We saw at the end of Isaiah Chapter 9 a definitive statement of what happens to a nation when the leaders do not lead their people in the right way:
For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
We also have seen that the book of Isaiah contains prophetic references to Christ. As we continue, commencing with Chapter 10, we shall encounter more prophetic statements in relation to judgment.
Isaiah Chapter 10
The first 6 verses of Isaiah Chapter 10 tell us that God will send judgment against the leaders who "decree unrighteous decrees"; who "turn aside the needy from judgment". These people will fall foul of judgment, imprisonment and death. Verse 5 names Assyria as the rod of God's Judgment. And indeed in 722BCE the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians and in 586 BCE the Southern Kingdom fell to the Babylonians. (Verse 11 Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?)
Verse 12 makes clear that after the Assyrians have completed their work of judgment, then they themselves will be judged and this thought is continued in verses 24-34 with a promise in verse 27 that the burden of punishment upon Israel shall be taken away.
Verses 20 to 22 are a prophetic promise of the return of Israel, and in light of the verses to follow in Chapter 11 one can also see them as referring to the 'latter days':
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
Isaiah Chapter 11
Isaiah Chapter 11 seems most certainly to be a prophetic description of the end of times; to our time with the commencement in 1948 of Israel as a nation after 2000 years in the Diaspora. But from both the historical and current perspective, this prophetic word is not yet fulfilled:
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
15 And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.
16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
Isaiah Chapter 12
1 And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.
6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.
Isaiah Chapter 13
Chapter 13 is a prophecy concerning the future of Babylon
The Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BCE and a hundred years later, The Assyrian Empire was swallowed up by the Babylonians who in 586 BCE under Nebuchadnezzar took the Southern Kingdom of Judah into Exile.
Remembering that in Isaiah Chapter 1 it is stated that Isaiah's ministry extended from the reigns of King Uzziah to that of King Hezekiah (when the Northern Kingdom Fell), what we have in this chapter is a prophecy of a Nation that will not pose a threat for another hundred years.
1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
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.
Interesting however within this prophetic word to Babylon is that the description appears to be that of the end of times when world history has ceased. (See Book of Revelations)
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. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 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. (Verses 10-13)
Verse 17 makes mention of the Medes who historically under King Cyrus captured Babylon in 529 BCE.
- Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. (Verses 17-20)
Isaiah Chapter 14
This chapter is a weave of different prophetic statements.
It commences with the Children of Israel returning to their land and then proceeds to an utterance against the King of Babylon, but very quickly the earthly King of Babylon has his personality overlaid with that of Lucifer. One may draw their own conclusion from the verses, but it seems that we are given a quick glimpse of a reality that is beyond our earthly senses to grasp.
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.
Addressing the King of Babylon:
4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
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! 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: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Verses 12-15)
This language and identifying the King of Babylon with Lucifer is akin to the description of the King of Tyre in the Book of Ezekiel Chapter 28 from Verse 11 to 17
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering.. (V 11-13)
The Earthly King of Babylon:
Verse 16 appears to return us to a description of the earthly state of affairs: "Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms"
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.
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.
A Word to Palestine
Verse 28 informs us that in the year that King Ahaz died God through Isaiah prophesies over Palestina (Palestine - Syria and Israel).
Assurance is given of the destruction of the Philistines and their power, by famine and war. Hezekiah would be more terrible to them than Uzziah had been. Instead of rejoicing, there would be lamentation, for the whole land would be ruined. Such destruction will come upon the proud and rebellious, but the Lord founded Zion for a refuge to poor sinners, who flee from the wrath to come, and trust in his mercy through Christ Jesus. Let us tell all around of our comforts and security, and exhort them to seek the same refuge and salvation. (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)
There are I think a number of lessons to be learned from these chapters of the Book of Isaiah.
One important point is that although called by God to war, a conquering army is not necessarily the people favored by God. A conquering army may be nothing more than an instrument of God that will itself eventually fall victim to God's righteous judgment.
Leadership which is not righteous; which does not address the needs of the weak and impoverished; which accumulates wealth and power for itself at the expense of the nation, will eventually be punished.
Although God will punish a nation, yet will he show mercy. The promises of God to those who are humble and contrite will be fulfilled and the people will be blessed and receive joy in their hearts.
The focus of Isaiah's prophecies is 'The People of God'. This is to say, the people whom God has chosen - not necessarily people who have chosen God. God calls for righteousness; calls for repentance and gives warning of judgment which he promises will come upon a nation.
Many there are who do not believe in the Scriptures, but it surely cannot escape anyone's attention, that the principle nations named in the Bible, still exist. Israel has returned, and once again the world is returned to witnessing the battle between the people whom God has chosen and their historical enemies.
M. Wallace Johnson
Articles by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Holy, Wholly or Holey SERIES
Idols in Ministry SERIES
No 1: The Prophet Amos
Full list of M Wallace Johnson articles in his Column at the Writers Journal