Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 36

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 36

Isaiah continues with his prophecy against Babylon. "Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land." (Isaiah 13:14) At the overthrow of Babylon, her military forces both hired and conscripted will desert the nation and flee toward their original homelands.

"Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword." (Isaiah 13:15) The soldiers who don't manage to escape will be pierced by the conqueror.

"Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated." (Isaiah 13:16) Barbaric as it sounds, throughout ancient history it was a common practice of pagan nations to murder the infants of the nation they conquered by dashing their heads against the walls of the city. Then they would have their way with the women, an assault by the winning soldiers which still occurs in some parts of the world following a battle. They are claiming the wives of the defeated as their own and they are destroying the descendants, (the "name"), of the defeated, by killing their children. After Judah was taken captive to Babylon, the unnamed author of Psalm 137 predicted this future atrocity upon Babylon, their enemy, "Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks." (Psalm 137:8-9) This psalm was written as the brokenhearted and captured people sat and wept by the rivers of Babylon. They wanted to see the sins of Babylon visited upon her. They wanted to see Babylon reap what she had sown. In today's context it may be hard for us to imagine the desire of the Judeans to see the children of Babylon dashed against the rocks, but I believe this anguished cry comes from shattered hearts, from grieving parents who saw their own children killed before their very eyes. They are saying to their monstrous conqueror, "May you experience this same grief! May you know what it's like to see your children slaughtered in front of you!"

The Lord goes on to say through the prophet Isaiah, "See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children." (Isaiah 13:17-18) The Medes were once an ally of Babylon against Assyria but somewhere around 550-553BC Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Medes and created the Medo-Persian Empire which later overthrew Babylon in 539BC. Thus the Medes became an instrument of Babylon's defeat. The historical records of Babylon's collapse indicate that she surrendered without a fight. While it's true the Medes did not fight with Cyrus in return for money, as Isaiah predicted, there is no record of them dashing Babylon's children against the stones. Since Chapter 13 contains prophecies against the literal Babylon of ancient times along with future prophecies against spiritual Babylon of the end times, verse 16 is believed to be something that will come true in the last days during the Great Tribulation. In Revelation we find a revived Babylon, a wicked center of world commerce, a spiritually depraved generation which will exist under Antichrist. Some Bible scholars believe the Antichrist's capitol will be rebuilt on the original site of Babylon's capitol, making it a literal revival of that ancient city. Others believe Antichrist will headquarter himself at Jerusalem, defiling the temple by setting up his own image there and declaring himself God, thus making Jerusalem a type of Babylon: a spiritual wasteland. 

Whatever the case, ancient Babylon has long been symbolic of a depraved world system, a spirit which is rebellious toward the authority of God, a carnal mind-set that exalts the creature rather than the Creator. Therefore both literal Babylon and spiritual Babylon will fall and be judged by a holy God. This is why Isaiah says, "Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged." (Isaiah 13:19-22) It wasn't until the third century BC that Babylon's walls fell into decay and then the area eventually became depopulated by about the seventh century AD. Once the greatest nation on earth, it lies in ruins today. The location of the Tower of Babel, man's first rebellion against God, could not stand against His determination to bring it down. Likewise, the spiritual Babylon of the last days will fall just as God says it will. When Christ reigns from the throne of David, the spirit of rebellion itself will fall. No longer will man seek to lift himself above God. No longer will man desire to go his own way. 

When Christ comes to reign forever, He will judge the wicked and earth will be restored to an Eden-like glory. There will be no more curse, no more thorns in the ground, no more enmity between man and the animal kingdom, no more preying of the animals upon each other. Wars will cease and peace will be the law of the land. We will bask in the light of our Redeemer, beholding the face of the One who purchased our souls back from the dead. We will rejoice in His love and righteousness forever and ever in a perfect world where no crime will ever be committed and no tear will ever slip from our eyes. 

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