The armies of God's wrath. (1-5) The conquest of Babylon. (6-18) Its final desolation. (19-22)
Verses 1-5 The threatenings of God's word press heavily upon the wicked, and are a sore burden, too heavy for them to bear. The persons brought together to lay Babylon waste, are called God's sanctified or appointed ones; designed for this service, and made able to do it. They are called God's mighty ones, because they had their might from God, and were now to use it for him. They come from afar. God can make those a scourge and ruin to his enemies, who are farthest off, and therefore least dreaded.
Verses 6-18 We have here the terrible desolation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Those who in the day of their peace were proud, and haughty, and terrible, are quite dispirited when trouble comes. Their faces shall be scorched with the flame. All comfort and hope shall fail. The stars of heaven shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened. Such expressions are often employed by the prophets, to describe the convulsions of governments. God will visit them for their iniquity, particularly the sin of pride, which brings men low. There shall be a general scene of horror. Those who join themselves to Babylon, must expect to share her plagues, ( Revelation 18:4 ) . All that men have, they would give for their lives, but no man's riches shall be the ransom of his life. Pause here and wonder that men should be thus cruel and inhuman, and see how corrupt the nature of man is become. And that little infants thus suffer, which shows that there is an original guilt, by which life is forfeited as soon as it is begun. The day of the Lord will, indeed, be terrible with wrath and fierce anger, far beyond all here stated. Nor will there be any place for the sinner to flee to, or attempt an escape. But few act as though they believed these things.
Verses 19-22 Babylon was a noble city; yet it should be wholly destroyed. None shall dwell there. It shall be a haunt for wild beasts. All this is fulfilled. The fate of this proud city is a proof of the truth of the Bible, and an emblem of the approaching ruin of the New Testament Babylon; a warning to sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and it encourages believers to expect victory over every enemy of their souls, and of the church of God. The whole world changes and is liable to decay. Wherefore let us give diligence to obtain a kingdom which cannot be moved; and in this hope let us hold fast that grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
This chapter contains a prophecy of the destruction of Babylon, literally understood as a type and exemplar of the destruction of the mystical Babylon, so often spoken of in the book of the Revelation: an account is given of the persons that should be the instruments of it, and of the desolation they should make; which would issue in the utter ruin of that once famous city. The title of the prophecy, and the person that had it, and brought it, are expressed, Isa 13:1 orders are given to the Medes and Persians to prepare for war, Isa 13:2 and are described as the Lord's sanctified ones, his mighty ones, and who rejoiced in his highness, Isa 13:3 by the multitude of them, by the length of the way they came, and the end of their coming, by divine direction, and as the instruments of God's wrath, to destroy the land of the Chaldeans, Isa 13:4,5 wherefore the inhabitants of it are called to howling, because that destruction from the Lord was at hand, Isa 13:6,9 the effects of which were fainting, fear, consternation, pain, and sorrow, without the least relief and comfort, Isa 13:7,8,10 the causes of which were their sin and iniquity, particularly their arrogance, pride, and haughtiness, Isa 13:11 which destruction is further described by the fewness of men that should be left in the land, Isa 13:12 by the strange revolution made in it, and the confusion it should be in, Isa 13:13 by the fear and flight of men, both of their own and other nations, that should be among them, Isa 13:14 by the slaughter of men and children, the plunder of their houses, and the ravishing of their wives, Isa 13:15,16 the persons that should be employed as instruments are mentioned by name, and represented as not to be bribed with gold and silver; and as merciless and uncompassionate, that should spare neither young men nor children, Isa 13:17,18 and the chapter is concluded with a particular account of the destruction of Babylon; which is aggravated, by observing its former glory; by comparing its ruin to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; by its being no more to be inhabited by men within, nor to have Arabian shepherds pitching their tents without it; and by being the habitation of wild beasts, satyrs, dragons, and doleful creatures, Isa 13:19-22.