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A Study in the Word – Isaiah 13:1-14:23

Isaiah 13 through 23 affirm God is indeed the Lord of every person at all times. The first oracle is against Babylon (13:1-14:23). God sets apart “instruments of indignation” to carry out His judgment against her (13:1-5). For Babylon, the Day of the Lord is near (13:6). Each localized judgment comprises one link in the “judgment chain” of worldwide final judgment against evil, so Babylon in turn will be made desolate (13:7-9), while the wider application portends judgment on “the world for its evil” (13:10-11a). Pride is the common element (13:11b). No center of pride can escape God’s wrath (13:12-14). Certainly, Babylon will not (13:15). Verse 16 presents an ethical dilemma. One must keep in mind the pervasiveness of evil in the world. Simply because God uses someone or some nation as an instrument of His judgment does not condone every action by that instrument. Human instruments are not sinless instruments. Secondly, we live in a world crushing itself in sin. Misguided and vicious people do treat others in an inhumane way. As witnessed on the Cross, the defeat of sin is an ugly and brutal business.Babylon will fall like Sodom and Gomorrah fell (13:17-20). Nature will reclaim its habitat (13:21-22). True, Babylon will afflict Judah and take her into exile, but later become captive herself (14:1-2). Her king symbolized the nation, so judgment is directed against the king. Judah will celebrate his demise (14:3-4), a victory that is also cosmic in scope (14:5-8). Kings already condemned will form a reception line for him in the realm of the dead (14:9-11). Instead of “star of the morning” in 14:12 the KJV reads “O Lucifer.” The immediate context, however, addresses Babylon’s prideful ruler (13:1 and 11). He subjugated nations with “unrestrained persecution” (14:4-6). Pride made him suppose he was “like the Most High,” yet God’s judgment will thrust him into “the recesses of the pit” (14:14-20). This king can be said to be “satanic” in nature and action, yet the context for 14:12 is not directly about Satan but about a reigning monarch who exhibits the nature of Satan. Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar comes to mind (Dan. 4), but Isaiah’s oracle addresses a far greater opponent. The oracle is a satirical stab at one who supposed himself to be the most magnificent luminary in the universe. He, however, is a “rejected branch” (14:19-23) in contrast to the Lord’s Righteous Branch (11:1-5). Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email:

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