Babel, Babylon, Beelzebub, and the Last Battle
Sunday, September 6, 2015
1 The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
2 Lift up a standard on the bare hill, raise your voice to them, wave the hand that they may enter the doors of the nobles. 3 I have commanded My consecrated ones, I have even called My mighty warriors, my proudly exulting ones, to execute My anger. 4 A sound of tumult on the mountains, like that of many people! A sound of the uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts is mustering the army for battle. 5 They are coming from a far country from the farthest horizons, the Lord and His instruments of indignation, to destroy the whole land. 6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands will fall limp, and every man's heart will melt. 8 And they will be terrified, pains and anguish will take hold of them; they will writhe like a woman in labor, they will look at one another in astonishment, their faces aflame. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. 11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. 12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I shall 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. NASB
The visions of God's judgment are all too familiar in scripture. The tower of Babel where men thought they could build a stairway to heaven brought God's judgment. The people of the earth were scattered and their languages were confused.
From the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, civilization spread out across the face of the earth. From that land the faithful Abraham set out on a journey to a land he had not seen. He followed the Spirit of God to the promised land.
God led him and his descendants to Egypt and back to the land of Canaan. He taught them to obey Him and to love Him. But even these chosen people could not keep God at the center of their lives. They rebelled again and again.
In the meantime the Babylonian nation grew. The root of the name Babylon is from the tower of Babel. Is it strange how that worked out? Perhaps not, it is just human nature when we forget our Creator.
This nation grew and became the most powerful nation in the world in its time. God would use this nation to work His will and to guide His chosen people.
Syria and Assyria, were rivals. The northern kingdom of Israel turned to their neighbors of Syria whose capital was Damascus. They asked for help to conquer the southern kingdom of Judah. When they did so, Judah, the southern kingdom reached out to Egypt and to Assyria for aid in their struggle.
Assyria did help Judah to defeat their enemies, but then turned their attention to Judah. They pretty much destroyed the southern kingdom, all except for Jerusalem.
That is when Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar stepped in. They defeated Assyria and eventually took Judah captive and carried most of them off to their homeland, back to the place from which Abraham had been led by God so many years before.
Here in the 13th chapter of Isaiah, God gives Isaiah a vision concerning Babylon. They too, in their time will be destroyed. But the truth about the Creator is spread. The chosen race, carried into captivity, tell their captors about the one true God. The story is spread, in spite of Israels rebellion, and their bickering among themselves, God uses them to tell His story to the nations.
God has been calling man to submit to His authority and to His love from the very beginning. As I read these chapters concerning God's judgment, I was reminded of the words of Revelation at the end of the New Testament.
The battle at the end is described in much the same way as is this vision concerning Babylon. God basically says that He will use this ungodly nation to carry out His will. He calls them My consecrated ones, My mighty warriors, my proudly exulting ones. God uses them to carry out His judgment on Assyria and on Israel.
Jump down to the 24th verse of chapter 14. This is still part of the vision concerning Babylon. Read with me:
24 The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, 25 to break Assyria in My land, and I will trample him on My mountains. Then his yoke will be removed from them, and his burden removed from their shoulder. 26 "This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 27 "For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?" NASB
You cannot get away from the sovereignty of God. He is Lord. He will use whatever means He chooses to accomplish His purposes. You can either be used by Him willing or unwillingly. Your life will bring glory to God one way or another. No one can frustrate the plans of the Lord. You may as well relax, and let Him be the Lord of your life. Refusing to do so will only bring you frustration and and eventually it will bring you to your destruction.
“Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened.” God will not be frustrated in carrying out His will. He will have His way with you. He loves you and wants you to join Him and to be counted as part of the family of God, but if you refuse you will one day bow in humility before Him and name Him as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Another part of this vision concerning Babylon that I want to look at is found in chapter 14 verses 12-15. See if you recognize anyone besides Nebuchadnezzar, king of Baylon, in this passage.
12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! 13 "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' 15 "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. NASB
Many believe this is a revealing of God's arch enemy, Satan. As we have said before, many of these prophetic passages have more than one fulfillment.
In a sense the Bible is the story of the battle between Satan and God. Jehovah's enemy was there in the garden to destroy God's creation and to bring man down to his level. In a sense Satan accomplished his purpose. Man was corrupted and sinned. But God had a greater plan. God would perform His greatest work and offer forgiveness and mercy to the fallen of Adam's offspring.
One day the Son of God would be born and would bring about the fulfillment of God's most awesome plan. A plan that would cause the angels of God to sing glory and praise to the Almighty God.
From Genesis to Revelation, we have the story of God's work toward the fulfillment of His plan and His purpose. Satan was defeated even before he decided to rebel against the Creator. When he decided to seek his own glory and to take over heaven itself, Satan set himself up for failure.
It is true. It has always been true. It will always be true. You cannot rebel against God and win the battle you face.
This picture of Babylon and its king that can also be seen as the story of Satan can also be seen as each one of our stories.
We have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. We have at times, rebelled against Him and sought to be lord of our own lives, and perhaps even the lives of others.
26 "This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 27 "For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?" NASB
You cannot frustrate the plan of God. You cannot change His will for your life. If you try, in the end you will be the loser.
The answer for us is to submit ourselves to God. Confess any failures to follow Him. Confess any rebellion that has arisen in your old man. Agree with God if and when you have fallen prey to the schemes of the enemy of God. Forsake your own plans and seek God. Trust Him to love you. Trust Him to lead you.
If you have never done so before, do it now. Do it while the Spirit of God deals with your heart and draws you to turn to God.
If you have done so in the past, but have slipped away from your walk with the Lord, lay down your burden and return to Him. Accept Him as Lord and Savior once again. Tell the enemy he has no place in your life.
Whatever you are struggling with, lay it down on the altar. Give it to God. Trust Him to love you and to be your Lord. It is the enemy, our enemy and God's enemy, that tells you God hates you. Whatever God wants for you is best. Stop striving with Him.
Eden, Babel, Babylon, or Armegeddon. They are the story of our rebellion and God's response. He will not relent if you refuse His offer of salvation.