Isaiah 13


‘A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw: Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—those who rejoice in my triumph. Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The LORD Almighty is mustering an army for war. They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens—the LORD and the weapons of his wrath—to destroy the whole country.’ Isaiah 13:1-5

A Prophecy Against Babylon

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.

‘Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labour. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. See, the day of the LORD is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.’ Isaiah 13:6-16

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.

‘See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.’ Isaiah 13:17-22

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.

Go To Isaiah 14