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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 47: Babylon now held accountable


v.1-5 Babylon will be brought down

v.6,7 Babylon did not realise the Lord's purposes

v.8-11 Their pride & wickedness will not save them

v.12-15 Their reliance on the occult will not save them


[Preliminary notes: This is a simple chapter of warnings to Babylon that God is about to punish them for the unrighteous way they went about dealing with Israel when God used them to discipline Israel.]



v.1-5 Babylon will be brought down


v.1 This is a warning to Babylon

v.1   ‘Go down, sit in the dust,
    Virgin Daughter Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
    queen city of the Babylonians.
No more will you be called
    tender or delicate.


v.2 The mighty ones will be reduced to menial tasks

v.2   Take millstones and grind flour;
    take off your veil.
Lift up your skirts, bare your legs,
    and wade through the streams.


v.3 They will be shamed as God deals with them

v.3   Your nakedness will be exposed
    and your shame uncovered.
I will take vengeance;
    I will spare no one.'


v.4 For Israel, God is still Redeemer

v.4   Our Redeemer – the Lord Almighty is his name –
    is the Holy One of Israel.


v.5 But Babylon will go into a place of grief and mourning

v.5   ‘Sit in silence, go into darkness,
    queen city of the Babylonians;
no more will you be called
    queen of kingdoms.


[Note:  The first part simply declares the downfall of Babylon, of the changes that will come, being brought down to servitude.]



v.6,7 Babylon did not realise the Lord's purposes


v.6 God disciplined sinful Israel using Babylon

v.6   I was angry with my people
    and desecrated my inheritance;
I gave them into your hand,
    and you showed them no mercy.
Even on the aged
    you laid a very heavy yoke.


v.7 But Babylon was not aware of what was happening

v.7   You said, “I am for ever –
    the eternal queen!”
But you did not consider these things
    or reflect on what might happen.


[Note:  The prophet, in the Spirit, looks back [from the future] to view how God had used the might of Babylon to take Israel, but Babylon didn't realise it was God bringing this about.]



v.8-11 Their pride & wickedness will not save them


v.8 Babylon relish their pleasures and think themselves secure

v.8   ‘Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure,
    lounging in your security
and saying to yourself,
    “I am, and there is none besides me.
I will never be a widow
    or suffer the loss of children.”


v.9 But destruction and loss of life will come suddenly

v.9   Both of these will overtake you
    in a moment, on a single day:
    loss of children and widowhood.
They will come upon you in full measure,
    in spite of your many sorceries
    and all your potent spells.


v.10 You thought you could get away with wickedness

v.10   You have trusted in your wickedness
    and have said, “No one sees me.”
Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you
    when you say to yourself,
    “I am, and there is none besides me.”


v.11 But God will now bring disaster on you

v.11   Disaster will come upon you,
    and you will not know how to conjure it away.
A calamity will fall upon you
    that you cannot ward off with a ransom;
a catastrophe you cannot foresee
    will suddenly come upon you.


[Note:  Turning from the drastic changes that will come, the prophet turns to why they will come. God had chosen to use Babylon to discipline His people Israel but Babylon in their self-centred godlessness didn't realise that they were on God's mission and so went in unrighteousness, indifferent to the hurt they brought. Now they will be on the receiving end of punishment.]



v.12-15 Their reliance on the occult will not save them


v.12 They are a people who turn to and rely on the occult

v.12   ‘Keep on, then, with your magic spells
    and with your many sorceries,
    which you have laboured at since childhood.
Perhaps you will succeed,
    perhaps you will cause terror.


v.13 Let them try and save you…

v.13   All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
    Let your astrologers come forward,
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
    let them save you from what is coming upon you.


v.!4 …but they won't be able to for they will perish as well

v.14   Surely they are like stubble;
    the fire will burn them up.
They cannot even save themselves
    from the power of the flame.
These are not coals for warmth;
    this is not a fire to sit by.


v.15 None among them will be able to save them from what God is going to bring

v.15   That is all they are to you –
    these you have dealt with
    and laboured with since childhood.
All of them go on in their error;
    there is not one that can save you.


[Note:  Babylon [perhaps like Egypt in Moses' day, and nations within Canaan when Israel invaded] thought that their occult powers could be used to make them secure, but when God comes, nothing will save them!]


[Concluding comments: What is amazing about this prophecy is that it is the prophet speaking as if he were some hundred and fifty years in the future – as history shows us – speaking to Babylon after they have taken Israel into captivity, and in it the Lord holds them accountable for the way they went about the task He prompted then to do in disciplining Israel. When prophets are moving in the Spirit, prompted by God, it is as if they step out of time into the heavenly realm to get a much broader view of history and therefore bring warnings many years ahead of the events being covered. What is also interesting is that although such prophecies existed, they were not heeded by those of whom they spoke.]



Continue to Chapter 48