CLICK HERE to read Isaiah 47.
This chapter continues the saga of the fall of Babylon, but this time the Lord is speaking directly to Babylon. He says they have been spoiled and proud, and so will be ashamed and confused as they are made captive, treated in the same way as they have oppressed others (verse 1). They will be made to work as slaves, even sold as slaves, even shipped about like slaves (verse 2). Not only will they be naked and shamed, but no one will intercede on their behalf (verse 3). Everyone will be in shock that the Babylonians could be conquered, and everyone will know it was the Lord, the God of Israel, who has done this for the purpose of liberating His people (verse 4). They will be abandoned, left alone and crying out – but will receive no help because the gods they cry out to are not real (verse 5).
The Lord then reminds the Israelites that He allowed them to be conquered because of their poor choices and lack of repentance, but then – as if speaking to children fighting in the backseat – tells the Babylonians that they are in trouble for treating the Israelites poorly with no mercy and cruelty toward the elderly (verse 6). Babylon thought they would rule the world forever, not listening to the prophets that tried to warn them (verse 7). Babylon assumed they could lose themselves in pleasure, not understanding that “the kingdom could become a widow without a king, or that she could lose her children by a foreign invasion and total conquest” (Skousen, p. 597) (verse 8).
But that’s exactly what will happen. Just like in Isaiah 21, the Lord warns Babylon that that they will be conquered overnight (including losing the king) and the people (and children) of the city will be taken captive (verse 9). Skousen’s description of verse 10 explaining why the Lord will allow this to happen is critical for us, even in our day:
The Lord said all of this will come to pass because Babylon will feel so secure in her wickedness. She will be taken unawares. She will feel that she can indulge herself in that which she knows is evil, for she will feel that there is none who can see her or judge her or punish her. The very wisdom and knowledge that she used to make herself so great will be used to corrupt her. She will feel that nothing can challenge her supreme position of power, either in heaven or on earth.
Like Babylon, we cannot think that we can just get away with doing anything we want, as if that is our right. Our only “right” is to choose to follow the Lord, and anything else not only offends Him who gave us life, but also interferes with the rights of others to also choose the right. Every choice we make has a consequence, and every choice changes who we are becoming. The Lord will judge us on what we have done and failed to do, on the intent of our hearts, and whether we have testified of these things to those around us (verse 11). Even Babylon, who surrendered to the compassionate Cyrus, was brutally slaughtered by his successor Darius – who crucified 3,000 of the people left in the city when he became king.
The Lord urges us to rely on Him, who really can help us, instead of on illusions of power or false ideas that can do nothing for us (verse 12). The Lord says that in the final hours – for Babylon and for us – there will be so much confusion that people won’t even know where to turn for help, unless they already have turned to Him (verse 13). Without Him, they will not be able to provide even for temporal needs, much less spiritual needs (verse 14). Those with anything will abandon the rest, everyone frightened and no one knowing how to help (verse 15).
Now is the time to turn to the Lord, to be prepared, to receive His counsel and care for His people.