Concerning Babylon: Isaiah 46-48 (3)
Pray Psalm 79.8, 9.
Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us!
Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us,
For we have been brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of Your name;
And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
For Your name’s sake!
Read Isaiah 47.1-15.
1. Why did God raise up the nation of Babylon? Why was He now promising to set them down?
2. How can you see that Babylon had set itself up as God?
This brief message to Babylon is really a word of comfort and hope to Israel. It comes to the Babylonians from God, the Lord of hosts, Who is the Redeemer and Holy One of His people (v. 4). This announcement to the Babylonians serves as a reminder to the people of Israel, who will shortly be carried away captive to Babylon for 70 years.
But Babylon will be judged. They were a proud and idolatrous nation, devoted to the pleasures gained from conquering other nations. They foolishly believed they could invade, subject, plunder, and destroy peoples – such as the people of Judah and Jerusalem – without any accountability, as though they were a law unto themselves (v. 10). They regarded themselves as the ultimate authority and power, but they would learn the hard way that God can quickly make “the Lady of Kingdoms” into a grieving widow and shamed servant (vv. 5, 7, 9, 2, 3).
The Babylonians trusted in their wise men, astrologers, and mediums. God will bring all those vain counselors to naught; none will be able to save Babylon from God’s anointed one, Cyrus (vv. 12-15).
The people of Judah and Jerusalem should therefore take hope. Many of them will live to see the fall of Babylon, and to be returned to Jerusalem at the decree of Cyrus. All should trust in the Lord, hope in Him, continue in their calling as His people, and not lose hope.
1. Are we ever tempted to think we can get away with sin, and no one will know? Whenever we find ourselves thinking that way, what should we do?
2. If we are not to live as though we are a law unto ourselves, by what law should we live? The Law of God cannot save us, but can we be saved without it? Explain.
3. Imagine how shocking it must have been to the world of that day to see the “Lady of Kingdoms” reduced to rubble and shame. Is God still able to do such things with the nations of the world? Explain.
In the other nations likewise, there are people who choose an iniquitous law, he says, but not all embrace this mode of conduct. For your part, you studied iniquity and you practiced the extreme of impiety as if it were the height of piety; therefore you will not enjoy salvation. As for us, instructed by their punishment, let us procure salvation, and may their destruction turn to our advantage! Theodoret of Cyr (393-466 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 14.47.15
Lord, keep me from thinking that I can do what I want, and that no one will know; instead, help me always to…
Pray Psalm 79.
God can bring judgment on the nations of the world. He can bring judgment on His people as well. Pray that God will cleanse us of all worldly ways and desires, and set our hearts on Him in fear, love, and hope.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 79 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
O God the nations all Your inheritance have spoiled!
Your City have they ruined, Your temple they have soiled!
Your servants’ bodies all to the birds of heav’n are thrown;
The flesh of all Your faithful the jaws of beasts now own.
The blood of faithful servants like water flows around;
And none are there Your saints to commit into the ground.
Our neighbors mock and scorn us: How long, O Lord, how long?
How long will You be angry and scorn our mournful song?
Pour out, O Lord, Your wrath on all who deny Your Name;
Who trust You not nor seek You, bring down to deepest shame!
For they have with great rancor Your precious saints devoured;
Lay waste their habitation at this late dreadful hour.
Why should the nations mock and say, “Where now is their God?”
Let there be known among them harsh vengeance for our blood!
Hear, Lord, our groans and sighing; preserve us by Your pow’r.
For we are fairly dying each day and hour by hour.
Reproach those who reproach us with judgment sevenfold!
Let thanks and praise to You by Your precious flock be told.
We are Your sheep, O Savior, we thank You all our days.
Look on us with Your favor as we declare Your praise.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).