Summary: In these chapters we are able to get the broad perspective of God’s activity and a greater feel for the power of his sovereignty as he deals with the nations.
Isaiah 13:1-20:6 The Lord’s Vengeance
5/13/01e D. Marion Clark
I was asked if the scripture text was a misprint. It is; I will not be preaching through eleven chapters, only eight. We will stop with chapter 20. If I preach at the rate I have been up to this time, it will only take me six hours to cover tonight’s message.
Why the acceleration of material? We are moving into a long stretch of Isaiah that could be titled, “Boy, Are You About to Get It!” I figured there only so many consecutive messages about punishment that you could handle. We would be well into the fall, if I picked up my rate to one chapter at a time, rather than the average of three weeks to a chapter.
There is one advantage to taking such a large scope of material besides getting through it faster. For this section, in particular, we are able to get the broad perspective of God’s activity and a greater feel for the power of his sovereignty as he deals with the nations.
It is the nations of the world to which we turn in these chapters. Mostly, God has addressed his covenant nation of Israel as seen in its divided state of Ephraim and Judah. Now he addresses the nations surrounding his people. The focus expands outward into the world; even so, it is a world in which Israel is the center. God’s activity with the nations of world is still put in perspective with his covenant relationship with the nation that he had formed for himself.
Consider first the order of the nations. Isaiah begins with Babylon (13:1-14:23) and Assyria (14:24-27). These, of course, are the nations that will conquer Ephraim (Assyria) and Judah (Babylon). Babylon receives the greatest attention, not because it is the greatest threat (Assyria is at the moment), but because it takes on symbolic significance as the kingdom of the world that opposes God. This significance continues to be developed in Scripture and reaches its highest development in Revelation.
These nations represent the north of Israel. They are actually more east than north, but they always invade from the north. Next, we turn to the Philistines (14:28-32), long-time enemies of Israel to the west. This is a country that ought to have been destroyed when the Israelites came into Canaan, but had managed to survive and be a thorn to Israel.
God then turns his attention to Moab on the east (15:1-16:13), with whom Israel had off-and-on hostile relations. Also in the east is Damascus (ch 17) which represented the territory of Syria. That leaves the south as represented by Cush – Ethiopia (ch 18) and Egypt (19:1-20:6).
Thus, the nations that surround Israel will come under judgment just as Ephraim and Judah did. God makes clear that all the nations are under his rule, and that Israel’s security is under his control. Her judgment is not the result of being exposed to stronger nations, but of God raising these nations to power to carry out his will. They too will receive his judgment at the appropriate time.
Let’s take an overview of this judgment.
2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,
shout to them;
beckon to them
to enter the gates of the nobles.
3 I have commanded my holy ones;
I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—
those who rejoice in my triumph.
4 Listen, a noise on the mountains,
like that of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,
like nations massing together!
The LORD Almighty is mustering
an army for war.
5 They come from faraway lands,
from the ends of the heavens—
the LORD and the weapons of his wrath—
to destroy the whole country.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
9 See, the day of the LORD is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light (13:2-6,9-10).
“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
and as I have purposed, so it will stand.
25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land;
on my mountains I will trample him down.
His yoke will be taken from my people,
and his burden removed from their shoulders.”
26 This is the plan determined for the whole world;
this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? (14:24-27)