Lament for Babylon
Isaiah presents us with a picture of Babylon as a humiliated woman, she is no longer tender or delicate but has been stripped of her fine clothing. Now she too is forced to march to a new location. “The bold image of a rich, frivolous and sensual young woman who, as a prisoner, is doomed to the despicable state of a slave and in every respect is treated like a Near-Eastern slave woman.” (Bultema)
The Lord will take retribution upon Babylon. The same humiliation she put on Judah and Jerusalem she will receive. The Lord God will humble Babylon by taking His vengeance and His judgment is sure upon them.
Isaiah cannot help but praise God for the vengeance He will take upon Babylon while He redeems His people. The Hebrew word for redeemer is “gaal.” “A gaal had to be a close relative. Christ is this too, for according to His humanity He came forth from the Jews. A gaal had to be able to deliver. The Holy One of Israel does not lack this ability. Sometimes a gaal had to exercise bloody vengeance. Christ will work bloody vengeance upon Babylon for its oppression of His people. Frequently a gaal had to pay a ransom to free a prisoner. The Lord Jesus paid with his blood on Golgotha to ransom His people. On the basis of these considerations, to which could be added many more, it is evident that the name Gaal is very fitting for the Savior.” (Bultema)
The Babylonians believed that they had conquered Judah and Jerusalem with their own power. They did not see that they conquered Judah and Jerusalem because God was angry with His people. Babylon did not realize that they were an instrument in the hands of an all-powerful God. As God had said, “You didn’t know that I had given them into your hand.” As God’s instrument the Babylonians were overzealous towards God’s people. God had allowed this to happen, He had allowed Babylon to be victorious, but they showed no mercy in their attack. God shows His mercy on all through His common grace and we should show His mercy to others.
At the time that Babylon conquered Judah and Jerusalem, they were the leading world power. They were a proud people in their own power and also were cruel. Because they depended upon themselves only God promises to humble them. There is a lesson here to the great nations of the world today, to the United States. There is also a message here to the Church, which has become corrupted. “In her self-satisfaction and frivolous self-deception she says, I shall be a lady. She claims royal riches, power, and honor for herself forever. A queen feels she must reign, and that was also the Church’s goal quite early. Soon it placed a cross on its steeple instead of on its shoulders. With all its veneration of the cross, it hated the cross in a spiritual sense and reached for the crown of the world.” (Bultema)
In the midst of Babylon’s arrogance, God also levels another charge against them, their multitude of sorceries. Babylon was the center for occultism and the practice of its arts. Babylon was famous as a founding place and breeding ground for occultism arts and practices.
This is a question not only to the people of Babylon but to the heart of a proud sinner. They trust in their sin and cover their tracks of precious sin with more sinful ways. They are clever but the wisdom of their ways has warped their conscience.
Their wicked way suddenly brought destruction to Babylon as they were conquered in one night. They had believed that they were safe and secure as we can read in Daniel chapter 5. The pride of Babylon caused their fall and this principle is repeated three times in Scripture. (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
To the sorcerers of Babylon God give them a challenge. He challenges them to save themselves from the judgment of God to come. If they had real spiritual power, then they should be able to save. Their weakness will be exposed in the face of God’s judgment. “For the Babylonians, sorcery also included a mood of complacency (Isa_47:10), because the people relied on their magicians to predict the coming of the enemy and to defeat him. In Babylonia the intellectual and the magical were intertwined, the wise man is instructed in all the arts of the supernatural.” (Grogan)
The fire of judgment that is to come upon the people of Babylon is not the fire to give warmth or to cook with. It will be severe and the sorcerers will not be able to save themselves or the people. “False religion may seem to offer the warmth of ‘helpfulness’, but it is not a fire to sit by, rather a fire which will burn up, a furnace of destruction.” (Motyer)
The final sentence should bring terror to the heart of a lost soul, “No one will save you.” this is the absolute truth that if one will not look to the Lord to find their salvation, if they will not look to Him to be saved, then no one else can save them.