Prophecies Concerning The Nations (13-27) OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS SECTION 1) To survey the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the nations surrounding Judah, related to the rise and fall of Babylon and restoration of Israel after her captivity 2) To glean the importance of an obedient trust in the Lord and waiting for His ultimate deliverance SUMMARY From prophetic utterances related to Judah and Jerusalem (chs. 1-12), Isaiah expands his horizon to include prophecies concerning the surrounding nations (chs. 13-27). Nearly all are introduced as a "burden" (e.g., 13:1; 15:1; 17:1). Barnes says "...the term is applied to those oracles or prophetic declarations which contain sentiments especially weighty and solemn; which are employed chiefly in denouncing wrath and calamity; and which, therefore, are represented as weighing down, or oppressing the mind and heart of the prophet." In pronouncing God's judgments on the nations, Isaiah reveals the Lord not only as the God of Israel, but the God who rules in all the nations of men (cf. Dan 5:18-21). The first "burden" pertains to Babylon (13:1-14:23), upon whom "the day of the Lord" is described in figurative terms depicting worldwide and universal calamities (13:9-13). The actual instrument of God's judgment is identified as the Medes (13:17), who together with the Persians did in fact conquer Babylon (cf. Dan 5:28-31). The fall of Babylon will result in Israel's restoration, prompting a proverb to be sung against the king of Babylon (14:3-4) whose arrogance would lead him to the depths of Sheol. Judgment on Assyria is pronounced (14:24-27), the dominant empire in the days of Isaiah about which much has already been said (cf. 10:5-19), with a brief mention of how God would "break the Assyrian in My land", the fulfillment of which is later described by Isaiah (cf. 37:36-38). In the year that King Ahaz died, Isaiah received a burden against Philistia, Israel's longtime nemesis. They were not to rejoice over the death of their enemy's king, for their destruction was coming while the Lord would continue to uphold Zion, or Jerusalem (14:28-33). The judgment on Moab is next foretold (15:1-16:14), her destruction related to her pride (16:6-7). Unlike other prophecies that were general and indefinite, this one came with a definite time period in which it was to be fulfilled. The fall of Syria (Damascus) and Israel (Ephraim) are described together (17:1-14), appropriate in light of their alliance against Judah (cf. 7:1-2). The strongholds in the nations' capitals will become desolate. While a remnant of Israel will be spared, and men will turn from their idols back to God, trouble will be in store for those who sought to plunder God's people. Ethiopia, "the land shadowed with buzzing wings" will be chastised for seeking an alliance with a nation "tall and smooth of skin". Indeed, the very nation they sought help from would send a present to the Lord of Hosts (18:1-7). The burden against Egypt (19:1-25) is introduced by the figure of the Lord "riding on a swift cloud" as He comes in judgment. The actual nature of God's judgment is described as first civil war (19:2) and then foreign occupation (19:4). The Nile will turn foul, and the Lord will confound the famed wisdom of Egypt. But eventually Egypt would come to fear the Lord and even be blessed along with Israel and Assyria (19:24-25). The prophecies against Egypt and Ethiopia were reinforced by Isaiah being used by God to serve as a visible sign. For three years Isaiah had to walk barefoot and naked, depicting their future captivity by the king of Assyria (20:1-7). The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea comes next (21:1-10). Mention of Elam (Persia) and Media (the Medes) along with proclamation "Babylon is fallen, is fallen!" lead many commentators to suggest this is a proclamation against Babylon. It may describe the distress to be felt by the captives in the land of Babylon. A brief burden against Dumah (Edom) is mentioned (21:11-12), depicting the perplexity to be felt by them at that time. Likewise a brief burden against Arabia (21:13-17), in which the fall of the glory of Kedar (Arabia in general) is foretold. The burden against the Valley Of Vision (22:1-25) evidently refers to the city of Jerusalem. A siege is depicted, in which efforts to defend the city fail because they do not include God and heeding the calls to repent. The treasurer under King Hezekiah (Shebna) will be removed from office and replaced by Eliakim, God's servant. The last "burden" in this section pertains to the city of Tyre (23:1-18). Those who traded with her will be dismayed when they hear of her fall, a destruction to come at the hands of the Chaldeans. For seventy years Tyre will be forgotten, but then restored. The fruit of her "labor" will be devoted to the Lord and His people. This section ends with prophecies related to Judah in particular, apparently designed to comfort the faithful for the days ahead (24:1-27:13). God's judgment upon the land is depicted in worldwide terms, similar to those used to describe the judgment upon Babylon (24:1,3-6; cf. 13:9-11). While desolation will initially remove song and drink in the land, the remnant will glorify the Lord in song (24:1-16a). The judgment of the wicked who afflict the righteous will be inescapable and complete, and the Lord will reign on Mount Zion (24:16b-23). This leads the prophet to offer songs of praise for God's judgments, in which an ungodly city (Babylon?) is made a ruin and enemies (e.g., Moab) trampled down, while wonderful things will be done for God's people in His mountain and holy city (25:1-26:6). Isaiah reflects on God's judgments, expressing his trust and hope in God, pleading with his people to quietly wait for the Lord (26:7-21). When the Lord has slain the great serpent Leviathan (Babylon?), another song of the vineyard will be song about flourishing Israel (27:1-6; cf. 5:1-7). Whereas Israel received measured discipline, the enemies of Israel were to receive no mercy, and God's people from Egypt to Assyria would return to worship in the holy mount at Jerusalem (27:7-13). OUTLINE I. PROPHECIES CONCERNING VARIOUS NATIONS (13:1-23:18) A. JUDGMENT AGAINST BABYLON... 1. The judgment announced - 13:1-16 a. The summoning of the army for battle - 13:1-5 b. The coming destruction of "the day of the Lord" - 13:6-16 2. The instrument and extent of God's judgment - 13:17-22 a. He will stir up the Medes against them - 13:17-18 b. Babylon will be desolated like Sodom and Gomorrah - 13:19-22 3. The Lord's mercy on Israel - 14:1-2 a. The house of Jacob will be resettled in their own land - 14:1a b. Strangers will receive them and even serve them - 14:1b-2 4. The proverb (song) against Babylon's king - 14:3-21 a. To be sung when the Lord gives rest to Israel - 14:3-4a b. The oppressor's fall ends the cruelty of Babylon - 14:4b-6 c. The earth and trees break out into song - 14:7-8 d. Sheol is excited over its reception of the king - 14:9-11 e. The extent of the fall of the king of Babylon (Lucifer) - 14:12-17 f. The king will have a dishonorable burial, his children slaughtered - 14:18-21 5. Summation of God's judgment and desolation on Babylon - 14:22-23 B. JUDGMENT AGAINST ASSYRIA... 1. God's purpose is to destroy Assyria - 14:24-25 2. His purpose cannot be annulled - 14:26-27 C. JUDGMENT AGAINST PHILISTIA... 1. Despite the death of Ahaz, desolation will be total - 14:28-31 2. While Zion shall provide refuge for God's people - 14:32 D. JUDGMENT AGAINST MOAB... 1. Desolation and wailing foretold for the cities of Moab - 15:1-4 2. Even the Lord will cry for Moab, when drought and lions afflict the land - 15:5-9 3. Moab encouraged to make peace with Israel, show kindness to her outcasts; for mercy, justice and righteousness will come from One in the tabernacle of David - 16:1-5 4. Moab's notable pride and the coming desolation - 16:6-8 5. The Lord will bewail the destruction of Moab - 16:9-12 6. The time period set for Moab's judgment - 16:13-14 E. JUDGMENT AGAINST SYRIA AND ISRAEL... 1. The fall of Damascus (Syria) and Ephraim (Israel) foretold - 17:1-3 2. The glory of Jacob will wane, but a remnant will be spared - 17:4-6 3. In that day a man will return to the Lord, not to idols - 17:7-8 4. In that day the cities will be desolate, because Israel forgot her God - 17:9-11 5. The unexpected collapse of the nations who plunder - 17:12-14 F. JUDGMENT AGAINST ETHIOPIA... 1. Woe for trusting in diplomacy and alliances - 18:1-2 2. For the Lord will take care of the enemy in His own time f - 18:3-6 3. And the dreaded enemy (or potential ally) will eventually bring homage to the Lord - 18:7 G. JUDGMENT AGAINST EGYPT... 1. The Lord will bring civil strife and tyranny upon the nation - 19:1-4 2. The Nile will turn foul, devastating those who depend upon it - 19:5-10 3. The Lord will confound the famed Egyptian wisdom - 19:11-15 4. In that day Egypt will fear the Lord and the land of Judah - 19:16-17 5. In that day Egypt will turn to the Lord and be blessed along with Assyria - 19:18-25 H. ISAIAH - A SIGN AGAINST EGYPT AND ETHIOPIA... 1. Isaiah serves as a sign when Assyria invaded Ashdod - 20:1-4 a. By walking naked and barefoot for three years - 20:1-2 b. To portend the captivity of Egypt and Ethiopia - 20:3-4 2. To discourage placing hope in those nations for deliverance from Assyria - 20:5-6 I. JUDGMENT AGAINST BABYLON, EDOM, AND ARABIA... 1. The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea (Babylon) - 21:1-10 a. Like a whirlwind, Elam and Media (Persia) to plunder the land - 21:1-2 b. Isaiah distressed when he heard and saw that to come - 21:3-4 c. A watchman appointed, who reports the fall of Babylon - 21:5-9 d. To those (Judah?) who have experienced his threshing, Isaiah has declared what God has told him - 21:10 2. The burden against Dumah (Edom) - 21:11-12 a. Isaiah is inquired by those from Seir, "Watchman, what of the night?" - 21:11 b. His reply suggests their inquiry was not sincere; he calls for them to return (to God?) - 21:12 3. The burden against Arabia - 21:13-17 a. Judgment to involve fleeing caravans - 21:13-15 b. Within a year the glory of Kedar will fail - 21:16-17 J. JUDGMENT AGAINST JERUSALEM... 1. The city shall be under siege - 22:1-7 2. Efforts to defend the city fail to include God - 22:8-11 3. Judgment to come for their failure to heed calls for repentance - 22:12-14 4. Shebna (treasurer under King Hezekiah) to be removed - 22:15-19 5. The Lord to replace him with Eliakim, who will serve as a symbol of security - 22:20-24 6. Yes, the day will come when the peg (Shebna) will be removed - 22:25 K. JUDGMENT AGAINST TYRE... 1. The dismay of those who traded with Tyre when they hear of her fall - 23:1-7 2. Her destruction planned by the Lord, carried out by the Chaldeans - 23:8-14 3. For seventy years Tyre will be forgotten - 23:15a 4. Tyre will be restored, and her 'service' devoted to the Lord and His people - 23:15b-18 II. PROPHECIES CONCERNING JUDAH IN PARTICULAR (24:1-27:13) A. GOD'S JUDGMENT ON THE LAND... 1. Administered by the Lord, it is thorough - 24:1-3 2. Rendered to haughty people due to their disobedience - 24:4-6 3. Desolation removes song and drink - 24:7-12 4. The remnant will glorify the Lord in song - 24:13-16a 5. The prophet bewails being afflicted by the wicked, but proclaims their judgment will be inescapable and complete - 24: 16b-20 6. Following the judgment of His rivals, the Lord will reign on Mount Zion - 24:21-23 B. SONGS OF PRAISE FOR GOD'S JUDGMENT... 1. For overthrowing the ungodly city that oppressed His people - 25:1-5 2. For the wonderful things God will do for His people in His mountain - 25:6-9 3. For overthrowing Moab, typifying God's judgment on His enemies - 25:10-12 4. For the strong city of God in which the righteous will enter - 26:1-6 C. PRAYERFUL REFLECTION ON GOD'S JUDGMENTS... 1. The prophet's trust in God, while the wicked refuses - 26:7-11 2. The prophet's hope in the Lord's peace and restoration of the nation - 26:12-15 3. The prophet's confidence that all who trust in the Lord will rise from the dead - 26:16-19 4. The prophet's plea for his people to quietly wait for the Lord - 26:20-21 D. THE FUTURE PROSPERITY OF ZION... 1. In that day, Leviathan the great serpent will be destroyed - 27:1 2. In that day, another "song of the vineyard": Israel shall flourish - 27:2-6; cf. 5:1-7 3. Israel's punishment is in measure, only for a time - 27:7-9 4. Her enemies will receive no mercy - 27:10-11 5. In that day, the Lord will gather His people from Egypt and Assyria to worship in the holy mount at Jerusalem - 27:12-13 REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THIS SECTION 1) What is suggested as the theme of Isaiah chapters 13-27? - Prophecies Concerning The Nations 2) What are the two main divisions of this section? - Prophecies concerning various nations (13-23) - Prophecies concerning Judah in particular (24-27) 3) Against what nation does Isaiah prophecy first? (13:1) - Babylon 4) In announcing the judgment against Babylon, what does Isaiah say is "at hand"? (13:6) - The day of the Lord (cf. Isa 13:9) 5) In describing Babylon's judgment, how is it figuratively depicted? (13:9-13) - As a worldwide judgment, with universal calamities 6) Whom will God stir up against Babylon as part of this judgment? (13:17) - The Medes 7) What will be the end of the city of Babylon? (13:19-20) - It will be devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah; inhabited by wild beasts, and not man 8) What will happen to Jacob or Israel during this time? (14:1) - The Lord will show mercy, and take their captors captive 9) When Babylon falls, against whom shall Israel take a proverb? (14:3-4) - The king of Babylon 10) How is the judgment of this individual described? By what name is he called? (14:9-20) - Descending in shame to Sheol (hell); Lucifer, son of the morning 11) Against what nation does Isaiah prophecy next? What will God do? (14:24-25) - Assyria; break the Assyrian in His land 12) What nation's judgment described in the year Ahaz died? What will God do? (14:28-30) - Philistia; slay the remnant 13) Against what nation does Isaiah prophesy in chapters 15-16? - Moab 14) What was that nation's primary sin? What would happen within three years? (16:6-7,14) - Pride; the glory of Moab will be despised, the remnant small and feeble 15) Against what two nations does Isaiah prophesy in chapter 17? - Syria and Israel 16) What will happen to these two nations? (17:3-4) - The fortress will cease from Ephraim (Israel) and the kingdom from Damascus (Syria) - The remnant of Syria will be like the waning glory of Jacob (Israel) 17) What would happen as a result of this judgment? (17:7-8) - They would no longer look to their idols, but have respect for the Holy One of Israel 18) Why were their efforts to sow and harvest becoming a heap of ruins? (17:10-11) - They had forgotten the God of their salvation, the Rock of their stronghold 19) Against what nation is judgment proclaimed in chapter 18? - Ethiopia, the land shadowed with buzzing wings 20) To whom would this nation send ambassadors for help? (18:2) - A nation tall and smooth of skin (scattered and peeled, KJV) 21) What would the Lord do? Who would bring a present to Mount Zion? (18:5-7) - Destroy their crops, leave them for birds of prey and beasts of the earth - A people tall and smooth of skin 22) Against what nation is judgment proclaimed in chapter 19? - Egypt 23) How is the Lord depicted as coming in judgment upon this nation? (19:1) - Riding on a swift cloud 24) In what two forms would judgment against this nation take place? (19:2,4) - Civil war and foreign occupation 25) How are future blessings described for this and two other nations? (19:23-25) - A highway from Egypt to Assyria, with both nations blessed along with Israel 26) How did Isaiah serve as a sign against Egypt and Ethiopia? What did this symbolize? (20:2-4) - Walking barefoot and naked for three years; their captivity by the Assyrians 27) Against whom does Isaiah first prophesy in chapter 21? (21:1) - The Wilderness of the Sea 28) What two nations would be used to judge this nation? (21:2) - Elam (Persia) and Media (the Medes) 29) To which nation did this prophecy refer? (21:9) - Babylon ("Babylon is fallen, is fallen!") 30) Against what other two regions are judgments pronounced in chapter 21? (21:11,13) - Dumah (Edom) and Arabia 31) Against whom does Isaiah first prophecy in chapter 22? (22:1) - The Valley of Vision (Jerusalem) 32) How would the city be defeated? (22:1-11) - Not by battle, for the rulers will have fled; instead by siege 33) Why would God not protect the city? (22:12-14) - When He called for weeping and sackcloth (repentance), they replied with joy and gladness "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" 34) Against what individual was judgment pronounced in chapter 22? (22:15-19) - Shebna the steward, who would be driven from office into exile 35) Who would replace this individual? (22:20-21) - Eliakim the son of Hilkiah (cf. Isa 36:3,11,22; 37:2) 36) Against what city does Isaiah prophesy in chapter 23? - Tyre 37) How would others react to the fall of this city? (23:1,4,5) - The ships of Tarshish (Spain) would wail - The city of Sidon would be ashamed - The country of Egypt would be in agony 38) What nation would bring this destruction to this city? (23:13) - The Chaldeans (Babylon) 39) How long would this city be forgotten? (23:15) - Seventy years 40) Concerning whom do the prophecies of chapters 24-27 refer? (24:23; 25:6; 26:1; 27:13) - Judah, especially the faithful remnant; apparently written to comfort them during the coming invasions and difficult times to follow 41) What is first depicted in graphic terms? (24:1-6) - Calamities on the earth, in which few are left 42) When merriment ceases and the city destroyed, what shall the remnant do? (24:13-16) - Praise the majesty of the Lord from the ends of the earth 43) Shall those destined for judgment be able to escape? (24:17-18) - No, despite their efforts to flee 44) When the earth is shaken, the moon and sun disgraced, what will the Lord do? (24:19-23) - Reign gloriously on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem before His elders 45) What do we find Isaiah doing in chapter 25? (25:1) - Offering a hymn of praise 46) What has the Lord done to cause Isaiah to respond in this way? (25:2-5) - Made a fortified city a ruin, while providing strength and refuge for the poor and needy 47) What will the Lord do in His mountain? (25:6-8) - Make for His people a feast - Remove the veil the covers all the nations - Swallow up death forever, wipe away tears, and remove the rebuke of His people 48) What will be said in that day? (25:9) - "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us." - "This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." 49) Against whom in particular will judgment come? (25:10-12) - Moab with its pride 50) What will be sung in that day in the land of Judah? (26:1) - A song praising God for their strong city 51) What is said of those who trust in the Lord? (26:3-4) - The Lord will keep them in perfect peace; He will be their everlasting strength 52) What is the attitude of those who wait on the Lord? (26:8-9) - Their soul's desire is to seek the Lord 53) What is Isaiah's confidence in the Lord? (26:12,19) - The Lord will establish peace for His people; He will raise them from the dead 54) What does Isaiah counsel his people to do when the Lord begins His judgment? (26:20-21) - Hide themselves in their chambers until the indignation is past 55) Who would the Lord punish in that day? (27:1) - Leviathan the serpent (symbolizing Babylon?) 56) What will be sung in that day? (27:2-3) - "A vineyard of red wine!" (contrast this with Isa 5:1-7) 57) How was Israel's judgment different from nations that struck it? (27:7-9) - Israel's judgment was measured, with the purpose of removing its iniquity and idolatry 58) What would be the case of the 'fortified city' (Babylon)? (27:10-11) - It would be forsaken and desolate, with no mercy shown 59) What will the Lord do 'in that day'? (27:12-13) - Gather His people from Assyria and Egypt, and have them worship the Lord in Jerusalem (likely referring to the time of the restoration during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah)
Proclamation against Babylon
[Isa 13:1-22 NKJV] 1 The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
2 "Lift up a banner on the high mountain, Raise your voice to them; Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles.
3 I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger--Those who rejoice in My exaltation."
4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, Like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts musters The army for battle.
5 They come from a far country, From the end of heaven--The LORD and His weapons of indignation, To destroy the whole land.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD [is] at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore all hands will be limp, Every man's heart will melt, 8 And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of [them]; They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; They will be amazed at one another; Their faces [will be like] flames.
9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
11 "I will punish the world for [its] evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.
14 It shall be as the hunted gazelle, And as a sheep that no man takes up; Every man will turn to his own people, And everyone will flee to his own land.
15 Everyone who is found will be thrust through, And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.
17 "Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, Who will not regard silver; And [as for] gold, they will not delight in it. 18 Also [their] bows will dash the young men to pieces, And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; Their eye will not spare children. 19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. 21 But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches will dwell there, And wild goats will caper there. 22 The hyenas will howl in their citadels, And jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time [is] near to come, And her days will not be prolonged."