Scriptures

Isaiah 14

Introduction

‘The LORD will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the LORD’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors.’ Isaiah 14:1-2

These verses tells us about the fall of Babylon which will affect the release of God’s children from captivity.

Though God gave them up to their enemies and scattered them among the nations, Judah remained His chosen people. God will have mercy on His people, and so, restore them to the land of their possession, Ezra 1:1-11. Their former taskmasters now became their servants.

A decree was written by Cyrus to allow the Jewish captives to return to the land. When they prepared for their journey back, those of the old Babylonian nation were to aid them in whatever way possible. The Jews were exalted over the Babylonians because of the decrees of the Medo-Persian King Cyrus. Their captors were now their captives.

‘On the day the LORD gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labour forced on you, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon gloat over you and say, “Now that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us down.” The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones—all those who were kings over the nations. They will all respond, they will say to you, “You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us.” All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.’ Isaiah 14:3-11

This is the song of judgement on the king of Babylon.

The sorrow, fear, and bondage of Babylon will be replaced by singing a song of triumph. It’s a song of peace. The tyrant and his golden city are no more and his staff of wickedness and his sceptre of authority is broken. The earth is at rest, Ezekiel 28:25-26, and her people are singing, even the trees rejoiced, Psalms 96:11-13.

The Assyrian kings made it a practice to cut down the forest of the lands which they conquered. Here, even the trees rejoiced that since the tyrant has fallen there is relief from the woodsman’s axe. The personification of the tree means that the invading Babylonian army would no longer cut down trees in order to conquer cities.

We have a picture of the ‘realm of the dead’, Hades, Amos 9:2, as it were, arising to meet the fallen Babylonian king. Those who have already passed to the grave taunted the arrogant Babylonian leaders who also had now been brought down to the grave.

All the wealth, pomp, and glory of the king of Babylon led but to the graves. Death puts all on the same level, the proud man is eaten of worms at the end of earth’s journey, Job 21:26.

The Babylonian Empire represented an era of empires that conquered in order to plunder. The Medo-Persian Empire conquered in order to rule and bring peace among conflicting nations. The nations are at peace because the Empire has fallen.

‘How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?” All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again. Prepare a place to slaughter his children for the sins of their ancestors; they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities.’ Isaiah 14:12-21

Some translations use the name ‘Lucifer’, here, implying this is speaking about the devil, Luke 10:18 / Ezekiel 28, but we must note that Satan doesn’t enter into this passage as a subject at all.

The name, ‘morning star’, refers to the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. He has ‘fallen from heaven’ that is, he has fallen from his exalted position, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 / Revelation 17:4-5.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The true meaning of the passage is that ‘the king of Babylon did not intend to acknowledge any superior either in heaven or earth, but designed that himself and his laws should be regarded as supreme.’

He was a morning star that brought light by his power and influence, but he was quickly was brought down to darkness by God. The pride, arrogance, and fall of Nebuchadnezzar are described. He made the nations of the world tremble, but now he must tremble in ‘stones of the pit’, that is, the grave.

Kings have honourable burials, but Nebuchadnezzar didn’t receive an honourable burial, Isaiah 34:3 / Ezekiel 29:5 / Jeremiah 22:19. He had destroyed his land and destroyed the people but he will be trodden under foot by men. He had been so cruel, but now he is cut off and forgotten.

The children won’t bear the guilt of their wicked fathers, but they will suffer the consequences of their sinful actions. Even all of Nebuchadnezzar’s children would be destroyed and suffer the consequences of their wicked father.

‘I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will wipe out Babylon’s name and survivors, her offspring and descendants,” declares the LORD. “I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland; I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD Almighty.’ Isaiah 14:22-23

God’s judgment is just because those who are judged with condemnation have brought condemnation on themselves by their wicked deeds. The ‘broom of destruction’ is a figure of speech meaning complete destruction. The city would be completely swept away.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The circumstances which it was said would exist in regard to the king of Babylon here spoken of, are the following.

1. That he would be a proud, haughty, and oppressive prince, Isaiah 14:17, and throughout the prophecy.

2. That when he died he would be cast out with the common dead, and denied the common honours of the sepulchre, especially the honours which all other monarchs have in their burial, Isaiah 14:18-20.

3. That his posterity would be cut off, and that he would have no one to succeed him on his throne or that the dynasty and the kingdom would terminate in him, Isaiah 14:21-22.

‘The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders.” This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?’ Isaiah 14:24-27

Here we read of the fall of Assyria.

This is not a disjointed prophecy but showing that if Assyria is thrown down, certainly Babylon could be. Assyria would take the northern kingdom captive, and Babylon would later take the southern kingdom. Both Assyria and Babylon would be judged for arrogantly laying their hands on God’s people.

If God plans and purposes anything, then it will be done. Nothing was going to hinder the coming judgment upon Assyria. God knew that they would not repent of their wickedness. The purpose of the Lord of hosts is the utter destruction of the Assyrians.

A Prophecy Against The Philistines

‘This prophecy came in the year King Ahaz died: Do not rejoice, all you Philistines, that the rod that struck you is broken; from the root of that snake will spring up a viper, its fruit will be a darting, venomous serpent. The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety. But your root I will destroy by famine; it will slay your survivors. Wail, you gate! Howl, you city! Melt away, all you Philistines! A cloud of smoke comes from the north, and there is not a straggler in its ranks. What answer shall be given to the envoys of that nation? “The LORD has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.” Isaiah 14:28-32

The prophecy came in the year Ahaz died, 2 Chronicles 28:18-27, but the exact date isn’t known, possibly 725 B.C.

The Philistines are told not to rejoice.

Gill in his commentary, says the following.

‘The inhabitants of Palestine are meant, who rejoiced at the death of Uzziah, who was too powerful for them, and during the reign of Ahaz, of whom they had the better and, now he was dead, they hoped things would still be more favourable to them, since a young prince, Hezekiah, succeeded him, but they would find, by sad experience, that they had no occasion to rejoice in these changes.’

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Isaiah delivers this prophecy, threatening them with the destruction that Hezekiah, his son, and great-grandson of’ Uzziah, should bring upon them, which he effected, for ‘he smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof,’ 2 Kings 18:8. Uzziah, therefore, must be meant by the rod that smote them, and by the serpent from whom should spring the flying fiery serpent, Isaiah 14:29, that is, Hezekiah, a much more terrible enemy than even Uzziah had been.’

Kidner, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The background of this prophecy, lay during the period immediately after the death of Ahaz and in the early years of Hezekiah, and in the atmosphere created by an ambassage from Philistia to Hezekiah proposing a rebellion against Assyria, an idea always attractive to Hezekiah. God’s reply to Hezekiah, through the prophet Isaiah, was threefold.’

1. There are worse things to come from Assyria.

‘The viper and the venomous serpent’, Isaiah 14:29, are symbols of worse and worse oppressors.

2. Philistia is a doomed people, Isaiah 14:30-31.

3. True help and support can come only from the Lord, spoken of here as the founder of Zion and the true refuge of God’s people.

The poorest of the poor will find pasture and the needy will lie down in safety means there will be safety to those parts of Judah which have long been exposed to the invasions of the Philistines.

A cloud of smoke comes from the north, this is a reference to a cloud of dust which was raised by the march of Hezekiah’s army against Philistia, which lay to the south-west from Jerusalem.

The envoys, that is, the messengers, of the neighbouring nations, were sent to congratulate Hezekiah on his success, which in his answer, he will ascribe to the protection of God, 2 Chronicles 32:23.

Jerusalem, that is, Zion was the city God founded, Psalm 102:16, and within it his afflicted people will find refuge.

Go To Isaiah 15

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

Ephesians 2:8

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