- TO: Judah and Jerusalem
- ABOUT: Judah and Jerusalem
- CONTEXT: Comparison of Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon.
The descriptions used to prophecy the fall of Babylon are the very same emblems used to speak of the last days and the fall of Jerusalem.
A massive army, a multitude, made up of many nations would come against Babylon from the end of heaven, the Medo-Persians. The Roman army against Jerusalem was of the same type, massive and multicultural.
13:8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth...
This destruction of Babylon is compared to a woman in travail in its suddenness (see Daniel 5). This comparison is used a number of times by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the New Testament writers to speak of the suddenness of the destruction of nations, particularly the Jews.
13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
This judgment against Babylon is called “the day of the Lord” and it was said to come. It was the sinners that were destroyed (or taken from the earth). We see the same language used in Matt. 24:30, 36-41 and Luke 17:24-30 in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem.
13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
As I have discussed in other articles, this is a reference to the fall of the rulers, the fall of the king (the sun) and other government officials (moon and stars) from authority. These same terms are used to speak of the last days of the Jewish age and the fall of Jerusalem in Joel 2 and Acts 2 and Matthew 24:3-35 (and a number of other NT passages).
13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
Again, as in other articles, it is important to understand that these symbols, heavens (plural) and earth are a reference to the rulers or sphere of government (heavens) and the people ruled. Isaiah is declaring that during this time period there would be great upheaval in Babylonian society.
13:14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.
One point to I would like to make is that vs. 13 cannot be a literal destruction (removal) of the planet earth because there are events that happen afterwards as recorded in vs. 14. How can everyone flee to their own land if there is no more land to flee to?
13:19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
Babylon, Sodom and Gomorroah, Judah…they are all being compared to one another spiritually here, the former as types pointing to the antitype of the destruction of Judah. Judah is being called Sodom and Babylon. (we'll get to Egypt later).
14:1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. 2And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors. 3And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
Another point supporting the beginning premise. In the midst of pronouncing judgment against Babylon at the hands of the Medes, Isaiah speaks of mercy against the children of Israel. This cannot be the nation of Israel, the 10 northern tribes, because by the time Babylon falls, Israel is gone. Nowhere in scripture does God relate the captivity of Babylonians under the Jewish nation nor that the Jews ever ruled over the Babylonians in any way. History, as far as I am aware, does not record this event either. So what does it mean that the Jews would take captive those whose captives they were or that they would rule over their oppressors?
This mercy, the leading captivity captive (Eph. 4:8), “the joining of strangers to them” is a reference to the establishment of the church when Gentiles would be numbered among God’s people. In Isaiah 14:1-3 Isaiah prophesies the coming of the church. The language that he uses is that of incorporating the gentiles into "Israel" (the church -- Luke 1:33) and then the church ruling over the nations (1 Cor. 4:8). Those who had been the captors (Gentile nations over Jews) would now be the captives (under the church which means that in spiritual war time, the church brings the Gentiles under the rule of the church, i.e. converts them to Christianity). In this time, God's people would no longer be at the mercy of human nations. Those nations would be conquered by the church (all nations flow into it). In Eph. 4:8, Christ our king leads the charge against the nations and "leads captivity captive" ending all threat from human nations by becoming the perfect king. Under his kingship, the human nations now flow into the church (Gentiles are converted) and no longer have the capacity to punish or harm as Babylon did against Jerusalem/Judah. Jerusalem/Judah was the last "earth" kingdom to be able to win against the church once Judah became a tool for Satan (killed Christ). When Christ ascended, he fought against that last deadly earth kingdom and wiped it out. No other nation in existence could or can stand against the spiritual might of the church after the physical nation of Judah fell.
Who is Lucifer?Edit
Going to put this in here because so many get it wrong. Lucifer is NOT Satan.
4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
Who is Isaiah referring to in this context? Initially I will say that it is the "king of Babylon", though who the king is specifically is will come later. Then, down in verse 12 he refers to the king of Babylon as Lucifer. Lucifer is the LATIN translation of the GREEK word phosphorus, which in turn comes from the HEBREW word heylel. The meaning of these words is “daystar”, “morning star”, or “light bearer”. In every case this is a reference to the planet Venus. It is a term used only one other time in scripture (2 Pet. 1:19) in terminology familiar to that of Isa. 9:2 as discussed earlier.
To associate the word Lucifer directly and personally to Satan is not in any capacity scriptural and requires a great amount of reading meaning into the scriptures from traditions, and most of that has its beginning in Catholic teachings.
So who is the king of Babylon? On the surface one might think Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, I did up until not too long ago. In Isaiah 14, the king of Babylon is described with some specific terms:
The King of BabylonEdit
14:6 “He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger”
14:16-18 [He is] “the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? [and made] All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.”
This sure sounds like Nebuchadnezzar. He was a powerful, conquering king. However, Nebuchadnezzar, towards the end of his life acknowledged Jehovah God (Daniel 4:37) and made a decree concerning God throughout all the lands of Babylon (Daniel 4:1). Nebuchadnezzar was brought low, but it cannot be said of him that he was destroyed by God and brought into a metaphorical death because of his arrogance as the context says of the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his power and reigned again as king of Babylon after his 7 years of insanity. And, Babylon did not fall to the Medes under his rule.
It was not until Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, ruled that Babylon fell. However, Belshazzar was not the conqueror his grandfather was. He ruled at home as a spoiled brat while his father, Nabonidus went out and about seeing to the affairs of military importance. Belshazzar could not be considered the feller of the trees of Lebanon (Isaiah 14:8) because Judah was already captive and had been for a long time. Belshazzar did not “weaken the nations” and so the descriptions of a great fall from overwhelming power over the nations could not apply to him. Nor does scripture ever claim that Belshazzar said anything like the following:
14:13-14 [He] “said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
So if this is not any specific king of Babylon, might it be the kingship of Babylon altogether? That is to say is Isaiah referring not to a single king of Babylon, but to the nation as a whole, just as the head of gold in Daniel 2 represented all of Babylon but was said of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar “thou art the head of gold”?
I have a perspective of this chapter that I know for certain few will even entertain. I am presenting it here because I am not sure of it myself and desire any and all who can, to assail this interpretation of Isaiah 14 to expose the weaknesses of the hypothesis of the interpretation.
As I read Isaiah 14:1-3 and saw the chapter ended with the contents of vs. 29-32 I recognized that the rest of the chapter is sandwiched in between a prophecy of the coming of the church (as I wrote of above) and the simultaneous end of the kingdom of all Palestine with the founding of Zion. Then I considered, what would literal Babylon matter in the midst of that context except as a lesson to Judah who, at the time of the founding of the church, was about to be destroyed? Keeping in mind that chapter 13 already prophesied the destruction of Babylon and set up the example.
It finally hit me that in chapter 14, Isaiah might actually be talking about Judah itself AS Babylon. Here are some of the beginning reasons I have from Isa. 14:4-27
14:4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
The Jews were the persecutors of the church. If this is a symbolic reference to Jerusalem as Babylon, then these terms would fit when Jerusalem was destroyed and the Christians were given rest from Jewish persecution.
14:5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
This verse certainly could be applied to any wicked ruler. Given that Christ himself prophesied the end of the wicked Jewish rulers of “the heavens” (Matt. 24:29), this verse certainly could apply to them.
14:6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
He, being Jerusalem, smote Christians with continual persecution all through the book of Acts. As the church became largely Gentile towards the end of Judah, this “ruling the nations in anger” is the same thing as Eph. 6:12 against which the church fought. “The rulers of the darkness of this world”, the Jews, are what Christians were to put on the whole armor of God to fight, but “this world” was about to pass away (2 Pet. 3) and the new heavens and new earth would come. The Jews, persecutors of the newly formed church of Christ, are now the persecuted (by the Romans) and soon to be destroyed.
14:7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. 8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
This is the new heavens and new earth. The cedars of Lebanon literally were what were used to build the house of God in the OT. In the New Testament antitype of the temple fir trees (Gentiles who converted) and the cedars of Lebanon (Jews who converted) build the new house of God, the church. They rejoice because there is no more persecution from the Jews (who did not convert).
14:9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
“Hell” should actually be “Sheol”, the grave or death. Death comes for Judah, an end to that nation and all the dead nations of the planet in history through which the OT people of God outlived, are now symbolically awakened to see the end of them.
14:10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? 11Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
Israel, the descendants of Jacob, the descendants of Abraham who numbered as the stars, that nation protected by God whom the nations of the planet could not ever completely conquer…this nation is finally brought low like all the other nations whom God destroyed before.
14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Again, the stars falling from heaven, the sun ceasing to give its light, this is the same thing spoken of in Joel 2, Acts 2, Matt. 24 all in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. Judah was the nation that brought the light of God's word to the world during the Mosaical period, and through that light "ruled" the nations. That light bringer, authority falls to give rise to the antitypical Lucifer/Phosphoros/daystar, who is Christ, the eternal king, eternal bringer of light, and eternal Sun (2 Pet. 1:19; Mal. 4:2).
So how did Judah “weaken the nations”? It could be that this is a reference to the time when Israel marched through the wilderness and eventually came to Canaan and conquered so many nations under God’s command. However, I believe this phrase actually represents the Gentiles who became Christians who were persecuted by the Jews. A good example of this is 1 Cor. 7 where Paul gives advice to the mostly Gentile congregation at Corinth about separating or remaining unmarried during “this present distress”. A Christian might be strong enough to withstand torture against their person, but it is much more difficult to watch a loved one be tortured in front of you.
14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Did the rulers of the Jews ever claim to be like God? (Acts 12:21-23) Read this account then look back up at Isaiah 14:11.
If the stars of God represents the people of God and this is in the time after the cross when the church is being established then this is the Jews trying to rule the Christians through main power of persecution. The mountain of the congregation (or church) is what this metaphorical king of Babylon attempts to do, but is struck down for.
The real Babylon succeeded in subduing God’s people of the OT. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and ruled over it all the remaining days of his long life. He even acknowledge the power of God and proclaimed God’s majesty throughout his kingdom.
This is in complete contrast to what happens to this metaphorical Babylon. Here the king of Babylon purposes in his heart to rule the people of God, but is instead brought low:
14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
When the kingdom of Israel was first established, they, by God’s power, conquered all manner of earthly kingdoms.
14:17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
This is just a repeat of the things spoken of in the last part of verse 12.
14:18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. 19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. 20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. 21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities. 22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. 23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.
The Gentile nations such as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and even Rome have lasting legacies which all the world to this day even admire. Their power and accomplishments which we feel the effects of thousands of years later are a monument to these kingdoms.
But what of Judah? The Jews were utterly destroyed with no monument of achievement left to them. Their greatest, the Temple, was cast down by Titus’ army. A mosque sits on the mountain where their Temple once stood and no new one has been built. Moreover, their priesthood is gone. Judaism is ended and the shadow that exists now is a hated nation the world over except for a few premillenialists who think to ride the coattails of the shadow into a 1000 year kingdom that will never exist. That the Judaism of the OT was a shadow of the NT church (Heb. 8) means that today’s Jews are a reflection of a shadow.
This is what the nation that was once called God’s people has come to. That’s what they get for killing God’s Son, for persecuting God’s people of the NT who they should have tried to become instead. Their end is complete and their legacy is murder and disgrace.
14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
What God has purposed for nations no man can avert…except through repentance, obedience, and prayer if one has the right to it (Numbers 14; and pretty much that’s the theme of the whole Bible).
14:25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
By the time this context has taken place, Assyria has already fallen. Only by again comparing Judah to this fallen nation in conjunction with comparing it to fallen Babylon does this passage make any sense. Otherwise, Isaiah is just a bunch of random thoughts about the fall of various worldly nations with no rhyme, reason, or connection for their placement in his book.
So who is Lucifer? In this context I am starting to believe that it is the highest rulers of the Jews during the first century. In the New Testament, it is the name given to Christ as the new and eternal king of the New Jerusalem (and one might even say the “New” Babylon).
- Isa. 13:8 - 1 Thess. 5:3
- Isa. 14:1-3 – alluded to by Paul in Eph. 2:12-13.
- Introduction - Chapters 1-6
- Assyria and Samaria - Chapters 7-12
- Babylon - Chapters 13-14
- Moab and Damascus - Chapters 15-18
- Egypt, Tyre, and Sidon - Chapters 19-23
- Desolation and songs of Praise - Chapters 24-26
- Main Premise Explicitly Stated - Chapter 27
- Out With the Old, In With the New - Chapters 27-35
- Historical Events and the Coming of John and the Messiah - Chapters 36-43
- The Coming Messiah - Chapters 44-59
- The Last Days - Chapters 60-66