terms of the volume of words and definitely not referring to the content of the message.

 

Looking to see what the writing prophets have bequeathed us with, we have to delete some of the fifteen giants of Hebrew history from the considerations of comparison with Isaiah for various reasons.  The main reason being that there was only one who stood at the same time and place as Isaiah and spoke of the same empire in the same why. Before I tell you what I said, so that the uninitiated do not think I am dodging the issue with all the other Major and Minor Prophets I shall explain something.

 

IMB01There are five books that we refer to as Major Prophets. They are not called Major because they are more important – not at all!  It is only because they are generally much more voluminous than the other twelve who are referred to as Minor Prophets. And before anybody sends me an Email to tell me that Hosea is longer than Daniel, or that several of the Minor Prophets have more chapters than Lamentations, allow me to cut you off at the pass by stating that it was a few extremely serious Jewish Rabbis of generations long gone that referred to them by these terms. Because it is commonly believed and accepted that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations we have four prophetic characters in those first five books. Twelve books in the Minor Prophet section means we have sixteen writing prophets.

 

So why am I excited simply because one of the other fifteen after Isaiah mentions the rise and fall of Babylon? On top of that; why am I even looking to see if anybody else agrees with Isaiah? Aha! There is a method in my madness here. There are so many weird and wonderful academics that, because of a lack of understanding and a surge of unbelief, do not think it possible that Isaiah (or anybody else for that matter) could predict anything at all of the future. They read what Isaiah says in Isaiah 13 and 14 and declare, “Oh yes! Of course! Isaiah could not predict anything. The days of miracles are past. So somebody else must have written chapters 13 and most of 14, and then sneakily added those chapters into the text while nobody was looking and claimed that it was Isaiah.”

 

IMB1I know many of you that are honestly filled with common sense and integrity would scratch you heads at this sort or remark, but I promise you there are a lot of books written about the book of Isaiah who take it for granted that there was another bloke somewhere who wrote extra bits. In fact some of these “superior” discerning scholars think there were several “Isaiah’s.”  So my point is, that if at least one other prophet said the same thing that Isaiah said about Babylon, who lived at the same time or even before Isaiah, who predicted the rise and fall of Babylon, whether it be explicitly or even implicitly by some cryptic language, it goes a long way to humiliating the “Higher critics” who seek to kill faith, confidence in the scripture, and the integrity of God in order to gain their Doctorates and PhD’s.

 

We have to exclude some of the prophets before we even look at what they said. There are good and solid reasons for this.

 

For instance, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel were all contemporary to the final decline and fall of Jerusalem, a century or more after Isaiah. This means that they actually lived in the days after the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction of the rise of Babylon’s great empire.  Any remarks they made of the rise of Babylon would have been “history” in their school lessons. So there would be nothing supernatural in that. They did say stuff about Babylon’s fall (especially Daniel who was living in Babylon the night Babylon fell. See the whole of Daniel 5.) So put a red line under those revered names when it comes to checking the register of those who predicted Babylon’s rise and its impact on Israel and the nations in unison with Isaiah. These three were each born in and during the Chaldean reign of terror. So we have twelve others to consider.

 

We can strike out Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, for each of them ministered after Babylon had fallen and in the days of the Medo-Persians who humanly instigated the fall of Babylon by the inspiration of Yahweh.  Again I say that if any of those three referred to the rise and/or fall of Babylon, theye would be discussing what was history long past to them. And then there were nine.

 

IMB2Jonah only ministered to Assyria and in preaching a very effective message of repentance prolonged Assyria’s power for another few generations. He never raised his eyes to Assyria’s down fall, only their uplift by their repentance to his message. The countdown therefore arrives at eight.

 

Nahum was the opposite in the life of Assyria to what Jonah was to them. Jonah prophetically reprieved Nineveh, and in so doing reprieved Assyria for another few generations. Nahum’s message was supernatural because he went into the details of how Nineveh would fall before it seemed possible it could ever happen.  Babylon was not within the boundary of Nahum’s prophetic vision. He did not say a word about any empire but Assyria’s. Only seven other possibilities now!

 

Nobody is really sure whether Joel was talking of Assyria, Babylon or just the last days before Christ returns, or all of the above. And, as he does not mention any nation state or empire by name, except for the Greeks, we leave him also out of the equation. Nobody is sure whether he wrote before Isaiah, contemporaneously with Isaiah or even after the exile. Therefore as utterly marvellous as the book of Joel is, he is not in our shortlist for prophets that saw Babylon rising …or falling. So now we are down to the last six.

 

Zephaniah strutted his stuff 70 odd years after Isaiah, and spoke in the days of Josiah. Babylon was already, very much on the rise in Zeph’s day, so, in looking for prophetic support that foresaw Babylon’s domination before their ascension to the title of “the world’s super power,” he again was too lately born to qualify. He would have only been prophesying what could have been seen by all his contemporaneous political commentators. Even a non believing spectator ci his day could see that Babylon was rising. Nothing supernatural in that. Five to go.

 

Obadiah’s single chapter of inspiration is all about the gloating of the Edomites over the fall of Judah and Jerusalem and quite literally nothing else. Obadiah’s book is a single highly focussed dig at the soon to be extinct nation of Edom. It is plain that he could not help us at all.

 

Four more!

 

Hosea is on a different planet than to think of the future. He is more in a state of distress concerning the adultery of the wife, “Israel,” with Yahweh their husband. His distress was deepened by the reality of his own wife’s serial adultery as a prostitute. It is a deeply moving story with an incredibly powerful message. In short, Hosea’s life was a parable. However Hosea sheds no light of Babylon’s rise or fall.

 

IMB3This leaves us with two more prophets who were somewhat contemporary with Isaiah. Amos and Micah.

 

Amos never mentions Babylon at all simply because he zooms in on the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Samaria’s fall to Assyria.

 

Micah, however was a man after Isaiah’s own heart. Micah is the important one for the case we are prosecuting. Did Micah say anything similar to Isaiah concerning the rise and fall of Babylon? My dear reader, walk right this way.

 

Micah was contemporary with and compatriot to Isaiah. His burden is unleashed upon us with a similar opening line to Isaiah: “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem” (Micah 1:1).  Called to speak to the same generation, in the same places and to the same section of the people, together with the same prophetic anointing as Isaiah, Micah’s most important words concerning Babylon are contained in a single verse. What we refer to as Micah 4:10 reads as follows:

 

Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail…

The shock and horror of this statement concerning what will be in Micah’s future is embedded in the fact that he likens the remnant few of the nation of Judah to a pregnant woman in labour. Whether he knew that there would only be a remnant population we are not told. Read it for yourselves with everything before and after the verse we are looking at and see if you do not find it as shocking as I do. In Micah’s analogy, the nation state of Judah is the pregnant woman that, while struggling and travailing in labour, is to be taken off to a Maternity Ward. But see! Can we read it and not be shocked?  The labour ward is a place named Babylon!  Nearly five hundred miles to the gentile delivery room of The Chaldeans. No paramedics! No gentle nursing while the offspring of this pregnancy is quietly encouraged to the threshold of birth. But hold on a minute! Who is giving birth to what? If the nation of Judah (the daughter of Zion) is the mother, who or what is the offspring that is being delivered.

 

IMB4… for now you shall go out of the city;…

It would seem that in 587 BC after the walls of Jerusalem were breached, Nebuchadnezzar removed the minimal surviving population of Judah out of the city before he set fire to the entire metropolis and razed its major buildings to the ground, including the palaces, the governmental halls and … wait for it…he even razed the Temple known as “Solomon’s” to the ground. Then, he chained them all in one long line and frog-marched the half-naked few thousand that were left alive to Babylon “General Nationhood Maternity Clinic.” According to Ezekiel as many died of disease in the city, before Babylon broke through the walls and gained access into Jerusalem, as were marched into exile, and just as many were put to the sword as the Chaldeans (Babylonians) rampaged through the City of David once the breach had been made. So Micah was absolutely correct, all the survivors within Jerusalem’s walls, while the insipid king Zedekiah “did a runner” and deserted his sinking ship as the Captain, “went out of the city.”

 

Micah may have been 120 or even 140 years ahead of the catastrophe but he was faultless in his description. A few lines earlier than 4:10 he had stated that “Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be like a ploughed field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple will become like the high places of a forest.” By this he was going even further than Isaiah did. Micah announces first that the entire entity of the city of Jerusalem will be demolished to the point where it will either be ploughed by some farmer, or it will be left to look like a ploughed field. Micah tells us this in chapter 3 before he bothers to explain to us what has happened to the population of Jerusalem.

 

This one liner of Micah is important also because what he is saying is nothing like what Isaiah said, even though they both said the same thing in the end. Why is that important? Well! At least I think it is very important simply because it stops the “higher critics” from even suggesting that Micah copied Isaiah, or vica versa. They both predicted the rise of Babylon a century or so before it occurred. Micah explicitly predicts the exile here in Micah 4:10. Isaiah implicitly predicts the exile in chapters 14:1-7 by predicting the return of the Jews to the Promised Land from a horrific exile, and their song of freedom is pointed at the fallen power of Babylon.

 

… and you shall dwell in the field;…

IMB5Continueing with Micah’s incredibly detailed prophecy of 4:10, being turned out of their homes and lodgings, the surviving Jews that were in Jerusalem at its fall were to be shepherded into the fields that encircled the environs of Jerusalem. There they would deliberately be exposed to and probably forced to watch the sacking of the entire city, and then tied or chained into a huge line and body marched in as undignified state as can be imagined to deepest darkest Babylon and the River Chebar. On that prolonged journey while following the Fertile Crescent eastward from Haran they would only be sleeping in the open fields. Their homes were now non-existent, and their streets were on the way to becoming ploughed fields. As far as the traditions of the people of Israel were concerned, it seemed like the end of the civilisation as they knew it. We need to add, however, that as far as the prophets were concerned civilisation was at an incredibly low ebb in Judah long before Jerusalem fell. That is why the exile was thrust upon them as a divine sentence. Plough your way through the writing prophets and come to your own conclusions.

 

… and you shall go to Babylon …

Micah says it! It would seem ridiculous to the hearers as would Isaiah’s chapter 13 and 14. It was almost like predicting the United States would become a world power even before the first Puritans had arrived at Plymouth Rock. There would be two “ex-Hebrew kings” maintained in Babylonian captivity when the last contingent of Judah would be marched into Babylon after 587 BC. The first group of Jewish people were taken in 605 BC. This group included Daniel and all the regal, intelligent and knowledgeable governmental workers.  In 597 BC King Jehoiachin and the artisans were taken (2 Kings 24:12-15), Ezekiel was amongst this group. 587 BC was the final fall of Jerusalem and the exile of all Jewish survivors who were still alive in the area at that time. It was in this final group that King Zedekiah, of course, was blinded and taken.

 

Micah’s prediction was stated clearly and fulfilled literally.

IMB6

 

… There you shall be delivered …

The exile was 70 years in length. From the day that Joshua marched the armies of Israel over the dry river bed of the Jordan, until the breach of the walls at Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah and King Zedekiah, 490 years had transpired. If the Mosaic law had been obeyed there would have been seventy separate sabbatical years (one every seven years) that would have occurred. As the sabbatical years and the jubilee years had never been taken advantage of during the Jews occupation of the land of Canaan, God judged the seventy years to be granted to the land via the absence of the Jewish nation.

 

Having taken Babylon as his own, as recorded in the last verses of Daniel 5, Cyrus, the king of the Medo-Persian Empire, decreed that the Jews were free to return to Jerusalem. They were no longer in bondage, no longer slaves, and each had total liberty to return to what once was Jerusalem, and to rebuild life there.

 

This writer sees the deliverance of Israel that Micah refers to as not merely a deliverance from bondage and slavery to the gentile nations in order to facilitate their building both their temple and their City, but deliverance from the previous culture of idolatry and the cultural absorption of all things secular and ungodly that utterly dominated Israel and Judah ever since the latter days of Solomon.

 

… there the Lord shall redeem you from the hand of your enemies.

The Babylonians/Chaldeans had been their enemies.   Medo Persians had never been their enemies. Later in our notes we shall see how Isaiah even predicted that the kings name who would set them free would  go by the name of “Cyrus” (Isaiah 44:27-28).

 

Therefore, even though it is only a single line from another single prophet that utterly concurs with Isaiah’s prediction of the rise and the fall of Babylon, the full ramifications and implications of Micah 4:10 are inescapable. Both Micah and Isaiah, in the same generation, saw the rise and the fall of Babylon, the bondage and the resulting freedom of the Jewish exile, and thus the supernatural shroud of glory that was thrown over the two prophets is seen as an integral part of their message and ministry.

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97. A Quick Glance Back on What we have been Handling in Isaiah 13 and 14

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………………………………………………………..

With the reality accepted that the book of Isaiah was written in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, we have to look up to heaven, roll our eyes and confess that the entire volume is far out and downright miraculous. In a protracted section of prophetically foresighted predictions, the first one we have looked at concerning the final rise and definitive total disappearance of Babylon is wonderful. The so called “Higher” critics devalue the whole with the Deutero-Isaiah babblings and their subjective feelings of what is and what is not the writings of the original Isaiah. Certain words that they do not suppose could be used in certain times, and certain word choices in one section that are not in another section lead them to declare that Isaiah 1:1 cannot be referring to the whole sixty-six chapters. The entire concept is conceived and gestated in the amniotic fluid of unbelief and an undernourished idea of divine inspiration. I pour contempt on the very idea of their rationale based on the final authority of John 12:37-41, where the Apostle John refers to what the modernists consider to be different writers from two different sections of Isaiah, and claims that both were stated by Isaiah himself. One has to choose whether the idea that Jesus Christ knew a little more than modernist Higher Critical scholars I suppose.

The prophet Isaiah, broadly thought to have been a Jewish aristocrat who had easy access to the Davidic royal family, leaves us captivated with the authenticity of the divine inspiration of his prophecies. In the 45 verses covering the fate of Babylon we cannot be anything but convinced that it was Yahweh Himself that communicated the burden to his prophet. Isaiah saw the future clearly.

The episode recounted in Isaiah chapter 39 concerning the envoys of Babylon being shown around Hezekiah’s treasure house, a story that is repeated in 2 Kings 20:12-19, reveals to us the fact that Babylon, though still a minor power against the weight of Assyria at the time that those two narratives refer to, was active enough in the world to be enquiring about the surrounding nations. The fact that Babylonian envoys were received kindly and voluntarily shown around Jerusalem, and especially the fact that Hezekiah was foolish enough to show his wealth off to them allowing them to calmly leave Judah with that knowledge well stated in the reports to the Babylonian king without any anxiety on Hezekiah’s part, proves that, at that point of history, Babylon was no seeming threat to anybody.

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This engraving is entitled “Isaiah’s vision of the fallen Babylon.”

Babylon was a literal empire and a geographically known domain in this time space cosmos on planet earth. That would seem to be an unnecessary and elementary remark. It is, however, also a symbolic name for all anti -Yahweh religion and cultures throughout the world. In plainer language, the Bible talks of a Babylon that is spiritually corrupt. Babylon is the symbol major enmity towards God and one of the ultimate strongholds of darkness on the earth. Babylon is the literal spirit of an evil force in human civilisation that is the heart, if not the brain of the world’s arrogance and enmity against Christianity, Judaism, Jews and God.

The day that Isaiah originally stood up to declare, “I have a burden concerning Babylon,” was a momentous moment. To my understanding he was the earliest of the Hebrew prophets to raise his eye to future events of such proportions. Without dotting “i’s” and crossing “t’s” he actually details the entire reality of what both the Old and New Testament’s refer to as “Babylon.” His burden covers the very historical empire that was Babylon, along with the capital city of the same name. By the ingenious choice of language and his statements of what occurs after its fall we see not only the disappearance of Babylon from the map – a historical event that is documented by archaeologists and historians as accurately detailed by Isaiah and other prophets (539 BC) – but also the fall of some civilisation and/or world power at the return of Christ – an even that is still future to us. It is astounding. Added to that, by double naming the king of Babylon and referring to him as Lucifer, we are also given, in the same swathe of prophetic statements, the downfall of the true king who reigned over the two Babylon’s both literal and spiritual, namely, the devil himself.

This writer is also totally convinced that every nation that is mentioned or prophesied about in Isaiah (together with every other prophet that ventured into such mysterious and wonderful visions of the rise and fall of various states) were only mentioned because those nations had negatively interfered with the destiny of Israel. It was clearly a case of Israel being the apple of God’s eye and anybody who touched Israel offending God and suffering His divine displeasure because of their actions towards the children of Israel. It’s a thought that riles many, but biblically is the exact way things are.

a3 The_Prophet_Isaiah

This portraiture is an engracing entitle “The Prophet Isaiah”.

Apocalyptic predictive prophecy oozes with the paradox of hiding so much, yet revealing more than we know. It reads mystifyingly and enigmatically clearing the eyes and fogging the horizon, so much so that one can generally buy a dozen books concerning the interpretation and relevance of apocalyptic biblical prophecy and read a dozen different explanations.  Yet the mountain peaks of this kind of prophecy that has been fulfilled reveals the text to being as straight forward and as pragmatic as was never perceived before its fulfillment. Prior to the advent of Christ the Messianic body of predictive prophecy was full of guesses and theories, prognostications and vague ideas that caused the Jews to have a thousand presuppositions on the whys and wherefores of Messiah’s advent. However, after the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, those great prophecies that referred to His first advent seemed as plain straight forward statements as clear as the street language of any generation.

The overall presentation of biblical prophecy and those prophetic scriptures that have been already fulfilled have always been literal fulfilments. The swathe of prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ’s birth, life, death, burial, resurrection ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit seemed so numinous, cryptic, figurative and apocalyptic before the event. Yet those very same scriptures seem so matter of fact and down to earth after the events that I personally have a problem as to how the Jews who pored over scripture missed it.

Silly me! History seriously repeats itself in this domain. The more time passes, the more the claims that these are “the last days” legitimises and becomes a solid substantiated tenet of the faith for both Jew and Christian.

The authority of Isaiah in chapters 13 and 14 grabs us by the throat with his claims to be seeing what is to happen in the future in our time space world, what happens in Sheol, the momentous details of God’s various judgements and the terrible and shocking signs in the heavens that accompany those judgements. The Day of the Lord is not a mere dealing with evil rulers and dictators over humanity, but a profound ploughing through heaven and earth, things spiritual and physical, temporal and eternal and bringing the entire cosmos to where it was before the fall of man. It is a revelation that the God who owns tiny Israel in a comparatively tiny plot of land that joins Asia to Africa is actually and truly the God of the entire planet. All nations are subject to Yahweh. His intention to bless the earth, honour Christ, and sustain the nation state of Israel with true ethnic descendants of Jacob in the Land that Yahweh declares as theirs is the dominating principle overall the world’s history. Via Christ and Israel, the entire planet with the righteous people of all generations in the resurrection will be blessed to a degree never seen since Adam walked in Eden.  God has an ultimate intention to glorify Christ while He rules over humanity. No matter what state of spirituality or morality Israel descended into (and Isaiah does not hide the reprobate nature of the Jewish nation in his own generation – see Isaiah 1 in particular) Yahweh’s compassion will be poured out upon them drowning their history in an ocean of love, compassion, delegated authority and blessing to all men. The ultimate intention of Lucifer is made plain, an intention that was passed on to historical Babylon as well as the spirit of the Babylon of the future.

a4 isaiah-14-27-550x320The nature of this outburst of divine revelation in Isaiah transports both the prophet and “the prophesied to” into a new dimension; hitherto virgin land for prophetic sandals to walk on. God is opening up the breadth, depth, height and length of where the cosmos and all of humanity is going. Isaiah sees a destination at the end of some horrific world events. It is clearly not a vision of time rolling on and on for millions of years. The whole is coming to a conclusion. Humanity, planet earth and the cosmos has a final end point. Destination – Jesus Christ the Lord of All. The earth will not wind up and disappear into some kind of black hole and annihilation. Christ will come again. His return will be as big and bright, as cosmic and loud, as universal and inter galactic as it is possible to be. Jesus Christ is Lord, and one day will be seen by all to be so. Eternal conscious meaningful bliss for those redeemed by “the blood of the lamb,” and eternal regretful conscious existence for those who refused the gracious offer of God in the probationary period of time that we refer to as “life.” A real heaven. A real hell. And a tangibly real Christ.

No matter how quaint and parochial Christianity, Church and all things religious may seem to some, the agenda is cosmic. There is no greater or bigger project in the entire universe. No matter what faults and blemishes there may evidently be in the earthly body of Christ today, a time is coming when all things shall be seen as they truly are. At that point the resurrected Christians will be seen to be very much in the majority. I believe it.

Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

96. Babylon will fall, and how great will be that fall

Israel’s Song at their Final Return to the Land. And the Relief in Hell when the King of Babylon joins the Dead.

Isaiah 14:1-23

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000002 Isaiah 13Get your seat belts on and nicely secured.  We are, by Isaiah’s graphic prophetic assistance seeing a huge movement of peoples and societies in the prophet’s future. His spiritual eyesight is perfect. It isn’t as if Isaiah is throwing out a few broad brush strokes with remarks that could mean a hundred different things. His words create pictures. He draws graphic and startling illustrations of history before great events have taken place. By reading chapters 13 and 14 of the volume that conveys his name we were actually able to see the mercenary multi-national army gathering on mountain sides and preparing to wipe Babylon off the map as a person wipes the leftovers from a plate of leftover food. He describes a day of death and destruction where human beings would be as rare as gold from Ophir and the pride, arrogance, and evil of men will be laid in the dust. People would flee to all the corners of the known world in an attempt to escape the horrible terror at the fall of Babylon. The empire of the Medo-Persians would gather help from around the Middle East and Babylon would fall never to rise again as it was. And after the fall of Babylon, Israel itself would be assisted by gentile powers and gentile funding to return to the Land that promised by God to be theirs.

 

This is where Isaiah starts to get juicy and even more far-reaching in his prophetic visionary explorations. This is the stuff that should silence sceptic as well as believer into deep thoughts of the God who knows history, generations in advance.

 

Having read the two chapters many times over in recent days in various versions, I see the wonder of the prophet looking at three different deaths and downfalls each encapsulated in the single prophetic narrative of Isaiah 14.  No being clever or manipulative, but simply highlighting the plain straight forward meaning of what Isaiah wrote. I see it clearly that the Babylonian dissipation of 539 BC is the primary and immediate focus of the prophet. But the details here in chapter 14 of Israel’s return to the land seem to be clearly referring to the days of Ezra and Nehemiah as the reader runs through the text, until we get to the details of the universal tranquillity which could not refer to the days of the return from exile under Cyrus that is part and parcel of our school history lessons. The peace and harmony referred to from the middle of verse two onwards. It is talking of occurrences that are still future to the early days of the twenty-first century AD as I write.

 

So when we arrive at verse 3 we are left with the vision of the fall of Babylon as recorded in the end of Daniel 5 (Belshazzar’s fall) and the fall of a Babylonian empire that will be in effect immediately prior to the second Coming of Christ. I state this clearly and categorically inasmuch as the ensuing peace and authoritative role of Israel will not ever come to pass until the reign of Christ on earth in Jerusalem.

 

aaaaa Babylon 1Finally, while reading the text and picturing two points of history and two separate Babylonian Kingdoms, we then have the casting, the text and the choreography of a third evil being as he actually enters the intermediate state of hell, known as Sheol in the Hebrew language. This third personage is referred to as “Lucifer” Son of the Morning.” Leaving us with a third co-existent movie picture of yet another shocking mode of greeting and welcome into hell.

 

To explain it in graphical terms, if I was a fil editor, I would have the voice over reading out Isaiah 13 and into chapter 14 with films of fighting and devastation on the streets of Babylon in the year 539 BC. As the voiceover goes on into chapter 14, half way through 14:2 where the prophet states “…the house of Israel will possess the nations…” I would split the screen into halves. On the left, the return in left Israel in the fourth and fifth centuries BC with slightly more influence on surrounding nations, which should be seen on the left hand of the screen, but on the right hand of the screen, a prophetic film prediction would be shown fully illustrating the words of the latter half of Isaiah 14:2 and through to Isaiah 14:8.  However, when we start to hear the voice over at verse 9 and onwards, we need the screen divided into three scenes. On the left we see dramatic footage of Nabonidus the dead king of Babylon descending into Sheol 539 BC.  The Antichrist, the man who would be killed at the descent of Christ to earth at the Second Advent, would also be seen, descending into hell, and on the far right third of the screen. With the name “Lucifer” utilized by Isaiah to explain his own vision, we cannot but see the figure of the devil himself in his later and eternal downfall.

 

That telling threefold picture is exactly what I see as I read through Isaiah 14.

 

Dramatic indeed!

 

A VIVID PROPHETIC MOVIE OF ISRAEL RETURNING TO THE LAND   

“For Yahweh will have compassion on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land. The gentile will join himself with them, and they will unite with the house of Jacob. The peoples will take them, and bring them to their place. The house of Israel will possess them in Yahweh’s land for servants and for handmaids. They will take as captives those whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.”(Verses 1-2)

aaaaa Babylon 3Jumping over the normal exegetic protocols that explain how God refers to the Jews as “Jacob” while still in their sin, and then renames them as “Israel” when seen as righteous in Christ, we follow the master thought of the prophet at this stage concerning the Jewish return to their own land. It is presented to us as a Divine act freeing Israel from gentile domination. It may be perceived in the human historical record as people of the earth setting Israeli’s free to return to their land, yet scripture makes it clear that it will be at the second Coming, as it was in the days of Cyrus in the Old Testament, Yahweh Himself that prompted the release of Israel and the funding of their return. Isaiah could clearly see that God would have mercy on Israel and then settle them in their own land. We know this took place in history. The books of scripture explain the dynamics of the story. It will happen again in the future. No more will Israel be a fly in the ointment of world politics. They will be the dominant and leading authority hosting not only Christ as king, but the pilgrim visitors from around the globe who come to sit at the feet of Christ. Isaiah sees gentiles joining themselves to the nation of Israel. The phrase, “the gentile will join himself,” strongly implies a huge number of gentiles becoming “nationalised” Jews. The first verse of chapter 14 suggests Gentiles in great numbers will be converted to the God of Israel and live as Israelis thereafter.

 

The gentiles will help bring them home to the land that is theirs, as happened of old with old Cyrus. Still future to Isaiah, the return of both Hezekiah and Ezra would be funded by gentile resources. They did, and they will be brought to Jerusalem to repopulate the land as a Jewish domicile.

 

“It will happen in the day that Yahweh will give you rest from your sorrow, from your trouble, and from the hard service in which you were made to serve, that you will take up this funeral song against the king of Babylon, and say, “How the oppressor has ceased! The golden city has ceased!”( Verses 3-4)

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“In the day that Yahweh will give you rest…?”  This is where we have to think a little. Yes indeed, when Ezra and Hezekiah had brought their Jewish contingents back to Israel and Jerusalem they would rejoice and exult in how the Babylonian kings and empire had been felled like some mighty cedar in Lebanon. It was the Medes and Persians that had funded the return. The Temple was completed in 515 BC. That is 24 years after Babylon had fallen. Nehemiah’s visit is calculated by some as around 445 BC or even later. So Isiah indicates that the song of joy over the King of Babylon’s demise is a couple of generations after it had happened. But why would Israel sing a praise song, a triumphant call over the dead Babylonian king, the last of which would have met his demise ninety plus years before Israel’s return to the land. It is like singing today (2015) a happy song of victory because we won the First World War. It simply does not make sense.

 

On top Of that, Isaiah explains how that Israel, having been brought back to the Promised Land, would have the gentiles serve them, which I believe happened in some very small degree in the days of the second temple, but not throughout the whole nation of Israel, such as it was, which is what Isaiah’s prophetic statements suggest.

 

But hold on yet again! “Rest from your sorrow, your trouble and hard service?”  In plain terms that simply never happened in the fifth century before Christ, and in reality has never ever happened (yet) to Israel. In fact that sort of national and nationwide tranquillity could not take place, according to the biblical narratives, until the return of Christ to planet earth. Ah! So, as stated above, we see plainly now, how the single prophecy covers two scenarios of two separate collapses of Babylon. One return in BC years, and the other post the return of Christ. I feel sure that the words of Isaiah 14 could not refer to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Why? Because Israel have never had peace since the state was created.

 

We therefore have a picture of two Kings of Babylon separated by over two millennia. The “funeral song” that Isaiah refers to is almost certainly, primarily, referring to the joy at the downfall of the world leader at the point of time of the Second Advent of Christ, where the funeral song over the Antichrist will be more than appropriate. The man of sin, the Antichrist is synonymous with the last and final “King of Babylon.”

 

“Yahweh has broken the staff of the wicked, the sceptre of the rulers, who struck the peoples in wrath with a continual stroke, who ruled the nations in anger, with a persecution that none restrained. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet. They break out in song. Yes, the fir trees rejoice with you, with the cedars of Lebanon, saying, “Since you are humbled, no lumberjack has come to fell us. (14:5-8)

aaaaa babylon 9 hanging-gardens-bigThis has to be a millennial passage. Why? For at no time since the fall in the history of man has the world been in such peace as is herein described. That kind of peace will fall on regenerated mankind in the millennial reign of Christ.  (v 7-8).

 

 

A VIVID MOVING GRAPHIC OF EXISTANCE IN SHEOL

“Sheol from beneath has moved for you to meet you at your coming. It stirs up the dead for you, even all the rulers of the earth. It has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. They all will answer and ask you, “Have you also become as weak as we are? Have you become like us?  Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, with the sound of your stringed instruments. Maggots are spread out under you, and worms cover you. (14:9-11)

A remarkable change of perspective. It is a violently dramatic repositioning of viewpoint. We are now in hell! Literally! Sheol here, in the old A.V. is translated as “hell.” We are not talking of the grave that is defined as a hole in the ground, dug in order to receive a dead body. Sheol refers to the unseen place of the dead. Sheol is “beneath.” The scripture uses various descriptions of this venue; “beneath the earth” (Verses 9-16. Proverbs 15:24. Ezekiel 34:14-18. 32:18-31), “The nether parts of the earth (Ezekiel 31:14-18. 32:24), the “lower parts of the earth” (Psalm 63:9. Psalm 68:18. Ephesians 4:8-10). The “heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). The depths of the seas and the foundations of the mountains (Jonah 2:2-6) and too deep to dig into (Job 11:8. Amos 9:2). Isaiah’s statement is jaw-droppingly shocking. “Sheol…has moved to meet you.” We have lift off into new territory for mankind as a whole. This is one of two passages of scripture that give us such an insight. The prophetic revelation is as follows.

 

  1. There is consciousness in Sheol among those departed from the earth without faith, consciousness of a state of horrific reality. (v 9)
  2. Those already in Sheol are moved to greet those who are newcomers to the destination of the Godless. (v 9)
  3. The dead, that is the “rephaim,” (the ghosts, or “shades”) are stirred up to meet new comers from the earth’s surface and the “land of the living.” (v9)
  4. Even all those that used to be the great and chief ones of the earth are stirred up to meet newcomers. (v 9) The whole scenario seems to be filled with spite and disdain.
  5. Sheol has raised up all the kings of the nations from their thrones and received them into hell.(v 9)
  6. There is hateful, spiteful, pathetic “conversation” and “interaction” in Sheol. (v10 -11. Luke 16:19-31)
  7. Inhabitants of Sheol have lost their pride, but to no avail. They are painfully conscious of a helplessness and a godless weakness. They await a resurrection to judgement that will come at a time that they know not when. (v 10)
  8. Sheol makes even those that were the greatest on earth weak and helpless. (v10)
  9. Pomp pride and godless music are brought to nothing in Sheol and are seen as a meaningless intrusion into the true priorities of the existence of the lost. (v11)
  10. Worms and maggots make the bedclothes and covers of those in Sheol (v11). The picture is horribly disgusting. The never ceasing, never dying consciousness of the souls of men in hell is a ghastly thought as well as a shocking vision as portrayed by the prophet Isaiah.
  11. Isaiah has insight into the motives, the mind sets and the activities that brought this king of Babylon down to Sheol. The prophet gives us six reasons why we find him here, and in so doing draws a parallel with yet a third ruler.

 

aaaaa babylon 7alas-babylon-babylon-will-perish

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“How you have fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, who laid the nations low! I will ascend above the heights of the clouds! I will make myself like the Most High! Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the pit.” (14:13-15)

  1. In addressing this famed and horrifically hated king of Babylon, Isaiah now refers to him as “Lucifer.” It is believed by many that Isaiah is now, in recounting the sins that brought the kings of Babylon down to be twinning their activities and modus operandi with the devil himself. So now we have one prophetic line of thought that can legitimately be applied to three moral agents (two kings of two different manifestations of Babylonian Empires), and the kingdom and King of hell and evil. (v13)
  2. Lucifer was originally in heaven. Any parallel with kings of Babylon seems to be a fantasy at this point, excepting that both kings were seen as demi-gods and deities in their own lifetimes. (v13)
  3. Lucifer fell from heaven. (v13)
  4. Lucifer was the son of the morning, which is the brightest in the heavenly firmament of angelic beings. (v13)
  5. It is acknowledged that Lucifer brought the nations low. This obviously has a different connotation when thinking of the kings of Babylon than it does to Lucifer himself. Lucifer’s evil activities towards the nations was clearly a more universal and absolute striking of the nations of the whole world in the context of sin and mishap together with direct demonic activity. The evil forces of Babylon ruined the nations of the Middle East in the Old Testament days also (v13). Antichrist will do the same in his day.
  6. Lucifer set Himself to literally become like Yahweh. (v14)
  7. The word of God in verse 15 pronounces Lucifer being cast out of heaven down to Sheol. (v15)

 

“Those who see you will stare at you. They will ponder you, saying, “Is this the one who made the earth to tremble, who shook kingdoms; who made the world like a wilderness, and overthrew its cities; who didn’t release his prisoners to their home?” (14:16-17)

  1. The sight of Lucifer in his true state of helplessness at the hands of God’s judgement and a proper realisation of the damage that such a one as he had wrought in the earth is an astonishment to all the bedfellows of hell will shock and surprise those that see him.
  2. The sight of Lucifer in Sheol is such that it will cause the sight of him to cause unbelief and questioning.
  3. Of all the memories of earth that are carried over into the world in the dead, they will all remember the Babylonian policy of removing people to a foreign land and leaving them to resettle. So it seems that Isaiah’s vision of Lucifer has now returned to the Babylonian king at verse 17.

 

“All the kings of the nations, sleep in glory, everyone in his own house. But you are cast away from your tomb like an abominable branch, clothed with the slain, who are thrust through with the sword, who go down to the stones of the pit; like a dead body trodden under foot. You will not join them in burial, because you have destroyed your land. You have killed your people. The seed of evildoers will not be named forever.” (14:18-20)

 

  1. The issue of verse 18 is simply to make the point that the final king of Babylon was killed and his body was left to rot in the field. As the previously demised kings and rulers of the earth seem to have majorly had state burials with the pomp and circumstance of heathen royalty, the king of Babylon who in life had indulged himself with more pomp than most, died with none at all.
  2. Isaiah then remarks that it is the considered perspective of the rest of the world leaders that the king of Babylon had destroyed his own land.
  3. Isaiah uses the phrase, “all the kings of the nations.” The unspoken essence of the story of the inhabitants of Sheol is that they are mocking the erstwhile Babylonian king, and making remarks about him without proper dialogue with him.
  4. His existence in Sheol is filled with the memory reality of his horrific life. It is as if he is “clothed with the slain.” The phrase suggests that the deeds of evil and hatred that ruled and dominated his life are worn like medals of shame throughout his awaiting to be resurrected for his final judgement after the thousand year reign of Christ.

 

aaaaa Babylon4ianWiseMen“Prepare for slaughter of his children because of the iniquity of their fathers, that they not rise up and possess the earth, and fill the surface of the world with cities. I will rise up against them,” says Yahweh of Armies, “and cut off from Babylon name and remnant, and son and son’s son,” says Yahweh. “I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, and pools of water. I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says Yahweh of Armies. (14:21-23)

  1. The shocking principle of verses 21 and 22 is the frightening concept of sowing and reaping. It is a prophet of God raising the issue of the sins of the fathers being impacting on the sons and the daughters. The light I hold on the issue is that the Babylonian kings had so much death, torture and cruelty on their unforgiven account with their Maker that their familial line was extinguished because of the weight of the curse that was upon them. (verses 21-22)
  2. “That they not rise up and possess the earth,” implies that the authority of heaven was ensuring that under no circumstances could the descendants of Babylonian royalty ever be revived. (verse 21)
  3. The issue of the removal of the Babylonian line and race that God Himself declares to arise and make the execution of the entire racial line. (verse 22)
  4. Not only were the human remnants to be erased from this time and space world, but the ground of the city of Babylon, and the very structures that were once the mightiest of cities was never to be inhabited again. Swampland would be the result of God’s judgement. The entire physical presence of Babylon and all that pertained to it was to be sept away with the broom of destruction. (verse 23)

 

So spoke Isaiah by the insight and vision of the Holy Spirit. Babylon was for extinction. And we need to understand that Babylon had not even risen when Isaiah delivered this burden.

 

Round up on Babylon next time.

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95. Babylon’s Fall Predicted Even before its Rise (Isaiah 13:1 -14:2)

Isaiah's hideous vision of the fall of Babylon

Isaiah’s hideous vision of the fall of Babylon

If you are like me and want to have some biblical pictures clear in your head, and the time line running smoothly in your mind’s eye like a Hollywood movie, I have a suggestion to assist you get the sum and substance of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Babylon absolutely fastened in your brain. The suggestion is that you remember the graphic picture of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5, and Belshazzar’s knees knocking together. Trust me when I tell you that the biblical image of Daniel 5 and Isaiah 13 and 14 are the exact same issue. The only difference was that Daniel addressed the regent Belshazzar of Babylon, Isaiah addressed Babylon itself.

 

Allow me to explain the whole story.

 

Imagine if you will that over a 300 year or so period there were about sixteen or so characters. As it happens, they were all male. Imagine also that all these sixteen characters were born of the same race but domiciled in separate strata’s of society and culture within that race. It was an amazingly varied group of men. Some were rich, some poor. Some reputed to be on the fringe of royalty and aristocracy, some priestly and religiously trained.  And with these sixteen there was, in the lifetime of each of them, trouble and distress of all shapes and sizes. There were political upheavals and immorality. There were social earthquakes as well as literal seismic earthquakes, both altering the topography of life in their nation beyond recognition, taking their existence to a place from which it could not return. There was sin and betrayal at every level of their civilisation (assuming it was to be referred to as “civilisation)  in every corner and dynamic of life. And in the midst of this, Almighty God told these sixteen men at different times, in different places, from different angles what was needed to correct the mess and set life straight. These sixteen men were unique in character and calling inasmuch as they were all confidantes of God Almighty.

 

I am of course talking of the sixteen writing Hebrew prophets most of whom lived and prophesied in Judah and Israel, between circa 700 BC and 400 BC.

 

These sixteen men made the most profound and deeply felt contributions to life amongst the Jewish people, and their impact touches the entire planet on which we live even now. Somehow, some way, these men entered into the most incredible experience and knowledge of how to listen to and converse with the Eternal, Almighty, All knowing, Omnipresent God of the entire cosmos. And what they heard had such a broad scope of intelligence and knowledge that they not only spoke concisely to their own generation, but to every generation that has ever lived since. It is also this writer’s conviction that even after Messiah returns to reign on earth and is enthroned in Jerusalem, the population of the whole planet will still be consulting their writings during the thousand years of His presence amongst us.

 

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The reduced parameters of the Babylonian empire as their downfall was about to take place.

Without fuss or fanfare, without any certified office of “Prophet” or social import as being Divine Spokesmen, they dialogued with the Almighty, were instructed of things that were necessary for them to say, and sometimes were just quite literally shown things by dreams and/or visions that were to come upon earth. Some of these men had frighteningly horrific “movies” shown them of world shaking events that were looming ahead time wise. But note we are now entering into a chapter of Isaiah’s life where nightmares were being seen, not primarily of what was to happen to his own race of people, but to every nation in the surrounding Middle East that had anything to do with the life of the two Jewish States.  Many of the Hebrew prophets had insights into what was happening to the world around them, not only in times that were contemporaneous with their life, but concerning things that were to happen in their future and even after they had died. We are talking of the soft flesh of the deep heart of biblical prophecy. This is where Isaiah starts in that section of his writings that we refer to as Isaiah chapter 13. The dynamism of the world flight of this biblical giant leaves the runway here at chapter 13 and verse 1.

 

The point is clearly made that the God of Israel is not only the God of Israel but of the whole world. The nations are in His hands. They rise and they fall, they win battles and they lose wars. They are raised for a purpose, and when they go beyond the divine brief and reason for their being raised, they are removed. The Kings of the world are all under the grace of Him who is their King, who is therefore known as “The King of all Kings.”  Babylon were about to be exposed for overstepping the parameters for which Yahweh raised them up as the biggest empire in the Middle East. The only point of surprise in this exposure is, that when God revealed this historical event to Isaiah, Babylon was still a small backwater of a nation. The point is that God knows all things before they take place – even when it is more than a century before this historical cataclysm takes place.

 

So picture the scene well. These men, and especially Isaiah, who considered themselves unimportant and yet servants of Him who is the most important. See Isaiah kneeling at his bedside, at his prayer stool, or perhaps even lying prostrate on the ground when he sees a vision – a full technicolour movie if you will. And what a shock the movie gave him.

 

Oh the glorious vastness of biblical prophecy. We enter an incredibly fertile jungle of utterly mind boggling statements, revealing to us things of phenomenal import that were to yet come  way into the future– and much of their predictions are still yet to come. Statements whispered – or maybe even shouted in the ears of these wonderfully spiritual men, of things that just were not known about in the days they were received. They saw, they felt, they cried and they implored with both God and man. They revealed the heart and mind of God, pleaded on His behalf for the submission of the hearts of the people of their day and, according to Jesus Christ, each and every one of them paid the ultimate price for such service to God and man (Matthew 5:12. 23:29-31. 23:37. Luke 6:23. 11:47. 11:50. 13:34.)

 

When did this deep Niagara of prophetic flow strike the prophet? Isaiah 14:28 states simply, “This prophecy came in the year King Ahaz died,” and if we accept that Isaiah chapters 13 -27 were all written in the same batch of heavenly burdens (a perspective that the academic writers tend to fall in with), we conclude that Isaiah was immersed in visions of the world and its nations somewhere after the fall of Samaria (722 BC) and prior to the death of Ahaz (716 BC).

 

The name, “Babylon,” would not have been on the mouth of the population of Judah anything like as commonly as it would have done in the days of Jeremiah a century or more later. Babylon, in the days of Isaiah were troubling nobody at all. The nation state of Babylon was at that time comparatively small. Assyria was the Tyrannosaurus Rex of Isaiah’s day, Babylon was a tiny Ankylosaur-minmi (I leave you to Google their respective sizes. The latter is possible the smallest dinosaur we are aware of.). The name of “Babylon” is used only four times in Isaiah’s burden of chapters 13 and 14 (13:1. 13:19. 14:4 and 14:22.). I am totally unaware of how much the academics copy from each other and who said what first, but in my studies and book reading several of them say something like, “we are so glad Isaiah actually took the trouble to tell us who he was talking about in these two chapters, because when one reads through the two chapters, they reveal nothing that would tell us it was Babylon if the word had not been scantily inserted into the narrative.” A piece of trivia that I consider so strange for so many academics to concur on.

 

Prediction of various national events can only be given when it pleases Yahweh to grant such insights to men of His choice. No prophet in scripture used his section headings, or titles over a prophecy lightly. The opening line of Isaiah 13 states: “The burden …” It’s the same word that is used for the encumbrance and loading of an ass, a mule or a camel, or something hanging precariously on a peg. It is the same word used as people being a burden to a leader. This unburdening of Isaiah, this declaration of a vision given to the prophet was a weight on God’s heart literally exposed, given and shared with His prophet, and it was the nightmarish occurrence of Babylon’s future doom and demise. The words suggest that what Isaiah saw was distressful to the extreme in as much as it was a series of traumatic painful pictures of things happening to the people of Babylon in the destruction of their capital city. He saw it as some death filled nightmare. It seems like a totally anonymous narrative until verse 14 where we are told the roll that Babylon plays in the prophetic prediction. Apocalyptic prophecies love the anonymous symbol or parable that the reader has to think and make conclusions about before progressing further into the dialogue of graphics.

 

Between Isaiah 13:1 and 14:6 we have the screenplay of a shocking melodrama of four acts.

 

The passing empires of the turbulent times we are discussing.

The passing empires of the turbulent times we are discussing.

SCENE 1: THE WIDE-REACHING GATHERING OF MEDO-PERSIA (13:1-5).

 

It is a bare mountain top (13:2). There is an ensign raised for an army to gather around. These forces are to be beckoned and hailed to gather at this peak and to join their terrible forces together. These forces are being gathered to execute the wrath of God (13:3). Up to this point of the narrative, even though we have been told that this vision is the “burden of Babylon” (Hebrew: “Massa Babel”) we are not told the nature or nationality of the forces gathering. In the Hebrew “Massa Babel” is a neutral statement, i.e. whether the burden is to Babylon’s benefit or detriment cannot be interpreted by the heading. Most modern translations precipitate the translation of the text by interpreting that heading as, “A prophecy against Babylon” (NIV). The NLT goes even further by telling us the message and end of the prophecy before we have even started to read its contents, telling us, “Isaiah son of Amoz received this message concerning the destruction of Babylon.”  (Thank you NLT for making it so much easier to read and understand (?)) The vast majority of the rest of the translations I have consulted have “Burden” with one or two making it a “divine revelation concerning Babylon.” Leupold, a good old evangelical commentator of Isaiah says that there may be so credence to the thought that “Massa Babel” means “burden of doom concerning Babylon.” We shall therefore leave the matter there.

 

The point of this opening cameo in our four phased cameo screenplay is that:

  1. Armies are gathering at the divine call.(13:2)
  2. The plan is to invade the “gates of the nobles” suggesting it is the gates of a mighty fortress of a city. (13:2)
  3. This force is a multinational force raised for this single great concentrated purpose (13:4)
  4. This purpose of meeting out wrath has the hand of Yahweh behind it. This is actually God’s plan. The phrase, “my wrath” is undoubtedly indicative of the divine hand and the divine reference to His own wrath, for verse 4 tells us that the Lord Almighty is mustering this army. (13:3-4)
  5. The force is gathered from all over the known world, with all the weaponry that would suitably demonstrate God’s extreme and crushing force of anger (13:5). The use of language also tells us that the entire land that this major city rules over will be decimated and not just this capital city, the gates of which are about to be breeched.  The simple reading of a Bible that has no interpretive notes, headings or extra clarifications in the column precipitating the readers understanding of who is fighting who has the reader on tenterhooks at this point of the chapter wondering whose are the forces gathering, and what is the name of the city that is about to be besieged.

 

I have to confess that I remember at my very first reading of this “Burden of Babylon” when I read it in my old copy of the RSV back in the 1960’s, at this stage of reading I was convinced that Isaiah was telling us how Babylon was about to besiege and destroy Jerusalem.

 

SCENE 2: THE WASTING GRIEF OF THE PROPHTIC SPECTATOR (13:6-16).

 

The horror of what was to strike Babylon is felt in Isaiah's description.

The horror of what was to strike Babylon is felt in Isaiah’s description.

Throughout eleven verses of graphic description, Isaiah lets us know that whoever it is being besieged by this huge multinational force, it is not “just another battle” to be added to the world’s history books. There may have been conflagrations since this particular battle that belittle the previous falls of cities, nations and empires, but when this city falls, whoever it is that Isaiah is talking about, it will impact the world in a way that the battle of the Somme, or Ypres, left millions stunned at the size of the human loss in the first world war. The cruelty, the death toll, the rapes and assaults of the population will be staggering. Isaiah sees it quite clearly. And this will all be the hand of God’s judgement unleashed on this city by this force.

 

No matter how the modern translations remove the mystery of wondering about the personnel in this narrative, one must never forget that the only other world powers that Isaiah would have been able to deduce by human logic alone would be Assyria, or the now failing force of Egypt. From the point of view of the common Hebrew man on the street, at this point of Isaiah’s story the audience would still be in the dark about who is about to defeat who. Whoever it was and whenever this clash was to take place, it was obviously going to be absolutely huge and cataclysmic in its impact on the world scene. The balances of power, prosperity, national destinies and monarchical influences were to be turned on their heads and directional growths of nations, empires and continents would be altered by the fulfillment of this vision of Isaiah’s.

 

 

AArtist's impression of the night of Babylon's fall and Belshazzar's party going on while their doom envelopes them.

Artist’s impression of the night of Babylon’s fall and Belshazzar’s party going on while their doom envelopes them.

SCENE 3: THE WORLD SHAKING GENOCIDE OF BABYLON (13:17-22).

 

The first shaft of light concerning the personnel and the nations in combat comes to us in the 17th verse. It is the Medes who are the aggressors in this action. And verse 19 completes the intelligence re the battle front by starkly telling us that “Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.”  But hold on! Neither Sodom nor Gomorrah went down fighting. They were both simply consumed one night by a completely unexpected force. They were just annihilated by the judgemental force of God’s anger. It was clearly the judgement of God. How were Sodom and Gomorrah’s respective dissolution to match Babylon’s fall?

 

Isaiah and Jeremiah, and even Daniel in unison prophesied in unison that the Medo-Persian Empire would mushroom and destroy the Babylonian empire. Here in verse 17 Isaiah quotes Yahweh as declaring “I will stir up the Medes against them.” Jeremiah 51:28 explains how the Medo-Persian Empire would extend beyond the largest spread of the Babylonian empire. Jeremiah also adds what was in the eyes of God and the Jewish people the most appropriate reason that Babylon had to be destroyed and that was to gain “vengeance for God’s Temple” that Babylon razed to the ground in 587 BC.  Daniel’s vision of the statue made of different metals was referring to the Medo-Persians once the Golden head of the Babylonian monarchs was removed from its place.

 

Readers of Biblical history will suddenly be aware of the placement of the fulfilment of this story in the time line of the Middle Eastern rising and falling of nations in biblical times. It was on October 13 539 BC that a remarkably large force of Medo-Persian troops led by Cyrus the Great conducted a skilful incursion into the huge Metropolis of Babylon. The walls of Babylon were so high and thick that they could not readily be taken and so, in the middle of the night, Cyrus literally, utilising the huge volume of manpower that was at his disposal, redirected the Euphrates that flowed under those infamously impenetrable walls, thus allowing his forces to enter the city and pillage the entire capital under the walkway formed by the redirecting of the water from under the wall. This horrific event was effected on the very night that the great and the good of Babylon were carousing and partying under the vice regency of a man named Belshazzar. The carousing was being conducted using all the items of cups, goblets and other things that the Babylonians removed from Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC.  It is concluded by all authorities that this was the very night of “the writing on the wall” in Daniel 5. Babylon was overcome on that very night and how great was the fall of it. It might not have been as supernaturally striking as the fire and brimstone that rained on the two cities, but the annihilation of the population of Babylon and the razing of the huge metropolis to the ground was just as effective. The death toll was beyond count.   Babylon was not defeated to be renamed or repopulated. It was just razed to non-existence. The territory the city had occupied was to become a wilderness inhabited only by the wild life of the region as the rest of the text of chapter 13 tells us.

 

Thus was Isaiah’s burden of Babylon.

 

00000 action bible palestineSCENE 4: THE WHOLESOME GRATITUDE OF ISRAEL (14:1-2).

 

We jump to the world scene post Babylon’s fall and the Medo Persian occupation, and we see that Cyrus and his Empire has the status of being the greatest world power in the world at its time.

 

Isaiah now predicts by the Spirit of God a striking hitherto unknown phenomena.

 

  1. After the expression of the divine anger, God now has compassion on Israel and works in the heart of those that conquer Babylon causing them to assist with the resettling of Israel back in their own land as promised to Abraham.(14:1)
  2. The Jews will be joined by other races and nationalities that will want to join with Israel’s new found status (14:1).
  3. It then says in verse 2 that Israel will take possession of the nations and make other nationals servants to themselves. Whether this was fulfilled in the return sanctioned by Cyrus, or whether it was some later date is unclear. However, it is without doubt that the general wealth of Israel as well as families within the Jewish state thereafter Cyrus’s decree, took a striking up turn. Isaiah saw this miraculous decree of a gentile king ordering his subjects to assist the Jews in their return to the Promised Land as well as the ensuing prosperity. (14:2)
  4. The dominant role of Israel over other nations intimated here by Isaiah may refer to other historical aspects that I am not aware of, but will absolutely apply to Israel’s position amongst the nations during the reign of Christ after His second advent.

 

What Isaiah talks off after 14:2 takes us into somewhere incredible. That’s for next time.

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94. Thoughts on Judgement of the Nations. Prologue to Isaiah 13 onwards.

END 5I have had several prolonged debates with people over the years concerning whether or not God judges the nations. I mean with “Fire and Brimstone” type of judgement with a “Pompeii” kind of destruction. I am talking of judgement that is predicted beforehand, and then seen and understood by all that “God’s prophets said exactly how this would happen before it even started to come to pass,” type of judgement. What do you think? A Judgement of doom does not necessarily require a Hiroshima or Nagasaki kind of end to life, but it does necessarily mean the end of a culture, society and or nation.

 

Does God deal with any nation like he dealt with Sodom and Gomorrah in the Genesis story? Is it with good a good understanding that we can even discuss sensibly and a biblical rationale, “The potentiality of God wiping entire nations off the face of the map in these days?” Is it ever correct to walk round with an A-board declaring, “The End is Nigh?” It sounds ridiculously farfetched to the atheist as well as to some modernistic Christians. It also seems like over the top melodrama to Reformed Cessationists who tremble at the thought of anything of any “divine interventionist” message.  There was one famous quote by an evangelist of a previous generation, I think it was William Branham in the nineteen fifties or sixties, who said “If God doesn’t soon judge Hollywood, He will have to raise up Sodom and Gomorrah and apologise to them.”  Wow! Where do we go with statements like that? I am honestly not sure whether or not Branham was in the Spirit when he made statements like that, but it makes a condemnatory theological point concerning Hollywood and its reputation that sounds expressive and emphatic to the point that many preachers have used it since it was first declared as a bench mark response to how some Christians see modern western culture. I do not condone the statement in anyway whatsoever, and that is not because I think it is biblically unsound, or because I think it sounds fanatical, but that it does not in any way catch the modern thinking man, except as a target for ridicule.

 

We must not, however, go too far in our negation of the “Doomed! Doomed! We are all doomed!” brigade. It was absolutely the correct message for Noah’s day, it was the message that was absolutely true in Jonah’s time. He was a perfect “hand in glove” fit for Nineveh.  A single line that stated “In Forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It was proven to be a word from God and it was received by the Assyrians as such.  Jeremiah hit the nail on the head also with his tearful, heartfelt agonising “The End is Nigh” message. The truth was that the end was not just nigh, it came and went and left the Jews scattered around the globe and Jerusalem a huge stack of ruins in the wilderness. Ends do not get more final than 587 BC around Jerusalem. There are, therefore, from my perspective as a Bible believer, clearly, times when, “Repent! For the end is Nigh!” is a divinely inspired message.

 

The point to make as well, is to quote Jesus Christ who said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the son of man” (Matthew 24:37. Luke 17:26) Ouch! That means that “Repent for the end is nigh!” has actually been an intensely relevant message ever since the day of Pentecost when New Testament preaching started! Chew on that one.

 

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To take the discussion just a little further: It may be a divinely inspired statement, but we need to look a little closer at the big picture concerning wicked nations and/or wicked national leaders. The judgement of groups of people, nations or ethnic tribal crowds is a difficult subject to get one’s head around. William Branham, by the way, was proven to be a prophet of some remarkable accuracy. The final story of Hollywood is not yet finished of course, leaving the present generation still in the process of assessing the strength of his words concerning Hollywood.

 

Where should we stand on such an important concept? If it is a rational, biblical message, we are fools if we play the issue down.  And if indeed the people of the nations of the world are to be judged as national groups, as well as human individuals it is an incredibly important matter for us to have an understanding on. I know I am to be judged as an individual. Keith Lannon will clearly stand before the judgement seat of Christ as an individual in the resurrection. But will I also be judged in the context of being a member of and a partaker with the nation state of England? Is that part of Christ’s brief when He makes assessments and a final judgement about me at the end?

 

I have heard several perspectives in my life time, perspectives that have fed my grey matter and sent me to the bible for answers.

 

In one extreme there are those that believe that because Christ carried the sins of the world on the cross, and no sin on the planet was left outside the net of his atoning blood, for that reason, say the adherents to this particular viewpoint, no national sin is to be brought to God’s judgement throne in the future on the grounds that it has already been dealt with.  Added to this, because none of the New Testament writers seem to have any particular perspective on judgement of the nations per se, it is assumed that it is “old hat.” I have encountered may Christians that maintain that, because we are “in a time of grace,” God simply no longer acts in the world as judge of unbelievers. Neither people groups, or governments or complete nations are judged. They hold that this is not the day of God’s judgement and this will only happen at the end of the age when Christ returns. They quote “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them one from another” (Mat 25.32). To this approach I answer that the atoning blood of Christ truly would remove the sins of the whole world if the whole world repented, whether they repented as six billion individuals, or whether they repented in unison as respective citizens of respective nations. The blood has the power and value to deal with the sins of every person that has ever lived and every nation that has ever existed, but without repentance the impact of redemption will not be felt or experienced by anybody anywhere. No repentance, no salvation – and that truth works for individuals and/or any group in God’s collectives, whether it be families, clans, tribes, races or nations.  So I discount this theory that claims that because of Calvary there will be no judgement of the nations. Final judgement of us all, of all nations, and of the whole of creation is a future fact of existence. I think many of us may joke, jest and be jolly about the reality of death, judgement, heaven and hell and end up – to put it very mildly – somewhat foolish, disappointed and lost.

 

There are also those who claim that the idea of nations coming under the guillotine of God’s judgement is nothing but an Old Testament concept that is irrelevant to New Testament times. They make this claim because the Old Testament is full of the idea of God’s judgement against godless nations, while the New Testament does not even mention the idea. “God is Love,” is the cry of many, and with the accompanying inability of many to see God’s judgement working in harmony with God’s love there is a residual huge swathe of Christians that say that judgement of any kind is not in the divine agenda. I feel sorry for such short sightedness. Pathetically pseudo academic exegesis of the bible has made shipwreck of the faith of many.

 

END 1So, how do we come to biblical conclusions on the subject? What were the reasons given in the Old Testament that warranted the destruction of the likes of Assyria, Babylon, Edom, Moab and the like, and then of course, generations earlier the infamous destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?  (And just to make sure that I am not missing anybody out, we have to include Israel in the list of those that have seen dissolution and national dissipation. The fact that Israel have been resurrected as a nation state leads us to another subject that we shall highlight another time)

 

God’s ultimate judgement is a final thing. God is the judge of all. He needs to be seen as the Almighty, All-knowing, All-powerful Judge. He judges like no other because He is similar to no other. He is God. His decisions are perfect. His actions are flawless. It is nothing but a sick joke when people play around with their eternal destinies simply because the divine eternal mind of God does not fit in with human beings and their temporary, temporal, parochial mind sets concerning the way things should be. God judges. His ultimate judgement on any issue is simply final and not to be trifled with. It is always wiser to listen to what God says. Reader, we get into heaven on His terms not ours. Turning Him down simply because the teaching of the Bible does not fit in for your friends, neighbours and dearly beloved family members cannot change the realities of the cosmos.

 

Of itself, sickness in this world is almost never His judgement. I simply do not believe God makes people ill or sick in order to teach people some great truth. I believe that on biblical grounds. Why do I take such a stand? Because He has promised to heal, he declares Himself to be “Yahweh The Healer” (Exodus 15:26), and Christ Himself healed all that came to Him. I cannot see how God could inflict sickness for any developmental or tuitional reason. I reject the thought totally. However, I do believe He occasionally strikes people down in final Judgement, and that may be via the gateway of sickness. In the book of Acts it was not the devil that struck Herod down, but God Himself. The book actually says so (Acts 12:23). That was the divinely actioned final judgement on Herod. His speech to the people and his inner response to the people declaring, “It is the voice of a God,” crossed a line in the eyes and response of the Almighty, and the king dropped on the spot.

 

Man with END IS NIGH sign: 'No I can't make it next Friday. How about a week Tuesday?'Judgement – meaning final judgement, is when God hands over the impenitent nation, nations or groups of nations, over to a hardening of their conglomerate mind, heart and attitude while still in this life and then He acts by bringing judgement upon that group. Final judgement comes upon individuals also, of course. Pharaoh in the book of Exodus was judged in that way, as was King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. The Bible tells us, as well as extra biblical history, that God punishes nations in historical accounts, both gentile nations as well as historical Israel. It’s a hard pill to swallow and a huge philosophy to circumnavigate if one wishes to get hold of the truth concerning God’s judgement upon various nations and ultimately upon each individual soul. It is much easier to say that God has stopped dealing with Israel or the nations of the world in this manner. Easier yes, but totally untrue. The fact is that the vast majority of the Old Testament consists of divine intervention in judgement upon many nations – including Israel. We need to take the Old Testament template and hold it up to the kingdoms and states of the world as we read the relevant scriptures.

 

The overriding perspective of scripture concerning this issue has several key points of revelation to it.

 

  1. God is clearly stated to be the Almighty Sovereign over all nations – none excepted – and that He rules and guides them all for His own His purposes.
  2. His purposes past, present and future include the nation of Israel. In fact Israel is at the heart of the divine world programme.
  3. God tolerates sin in as much as the perpetrators of sin are allowed to continue in particular pathways in relation to all nations. As the rest of the unbelieving world sees things, many conclude that He seems to wink at it. However, He never winks at sin but adds up the account of the depth and volume of evil in a nation’s spiritual gut, right up to the point that God judges to be a sort of critical mass. At that point judgement becomes a necessity. When this divinely marked and noted saturation point is arrived at, He then directly acts and brings calamity and even national annihilation upon some. With some it may be a temporary removal from the scene of time waiting for a resurrection experience to take place. Israel, for instance, has been resurrected. Egypt shall be raised again into a gloriously righteous nation greater than it was in biblical days (we shall explain this in later pages) as well as others.
  4. The Bible lists the kinds of iniquity God has in mind when He mentions “the wickedness of the nations.”
  5. An essential truth that needs to be the wallpaper of all our thoughts on this subject and the oxygen of all our emotions in dissecting this issue is the fact that it is the love of God that is the solid foundation of all His actions whether we agree with them or not. He knows more than us, He sees more than us, He loves more than us, and for human beings to argue against His activities is as ridiculous as anything that can be conceived us. 18 ounces of us is brain. He owns the cosmos and is infinite in all knowledge and understanding, and many are damned and lost because they think they are cleverer than Him, and that He is wrong.

 

More to come in Isaiah 13.

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93. What the Prophet Sees is What the Prophet Knows. Yet at times he sees what he does not understand.

Isaiah 13

 

0001Prophecy is a wonderful mystery. I love it. I dearly love to plough through the writings of the Old Testament prophets for long “read-ins.” Such energy! Such insight! Such breadth of perception! Such glorious inspiration! Christ Himself referred to them and dwelt on them continually. We need to do the same. The New Testament message is fully contained in the Old.

 

I have learned a lot about the prophetic gift through the years, but I find that the more I learn, the more astounded I am by what I do not know.  Prophecy is so gloriously supernatural that the unlearned and cynics make comments that deride the entire presentation of scripture about the subject. Without prophecy we would have no idea where the world is going – and we only know where it is going because of the prophetic gift by the Spirit of God. I know very little about the whole subject of biblical prophecy, but a cringe with horror when I hear high flying academics make sweeping statements concerning the historical writing prophets that wreak to me of rottenness and untruths that arise simply because of their claims of academic excellence. Let me explain further.

 

Prophecy is so extreme to so many Christian believers that, like healing and or deliverance, many believers think that the entire issue of the miraculous wrought by God Himself finally died when the apostle John went home to his reward (It is widely accepted that the Apostle John was the last of the twelve apostles of Christ to die).  Other sections of the body of Christ seem to doubtfully teach that when the word “prophecy” is used in the New Testament, it often really means “inspired preaching.”  When prophecy is plainly used in the Old Testament, many academics make illogical statements about its parameters. For instance some feel the need to say that because Isaiah made statements concerning Babylon and its huge empire in its greatness being overthrown, and because we are well aware that Babylon was a second rate small nation in the days that we know Isaiah was alive, it is “obvious” that a mysterious “somebody else” must have written sections like Isaiah 13. “The prophet Isaiah obviously could not possibly have predicted the fall of the great empire of Babylon before the nation ever became an empire.” Really? What parameters of logic are the academics that say these things using? If Enoch, circa 5,000 BC could predict the second coming of Christ before the first advent had even taken place, and if Isaiah could have predicted the crucifixion of Christ circa 700 BC before the hideous idea of crucifiction had come to anybody, why should it even be questioned when Isaiah predicts the fall of the great power of Babylon a mere century or so before its rise to power.

 

 

In fact, the same principle holds when the academic authorities tell us that Isaiah could not have written the last twenty seven chapters of the prophetic book that bears his name because it is commonly held that those twenty seven chapters were homing in on the return of the exiled nation of Israel from the Babylonian exile before the ugly force of Babylon was big enough to defeat them and exile them. Methinks that those academics and so called “experts” that offer such explanations have allowed much learning to have made them not so much mad as a little slow and dull of heart.

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If prophecy is miraculous – and it is. If prophecy is the Spirit of Yahweh speaking through a submissive human being, and states what is going to happen in the future – and I believe it is; why should we be unbelieving when Isaiah predicts the name of a Medo-Persion king before the Medo Persian coalition was even thought of, never mind created, prior to Babylon’s rise.

 

Isaiah saw the future. He saw the collapse of Assyria and the rise of Babylon. He saw the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire – as did Daniel. I offer no in depth analysis as to what, why, how or where. Frankly I find it academically easier to believe and grasp when I picture Isaiah sat in Jerusalem – possibly knowing all about the world’s current affairs in his day, or in principle also, conceivably knowing nothing at all beyond what the people on the street were gossiping about hearing the voice of God. I see from what the prophets write, and what Jesus and the apostles say about what the prophets wrote, that Isaiah saw Christ in heaven. I read that there was some content of what the prophets of God espoused that they simply did not understand the contents of their own discourse.

 

It also seems a little strange that the bookworms that doubt the possibility of Isaiah seeing a century or more into his future without some Jewish scribe having cheated and added some statements after things had taken place, do not attempt to compare the apostle John seeing things two millennia before they have taken place, and have not yet come to pass. Get out of that one you illogical faith destroyers.

 

Much learning doth certainly make some of the academics a little mad I think. Why on earth such a miraculous force as God given prophecy should confuse the great brains and send them into unbelieving free fall I know not. (Then again . . . perhaps we all know why)

 

I am saying all this as we start to swim in the waters of Isaiah 13. In this chapter Isaiah is predicting and expanding on the downfall of Babylon, an empire that was not in existence at the point of time that Isaiah uttered and/or wrote the words. It is amazing! But if we believe that prophecy is indeed a gift of God amongst people of His choosing, people who know God, trust God and say out loud and write on parchment all that the Spirit of God says to them, then insights that accurately portray centuries in the future are simply not to be trifled with.

 

To add to the impact of the writings of the prophets, they deliver prophecies that are for their own generations as well as for the future. The validation and ratification of things they have spoken into their own generations exponentially adds to the power, the truthfulness and the divine nature of those things predicted and seen. For example, if I lived in Isaiah’s day, and knew how he spoke to Ahaz in Isaiah 7 and predicted that neither Aram nor the Northern Kingdom of Israel would be able to remove him from being king, but would both be annihilated as nation states and would both be exiled – and then I heard how it had happened exactly as he had prophesied, I am absolutely sure his statements of a coming Messiah would be warmly accepted as a future fact because of Isaiah’s character and credibility  gained in the prophetic realm. How could anything be dull when one was hearing Isaiah predict and prophesy?

 

Added to that story, imagine Isaiah’s reputation, kudos and credibility score after Sennacharib surrounded Jerusalem with 200,000 soldiers (give or take a few) making disgusting threats and taunts about King Hezekiah, the lack of idols to worship, and the weak and insipid nature of Yahweh. Oh dear! To say that the Assyrians had crossed a line and had entered territory from which very few come back alive would be a huge understatement. They laughed in God’s face, and so Yahweh whispered in Isaiah’s ear. Does God do anything without informing his prophets? (Amos 3:7) Isaiah announced to Hezekiah that he could sleep easy in his bed that night and that Yahweh would do something on Jerusalem’s behalf that would close the issue. That night an angel of the Lord slew 180,000 assyrian soldiers that were camped around Jerusalem, and so the Assyrians left. One could be within the bonds of truth to say Assyria fled from the wrath of the Almighty. (See Isaiah chapters 35-39)

 

 

Who said the Old Testament prophets were boring?

 

 

The greatness of the contribution of the so called Major and Minor prophets to our understanding of God and His ways, His purpose for the future of both Jews and Gentiles, and the ongoing progress of the Kingdom of God is truly phenomenal. And of all the greatness of the writing prophets, Isaiah is generally accepted as the greatest of the greats in as far as his contribution to our understanding and doctrinal insights are concerned. Isaiah is quoted more in the New Testament than any other of the Old Testament prophets. Hail Isaiah!

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