Examination of Isaiah 14
New Living Translation
14 But the Lord will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel. 2 The nations of the world will help the people of Israel to return, and those who come to live in the Lord’s land will serve them. Those who captured Israel will themselves be captured, and Israel will rule over its enemies.
The Lord speaks of once again having mercy upon Israel. Even in Israel’s continued sin, the Lord never abandoned Israel. He established a covenant with Israel. The covenant established first with Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. God knew that throughout Israel’s history that they would disobey and continue to live in rebellion. But none the less the Lord continued to pursue Israel and was always ready to pour out His mercy.
These words would be of great comfort from the Lord to His people. For it would seem if they were going into exile and being removed from the land that God had forgotten them. The Lord says that He will not only bring them back to the land, but many peoples from many nations will join them. It speaks of the time when Jesus shall rule upon the earth on the throne of David and the nations of the world shall come to Him. God will fulfill every plan and purpose concerning Israel.
When God brings to pass His purposes concerning Israel, the Lord says that those who captured Israel will themselves be captured. It is God who will turn the tables on the nations, and it is God who will empower Israel to be great. Israel will become the focal point of the world. Now it seems that many nations are continuing to try to destroy Israel on a daily basis. But a time is coming when Israel shall arise under the rule and reign of the Messiah and Israel will rule over the nations. Every promise spoken to Israel will come to pass.
New Living Translation
3 In that wonderful day when the Lord gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains, 4 you will taunt the king of Babylon. You will say,
“The mighty man has been destroyed. Yes, your insolence[a] is ended. 5 For the Lord has crushed your wicked power and broken your evil rule. 6 You struck the people with endless blows of rage and held the nations in your angry grip with unrelenting tyranny. 7 But finally the earth is at rest and quiet. Now it can sing again! 8 Even the trees of the forest— the cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon— sing out this joyous song: ‘Since you have been cut down, no one will come now to cut us down!’
In the previous verses the Lord spoke of giving His people rest and peace. It is only by the miraculous intervention of God that Israel will be able to live in peace and safety and this will not come until the Messiah rules from Israel. It is God who brought Israel out of the slavery of Egypt. It is God who would once again bring them out of being exiled in Babylon. Ultimately it is God alone who will bring to pass every promise and plan He has spoken concerning the nation of Israel. Israel is the apple of the eye of the Living God.
But now the words of Almighty God turn His attention to Babylon. He brings forth a taunt concerning Babylon. What the wicked don’t understand is when they mock the Living God with their actions and decisions there will indeed be consequences and ramifications. They believe in their arrogance they are beyond accountability, but it is always God who will have the final word.
The Lord says the mighty man is destroyed. This speaks of the King of Babylon. A wicked empire is driven by the decisions of its king. Often in the nations of the world the one who is in a position of leadership and authority is often worshiped as a God. You see this all through the Roman empire and many Christians were put to death because they would not bow their knee to the emperor but instead bowed their knee to Christ alone.
The Lord would not only crush his wicked power but would break his evil rule. This speaks of power and authority. It is God who has ultimate power and authority. When God comes to bring judgement, He fully demonstrates that He is indeed God. It is far greater to humble oneself before the Living God instead of rebelling and walking in wickedness and experience the judgement of God.
The Lord begins to lay out the charges concerning Babylon. They struck the people with endless blows of rage and held the nations in your angry grip with unrelenting tyranny. It is a picture of a king who has operated in such cruelty that he believes he is accountable to no one. But when God comes to fully deal with him, the measure of cruelty the king of Babylon has used against others is the measure of judgement that God will use against him. It is the principle of sowing and reaping. The king of Babylon has sown in incredible cruelty and therefore the Living God will rightly deal with him.
The earth is at rest and can finally sing because this wicked tyrant has been dealt with. Babylon also represents the world’s system and the king of Babylon is a picture of Satan at work in the course of history. There is a time coming in which the Living God will rightly deal with Satan for all the wickedness and cruelty he has done throughout the course of human history. The way Satan operates in the earth is he influences human instruments that he deceives and convinces to serve him and his purposes. Through their lives he empowers them to kill, steal, and destroy. But there is a day coming in which the Lord will rightly and fully deal with the devil. Just as God will deal with the King of Babylon, He will deal with the devil.
The trees of the forest and the cedars of Lebanon will rejoice because often when the king of Babylon would take a city, they would establish siege works. This required cutting down huge amounts of trees and using them to be able to invade a city, enter over the wall of the city. With the king of Babylon rightly dealt with the trees themselves would rejoice at the peace and quiet they are experiencing.
The Living God is faithful to fulfill every plan and purpose He has spoken in His word. Everything we see in scripture will indeed come to pass. No matter how difficult or impossible a situation seems, we must remember that power of God and authority of God is without rival. When God decides to move in judgement there is no one that can stop Him. These words would have been of great comfort to many beyond the time of Isaiah. Knowing that the Living God had not abandoned Israel, but would one day regather them and the Messiah Himself would rule and reign from Jerusalem.
9 “Sheol below is excited about you to meet you when you come [you tyrant of Babylon]; It stirs up the spirits of the dead [to greet you], all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones [in astonishment at your fall]. 10 “All of them will respond [tauntingly] and say to you, ‘You have become as weak as we are. You have become like us. 11 ‘Your pomp and magnificence have been brought down to Sheol, Along with the music of your harps; The maggots [which prey on the dead] are spread out under you [as a bed] And worms are your covering [Babylonian rulers].’
Those who are in positions of leadership on the earth often believe their greatness is due to their own ability. They give now acknowledgement to the Living God. The King of Babylon was an arrogant tyrant who treated the nations he conquered without mercy. Now the Living God would deal with him. Sheol is the place of the dead. Those who are in the place of the dead arise mockingly as the King of Babylon has entered. He has been brought to nothing by the Living God. As they rise in astonishment at his fall, it is the Living God who shows that He is truly in control.
The kings in the realm of the dead will mockingly speak to the king of Babylon. They will point out that he has been brought to nothing like them. They say that he has become as weak as they. He has become like them. No man or woman on this earth in a position of power is greater than the living God. God allows them to have power and it is God who raises up kings and tears them down. When we become discouraged by those in a position of leadership we must remember that God alone is fully in control. He has the final word on every nation and its direction on the earth.
Maggots and worms have become the blanket and sheet of the King of Babylon. He has been brought to nothing. The sound of the harp has stopped in his palace. He has been humbled and brought to nothing. The nation of Babylon often was a microcosm of the world and its system. The world and those who live according to its ways believe they are in no need of a relationship with the Living God. They believe they are the ones who determine their own destiny. But like the king of Babylon, every ruler and monarch throughout history will see that God alone is in control. He is the one who has the final word. Their pride and arrogance are their downfall. All through the words of Isaiah we see the greatness of who God is.
12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O [a]star of the morning [light-bringer], son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, You who have weakened the nations [king of Babylon]! 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly In the remote parts of the north. 14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 “But [in fact] you will be brought down to Sheol, To the remote recesses of the pit (the region of the dead). 16 “Those who see you will gaze at you, They will consider you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17 Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not permit his prisoners to return home?’
As we move into verse twelve we are given a picture into the downfall of Satan. Satan has influenced and empowered the king of Babylon. The downfall of the king of Babylon is the same downfall Satan had in the courts of heaven. For it was pride and arrogance that caused Satan to be cast out. Originally when he was created he was beautiful in form and was given everything by God to be great in God’s kingdom. But his pride and arrogance caused him to want to be worshipped over the Living God.
Those who fall and are destroyed by power and influence today suffer the same fate. They believe they should be worshipped by those they rule over and lead. Often times they are influenced by Satan and don’t even know it. Their pride causes them to become an easy target to be used by Satan and their pride and arrogance usually destroys themselves.
Satan’s downfall is that he truly believed he could be greater than God. That he should be worshipped by all the angels of heaven. God knew when He created Lucifer that this would be his fate. God knew the heart of Lucifer and today uses the wicked schemes of Lucifer to accomplish His plans and purposes. Often times we look at things taking place in the world and may want to ask God the question why. But we must remember that the ways and purposes of God are far greater than our understanding. Why God allows certain things on the earth to take place we will never know. But we do know that in the midst of all of it that God is fully in control.
Satan’s desire is to be like the Most High. To this day he still believes that he will bring to pass what he desires, and he will destroy what God has purposed. His hatred for God runs very deep and when we find ourselves in the furnace of affliction and under the assault of the enemy, we must hold fast to the word and promises of God. This is why God calls us to not walk by sight, but we walk by faith alone. It is a journey of trust. Satan has already been defeated, but God often allows him to operate in the earth and through what he means to destroy, God bring redemption and healing and uses it to deepen our faith and walk with God.
But God says that in fact Satan will be brought down to the place of the dead, the lowest part of the earth. These words are not only spoken to the king of Babylon and the future that awaits him, but it also speaks of the eventual defeat and resting place of the devil. When Christ returns a second time and sets His feet on the Mount of Olives, the Devil will be placed in the Abyss for a thousand years. At the end of Christ thousand year reign the devil will be released, but God will ultimately cast him into the Lake of Fire.
In this world we really have two choices. We can focus on what God is doing and the promises of His word, or we can focus on what the devil is doing. If our focus is on the devil and what he is doing the direct result will be a life filled with discouragement, doubt, and unbelief. For God is in control and when our hearts are fixed on Jesus Christ we will walk in victory, we will experience the love and presence of God in every area of our lives.
The devil presents himself as this all-powerful deity. But when God rightly and fully deals with him, he will be brought down to the place of the dead and will suffer for all eternity. He will truly be humbled and brought to nothing. Many leaders now upon the earth are under the influence of Satan, and God has called us to pray for them on a daily basis. We must remember that are engaged daily in a spiritual conflict and what we see happening before us is the manifestation of that spiritual war. The Christian who fails to pray is the Christian who fails to use the authority that have in Jesus Christ.
The question in the place of the dead for both Satan and the King of Babylon is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland. The world is created by Almighty God and it is Satan who has been trying to destroy the creation of God. Through lie and deception, Satan deceived Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But God had a plan in place to send His Son to this earth to redeem humanity of its sin and bring them back into right relationship with the Living God.
It will also be asked is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners. The cruelty of the king of Babylon was great and the cruelty of Satan has been well seen throughout human history. Every form of wickedness at work in the world today began in the heart of Satan. It is Satan who influences people to chase after their own sinful desires and in the process the lives of many are destroyed and mercy is absent. God will rightfully deal with all of this. There is nothing that Satan has done that has not been seen nor documented by the Living God. The way God often deals with things that He has created is when His purposes and plans have been accomplished, He then deals rightfully with wickedness.
Because we are in a spiritual battle the Lord calls us to diligently seek Him and be in prayer. Understand that spiritual battles are won when we take the authority we have in Christ and use it according to God’s will. We are called to walk according to the Spirit and when we are in daily prayer and spend time in God’s word we will hear clearly from the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will lead, guide, and direct us on how to pray.
New Living Translation
18 “The kings of the nations lie in stately glory, each in his own tomb, 19 but you will be thrown out of your grave like a worthless branch. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will be dumped into a mass grave with those killed in battle. You will descend to the pit. 20 You will not be given a proper burial, for you have destroyed your nation and slaughtered your people. The descendants of such an evil person will never again receive honor. 21 Kill this man’s children! Let them die because of their father’s sins! They must not rise and conquer the earth, filling the world with their cities.”
Isaiah says the kings of the nations like in stately glory. The burial place what of great concern to those who were in positions of power. Their desire was even after they were dead and no longer ruling on the earth that they would be honored by the living. It is a said thing to think that people would be so concerned about how they are buried. The only thing that truly matters when it comes to life and death is where will we spend eternity. They question is answered based on our relationship with the Living God. The King of Babylon was a wicked, arrogant king who defied the Living God, and his resting place would be in the place of the dead in torment and darkness based on the way he lived his life on the earth.
Though the kings of the earth desired a proper burial where they would be honored, the king of Babylon would not find it. Here the Lord says that he will be thrown out of his grave like a worthless branch. The language used here by Isaiah speaks of great humiliation for a man in his own eyes who believes he is a deity and believes he is powerful. But the thing that always reveals how frail humanity is, is death.
All of us on this earth will die. No matter how much influence, power, or money we believe we have. All of us will die and when we die there is nothing, we will take with us. No matter how people honor us, it will not impact where we spend eternity. Jesus said what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet forfeits his soul (Matt 16:26).
The Lord not only calls the king of Babylon a worthless branch but says he will be dumped into a mass grave. Forget being buried in his own tomb in which people would honor and remember him, he would be a forgotten man in a mass grave in battle. It makes me think of the time of the holocaust when the Nazi’s were motivated to destroy the Jewish people. As they killed many by the hundreds and the thousands, they would cast their bodies aside buying them in mass graves. These words point to a picture of a man who in his own eyes is great being truly humbled by the Living God.
The Lord says in fact he will not be given a proper burial. His wickedness against his nation and the destruction of his people will lead to a far great humiliation than he can understand. Even his children will suffer for his wickedness. The Lord says let them die for their father’s sins. So that they will not take power again, but that they would be totally wiped from the earth.
This is the ultimate reality for the wicked. In the end they will be destroyed and dealt with by the living God. We may ask God the question like the psalmist before us “why do the wicked prosper”. But it is only for a season and small amount of time compared to eternity. God’s desire is that people would repent. His desire is to love and pour out His mercy. But sadly wickedness produces incredible arrogance in the lives of individuals and that pride and arrogance ultimately makes way for the power and justice of God to destroy them.
New Living Translation
22 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “I, myself, have risen against Babylon! I will destroy its children and its children’s children,” says the Lord. 23 “I will make Babylon a desolate place of owls, filled with swamps and marshes. I will sweep the land with the broom of destruction. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
God says “I myself have risen against Babylon”. The end would come for Babylon because the Living God had risen against her. Throughout chapter fourteen the Lord is speaking a word concerning the king of Babylon. God makes it very clear that he will thoroughly humble the king and all those connected with Babylon.
Wicked and ruthless people believe themselves to be untouchable. The writers of the New Testament used Babylon as a picture of the world system. The arrogance and pride found in the nation of Babylon in which it believed that not even God himself could destroy it, is the same way the world works today. Those who live for the world and its ways believe they will live forever. That the way they live their lives will have no impact on them after they leave this earth. But that is simply not the case.
Every member of Babylonian society would be touched by the judgment of God. It says that even the children and the children’s children would be impacted and dealt with. When God is finished Babylon would be brought to nothing. It would be a place of Owls and it would be a place of swamps and marshes. Stagnant water that is lifeless would fill the place where this once mighty empire stood. Like a woman sweeping a house clean with a broom, the Lord would sweep Babylon clean with the broom of destruction.
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. It is much better to simply humble oneself and fall before the mercy and grace of Almighty God. Again, God desires for wicked people to repent and come to the place of mercy. God knows how broken humanity is. He has sent His Son to not only take the punishment we deserve but also to walk in our shoes. This is why Jesus is our faithful and compassionate high priest. But sadly, in the end the wicked are destroyed by their arrogance and pride.
New Living Translation
24 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath:
“It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided. 25 I will break the Assyrians when they are in Israel; I will trample them on my mountains. My people will no longer be their slaves nor bow down under their heavy loads. 26 I have a plan for the whole earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations. 27 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?”
When God begins a statement “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath” you know it is time to stop what you’re doing and truly listen to what God is about to say. God is about to speak of things to come and when He uses the phrase Lord Almighty or as the NLT translates it The Lord of Heaven’s Armies it speaks of God unmatched power and authority. God accomplishes His plans and His purposes by His power and authority. When He says it, it will happen.
God says it will happen as He has planned it and will be as He has decided it. Before anything was created there was God. He has always been. He doesn’t have to think, He simply knows. Understanding this truth about the awesomeness of God puts things into perspective. It puts world empires into perspective that at any moment God can crush them and remove them. He allows them to operate for a time, but things are only allowed as they have to do with the greater purposes of God. The word God speaks here concerns the Assyrian empire.
This would be of great interest to the people of Isaiah’s day. The Assyrians were on their doorstep, threatening to destroy them. But God makes it clear that He will not only deal with them, but He will also wipe them out. When God is done with them, they will no longer stand. This isn’t a mere army or empire that Assyria would deal with, it is the Living God.
The Assyrians would invade Southern Judah during the reign of Hezekiah. They would threaten to totally wipe them out as a nation. But as Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and brought the letter before him from the Assyrian king, the Lord brought word through Isaiah and on one night an angel of God would wipe out 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. This is one angel were are talking about. So many times, we may get caught up with what we can see with our eyes. But we must understand there is an unseen realm that God moves in places we cannot see. This is why God calls us to trust Him and to walk by faith.
Not only does God speak concerning Assyria, but for the whole world, all nations are included. There is a time of worldwide judgement coming from the Living God. The nations have operated in wickedness and sin and when that sin reaches its full, the Lord shall bring forth His judgement upon the whole world. We see this in the book of Revelation chapter 6 as Jesus breaks the first seal. It ushers in a time of God’s judgement on the earth. As believers in Christ we know that God has not appointed us to suffer wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). As followers of Christ even though we live in a time of great sin and darkness we always have hope. Jesus is always in control. As we seek Him and draw near, it is God who will comfort us daily to walk with Him and know Him in a deeper way.
God asks the questions: who can change His plans, who can stop Him when His hand is raised. The answer to that question is no one. No one can stop the Living God. The only rightful action of sinful people is to fall before the mercy of Almighty God and confess our sin. He is faithful and just to forgive us. Every great empire that has existed has been dealt with by the Living God. All the great empires of today will at some point fall and be dealt with by the Living God. Our hope and trust are in the Lord alone. He is fully in control. He has no rival. He simply calls us to trust Him, to follow Him, and commit our lives to Him. There is no greater gift that we have from God than forgiveness for our wickedness and our sin.
New Living Translation
28 This message came to me the year King Ahaz died:
29 Do not rejoice, you Philistines, that the rod that struck you is broken— that the king who attacked you is dead. For from that snake a more poisonous snake will be born, a fiery serpent to destroy you! 30 I will feed the poor in my pasture; the needy will lie down in peace. But as for you, I will wipe you out with famine and destroy the few who remain. 31 Wail at the gates! Weep in the cities! Melt with fear, you Philistines! A powerful army comes like smoke from the north. Each soldier rushes forward eager to fight.
32 What should we tell the Philistine messengers? Tell them,
“The Lord has built Jerusalem; its walls will give refuge to his oppressed people.”
Often when the prophets dated their messages given, they always did it by the king who was in power at the time. Because this message was given at the time of the death of Ahaz it must have been given around 715 BC. Isaiah is in the midst of giving a series of messages that deal with the nations that surround Israel. God is making it very clear that He alone is in control. It was incredibly foolish for Israel to place their trust in the surrounding nations because ultimately it is God who has the final word. When Israel trusted God, they were always victorious. When they walked in disobedience because of unbelief, they always faced defeat.
At this point the king of Assyria has died and the Philistines rejoiced at his death. But what God is making clear is that another king shall arise in Assyria who will be far more cruel than the one they have faced and God would use Assyria to deal with the Philistines. God is the ultimate chess players and is in control of the nations and leaders of each nation. God is able at any time to move the heart of a leader as He desires as it concerns His will in the earth.
The Lord would abundantly take care of the poor and the needy of Israel. This word given is a word of comfort to the nation of Israel. Even though with their eyes with what they are seeing they may come to one conclusion, but if they would trust God at His word, they would see God meet their every need. What releases the blessings of the Lord and His hand in our lives is obedience on our part. When we are faced with a situation, we will either make a decision to trust God at His word or do things according to our own wisdom and our own desires. When we lean on our own understanding is when we faced hardship and difficulty that God did not intend.
The army from the north that was coming to deal with the Philistines was the Assyrians. They were a cruel empire and sometimes we may ask how God can use a nation like Assyria to accomplish His purposes. This is why God tells us His ways are not our ways. To look at any situation according to our own wisdom and understanding is to walk in foolishness. God calls us to walk by faith. The gates and the cities speak of a place of authority and business and commerce take place. The Philistines would be thoroughly dealt with by the Living God. It is a warning to Israel to not take up an alliance with the Philistines against the Assyrians. We can often save ourselves much hard ache and pain in this life if we will simply listen to the Living God.
The encouraging word to the nation of Israel is that God has built Jerusalem and its walls will give refuge to its oppressed people. It is God who has sustained the Jewish people throughout their history. The existence of Israel today as a nation, surrounded by enemies on all sides should be a clear sign there is indeed a God and the God of the Bible is Him. Israel is the apple of God’s eye and even though their history is one of continually rebellion and disobedience, God has never forsaken them nor abandoned them. He has disciplined them. But those the Lord loves He disciplines. But it is God who would sustain Israel, it is God who would bring to pass His purposes and His plans. God’s message to Israel time and time again is to simply trust Him. It is the same message He is speaking to us today. He is in control and there is nothing happening on the earth that is outside His control. He is simply calling us to trust Him and follow one step at a time.