Concerning Babylon: Isaiah 46-48 (7)
Pray Psalm 118.1.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Review Isaiah chapters 46-48.
1. How did Babylon fit into God’s plan for His people?
2. Why did God humble Babylon? What did He want His people to learn from this?
The people of Judah and Jerusalem knew that Babylon was growing in power. They also knew that Isaiah had prophesied that Babylon was coming to destroy Jerusalem and to take the people captive in a foreign land. They had witnessed his prophecies come to pass against the northern kingdom of Israel and the Assyrians, and so they had every reason to believe that what he proclaimed concerning them would be equally certain. The prospect of this must have been frightening. Can you imagine trying to work or sleep or carry on normal activities, all the while wondering when this calamity would come to pass?
But it was not God’s purpose to torment His people. Yes, He would bring His wrath and judgment against them because they had preferred the idols of surrounding nations to trusting in Him. But this would be a temporary season of discipline. Isaiah spoke words of comfort to the people, assuring them that Babylon was merely serving God’s purposes; and when He had finished with them, they would be humbled for their prideful ways by God’s anointed servant, Cyrus, king of Persia.
The thrust of these chapters is to encourage the people of God to trust in His Word, turn from their idolatrous ways, and cling to Him and His promises. From ancient days God had spoken to His people, and His Word had never failed. Israel must believe the same in their day, even as they prepared for their great trial in Babylon.
God promised to return His people to Jerusalem. Beyond that, He promised a salvation that would come from His Anointed One, by the work of His Spirit, in which deliverance and restoration would come to His people as never before. When they saw the work of Cyrus in delivering them from Babylon, then they would remember that a greater day of salvation was yet to come. Just how that day would work out, and what lay beyond even that, Isaiah will unfold in the remaining chapters of his book.
1. God called His people to repent of their sins. What is repentance, and is it still necessary today?
2. Babylon’s great sin was its pride, believing itself to be God. Read Daniel 4. Nebuchadnezzar embodied the pride of Babylon. But God dealt with him differently than he did the nation as a whole. Why?
3. What’s your primary takeaway from Isaiah 46-48?
Justly, therefore, does Isaiah reproach the Jews that, if they had not defrauded themselves of the benefit of teaching, nothing that was profitable for their salvation would have been hidden from them. And if these things were said of the Law, that the Lord, by means of it, “taught his people profitably,” what shall we say of the Gospel, in which everything that is profitable for us is very fully explained? John Calvin (1509-1564 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 48.17
Help me to hear You speaking to me in Your Word, O Lord, that I might know You truly and …
Pray Psalm 118.
Let this psalm lead you to count the Lord’s blessings to you, and to renew you in your trust and confidence in His Word.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 118 (St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
Thank the Lord, His love endures! All to whom His love is sure,
all who fear Him day by day, let them thanks and praise now say!
Out of my distress I cry; He will hear me from on high.
He will free me from all fear. What can man do to me here?
For the Lord stands next to me; He will give me victory!
Over all who hate my life I will triumph through the strife!
In His grace I refuge find; in His steadfast love so kind.
Trust not princes, trust not men – Christ shall be our haven then!
Praise the Lord, in whose great Name all His foes are brought to shame!
Though they swarmed on every side, in God’s Name He dashed their pride!
Like a fire His judgment goes to consume His ardent foes;
Though they pushed against Him hard, He was rescued by the Lord.
In the Savior we are strong! He is all our strength and song!
To His grace now raise your voice; in His righteousness rejoice!
For the Lord does valiantly; we shall live eternally.
Praise His works with all your breath, you whom He redeems from death.
All who know Christ’s righteousness His great Name now thank and bless!
Though His gate full righteous is, He our saving mercy is.
Cast aside and left alone, Christ is now our Cornerstone!
God has made His Son and Word our salvation: Praise the Lord!
Blessed are they who in His Name come and Jesus’ grace proclaim.
God His light upon us shines in the Savior’s sacrifice.
Praise and thanks to You, O Lord; we extol Your holy Word!
Thanks to You for You are good! Thanks to our great loving God!
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).