Territorial Pain; Isaiah 13-16
August 1, 2014

C. R. Oliver

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August 1, 2014

Territorial Pain
Isaiah 13-16

          This month, we steer our study over four chapters reviewing several of the enemies of Israel. Beginning with Babylon in Chapter 13, it is necessary to point out, not only the accuracy of the Prophet, but the long timeline. (Sometimes the prophet reaches into the future for over 100 years and is "on the money" historically. This prompts biblical critics to declare there are many Isaiah writers who voice their work in this book. Don't believe them.)

Chapter 13: Babylon!

Isaiah 13:19
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
The beauty of the Chaldeans' pride,
Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
Like Sodom and Gomorrah, Babylon has been symbolically used as a depiction of luxuriant degradation and depravity. Often, Babylon has been associated with religious perversion (the Catholic Church for example). Sometimes, whole nations have been castigated with Babylon's name applied to government and financial systems. "The Babylonian System" most recently can be heard rattling from pulpits across the world in reference to Capitalism (as if Capitalism was inherently evil).
Comment: Capitalism's roots were in the Reformation and its foundation supported by the Protestant Ethic. This is precisely why many Popes and Pentecostals join in array against its entrepreneurial freedom. Max Weber's old standby, Capitalism And the Protestant Ethic should be re-read before judging it.
(Misappropriation of Scripture is so common today that the Spirit of Discernment must be used even in church.)

True, some of the associative aspects of ancient Babylon validate several of the above claims, but in the case of Isaiah 13, the prophet is talking about the ancient kingdom of Babylon, not some spiritual symbolism. Interestingly enough, he speaks nearly two hundred years before it exercises its power over Israel, even saying that its kingdom would fall by the conquering hand of the Medes (which were a "non-entity" during 740 BC). No wonder Ezekiel and Daniel and the three Hebrew children took courage in the face of their adversity-they knew the game plan of God by reading Isaiah.

Historically, Nebuchadnezzar desecrated the Temple in 586BC and took away King Zedekiah, leaving Jeremiah standing in the muddle that remained. The Babylonians destroyed Israel and took as slaves the able bodied and intelligent, leaving the remainder to fend for themselves in the destruction. The prophet Isaiah hears from the Lord: "pay-back time" is on His agenda. Although God allowed Babylon to punish His people, He did not order Babylonian cruelty and it would be returned on their heads. (Read the account of Belshazzar's feast in Daniel 5 and its debauchery and how startled they were when the Medes broke through their security and annihilated them in one night.)

The Medians had no mercy. They, and the Persians, pillaged, raped and burned. Isaiah saw it so clearly that his descriptions were as accurate to history as if he had been a reporter on the scene.
Isaiah 13:17-19
7 'Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,
Who will not regard silver;
And as for gold, they will not delight in it.
18 Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces,
And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb;
Their eye will not spare children.
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
The beauty of the Chaldeans' pride,
Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.'
Think on the last line of this scripture, "as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." This is the picture associated with Babylon! Revelation's reference to Babylon has THAT image. (In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, God completely destroyed a sexually perverted [homosexual] community sparing only Lot and a portion of his family. (See: Leonard Ravenhill's book, Sodom had no Bible.)

Review the verses prior to these verses. It is the Lord who assembles the ravenous army.
Isaiah 13:6
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.

Isaiah 13:9
Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
Observe the extent of this tumultuous time.
Isaiah 13:11
'I will punish the world for its evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will halt the arrogance of the proud,
And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
Wherever evil, iniquity, arrogance, pride and haughtiness abound, count on it-God will come on the scene. Those characteristics elicit the following treatment.
Isaiah 13:15-16
15 Everyone who is found will be thrust through,
And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
Their houses will be plundered
And their wives ravished.
Those who would overthrow Iraq and occupy physical Babylon have not met the true God of the universe when He was stirred to anger. Babylon fell in a day under the kingship of Belshazzar; its heritage was onerous.

The exactness of this prophecy is startling. It beckons modern prophets to either be specific and abandon their nebulous jargon or cease claiming the office. Modern Prophets, give us dates, times, exact situations or persons or shut up!!!

Chapter 14 Words against the King of Babylon, Assyria and Philistia:

(A continuation of the prophecy against ancient Babylon [modern Iraq]).

Isaiah 14:22
"For I will rise up against them," says the LORD of hosts,
"And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant,
And offspring and posterity," says the LORD.

Isaiah opens this chapter with encouragement for the people of God (BEFORE they are taken captive). He tells them they will return from Babylon and be blessed in the "land of the Lord." Israel will take captive those who captured them and make servants of them. Israel will have rest, peace and prosperity from the hand of the Lord. THEN, they will openly triumph over the King of Babylon with their words and judgments.
Isaiah 14:1
For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land.

Isaiah 14:2
They (Israel) will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.
Israel is made to realize how much the Lord loves them. Far in advance of their troubles is the promise of restoration and victory over their enemies. THAT is a picture they had to carry into their captivity and why God advises to, "Count it all joy." The sequence of Scripture offers a prelude and postlude to their captivity. As a prelude, there is much shouting and joy in both Chapter 12 and Chapter 14.


Part of Israel's restoration was giving them the fruit of their lips. What they say of the King of Babylon will come to pass. They had to speak it by faith in order to see it crystallize into fact.

The Prophet gave them words from God, and they had to take up those words and put them into the atmosphere of their confession.
Isaiah 14:3-4
It shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, 4 that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say:
(Below is a summary of what they are to say while ending it with this declaration:)
Isaiah 14:23
'I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,' says the LORD of hosts
Notice what this proverb covers.
l. They declare the end of Babylon's beauty and its ruling King (v. 4).
(Who caused this to come to pass?)
Isaiah 14:5
5 The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, The scepter of the rulers;
2. The earth itself rejoices when the evil ones are cut down with no hint of return.
All of nature rejoices and is joined by the Cypress and the Cedars (choice trees). Paul said the earth groaned for its redemption.
3. Hell and the grave rejoice.
Isaiah 14:9
Hell from beneath is excited about you,
To meet you at your coming
From its depths the kings of the earth are assembled to add their Words.

Isaiah 14:9-10
All the kings of the nations.
10 They all shall speak and say to you:
'Have you also become as weak as we?
Have you become like us?'

(The rulers point out the King of Babylon's grave condition: maggots and worms.)
4. God compares Babylon's King to satan, who fell from heaven (v.12ff).
Isaiah 14:12
'How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!'

The pompousness of the King of Babylon paralleled the speech of the devil.
(Notice: 740 BC had a greater understanding of how satan was "behind the Throne" than most moderns. They knew how he was directing and prompting evil works. Hitler and Stalin would attest.)
A favorite passage for many preachers is this parallel drawn between satan and the King of Babylon. (I suppose equating national leaders with the devil is not a new phenomenon.)
Isaiah 14:16-17
16 'Those who see you will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:
"Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms?
17 Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?"'
5. Note the contrast between the King of Babylon and the other world leaders.
Isaiah 14:19-20
Like a corpse trodden underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
Because you have destroyed your land
And slain your (own) people.
6. The Lord makes decrees that must come to pass (See: Sealed Unto His Coming).
Isaiah 14:22
'For I will rise up against them,' says the LORD of hosts,
'And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant,
And offspring and posterity,' says the LORD.

Isaiah 14:23
'I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,' says the LORD of hosts
Please notice God's reason for such action:
Isaiah 14:21
21 Prepare slaughter for his children
Because of the iniquity of their fathers,
Lest they rise up and possess the land,
And fill the face of the world with cities.
In the book, Sealed Unto His Coming, I go into detail about the sovereign seal of God on certain events in history. One may not pray against them, seek the Lord to change His direction or try to influence His opinions. Notice now His reasoning: He wants to punish them over His land (v. 25). Is this why He is gathering folk over Israel today? Are we to note verse 26?
Isaiah 14:24-27
The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying,
Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:
25 That I will break the Assyrian in My land,
And on My Mountains tread him underfoot.
Then his yoke shall be removed from them,
And his burden removed from their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth,
And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts has purposed,
And who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
And who will turn it back?
          This prophetic word was written before the rise to power of the Assyrians. The Lord did to them exactly as He promised. What is He promising today? What is He saying to you?

          When King Ahaz died, the surrounding nations saw this as opportunity to make moves against Israel-exploiting the situation. God reminds them, "He is in charge."
Isaiah 14:32-15:1
'The LORD has founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.'

Isaiah 14:31
'All you of Philistia are dissolved;
For smoke will come from the north,
And no one will be alone in his appointed times.'
This is a promise and not a threat! God gave promises to His beloved Israel in this chapter and also to the enemies of Israel. The Lord alone is able to warrant these words. He reminds Philistia that in His eyes, "They are toast." He has determined "appointed times" for each of them.

Nations would do well to realize their corporate mortality. What is God decreeing over your country? Throughout this chapter, He re-iterates His love for His people and reminds them that though they may be surrounded by their enemies and sometimes invaded by the enemy, they are still HIS CHOSEN.

Chapter 15 "Geographic Exactness"

Isaiah 15:7-8
Therefore the abundance they have gained,
And what they have laid up,
They will carry away to the Brook of the Willows.
8 For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab,
Its wailing to Eglaim
And its wailing to Beer Elim.

If one will dare examine a map of the area occupied by Moab, it will become plain the prophet is calling the roll of cities and places destined for destruction. Moab, comprised of the descendants of Lot's incestuous relationship, (and the Edomites) are targeted by God for punishment and not without reason.

In preparation for the prophetic word of Chapter 16, this chapter clinches the fist of God around the throat of Moab and incorporates everyplace and everything they treasure.

(As one reads the list of places, try and spot them on the maps below and realize that some of the places mentioned have faded away and are not ascertainable due to many factors, including God's judgment.)

Isaiah is geographically correct and shows his knowledge base is specific and irrefutable.
Isaiah 15:1
Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste
And destroyed,
Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste
And destroyed,
When judgment begins to be realized in homes and villages, there is much weeping. There is weeping in the idolatrous Temples, weeping among the citizenry in the streets and even weeping among the military personnel. So much weeping is heard that it affected the heart of the prophet, and he weeps for their plight. (Oh, that modern prophets might be found weeping.)
Isaiah 15:3
In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth;
On the tops of their houses
And in their streets
Everyone will wail, weeping bitterly

Isaiah 15:5
5 'My heart will cry out for Moab;'
Like a volcanic inferno engulfing first one city then another, the fury of the Lord covered the land of Moab.
Isaiah 15:7-9
7 Therefore the abundance they have gained,
And what they have laid up,
They will carry away to the Brook of the Willows.
8 For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab,
Its wailing to Eglaim
And its wailing to Beer Elim.
9 For the waters of Dimon will be full of blood;
The intricate details concerning every town and village flowed in front of Isaiah with graphic accuracy. The panorama moved him. Nonetheless, his office required his voice to be heard and, perchance, heeded!

From this chapter, Isaiah launched into Chapter 16. He is a credible witness and Israel must hear!

Chapter 16 Moab is punished and Sanity Returns

Isaiah 16:5
In mercy the throne will be established;
And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,
Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.
A hundred years before Isaiah's time, Obadiah prophesied the demise of Edom (descendants of Esau). At that time the capitol at Petra was a prosperous city in the mountain pass. They habitually harassed Israel, charged the people of God exorbitant fees for supplies and tattled their whereabouts to surrounding armies and enemies. Now, the tables are about to turn and Isaiah weeps for what he sees. Isaiah rightfully prophecies that within three years their time will be up and all protection from God will be "hands off."

Isaiah urges them to make two basic changes: first, to start back paying tribute to Israel and second, offer the Jews protection while in their territories. Isaiah knew their pride and arrogance would not allow them to take the offer, but God offered it nonetheless. "He is good and His mercy endures forever."
Isaiah 16:1
Send the lamb to the ruler of the land,
From Sela to the wilderness,
To the mount of the daughter of Zion.
Sheep were the common animal used for tribute in ancient times. Isaiah is telling the Moabites, you need Judah's protection against the Assyrians, but you are not aware of it. Send tribute from all sections of your country. Send lambs from the farther outposts of the kingdom, as well as, points near to them. Give abundantly to Israel in order to garner their favor and show your servitude to them.

At this junction, Isaiah contrasts the Daughter of Zion vs. the Daughter of Moab. (Daughters refer to the entire people of a land.)
Isaiah 16:1-2
To the mount of the daughter of Zion.
2 For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest;
So shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.
The prophet counsels Moab to "shadow and hide the outcasts." Stop betraying the persecuted ones. "Be a shelter to them who run from the 'spoiler.'"

Isaiah gives some ultimatums to Moab if they are to be spared: "Extortion has come to an end! Devastation must cease! Oppression must be run out of the land!"

Looking into the future, he counsels Israel to know their kind will cease unless they change. One is coming to the throne of David who will see to it. He will rule in justice and righteousness and none of the former ways will be able to continue. Get right with God NOW!

The whole world knew bad things about Moab. Their reputation for pride, arrogance and their lying lips preceded them. Because of their rancor, their land will suffer if they turn this final offer down.

Knowing that the Assyrians will conquer and take away the Northern Kingdom, Isaiah prophesies that within three years, the Assyrians will come for Moab. He sees "The Lords of the nations," breaking them down. In verse ten, he counts their awesome fate. He begins to weep with tears flowing down his cheeks as he counts what will happen if they fail to repent (v. 9). Again, in verse eleven, his emotions overcome him and Isaiah becomes what is lacking in modern prophets. Identifying with his subjects, his frame quakes as tears roll down and he retches from the inner depth of his being (because of what he sees).

He says the day will come when all hope will have vanished and they will run to their idolatrous temple and cry out for deliverance, but there will be no help.

Solemnly, Isaiah rises to the heights of power and declares his message is an Oracle of God.
Isaiah 16:14
14 But now the LORD has spoken, saying, "Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble."
"The years of a hired man" are determined by legal document (outlining in advance, the extent of his labors, his starting date, his tenure and the date of release). Yep, the prophet did what few do today, he gives times and limits according to God's calendar.

There are time limits with God. His world is not a disorganized mess breaking loose here and there. Its times and seasons are determined and whether or not the nations hear the cry of the prophet of God or the siren sounds of satan is up to them. Their destiny depends on the road they take.

From Petra, two roads were dominant: a road to Damascus and a road to Jerusalem. Perhaps the choice of roads is what caused the Lord to focus on Syria in the next chapter.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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