Chapter 13 ended with the destruction that would come to Babylon. Babylon was the great enemy of Judah and any judgment from God on Babylon was an expression of mercy towards Israel from God. Isaiah describes the judgment on Babylon and follows with the pronouncement that God would have mercy on the house of Jacob. God would still choose Israel over her enemies.
We know that God chose us but at times wonder if He chose again if He would still choose us. We could believe that God is stuck with us and would differently choose if He could. Here the Lord God reminds His children that He does still chose them and would choose us over again.
The promise of God is that He would restore them to their own land. The Babylonians had taken them by force and exiled their population from Judah. God’s promise that they would be returned to their land was precious to them. “This promise had a measure of fulfillment when Israel was brought back from Babylon; and still is it true that, when God’s people come to their worst, there is always something better before them. On the other hand, it is equally sure that, when sinners come to their best, there is always something terrible awaiting them.” (Spurgeon)
There was also a promise that the Gentiles would also be invited with them. Restored Israel would invite the Gentiles to join them in the goodness of God. By inviting the Gentiles to join them they eliminated their enemies. The best way to conquer an enemy is to befriend them.
The Lord has announced the day that Israel would receive real rest. They will have rest from their sorrows, their fear, and from their hard bondage. Rest is a birthright of every believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Do we have rest from sorrow, from fear, and rest from hard bondage? When the promised day of restoration comes the weakness of the King of Babylon will be revealed and Israel will rejoice.
As this prophecy is a continuation of Chapter 13 we must remember that there are two aspects to this prophecy. There first is the immediate fulfillment regarding the fall of Babylon. And there is the spiritual empire of Babylon, the world system, and its king Satan. There are some who do not agree with this. They take Isiah’s prophecy as literal and only meaning the present Babylon of the day. They reject the passage as having reference to Satan and the world system.
“The exposition of this passage, which some have given as if it referred to Satan, has arisen from ignorance; for the context plainly shows that these statements must be understood in reference to the king of the Babylonians. But when passages of Scripture are taken up at random, and no attention is paid to the context, we need to wonder that mistakes of this kind frequently arise . . . But as these inventions have no probability whatever, let us pass by them as useless fables.” (Calvin) “But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor the occasion of that fall, which many divines have with great confidence deduced from this text . . . This chapter speaks not of the ambition and fall of Satan, but of the pride, arrogance, and fall of Nebuchadnezzar.” (Clarke) Never the less we feel that this passage has near and far fulfillment.
The proverb against the King of Babylon was in a partial sense the month the exiles returned from Babylon. Ultimately the proverb is against the King of Babylon in the month of God’s people when the world system and her King Satan are conquered and destroyed. Why is God telling His people the immediate and ultimate destiny of the King of Babylon? It is so that we will know the ultimate fate of the world system and Satan. God is allowing us to know now what will happen then and allow us to use that information to affect our thinking. “Its form is really that of the funeral dirge, with the characteristic limping rhythm of a Hebrew lament, so plaintive and yet ominous to the sensitive ear . . . There is a considerable element of irony so that the whole song becomes a taunt in the guise of a lament.” (Grogan)
God is letting us know how the spiritual King of the world system has his days numbered. The day will come when his oppression will cease and the Lord will break the staff of the wicked and the scepter of the rulers. There are times when we become weary, we become discouraged from the attacks of Satan. It is as if we sometimes think his days will last forever. But we must remember that Satan works so hard because he knows that his days are numbered. This should be an encouragement to us as we will outlast him.
Both kings, the literal and the spiritual rule with might, by oppression over the people of the nations. But know the one who persecuted is now the persecuted. When his day is done the earth will rest and all will be quiet. The people will break forth in song. “The whole Near East rejoiced over Babylon’s fall because her rule was harsh and oppressive.” (Wolf)
Even the trees will rejoice over the fall of Babylon. No longer will they be cut down by the thousands for fuel and lumber. The trees will also rejoice over the fall of spiritual Babylon because all of creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of God. (Romans 8:21)
For both Kings, literal and spiritual Babylon hell cannot wait to see them there. There the ones they have tortured will not see them tortured as well. God wants men to know that Satan is destined for hell. Satan is not the winner, he is the loser, and he is not the lord of hell. He like those who join him there are now the victims. They are the prisoners of the dungeons of darkness and hell waits to receive them.
The king of Babylon will be as all men weak. Satan himself will see when he arrives in hell that he also is no more than a creature. Men often inflate Satan to be greater than he really is. Some think him to the opposite of God but God wants us to know that Satan is no more than a created being himself.
It will be more than just defeat for the King of Babylon, lateral or spiritual, it will be hell, a disgusting and degrading place. And knowing this, the disgusting and degrading end of Satan why would any man serve him? Who amongst men was to end up with the maggots and the worms?
Before the fall of Satan, he was the choir director of heaven. “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.” (Ezekiel 28:13)
In these verses, Isaiah identifies the King of Babylon as Lucifer the son of the morning. There is some debate if the name Lucifer is his name or a title. Lucifer means, “the morning star: referring to a bright star in the heavens. Whether a name or title makes no difference as the shining King of Babylon is now fallen from heaven. In these verses, Isaiah is speaking more to the distant future rather than to the near. True the literal King of Babylon fell dramatically but the spiritual King of Babylon fell from heaven to the pit below and that one is Satan.
There are four falls for Satan that this one is his fourth and final fall. Previously Satan had fallen from the glorified to the profane. (Ezekiel 28:14-16) This fall has already happened. Satan will fall having no access to heaven and be restricted to earth. (Job 1:12; Revelation 12:9) Satan will fall from his reign on earth to the bottomless pit where he will remain for one thousand years. (Revelation 20:1-3) And as mentioned in Isaiah 14:12 Satan will fall from the bottomless pit to the lake of fire we commonly known as hell. (Revelation 20:10)
Before the fall of Lucifer, he was known as the “Son of the morning. The morning is glorious and before his fall Lucifer was characterized by the glory of the morning. Jesus is called the “Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16) Even as Satan is a created being himself still he has some of these qualities and can transform himself into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14) Satan is able to deceive many with his glory, beauty, and goodness. But we see the contrast of one who was so high being cut down, one so bright now cut down to the ground.
Now God tells us the reason for the fall of the King of Babylon, both the literal and the spiritual. It was what the King had said, perhaps not with his lips but in his heart. Pride. His grasping self-ambition, the self-will of the King of Babylon is excessive in five “I will” statements. The Kings shows the essence of the self-focused and self-obsessed life. He willed that heaven would be his home, it would be his place of honor. He willed that his throne would be above the stars of God, to be exalted above all other angelic beings. He willed that he would sit in the place of glory and honor gaining all the attention. He willed that he would continue to rise, even in heaven until all see his glory. He willed that he would be as the Most High and be an equal to God far above all other created beings. It may not have been so much to be exalted above God but to be exalted above all other of his peers. From this, we see that we do not have to be exalted to be as God but just exalted above other men. But we must remember that God hates pride. (Proverbs 8:13)
Lucifer was a glorious angel yet the time came when he departed from the heart of God by wanting to be exalted above his peers. The contrast to Satan’s arrogance is Jesus. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) When Satan departed from the heart of God he fell from glory. “It is a strange paradox that nothing makes a being less like God than the urge to be his equal, for he who was God stepped down from the throne of his glory to display to the wondering eyes of men the humility of God.” (Grogan)
Why would Lucifer rebel against God? Why would Lucifer, who was an archangel give up his position in the Kingdom of God? It may be that Lucifer rejected the plan of God to create a being in His own image. (Genesis 1:26) A being that would be beneath the dignity of the angels. (Hebrews 2:6-7; 2 Peter 2:11) Yet in the present world man would be served by the angels. (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 91:11-12) The man who would one day have a status above the angels. (1 Corinthians 6:3; 1 John 3:2) Lucifer wants to be as the Most High God full of glory and honor but eventually, man would be above the angels, as Lucifer was. This explains the strategy of Satan against man. To destroy the image of God within him by sin and rebellion. To cause men to serve him and prevent the ultimate glorification of man.
In spite of Satan’s desire to be exalted, he will not be exalted at all. There is a sense that he is exalted right now but this is only for a wisp of time in the measure of eternity. Satan, like all those who wish to exalt themselves, will be brought down. There is but one path to be exalted and the Apostle Peter explains it. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
When the King of Babylon fell the others were amazed. The King was the superpower of the day and all feared him. This will be the same reaction when the King of spiritual Babylon falls. People then will see him for what he really is and be amazed at the power he had.
In this brief section, Isaiah brings the prophecy back to literal Babylon. Isaiah takes note of the comfort and ease of the other kings of the earth, but not the fallen King of Babylon. He is cast out of his grave like an abominable breach. “But now a terrible thing has happened; he was not given the honorable burial deemed so important for monarchs. Even the common man regarded proper burial as essential.” (Wolf) There was not a proper burial for the King of Babylon, only a bed of maggots and a blanket of worms. “The corpse of the king of Babylon would be thrown out like a rejected branch. What a contrast to the Branch from the stump of Jesse that would bear abundant fruit! (Isaiah 11:1)” (Wolf)
For both the literal and spiritual Babylon’s their destruction will be complete. There will be nothing left of Babylon and there will be no remnant, as it will be swept with the broom of destruction. “If God’s enemies have a bright day or two, it shall soon be showery weather with them. They may for the moment exult over God’s people, but he knows that their day of reckoning is coming.” (Spurgeon)
Judgment to come on Assyria and the Philistines.
The thoughts of God are the actions that will come to pass. All God had to do is think the thought and the world was created. It is a comfort to His own that God thinks good thoughts. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When the Assyrians invaded Judah God sent an angle of the Lord and killed 185,000 of the Assyrians in one night. (2 Kings 19:35) The plans of God are never frustrated and always are done. Even when we have no trust in ourselves the plans of God can be trusted.
There was always a war between Israel and the Philistines and many a time it was the rod of Israel that struck the Philistines. Now that Israel and Judah have been humbled God warns the Philistines not to take glory in it. The judgment of God will come upon the Philistines. Just because God was judging the Israelites the Philistines should not think they have escaped.
What then will be spoken to the messengers? “No doubt the ‘envoys’ were Philistine diplomats sent to Jerusalem to encourage solidarity against the common Assyrian foe. As elsewhere, Isaiah’s message encouraged to trust in God, not in alliances.” (Grogan) The second answer is that the poor people shall take refuge in the mount of Zion. The place of security is not for the rich and self-sufficient. It is for the poor of His people. It will be the poor in spirit who will find refuge in God’s city.