Sunday, August 7, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 40

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 40

We look at the remainder of Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon before moving on tomorrow into prophecies against other nations. Isaiah has been speaking out against the wickedness in the heart of Babylon's king and he has also been looking far into the future at the heart of a king of the end times. He has described the rebellious spirit of man and the rebellious pride of Satan who boasted against the Lord, believing he could be equal with him.

Right after Isaiah finishes relating the five "I will" statements from a disobedient heart, ending with, "I will make myself like the Most High," he says, "But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit." (Isaiah 14:15) Who can shake their fist in the face of God? Nobody! Not king, no matter how powerful. No man or woman, no matter how brilliant or wealthy. No fallen angel, no matter how brightly he once shone. 

"Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: 'Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?" (Isaiah 14:16-17) At one time Babylon was the most powerful nation on earth. Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, allied himself with his neighbors the Medes, Scythians, Persians and Cimmerians to relieve Babylon from Assyrian domination. He was successful in conquering the Assyrian capitol of Nineveh and sent his son Nebuchadnezzar out as general of the army to defeat the Egyptian and Assyrian armies who still maintained control over regions of Syria and Phoenicia. Nebuchadnezzar was successful in this endeavor and returned home in victory to claim the throne upon the death of his father. He demanded, and got, tribute from Damascus, Tyre, Sidon and Judah. In time some of these kings rebelled against the heavy taxes levied on them, including the king of Judah as we learned in our studies of the kings. Nebuchadnezzar came and stomped down hard on these rebellions, making about three different assaults against Judah until Jerusalem fell and the majority of the nation's citizens (all but the poorest and most unskilled laborers) were taken captive back to Babylon where they were kept until Cyrus of Persia set them free. So we see why, when Babylon's king meets the fate all mankind must meet, the fate of death, his fate is pondered by those who say, "Is this the man who once made kingdoms tremble?" It was not Nebuchadnezzar on the throne when Babylon fell, but the same spirit of making oneself greater than all men and all gods was present in Belshazzar, the king who feasted and blasphemously drank wine from vessels from the Lord's temple as the city fell. 

"All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again." (Isaiah 14:18-20) I don't know if this is a fulfilled prophecy regarding one of the literal kings of Babylon or if it is a prophecy about the world dictator of the end times. Nebuchadnezzar died, evidently of natural causes, following a long reign. But I wasn't able to find out much about his death or burial. Belshazzar is said to have died on the night Babylon fell, according to Daniel 5:30. The historical records of the Babylonians and the Persians claim the city surrendered without a fight but the historical records of the Greeks, along with the book of Daniel, indicate a battle was fought in which the king perished. If so, Belshazzar may be the king whose remains never lay in a tomb. But the king of this passage could be the Antichrist, or beast, of Revelation who is thrown bodily into the lake of fire when Christ comes and conquers him. Christ is seated on the warhorse of the Apostle John's prophecy in this passage, "Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and His army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur." (Revelation 19:19-20) Whether Isaiah's prophecy regards an ancient king or a king to come, in both these scenarios we find an end to the throne. When Isaiah says, "Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again," this may refer to the end of the rule of the Babylonians at the death of Belshazzar. Or it could refer to the cutting off of the reign of the Antichrist, who lost his throne and had no successor.

"'I will rise up against them,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'I will wipe out Babylon's name and survivors, her offspring and descendants,' declares the Lord. 'I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland; I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,' declares the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 14:22-23) Ancient Babylon is in ruins today. No man inhabits the fabulous structures built by her kings. Wild animals of the wilderness may camp in them overnight, but no king rules from them. 

Whether a man or Satan himself boasts pridefully against Almighty God, he will not prevail. God will have the last word. No king is too powerful to be conquered. No kingdom is too great to fall. Once the most powerful nation in the world, Babylon lies ruined today. Since the beginning of time many kings and many nations have risen and fallen but there is one kingdom which will stand forever: the kingdom of Christ our Savior. It is in Him we find what mankind has yearned for since the creation: a peace for our souls and a peace for our world. When the angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary with his stunning announcement of the coming Messiah and King, he promised her, "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; His kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:32-33) Amen! May Your kingdom come, Lord! You alone are worthy to reign and we long for the day when You sit on the throne and rule the world in righteousness.

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