Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Isaiah 13: 13-16

13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
And the earth will be shaken from its place
At the fury of the Lord of hosts
In the day of His burning anger.
14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle,
Or like sheep with none to gather them,
They will each turn to his own people,
And each one flee to his own land.
15 Anyone who is found will be thrust through,
And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
16 Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces
Before their eyes;
Their houses will be plundered
And their wives ravished.

We continue forward this week with Isaiah 13 and the prophet's speaking of Babylon's doom at the Day of the Lord. Last week, we looked at creation's response, and Isaiah picks up with that thought in verse 13 as the "heavens tremble" and the "earth will be shaken from its place." Across Scripture, from the prophets to Revelation, the Day of the Lord is associated with some type of earth-quaking. We saw this earlier in Isaiah:

"Men will go into caves of the rocks
And into holes of the ground
Before the terror of the Lord
And the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble."

--Isaiah 2:19

Verse 13 reminds us that it is the "fury of the Lord of hosts" that will bring about His Day. 'Fury' implies not just unrestrained violence but strong passion as well. As passionate as God is about His love for His people, He is equally passionate in His hatred of those who are enemies of His people.

"'Is it nothing to all you who pass this way?
Look and see if there is any pain like my pain
Which was severely dealt out to me,
Which the Lord inflicted on the day of His fierce anger.'"

--Lamentations 1:12

This cross-referenced verse from Lamentations was written regarding Jerusalem at the time of its exile into Babylon. But, in the Day of the Lord, it will be Babylon who will cry out in its pain as the righteous, yet "burning" anger of God is poured out upon them for their treatment of His people.

Isaiah turns back to metaphors in verse 14 as he begins, describing Babylon as a "hunted gazelle." These shy, deer-like animals would find themselves quickly on the move from a roaring, furious lion of a God. "Or," says Isaiah, next, "like sheep with none to gather them." There are so many references to humans being like sheep in the Bible. Sheep wander. They go astray. We attribute this to our sinfulness, our falling short, our trying to be in control of things apart from God. Sheep in a lost situations like this:

"When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things."
--Mark 6:34

The end times picture for Babylon is not one of compassion. The Shepherd is not coming to gather them in and to "teach them many things." The time for that has come and gone. Babylon will be on the run ("flee to his own land," vs 14) for the rest of its time, overcome by fear.

"The army they shall bring into the field, consisting of troops of diverse nations (as great armies usually do), shall be so dispirited by their own apprehensions and so dispersed by their enemies’ sword that they shall turn every man to his own people; each man shall shift for his own safety; the men of might shall not find their hands (Ps. 76:5), but take to their heels."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Verse 15 indicates that no one will be spared who is in any way associated with Babylon. I love what Matthew Henry says in regard to this: "It is dangerous being in bad company, and helping those whom God is about to destroy." Seems like a no-brainer, but you need to know who the enemy truly is. In addition to the groaning of creation, one of the other predominant themes of the days approaching the end times is that they will be filled with false prophets and teachers. The Antichrist will have many attractive qualities that will sway, confuse and mislead the masses, including some believers. 

Isaiah is warning: "anyone" who is hooked up with the wrong crowd is headed for destruction. Verse 16 is graphic and direct. It sounds horrible. It sounds unimaginable from a loving God. We have to take this fully in context, though. All of its history and all of its history in the making have led Babylon to this position. They brought it on themselves.

"O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.

How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock."

--Psalm 137: 8 and 9

"Savior, like a Shepherd, lead us. Much we need Thy tender care...."

Isaiah calls the Medes out by name.... 'Til next Wednesday!

* * *

Next week: Isaiah 13: 17-19

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

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