"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Cor 1:3-4
Monday, August 1, 2016
Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 34
Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah Day 34
Isaiah prophesies about Babylon, a nation that is not yet strong enough to overcome Judah. At the time of his prophecy it's Assyria that Judah fears and it's Assyria that conquers the northern kingdom of Israel. But God lets the people know, about a hundred years before it happens, that Babylon is coming. He lets them know that He will judge Babylon for her cruelty. And He lets them know that a day is coming when all cruelty and arrogance will be judged.
"A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw: 'Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned My warriors to carry out My wrath---those who rejoice in My triumph.'" (Isaiah 13:1-3) The prophecy against Babylon is twofold. It involves literal Babylon, the site of the Tower of Babel, man's first organized rebellion against God. It also involves a spiritual Babylon, the spirit of rebellion in all those who live their lives in opposition to God. Isaiah prophesies the downfall of a nation that is not yet a superpower and he also prophecies the downfall of all that boasts itself against the Lord.
"Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens---the Lord and the weapons of His wrath---to destroy the whole country." (Isaiah 13:4-5) The Lord is in charge of this battle. He will use Babylon as an instrument of discipline against Judah but He will also bring instruments of discipline against Babylon. In a world that often feels like it's spiraling out of control, it's good for us to remember that God is still in charge. Kingdoms rise according to His purposes and kingdoms fall according to His purposes.
"Wait, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame." (Isaiah 13:6-8) Isaiah looks beyond the destruction of literal Babylon to the destruction of spiritual Babylon, the downfall of the pride and arrogance in the heart of man that causes him to exalt himself rather than the Creator. The judgment the wicked did not believe in will come and they will be stricken with shock and terror.
"See, the day of the Lord is coming---a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger---to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light." (Isaiah 13:9-10) Those who have lived their lives in rejection of the light of the Lord will inherit the darkness described here. The prophet Zephaniah said of this future day, "That day will be a day of wrath---a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness---a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers." (Zephaniah 1:15-16) The prophet Amos warned, "Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light---pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?" (Amos 5:20) The prophet Joel described that day like this, "Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand---a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness." (Joel 2:1b-2a) The Lord Jesus, speaking of the Great Tribulation and the day of the Lord's wrath, said, "Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'" (Matthew 24:29)
Isaiah's words here in Chapter 13 are meant to comfort the people in a time that is near and in a time that is far in the future. The cruelty of their oppressors will be judged and so too will the cruelty that has existed since man first fell from grace. "I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless." (Isaiah 13:11)
God is just. Not one act of wickedness has escaped His notice. Just a quick scan of the news headlines each morning is enough to make us feel like the world is falling into chaos. Inhumane deeds are perpetrated upon the helpless. Children and the elderly and the handicapped are abused by their caretakers. The animal kingdom is oppressed and neglected. The newsfeeds are full of fresh horrors every day. But God is just. A day is coming when every wicked deed will be judged. A day is coming when every secret thing will be brought to light. It will be a day of darkness for those who "loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil". (John 3:19b) The Lord gave us the promise of His day of wrath so we would know that every depraved and despicable act of cruelty will be judged.
We who are in Christ need have no fear of that dark day. "But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-9)
We are to live lives that reflect who we are: the children of God, the children of the day. Our lives are to be a testimony to a dark world that there is a better way, a way of salvation, and in so doing we may persuade our fellow man to turn from the darkness to the light. The Lord has reserved a day of judgment and nobody but Him knows the day and the hour. So we, the children of the day, must be about our Father's business while there is still time to light the way for others.