Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Isaiah 13: 17-19

Babylon Will Fall to the Medes

17 Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them,
Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold.
18 And their bows will mow down the young men,
They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the womb,
Nor will their eye pity children.
19 And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride,
Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

Although we have mentioned their name in posts since starting Chapter 13, Isaiah makes it official that Babylon will fall to the Medes.

God speaks, in verse 17, "I am going to stir up the Medes against them...." Time to find out a little more about these folks. Looking at the map above, you can see where Media was located and its close proximity to Babylon. Interestingly, the Medes had allied themselves with Babylon to conquer Assyria, capturing and destroying the city of Nineveh. But their alliance did not stand, as Persia took advantage of a weak Median king and conquered the nation. The two nations became united under Cyrus the Persian to cause the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C., more than 70 years after Media's initial alliance with Babylon. [Details from my study Bible, the Reformation Study Bible and Easton's Bible Dictionary]

Picking up the rest of the text of verse 17 from the Amplified Bible: "[The Medes] ...who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold [and thus cannot be bribed]." Though a little detail, you can see the hand of God in hand-picking His avenger. He would not set up a situation in which an empire would prosper materialistically. His "instrument of indignation" (13:5) would only delight in seeing the blood of its enemy poured out before him. Verse 18 picks up with just that thought, as the Medes will "mow down" or "dash to pieces," as we read in last week's text, Babylon's young soldiers. 

The Medo-Persian armies will have no "compassion on the fruit of the womb." (vs. 18) Recall that the "dash to pieces" reference from verse 16 is used first in regard to "little ones."

"Pause a little here and wonder: That men should be thus cruel and inhuman, and so utterly divested of all compassion; and in it see how corrupt and degenerate the nature of man has become. That the God of infinite mercy should suffer it, nay, and should make it to be the execution of his justice, which shows that, though he is gracious, yet he is the God to whom vengeance belongs...."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

There is a man currently on trial in Philadelphia for such crimes related to such "little ones." Matthew Henry's words as to the corrupt and degenerate nature of man sound loudly in the face of today's happenings. How does the God of infinite mercy suffer this? How long will He suffer this??

The end is coming for Babylon, which had quite a reputation in its day. There was nothing that its kings could not have or get. Life was lavish. Read through Daniel. Catch a glimpse of the lifestyle of Nebuchadnezzar and the beauty of the city he created: "The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?'" (Daniel 4:30) But, "the glory of the Chaldean's pride" was just that--the glory of pride, not the glory of God. King Neb was humbled by God to see the truth, but not his son, Belshazzar.

"It is foretold that it should be wholly destroyed, like Sodom and Gomorrah; not so miraculously, nor so suddenly, but as effectually, though gradually; and the destruction should come upon them as that upon Sodom, when they were secure, eating and drinking.... Babylon was taken when Belshazzar was in his revels; and, though Cyrus and Darius did not demolish it, yet by degrees it wasted away and in process of time it went all to ruin."
--Matthew Henry

Inhabited, but not by people. Closing out the prophecy on Babylon and Chapter 13.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Isaiah 13: 20-22

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).