Beginning here and carrying on through to chapter 23, we read about Israel and the foreign nations. They contain prophecies concerning the nations whose destinies affect Israel beginning here with the fall of Babylon.
Up to now, the Assyrians had been promised power and in prophecy, Isaiah begins to see Babylon. We read that the coming destruction is from God. God commanded and then summoned which suggests it was urgent, Jeremiah 50:2 / Jeremiah 51:25.
The ones which God prepared for battle are the ‘sanctified ones’ as the KJV renders it, they are the ones who are set apart to come against Babylon, that is, the Medes and Persians and they are described as being a mighty and great army.
After God used the Babylonians to judge Judah, He then used the Medo-Persians to judge Babylon.
In these verses, we read of the horror of the day of the destruction of Babylon. The strength of Babylon will completely be gone and it will be a great deal of embarrassment on the part of the Babylonians. The day of God’s wrath is coming upon Babylon.
This was a time of judgment upon those people and nations that God was judging, it was a time of destruction from the Lord. When Babylon fell suddenly by a clever, surprise attack by Cyrus, the people of the city were completely shocked, Daniel 5.
Even the stars withhold their lights, that is, it’s going to be a day of misery and gloom, a day of helplessness and hopelessness. Haggai 2:6 and Hebrews 12:25-28, also speak about the heavens being shaken.
Please remember that this isn’t literal, it’s figurative language, Jeremiah 4:1-26 / Isaiah 34:1-17 / Nahum 1:3-5 / Micah 1:1-2 / Micah 1:5 / Psalm 18:7-15 / Joel 2:28-32.
Isaiah is speaking about judgment on the high officials of the government. They would no longer have influence over the people of the kingdom they ruled. Because of their arrogance, Isaiah 14:1-10 / Isaiah 47:1-7 / Daniel 4:22 / Daniel 4:30, they would be punished for their evil.
The word ‘world’ represents the Babylonian empire. The figure in Isaiah is a strong one to denote the terror of the anger of God against Babylon, Revelation 20:11.
Destruction was coming and the slaughter so great that men shall be as scarce as fine gold. It was a day of many violent acts and many deaths.
Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.
‘These verses recount the atrocities that were common in the fall of ancient cities. Horrible as such cruelties were, they were the common procedures when any enemy of that ancient era overcame a city they attacked.’
‘Isaiah 13:14 here speaks of a time when, ‘the forces of the king of Babylon, destitute of their leader and all of his auxiliaries, collected from Asia Minor and other distant countries, shall disperse and flee to their respective homes.’ Exactly the same things were prophesied of Nineveh, Nahum 1-3, especially, Nahum 2:8.’
Like a stampede of wild animals, those who were refugees in Babylon would flee Babylon to their home countries in order to escape the fall of the empire.
The Psalmist implies that it would be done in Babylon, in exact accordance with this prediction of Isaiah, Psalms 137:8-9.
Notice the Medes, Isaiah 21:2 / Jeremiah 51:11, God’s sanctified ones, are named as the ones who will bring total destruction, Isaiah 44:28 / Isaiah 45:1. The Medes were so intent on destroying the Babylonians that they would not take ransoms of gold and silver. They are not coming for gold.
The Medo-Persian army had no mercy in bringing down the Babylonian Empire. The destruction will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24, and Babylon became the dwelling place of wild animals, birds, and howling beasts.
We only have to visit and study the ruins of the city of Babylon today, to see that this remarkable prophecy has been literally fulfilled.