Isaiah 13 Babylon.

“The burden.” (v. 1) Is this not a curious word to describe what Isaiah saw? Isaiah’s calling was no mere intellectual exercise. The day of the LORD of which Isaiah wrote, would be a day of judgment on the nations. Jeremiah’s seems a little more understandable, given that he was on the cusp of the Babylonian exile of the southern kingdom (50-51). But Isaiah was on the cusp of the exile of the northern kingdom by Assyria. However, Babylon epitomized the pride and arrogance of these nations. She thought of herself as the glory of the kingdoms, but she would end up like Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 19). “Babylon was regarded as an epitome of religion and culture, and as such Babylon represents the kingdoms of this world. Peter and John continue to use Babylon as a symbol for ungodly nations (1 Pet. 5:13; Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:1-18:24).

To this judgment the LORD calls for the armies of heaven (vv. 2-3). They make the noise of the battle of judgment (vv. 4-5). This day of the LORD will be a day of wailing and destruction, men will be weak, and the land desolate (vv. 6-9). Darkness will reign (v. 10). All people will be judged for their sinful pride and arrogance (v. 11). Humans will be scarce (v. 12). The LORD describes all this as a shaking of the heavens and the earth (v. 13 Cf. 34:4; 51:6; Hag. 2:6). Men will flee like hunted animals (v. 14). Whole families will be punished (vv. 15-16). This judgment would come at the hands of the Medes (v. 17). Even infants would not be spared (v. 18). Babylon would never be settled again, but it would remain a place for wild animals (vv. 20-22). So we understand that though the destruction would come via the Medes, it was really the LORD’s army behind it all.

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