Isaiah was granted visions from God that involved the immediate and the future of Judah. Isaiah was seeing things that would be hard to describe because he would be looking thousands of years ahead into the future.
Babylon is both a religious and political system and represents the pride of man who says that they do not need God and it is the first place that man began to worship themselves. . (Genesis 11). In the book of Revelation one out of every ten verses concerns Babylon and two entire chapters (17-18) are devoted to this city and its destruction. Babylon is the most mentioned city in the Bible other than Jerusalem and is referred to 300 times and is located where modern Iraq is today.
The prophecy that Isaiah talks about in these passages have not been fully realized so many people think that these verses pertain to the End Times. Zechariah 5:5-11 talks about how the prophet Zechariah saw a future time when Babylon would fall and that was written 20 years after the Medo- Persian empire destroyed Babylon. The thought is Babylon will become a strong city again as some point and face a greater destruction that has not been witnessed yet.
“From the time of Genesis 10-11, Babylon has represented both a city and the religious system that arose in that city. Babylon is a literal geographical location on the Euphrates River, but it also represents the false religious system that began at the tower of Babel when, for the first time, man organized a religion in rebellion against God. Babylon is the birthplace of worldwide religion. The false religion spread out from there to all the other major nations of the earth.” The End, Mark Hitchcock, Pg 367)
When speaking of Babylon we are speaking about more than a city or government we are talking about a world belief system that is anti-God. One day God is going to wipe out not only the city of Babylon but its world belief system as well. Isaiah encourages the people who would walk through the dark days as a nation to encourage them to stay focused on the sovereignty of God.
Isaiah 13:17- 20Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. 18 Their bows will slaughter[d] the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children. 19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. 20 It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
1) When Babylon falls it will be a work of God
“I am going to stir up against them” Up to this point the Medes were not really mentioned in history and just a quiet nation but God is going to stir them up to come and punish Babylon. This was done in 539 B.C. which is typical of prophets showing short term and long term prophecies. The Medes could not be bought because they were not motivated by money but were only set on being destructive. They showed no mercy to anyone they faced. The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied about this as well.
Jeremiah 51:11 Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields! The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.
God compares them to Sodom and Gomorrah which were two cities that gave into every kind of sin and pleasure and God overthrew them suddenly and completely. A sudden destruction of Babylon has not happened yet in history only a slow depleting one which is why many think that Babylon will be rebuilt and destroyed later. What we can count on is that God will destroy the proud and the disobedient that pay no attention to God or His ways. We must remember that people have been led astray by a world belief system that is going to bring them into judgment with God so we need to continue to have mercy and love for the very people that in their wickedness harm us. If Jesus from the cross prayed “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) then we need to have the same prayers for our world because people are blinded by the god of this age. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Isaiah 13: 21-22 But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches[e] will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. 22 Hyenas[f] will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.
The book of Revelation says something very similar to what the book of Isaiah prophesied about.
Revelation 18:2 And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
One day God will bring the total destruction of not only the city of Babylon but its world religion as well.
Isaiah’s main goal was not to give his audience an exact date but the reassurance that God sees and will punish those who have oppressed and destroyed His people. We can know that one day the world system will be destroyed by God and those who followed in its way will be destroyed.
Isaiah 14:1-2 For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. 2 And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the Lord’s land as male and female slaves.[a] They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.
2) When Babylon Falls God will show Compassion to His Children
Some of the aspects we love about God is that He is love, He is mercy, He is grace and He is compassionate toward His children.
Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
God uses the analogy of a father to help people see who He is. This is why the breakdown of the family and the fact that God put a father and Mother in a home is so important. Even though our earthly fathers and mothers are not perfect we all still know what a mom and dad should be and we can know that God is perfectly demonstrated in a Father and a Mother.
God’s judgment against those who committed evil against His children will now lead to compassion for those who were oppressed. Later prophecies will expand on this hope we can have. (Isaiah 45:14-17; 49:22-23; 60:1-8; 61:5-7; 66:20) God will reverse the roles of those who are the oppressors and the oppressed. God has a Land waiting for those who put their faith in Him.
John 14:1-3 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Our focus is not on this place but on our future home with Jesus Christ. Home is not an address but where your loved ones are. If you loved ones move you still go to that place because they are there. Heaven is Heaven not because of all the things the Bible tells us about it but because God is there and we will be in a perfect relationship with Him.
One of things we can count on is that God sees all that you are going through He is going to make all these things disappear and be remembered no more. Isaiah 65:17 says the former things will not be remembered so whatever you are walking through or will walk through in this world will not compare to what God has in store for those who love Him. (Romans 8:18)
Isaiah 14:3 When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve,
3) When Babylon falls you will find rest
“When the Lord has given you rest” indicates that this is something we will receive in the future.
Hebrews 4:8-10 For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
There is a future day when we will be with God in rest from our sin, from death, from disease and from everything else that tends to bring us sleepless nights. This is the promise that we look forward to when God sets the world back the way He originally created it in Genesis. Right now we are living in a world of pain, turmoil and hard work because of the sin of Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3:16-19 To the woman he said,“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to[f] your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,… ‘
- Suffering: Experiencing the world that is corrupted by sin
- Turmoil: When life is uncertain and the things you counted on are destroyed.
- Hard Work: Same terminology of forced labor or slavery
We suffer because of sin in this world and we experience turmoil because the things in this world that we place our hope in get destroyed. Isaiah is telling them that there will be a day when there will be no more sin, pain, heartache and the struggles we have with sin.
Romans 7:15, 21-25 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
One day this entire struggle that the apostle Paul talked about will be gone forever. We may battle our fleshly patterns here on earth but a day is coming when we will not only want to obey the Lord but we will do so freely without the fallen nature of our flesh. We will no longer live in a world that is corrupted by sin and our world and the relationships we have will be perfect. Our day of rest is coming when we will stand before God free and clear because of the work of Christ but until that time we need to pray for and share the love of Christ with others so they too can enter into the rest they are so desperately seeking.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
People will not find rest for their souls in Babylon so we must tell them where they can find it. But first have you found rest for your soul through Jesus Christ? Jesus saw what the religious leaders were doing to people and making the way to God impossible but Jesus promises us that we can be at rest knowing that He is the one who paid it all on our behalf if we place our faith in Him. When we die we do not have to wonder if we are going to make it to Heaven and spend eternity with God we can know for sure. (1 John 5:13)
Revelation 18:10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon For in a single hour your judgment has come.”
Alas is a word for unhappiness or concern. The worlds system called Babylon will one day end and it will be a sad day for many people who face the judgment of God thinking that the religions of the world were the answer. We need to have a broken heart for the world and not allow their actions to embitter us toward them or fall to their deceptive ways. Are you searching in Babylon for peace? You will not find it here. Babylon (The Worlds system) will fall one day and then people will see the truth. The evil, pain, suffering and hard labor will one day all be gone. Until then we can trust that there is a better day waiting for those who put their trust in Christ.