11. THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON.
Part 1 Isaiah chapter 13
Many Bible scholars in looking at this chapter say that it is talking about Medes victory over of Babylon in 539 BC. However in 539 BC there was no major battle for Babylon. For Medes, having arrived outside Babylon in the middle of the night, shut off the water that flowed into the city by a canal. Then they marched along the canal into the city to the welcome of most of it citizens, and meeting very little resistance they took over the city of Babylon. Following the take-over, most of Babylon’s city officials (including Daniel) still retained their positions of power and authority. For most of the citizens of Babylon life just carried on as normal, only now they had a new king.
In 539 BC. Babylon was not destroyed, and its people were not killed or deported. The city of Babylon carried on for many hundreds of years. Two-hundred-years after Cyrus the Mede made Babylon his capital, Alexander the Great made Babylon his capital in the East. Hundreds of years later (after the River Euphrates had changed its course) Babylon just faded away to a small country town. To this day, people have always dwelt in Babylon. It has never been totally destroyed nor left desolate.
Therefore, before this prophecy in Isaiah chapter 13, concerning the total destruction of Babylon can be fulfilled, Babylon must first be rebuilt to its former glory. Also because verses 9 to 16 tell us that Babylon will not be destroyed until after the sun is darkened and the moon ceases give light. An event, which Jesus Christ tells us, will not happen until after the great tribulation, we can also say Babylon will not be destroyed until after the great tribulation.
The prophecy in Isaiah chapter 13 is divided into three views, of which both the first and the third view have a large breach period of 2,500 years or more in them. This breach period comes between verses 2 and 3, and again between verses 17 and 18. Giving us a prophecy with two, three or even more views is common to many Bible prophecies. It is a bit like a woman looking at a dress. If she wants to know what the dress looks like, she will look at it from many angles. Because God wants us to understand this prophecy, God allows us to look at the prophecy from many angles.
First view of the fall of Babylon.
Isaiah 13:1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see. 2 Lift you up a banner upon the high mountain, raise the voice unto them, and shake the hand that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
The burden of Babylon, is a song of Babylon’s coming doom and destruction, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
But before the destruction of Babylon, Isaiah first sees the fall of Babylon to the Meds and Persians. By time the armies of the Meds and the Persians arrived at the gates of Babylon, the citizens of Babylon had had enough of their cruel oppressive Babylonian kings. Most of the citizens viewed the coming of the armies of the Meds and the Persians as their liberators, therefore many of the citizens lifted up banners to high points of the city (figuratively they all placed a banner upon the high mountain) welcoming the Meds and the Persians into the city. The citizens of Babylon raised their voices; they shock their hands in a waving motion, as they raised their voices, crying out loud; Welcome! Welcome! Come into to our city of Babylon; Babylon welcomes you. Welcome into the gates of the nobles. Thus it was that the Meds marched into the city to the welcome of most of its citizens, and meeting very little opposition.
Then between verses 2 and 3, we have a gap period of 2,500 years or more from 539 BC until a time yet to come when God will call a multitude from the nations and the kingdoms, and gather them together for battle. They will come from a far country, from the end of the sky. The Old Testament word translated as heaven and sky, means heaved up things. In Ancient times, pagans believed that the gods lived in the high hills and mountains, the heaved up things. In Genesis chapter 1 heaven, the heaved up things, is identified as the sky in which the birds of the air flew. So for these kingdoms and nations to come from a far country, from the end of sky (or the end of the heavens) means a country far beyond the mountain ranges.
Again we can say, in 539 BC the Medes did not come from a far country, far beyond the mountain ranges. The Medes live just a little north of Babylon, but in the last days, Babylon’s enemy will come from a far country, far beyond the mountain ranges. Also unlike the Medes, who came to take over Babylon and include it and its people into their kingdom; this later day enemy will come to destroy Babylon and kill its entire population. We see this destruction of Babylon in verses 3 to 8.
Isaiah 13:3 In My anger I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones, those who rejoice in My highness. 4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like that of many people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts musters the host of the battle. 5 They come from a far country, from the end of sky, even the LORD, and the weapons of His indignation, to destroy the whole land. 6 Howl you; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands shall be weaken, and every man's heart shall melt: 8 For they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman giving birth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
In verse 3 God commands His sanctified ones and He also calls out His mighty ones. Who are these sanctified and mighty ones that God calls from a far country. These could be the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates (Rev 9:10). Or more likely, they could be the kings of the east (Rev 16:12), whom the four angels will cause to raise up an army of 200,000,000 to attack Babylon. These kings are called God’s sanctified ones, not because they are in any way righteous or holy, but because God as raised them up and set them apart for the purpose of bringing God’s righteous judgement upon Babylon.
Verse 3 also says of these kings that they rejoice in God’s highness. All power and authority is from God, He is the Highest and Almighty God. It is God who bestows power and authority and highness; it is God’s to give. These earthly kings having received of God’s highness, become full of self pride and rejoice in God’s highness, as if it were all theirs by their own doing and strength.
Then in verse 4 & 7 we are told of a vast army coming against Babylon, an army which is God’s weapons of His indignation, to destroy the whole land. For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty.
Second view of the fall of Babylon.
Isaiah 13:9 Look and see, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and the sinners, He shall destroy out of it. 10 For the stars of the sky and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the oppressor. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the sky, and the earth shall be shaken out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger. 14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man takes up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land. 15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. 16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.
In this second view we are looking at outpouring of God’s wrath upon the city of Babylon.
Firstly: (In verse 9) God’s warns us of this coming great and terrible day of the Lord, when Babylon will be destroyed.
Secondly: (In verse 10) we are told how we will know this day is coming soon. How will we know? Because we shall see the sign of the sun and the moon being darkened.
Thirdly: (In verses 11 to 15) we are told of the great destruction that will come upon the wicked all around the world (including the city of Babylon) in the last few days leading up to the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
The destruction of Babylon may start at the hands of an army from the east, but it will end with an out pouring of God’s wrath, as God pours His wrath out upon all the cities of the world. Both the destruction of Babylon, by the armies from the east, and the out pouring of God’s wrath upon the cities of the world, will not happen until after the sun is darkened and the moon no longer gives any light.
God’s word says, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (K.J.V. Joel 2:31). And Jesus Christ tell us, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” (K.J.V. Mathew 24:29).
In the Old Testament, the darkening of the sun and the moon is given to us many times as a sign by which we shall know God’s judgment is about to fall upon the wicked of the world. In Joel 2:31 it is clearly stated that this darkening of the sun and the moon will happen before the great and terrible day of the Lord. While in the New Testament, when Jesus Christ disciples asked Him for a sign by which they will know He is coming soon, Jesus gives them the same sign and tells them, we shall see this sign after the great tribulation.
So in the days that come after the great tribulation, when we look up and see the stars in the sky not giving their light, the sun darkened in his going forth, and the moon not causing her light to shine. We can say, “Look and see, the day of the LORD coming soon.”
Why can we say this? Because God through Joel tells us, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (K.J.V. Joel 2:31).
Jesus Christ tells us in Luke 21:25 – 28.
Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear and expectation of those things that are coming on the earth: for the powers of sky shall be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to happen; then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
When men see the signs of the sun, the moon and the stars darken; men’s hearts shall fail them because of fear and expectation of those things that are coming on the earth. What will man expect and fear? The great and terrible Day of the Lord. Why? Because God’s word tells “Thesun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” Sinners, when they see these signs will know the great and terrible Day of the Lord will soon be upon them. They will know they are facing eternal damnation, and because of their fear and expectation of eternal punishment, the hearts many men will fail them and they will die of a heart attack.
After the sun and the moon are darkened, for the sinners there is a period of fearful expectation of what lies ahead. But for the righteous there is a time of joyful expectation of what lies ahead. Then after this period of expectation they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Jesus ends this passage in Luke by saying, “And when these things begin to happen, then look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near.” In other words, when you see the sun and the moon darkened, look up and lift your heads, not because your redemption has come, but because your redemption draws near.
Isaiah 13:9 Look and see, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and the sinners, He shall destroy out of it. 10 For the stars of the sky and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
Therefore when we read about this sign happening before the destruction of Babylon, we know we can place the destruction of Babylon after the great tribulation but before both the day of God’s wrath and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Although Babylon and its people will suffer very severely at the hands of the armies from the east, Babylon’s final destruction will come at the hands of God on the great and the terrible day of the LORD. On that day God will not only destroy the Armies of the world at Armageddon, He will also send a great earthquake which will destroy every city in the world, and great 40 kg hailstones shall fall upon man (Rev 16:21). On that same day fire from the sky shall fall upon mankind. On the day of God’s great wrath, God’s great wrath will not only be poured out upon Babylon, it will also be poured out upon all the wicked who dwell on the earth, ending with the hour that trails by fire.
Of Babylon God says:
Revelation 18:8 Therefore her plagues shall come in one day, death and mourning and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
And of the world as a whole:
II Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the sky shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons should you be? All holy in behaviour and godliness, 12 looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the sky being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new sky and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.
Malachi 4:1 Look and see, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven, and the arrogant, yes all who do wickedly will be stubble. For the day comes that shall burn them up, Says the Lord of hosts, that will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day I do this,” Says the Lord of hosts. 4 Remember you the Law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Isaiah 13:11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the oppressor. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
Once God has finished pouring His wrath out upon the wicked, mankind shall be so rear, they will be more precious than fine gold.
1: According to the writings of Daniel, both the great tribulation and the seven-year covenant will come to an end at the same time.
2: Jesus Christ tells His disciples that this sign of the sun and the moon being darkened, will not happen after the great tribulation.
3: Through the prophet Isaiah, we are given this sign both as a warning of Babylon’s destruction, and of the soon coming great and terrible Day of the Lord.
We can say this destruction of Babylon will happen both after the seven-year covenant, and after the darkening of the sun, the moon and the stars.
Please note; Although both Jews and Christians have suffered many tribulations and persecutions at the hands of the wicked, and will continue to suffer many tribulations and persecutions until the end of the age. The Great tribulation is the affliction and suffering of the Jews at the hands of the wicked during the time of the Beast occupation of Judah and Jerusalem, while the time of wrath is the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the wicked. The Great tribulation comes before the darkening of the sun and the moon, while the fullness of the time of wrath comes after the darkening of the sun and the moon.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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