Examination of Isaiah 13:17-22
New Living Translation
17 “Look, I will stir up the Medes against Babylon. They cannot be tempted by silver or bribed with gold. 18 The attacking armies will shoot down the young men with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for children.”
19 Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, the flower of Chaldean pride, will be devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed them. 20 Babylon will never be inhabited again. It will remain empty for generation after generation. Nomads will refuse to camp there, and shepherds will not bed down their sheep. 21 Desert animals will move into the ruined city, and the houses will be haunted by howling creatures. Owls will live among the ruins, and wild goats will go there to dance. 22 Hyenas will howl in its fortresses, and jackals will make dens in its luxurious palaces. Babylon’s days are numbered; its time of destruction will soon arrive.
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the Living God in judgement. Judgement only comes when the mercy and grace of God has been rejected. God sends forth His word before He will ever bring judgement. His hope is people will respond to His word and they will repent of their wicked ways. The wickedness of nations and people invite the judgement of Almighty God.
Here we see it is God alone who is in control of the nations of the earth. The Lord speaks of stirring up the Medes against the Babylonians. The Lord says they will not value silver or take pleasure in gold. It means that they will be set in their course, they will not be deterred from that which God has placed in their hearts to do. It was during Cyrus’s reign that the Medes came alongside the Persians in the eventually destruction of Babylon in 539 B.C.
When the Medes come against the Babylonians mercy will be absent. It says that the bows of the warriors will mow down the young men. Their military might will seem invincible because the hand of God is upon them. But there will be no compassion for they will have no regard for children in the destruction of the city. When the judgement of God comes it touches all people. There is no escape from the hand of God.
Babylon was a city held in high honor. Here it is known as the beauty of kingdoms and the glory of Chaldeans’ pride. But here God compares their destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is well documented in scripture. But it being brought up here shows that the level of wickedness and moral decline was equal to Sodom and Gomorrah. For the justice of God is perfect and will be poured out in perfect measure in comparison to the wickedness God is dealing with.
When judgement came against Babylon it would eventually be fully destroyed in 1st century B.C. As a city and empire, it was never to rise again. When God speaks a word concerning a people or nation, God speaks of things to come and His word will never return void. Judgement is always brought upon a people because of their own sin and wickedness. God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but those who continue in sin will in the end be destroyed by it.
When God is done with the destruction of Babylon it will become a place where howling desert creatures take up residence. It shows us how fully God will deal with the wickedness and sin of this empire. Often nations and leaders believe they are in control of their own destiny. But it is God who is always in control. It is God who has given man freewill and allows man to make choices freely. But every choice and decision carries with its consequences. Not every consequence is negative. In our lives there is a principle in God’s kingdom known as sowing and reaping. Those who sow into God’s kingdom will reap the abundant life Jesus spoke of. Those who sow into sin and wickedness will in the end reap destruction.
Hyenas and jackals were known as desert and wilderness creatures. Here they will find themselves in its fortresses and its luxurious palaces. It shows us how devastating God’s judgement will be. Before the judgement of God comes many great empires of the past looked as if there was nothing that could bring them down. The builders of the Titanic said even God couldn’t sink the ship. But it is pride and arrogance that will always bring the death blow.
God has given us His word to read, study, meditate upon, and learn from. Over and over when God is dealing with the pagan nations of the world He often speaks of their arrogance and their wickedness. They believe themselves to be outside of accountability. Today we still see this in our own world. We have wicked people who sit in places of power and authority and their decisions on a daily basis will determine the course of their leadership and how long they will stay in leadership.
The fear of the Lord is truly the beginning of wisdom. Those who truly respect and fear the Lord will honor Him and live for Him. They will believe that He is God, and they are not. God is very clear that Babylon’s days are numbered, its time of destruction will soon arrive. When God speaks of something happening soon in scripture it means it is determined. For a thousand days is like a year and a year like a thousand days with the Lord. May we choose to live for God every day. May we understand that our time on this earth is short and use every day and moment to simply live for Christ and honor Him with our lives.