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Isaiah 13

A Prophecy Against Babylon (13:1–22)

What does this mean for us? It means that we should understand the particular judgments of God in history to be warnings of things yet to come. We are meant to learn from God’s historical judgments and turn to Him, so that when the final judgment comes our names will be found written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

14–16 In these verses Isaiah returns to the particular or “local” judgment against Babylon. The Babylonians had taken into exile many people from neighboring nations—including, of course, the people of Judah. When Babylon is about to fall, these various exiles will try to flee to [their] native land (verse 14). But those exiles who are caught and those who are found living among the Babylonians will all be killed or ravished (verses 15–16).

17–22 Isaiah continues his vision of the defeat of the Babylonians. The Medes (from the northwestern part of present day Iran) will take part in Babylon’s destruction (verses 17–18). Babylon was a beautiful city, the jewel of kingdoms; but it will be destroyed, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed77 (verse 19).

Isaiah says the city of Babylon will never be inhabited . . . through all generations (verse 20). This prophecy has indeed come true. By the end of the first century A.D., Babylon had become a deserted ruin, and it remains so to this day.

Ancient Babylon has become a symbol of godless worldly power. In Revelation Chapter 18, Rome, the center of the world’s greatest empire in Christ’s time, was called “Babylon” by the Apostle John. The Roman Empire too has fallen, and many others like it through the centuries. Isaiah’s message is this: all nations who set themselves up against God will ultimately come to ruin. We do well to ask: How many “Babylons” are there in our world today?

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