June 5th, 2022: God Foretells Destruction- Isaiah 47: 10-15
The Bible is a truly amazing book. Breathed by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and written by the pen of man under the direction of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21); it is the divinely inspired word of God that never fails in accuracy or revelation. As we read through the Holy Scriptures we see accurate history, undeniable truth, the shadows of things to come, and the revealing of the person, purpose, and perfection of Jesus. The whole book is about Him. Reading it allows us to learn how He thinks, understand what he does, and know why He came. He created all things and by Him, all things are held together and are under His control. His majesty and His might, the plan of salvation, His perfect sacrifice, and His great love for mankind are revealed within the covers of this book. We see the consequences of disobedience and the rewards of mercy and faith. It is an ageless, timeless, and living book. Prayerfully open its pages and let God reveal Himself to you through this lesson.
The lesson today is prophetic. God is telling us about something that is going to happen and that actually takes place about 150 years from the time of the writing. It is about the nation that will take Israel into captivity but it also gives us a glimpse or foreshadowing of a similar event during the Great Tribulation (the end of time). Only God knows the end from the beginning. Very smart men make predictions all the time, but the accuracy rate of man’s predictions is very low. God alone can accurately tell us of future events, He holds them in His hands. He never gets it wrong. Not only does He get it right, but He also fulfills His word to the minutest detail, often when it is beyond our understanding of how it could happen at all!
The background to this lesson is that God has used His prophets to warn the nation of Israel over and over to turn back to Him, follow His instructions, and keep themselves untangled from the heathen false gods that surround them. The nation of Israel was delivered from Egypt by God through miracles, given the commandments or law of God through Moses, and given a land flowing with milk and honey through following the Lord of hosts in battle. The time of the judges and the time of King David are long past. Sadly, they have turned away from the teachings of the one true God. They no longer care for the poor and widows. They seek only their own pleasure in parties and drink. They have created Idols out of wood and have looked around and liked the places of false worship belonging to their pagan neighbors better than their own temple. They attempt to honor God with the right words but their hearts are far from Him. Their worship is a form and a fashion. They are keepers of a list of embellished dos and don’ts. They do not listen to or respect the prophets sent to warn them of the anger of God. The prophet Isaiah warns that God would send a vile and destructive nation to overtake Israel as punishment for their disobedience. The prophet tells them that this brutal nation will show no mercy and that Israel/Judah will go into captivity. Foolishly, God’s chosen people disregard the warnings because they have made alliances with powerful nations. They suppose they are always safe because the temple is in Jerusalem. They are relying on cultural tradition and their own cunning, and are believing that somehow, they have a guarantee from God despite their evil behavior. God does not tolerate their presumption, hypocrisy, or lack of obedience any differently than he will tolerate it in our behavior today. At the appointed time, God allowed the Babylonians to take the survivors of the nations of Israel and Judah to Babylon as captives, and Solomon’s temple, which they relied on superstitiously, was destroyed.
God, however, is rich in love and mercy. He tells the prophets to let the people know that although He is using Babylon for their punishment, He will also avenge the nations of Israel and Judah who have suffered the actions of this evil nation. He will not forget His covenants or His people. God’s promises are true. The lesson today is of God sharing why He used the Babylonians, a pagan and unbelieving nation, and what He will bring to pass in the future.
10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
Babylon is the capital city of the Babylonians. In scripture, it is the second most talked-about city. The only city more noted is Jerusalem. Babylon is also called the land of Shinar, the Land of the Chaldeans, and Babel. Started by Nimrod (grandson of Noah whose name means rebel) it is the place that rebels against the authority of God. It represents an antichrist and humanistic philosophy. The tower of Babel for example was a direct attempt to wrestle power away from God and for mankind to make themselves as powerful as God. Isaiah speaks to the Babylonians of His day, with a remembrance of their beginnings and a prediction that once again, God will send the empire built on this vain and sinful thinking into ruins.
Don’t you see our modern world and even our modern church in this verse? We’ve been waiting over 2,000 years for our Lord to return as He promised He would do. As a result, many “spiritual leaders'' have begun to speak and to live as if no one is watching. They replace the true word of God for their “wisdom and knowledge”. Under the guise of making religion more accessible and more accepted, they change the truth of God into a lie, as Romans says. Once again, as is our pattern, mankind has attempted to place their seat above the throne of God.
11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
The fall of Babylon is historically, spiritually, and culturally significant. The first of world empires, the envy of all nations, and the brilliance and the beauty of its kingdom gave it the title of one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was known for its hanging gardens, military skills, and architectural brilliance, yet Babylon was overthrown in a night by the Medes and Persians. They were celebrating, remember (the account is in the book of Daniel), and the king and his advisors were drinking and partying using the golden vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem to show that they were more powerful than the God of Israel. The Bible says In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom being about threescore and two years old. (Dan5:30-31) Suddenly!
John the Revelator also speaks of the quickness, the suddenness with which Jesus will return to this earth. Once He appears, there will be no time to repent, no time to try and impress Him. The church is commanded to be ready and to stay ready so that when we see Him, we won’t be ashamed.
12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
As stated earlier, the Babylonians were a spiritual people, only the origin of their spiritual beliefs came from Satan himself. Sorceries, mysticism, astrology, and consulting with “spirits" were all a part of their religious traditions. As a people, they had long ago rejected following God. They preferred their own naturalistic and mystical enlightenment. Our world behaves in much of the same way today. God won’t reveal Himself through these means, His word is sure and reliable. Interestingly, in the Book of Daniel, written while he is in captivity in Babylon, Daniel was able to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar's dream while a host of the spiritually enlightened could not. But the power wasn't from Daniel, Daniel said only God could interpret dreams and correctly predict the future and he gave God all the credit for what he shared with the king. Satan can imitate but He cannot deliver. Isaiah is taunting these wise men who cannot do anything to prevent what God has decreed to happen and who will be rendered speechless and powerless in the presence of his judgment.
14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.15 Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.
The Babylonians were quickly subdued and overtaken by the Medes and Persians years after these verses were penned. The short period of their skyrocketing world dominance was allowed by God and used by God to render judgment on Israel and Judah. Jeremiah encouraged the Jewish people to surrender and accept their punishment. God had promised that this exile would be temporary and it was, it lasted for 70 years. A Persian king authorized the nation of Israel to come back and rebuild and resettle their beloved Jerusalem.
Even today, the name Babylon brings to mind images of a brilliant, yet wicked nation long relegated to the sands of time. However, Babylon is also prophesied as belonging to our future. Far from being an ancient powerhouse now defeated, it is the center of power for the “man of Sin,” or as some refer to him, the Beast. History repeats itself, and once again we find ourselves in a day when people are being drawn into a belief that there are “gods” on earth and are able, by their own brilliance and ingenuity, to fix the problems that face mankind. Their anti-God delusions include trusting abortion to correct the problems of poverty and sexual immorality, using tyranny and governmental oversight to correct violent crime, and relying on virtue signaling and social pressure to correct the behavior they'd like to change in their fellow man. In Revelation, the destruction of Babylon happens quickly and again because of self-conceit, arrogance, and a host of sinful behavior, God will pour out judgment on those who think that no one is watching. They look spiritual, but inwardly the spirit they follow is Satan himself. Babylon is identified as the false church, the apostate (read opposite church) that has political power and the appearance of holiness, but is fully corrupt and used by those who secretly hate her until her destruction comes through the judgment of God.
Looking back I can remember the older people in my youth worrying about how much time was spent in front of the television. How do you know that’s the real story? Can’t you think for yourself? And, why ever would you become dependent on a calculator- how would you ever be able to function if you didn’t have one! In my youth, we laughed at such notions from the old fussy folks who just didn’t like change. Today my perspective is different. I see awards for no achievement. We have talk shows and movies spreading socially accepted propaganda to reset our cultural thinking. We begin in kindergarten teaching children concepts and ideas contrary to the word of God. Who knows what the world’s truth really is- especially when it is in matters of political discourse and the nightly news. We have even forgotten how to feed ourselves without grocery stores or fast-food restaurants. The world is a scary place.