James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.Isaiah 13:1-27:13
JUDGMENT ON GENTILE NATIONS
This is a long lesson to read, but the study put upon it need not be proportioned to its length. There is a sameness in the chapters, and their contents are not unlike what we reviewed in the preceding lesson. Note the names of the nations and their contiguity to God’s chosen people. They have come in contact with their history again and again, which is why they are singled out for special mention. It will be well here to review what was said about these Gentile nations in the “Introduction to the Prophetic Scriptures.” Seven nations are named, a perfect number, indicating Gentilism as a whole, construed as the enemy of Israel. In their order we have Babylon (chaps. 13-17); Moab (chaps. 15-16); Syria (chap. 17); Ethiopia (chap. 18); Egypt (chaps. 19-20); Medo-Persia (chaps. 21-22); Tyre (chap. 23).
Then follows a picture of judgment in which all the nations seem to be included; but following the judgments on the Gentile nations, Judah is seen redeemed from her iniquity, delivered from her tribulations, and restored to her land (chaps. 25-27). This whole section of the book, wherefore, is on an enlarged scale, that which has been set before us several times.
For the purpose of the present study, therefore, and as a matter of convenience, these discourses might be grouped as one climaxing, as in the other instances, in the ultimate triumph of the chosen people.
This idea, however, involves one of two things: Either these nations typify Gentile dominion in the earth at the end of this age, or else they themselves will be revived as nations with reference to the judgments of that day.
The evidence for their revival, however, is not apparent except in one case, that of Babylon (chaps. 13-14). The chapters referring to the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, seem not to have been fulfilled in that event, except in part; from which the conclusion is gathered that a later and completer fulfillment is in store. There are corresponding passages in other prophets indicating this, and the book of Revelation (chap. 18) seems almost to require it.
There are at least nine features of prophecy in these chapters not fulfilled in the earlier overthrow of Babylon referred to: The whole land was not then destroyed (Isaiah 13:5); the Day of the Lord did not then come (Isaiah 13:6); the physical phenomena were not then seen (Isaiah 13:10); the city itself was not then destroyed as Sodom, for the Persian victory was without blood, and the scepter passed gently into their hands. Moreover, the land still yields a princely income to its Turkish rulers, and a city and a village exist on the site of Babylon (Isaiah 13:19-22); the Lord did not then visit Jacob with rest, nor has He done so as yet (Isaiah 14:1-3); the king of Babylon therein minutely described, has not yet arisen, and seems to point to a greater and more august being than the world has ever seen (4:22); the Assyrian was not then trodden down in the land of Judah, nor was the yoke then removed form her (Isaiah 14:25); finally, the divine purpose on the whole earth was not then fulfilled (Isaiah 14:26).
1. Have you examined the location of these seven Gentile nations on a map?
2. How is the law of recurrence illustrated in this lesson?
3. What two ideas about these nations are suggested in this lesson?
4. Have you read Revelation 18?
5. What existing evidence is there that Babylon has not yet been destroyed as Sodom?
6. What great person seems to be referred to in chapter 14:4-22?