The Work of the Iconoclast
Isaiah 21:9
And, behold, here comes a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen…

Fallen, fallen is Babylon, and all the images of its gods he hath broken unto the ground. Recent researches have disclosed the fact that there were three sieges of Babylon during the time of Isaiah - in B.C. 709 by Sargon, and in 703 and 691 by Sennacherib. Mr. George Smith, writing of the last of these three sieges, says, "Babylon was now wholly given up to an infuriated soldiery; its walls were thrown down, its temples demolished, its people given up to violence and slavery, the temples rifled, and the images of the gods brought out and broken in pieces." Herodotus is our authority for the supposed aversion of the Medes and Persians to all images. "They not only thought it unlawful to use images, but imputed folly to those who did so." But modern researches do not confirm the statement of Herodotus, and we need see in the destruction of the Babylonian idols no more than the signs of a humiliating and overwhelming conquest. Cyrus has been hitherto regarded as a Persian and monotheist; it is now argued that he was an Elamite and a polytheist. Illustrating the subject, we note -

I. SOME MEN'S LIFE-WORK IS BUILDING UP. They make businesses; they found families; they start theories; they commence organizations; they build churches; they initiate societies. Such men are full of schemes. Moses founds a nation. David organizes a kingdom. Paul establishes a Christian society in the Gentile world. Wesley begins a sect.

II. SOME MEN'S LIFE-WORK IS KEEPING UP. They cannot begin. They are not fertile in resources. Initial difficulties crush them. But quiet perseverance, good faithful work, enables them well to sustain what others have begun.

III. SOME MEN'S LIFE-WORK IS BREAKING DOWN. As was Carlyle's. He broke down society shams, and conceits and hypocrisies of modern thought. So Mahomet broke down corrupt Christianity. The skeptic is an iconoclast; but he breaks down for the pleasure of breaking down. The critic is an iconoclast; but he only attacks the evil. The reformer must often be an iconoclast; but he breaks down only that he may rebuild. Sometimes things reach such a pass that they cannot be reformed, and then "destruction cometh from the Lord," whatever agents he may use; as in the old world, Sodom, captivity of Israel, destruction of Babylon, etc. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

WEB: Behold, here comes a troop of men, horsemen in pairs." He answered, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the engraved images of her gods are broken to the ground.

Things that Did not Happen
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