God's Plans for Babylon and Assyria (Isaiah 13-14)

Read Isaiah 13-14
  1. God summons his troops (13:1-5): God musters an army for war (Isa 13:4b).
  2. God destroys the proud (13:6-16): God puts an end to all who are arrogant (Isa 13:11).
  3. God desolates Babylon (17-22): God overthrows Babylon (Isa 13:19).
  4. God restores his people (14:1-2): God has compassion on Jacob (Isa 14:1).
  5. God humiliates/humbles the proud king of Babylon (14:3-23): "How you have fallen" (Isa 14:12).
  6. God's sovereign plan and purpose WILL prevail (14:24-27): Who can thwart God's purpose out turn back his out-stretched hand? (Isa 14:27)
  7. God warns those who gloat (14:28-32): Do not rejoice that your enemy is struck and broken (Isa 14:29a).
Don't trust Babylon. This prophecy is best dated sometime shortly before 701 BC, when Judah was tempted to depend on the Babylonians (Isa 39:1-7) to defeat the Assyrians. At that time Assyria was about to crush Hezekiah at Jerusalem and Babylon was a rising empire on the eastern horizon that had the potential of being able to help Hezekiah escape from Assyria's iron grip. If this is the context for the message of ch. 13-14, Isaiah is exposing the foolishness of Hezekiah's trust in Babylon and arguing against this political alliance. Isaiah thus affirms the approaching defeat of Babylon (Isa 13:19; 14:22; 21:1-10) and later affirms the fall of Assyria (Isa 14:25).

God determines the destiny of each nation. God's warnings in ch. 13-14 demonstrate that it makes no sense to put one's faith in any earthly kingdom or king (especially not Babylon), for God will determine the destiny of each nation. Although human troops fight, the spiritual reality is that God and his heavenly forces will determine the outcome of every battle and bring punishment on those who oppose God (Isa 13:9, 13) and on the arrogant who think they are in control (Isa 13:11, 19). Everything that happens fits together to accomplish God's purposes on earth. There is no one or no nation that can prevent God's plan from being accomplished (Isa 14:26-27; 10:12ff; Ac 2:23-24; 4:25-26, 27-28).

What is the purpose of Isaiah's prophecy (oracle) against Babylon?
  1. It is senseless to fight against God's plan by trusting a proud nation like Babylon, for God has already condemned Babylon to destruction.
  2. God has already announced his plan to have compassion on Israel, return their captives to the land, and cause many foreigners to worship Israel's God (Isa 14:1-3; 2:2-3; 10:20-27; 11:10-16).
  3. God's people do not need the protection of Babylon to survive an Assyrian attack, for God himself will destroy Assyria (Isa 14:24-27).
God's people should trust God with its present problems, as Judah should trust God during their imminent crisis. What people believe about God will determine their practical walk, just as their practical walk will reveal what they really believe about God. The extent of each person's trust in God is evident in the decisions they make and the things they do.
A major theme that epitomizes man's rebellion against God is pride. In the time of Uzziah,
  • the people of Judah were proud (Isa 2:6-21),
  • the women walked around proudly strutting their stuff (Isa 3:16-4:1),
  • the nation of Israel was haughty (Isa 9:8-9) and
  • the Assyrian king arrogantly bragged about his greatness and power (Isa 10:5-14).
Learn from these negative examples: Do not overstep your rightful place and become proud. Isaiah's message is that God will destroy those who are proud (Isa 13:11) and any proud king who tries to play God (Isa 14:12-14). No man--no matter how powerful--determines the future, God does. No man has any reason to exalt themselves in pride. God is the only One who should be exalted. People need to humble themselves before the mighty power of God and simply put their trust in Him.

Structure (Gary Smith):
  1. Destruction on the Day of the Lord (13:1-16).
    • Preparation for battle (1-5).
      • Superscription (1).
      • Soldiers summoned (2-3).
      • Soldiers arrive (4-5).
    • The battle on the day of the Lord (6-16).
      • People will wail (6-8).
      • Destruction of heaven and earth (9-13).
      • People will be hunted and killed (14-16).
  2. God will Destroy Proud Babylon (13:17-22).
  3. God will Restore Israel (14:1-2).
  4. A Taunt for the Babylonian King (14:3-23).
    • Introduction to the lament (3-4a).
    • Death of this oppressive king (4b-8).
    • King's spirit enters into Sheol (9-11).
    • King's fall from heaven (12-14).
    • King's humiliation (15-21).
    • God's judgment of Babylon (14:22-23).
  5. God's Plan to Crush Assyria (14:24-27).
    • God's plan for Assyria (24-25).
    • God's plan for all nations (26-27).
  6. God's Plan for Philistia (14:28-32).
    • An introduction (28).
    • A warning not to rejoice and a rationale (29-30).
    • An encouragement to lament and a rationale (31).
    • A call to trust God (32).
Reference: Isaiah 1-39, New American Commentary. Gary Smith. 2007.