<< Start at Isaiah 1
The "ER" numbers below reference an Exhaustive Reference which will be made available when completed.
After taking us on a harrowing journey through the first few months of Tribulation (chapters 1 through 12) Isaiah now provides an in-depth flashback of the destruction we learned about in chapter 1. "Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire." (Is. 1:7) "The cities are laid waste and without inhabitant." (Is. 6:11) But what does this mean? Who or what is this Babylon? Is it merely some sort of world-wide system like we’ve all been taught? Is it a world power which is yet to arise out of the dust of ancient Babylon in modern-day Iraq? Or does this country with cities now exist today?
Consider what we’ve learned from Isaiah in the first 12 chapters. Babylon is a nation of the latter days filled with God’s defiled yet still worshipping people. She was full of justice but now is corrupt. She is wealthy and obesity is a significant problem. Her people are strong-headed and they hold many doctrinal beliefs but aren’t all that concerned with taking care of the hungry, the orphans and the widows. Even her religious leaders are corrupt. Their sin and judgment has already been mentioned five times in the first twelve chapters. Isaiah places this nation at a point in time when God’s promise to Abraham, that his seed would have filled the earth like the sand of the sea, has come to pass. At the time of her end God’s hand of judgment is heavy upon her as she receives lesser judgments intended to wake her up. But these are to no avail as she, collectively, in pride and arrogance of heart, refuses to repent and return to her God.
As we study the prophets we will learn much more about this nation. But at this juncture we may find it helpful to take a brief look ahead. In Zechariah we find: "Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon." (Zec. 2:7) While some may dismiss this as only speaking of a time long ago, to do so would be to gloss over key themes we’ve been reading about. Zechariah 2 discusses a time when the Lord will dwell in the midst of his people after disposing of those who oppress them. He also speaks of this time when many nations will come and join them in the land as he takes possession of Judah as his inheritance (grafted back in) in the Holy Land. It is at this time when he rises up from his holy habitation. Micah 4 echoes this theme of the latter days when the daughter of Zion will be like a woman giving birth. From Babylon, referred to as the stronghold of the daughter of Zion (v.8), she shall be delivered in the latter days. (v.1)
While it’s easy and convenient to dismiss these latter day prophecies as events that will befall some other people in a land far, far away, to do so would be a grave miscalculation. I’m speaking to born-again, blood-bought Christians here. We may even rightly identify Babylon as America today. But if we don’t rightly identify the people to whom God is referring, we will still miss the message. "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven..." (Heb. 12:22-23) In this we understand how God identifies his people. His true Church is Zion who, according to Isaiah, will soon be brought back to the mountain, or nation, or land of Zion; the land promised to our fathers of the faith. We are the ‘inhabitants of (heavenly) Jerusalem’ of whom Judah (the Jews) will say “they are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God” (Zec. 12:5) when he suddenly finds his children in his midst. "Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 'Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone (Yahshua), elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.'" (1 Pet. 2:6)
As we study the Scriptures we must come to terms with identity. We must begin to understand ‘who’ God is talking about within the context of the latter days. We must put aside the rumors, half-truths, and outright false teachings we’ve heard and press on as we labor in the Word.
Summary by Section
v.1 The burden against Babylon…
1. (v.2-3) [ER 3.5.7, 3.7]
Just as we find in Isaiah 5 and Jeremiah 51, the Lord himself is mustering the army against Babylon. Just as Moses predicted, “unless their Rock had surrendered them.” (Deut. 32:30) But here we see the Lord has an accomplice in the matter. The sanctified are those who are holy and set apart by him for his work. They are the ones who care about his exaltation. What is that work? Raise your voice to them, wave your hands. Call to them. Let the enemies of Babylon know the best time to strike. Lift up the banner on the high mountain. Mountains speak of nations and there is no other nation higher or more exalted than Babylon. She is THE superpower of the earth. She is home to the noble (H5081: “free”) of the earth. From that mountain, raise your voice to them. These are God’s mighty ones who not only know his plan, but they also know when it is to happen. God calls and raises up champions to do his work at the time of his fierce anger.
2. (v.4-5) [ER 3.5.2, 3.5.4, 3.5.7]
Though the Lord has accomplices, he takes full credit. He is the one who has preordained this destruction. He gathers the kingdoms of nations. An alliance is formed with one intent: destroy Babylon. Do you hear them? Do you hear the tumultuous noise of them gathered together? They come from afar, even from the end of heaven. When do they leave? When do they arrive? Jeremiah informs us. They leave at noon and arrive in the early evening. (Jer. 6:4-5) Isaiah confirms: “Then behold, at eventide, trouble!” (Is. 17:14) They leave at noon from their “farthest border” (Jer. 50:26) and arrive in the early evening. But why? Because the day is coming when that one day, in particular, will give them unprecedented advantage.
3. (v.6-10) [ER 126.96.36.199, 3.5.2, 3.5.3, 3.5.5, 6.6]
This is how the day of the Lord comes! It will come as destruction. It will come as sudden destruction after a time of peace and safety. (1 Thes. 5:3) It arrives with the complete and utter destruction of the superpower God refers to as Babylon. It so comes as a woman in childbirth. Every man’s heart will melt. There is nothing they can do. They are completely overwhelmed. The judgment is swift and final. Look there! Chicago, gone. Look south, St. Louis, gone! Look east, Indianapolis, gone! Detroit, gone! Toledo, gone! Go west, take out California. Take out all large population centers. Go east, go down the coast; one by one, gone. In an instant. There’s no escape. “Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate.” How can two put ten thousand to flight? How many pilots does a nuclear bomber have? Two. Their hearts melt. Their faces like flames. The devouring locusts (Joel 1:4, Amos 7) have come. Nothing is left.
But how? How could we not see them coming? Why did they send bombers instead of guided missiles? “The light is darkened by the clouds.” (Is. 5:30) “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.” Whatever blotted out the sun, moon and stars was big enough and fierce enough to move the earth out of her place (v.13) and shake it exceedingly. (Is. 24:19) That great celestial event occurred “before them”; before the army coming to destroy America. (Joel 2:10) We won’t even see them coming.
4. (v.11-14) [ER 188.8.131.52, 3.5.5, 6.4]
“I will punish the world.” Here and now commences the world-wide event, or series of events, known as the Tribulation. The culmination of the Tribulation is the return of Christ. Are you proud? Are you arrogant? Prepare to meet your maker. But who is the sinner? Have not all sinned and fallen short? Who can withstand this day? The Lord knows those who trust in him. (Nahum 1:7)
“The earth will move out of her place.” Did the earth at one point in time have months lasting exactly 30 days each? Yes, we can make a very strong case for it. But from where did the extra five days each year come? Why does a month no longer last exactly 30 days? Is it not due to the tilt of the earth on its axis? Did the earth experience this celestial “thing” before? Was the earth moved out of her place before, resulting in an extra five days each year? One might wonder why Daniel and John (Revelation) both count the remaining days using months rounded to 30. What kind of effect would the earth experience if no longer tilted on her axis? Would not the seasons remain constant and latitudes experience relatively constant temperature year round? How would crop production change? In such a time as that “the plowman shall overtake the reaper” in certain regions. (Amos 9:13)
“And everyone will flee to his own land.” Though end-time Babylon is described elsewhere as culturally diverse, I do not believe this is necessarily referring to Babylon. Though some who survive may at this time try to flee, I’m not sure how feasible that would be. But when we consider the shaking on that first day is world-wide, we now understand that many travelers all over the earth would suddenly be interested in returning home to loved ones during this time of great distress.
5. (v.15-18) [ER 3.5.2, 3.5.4]
Just as we saw in chapter 9 how the Lord will not “have mercy on their fatherless and widows”, so we see that theme repeated here. Contrast this with Jer. 50:20: “For I will pardon those whom I preserve.” Those of the families of Babylon whom the Lord does not pardon and preserve will partake of the full fury of that day. Notice there is no distinguishing between men of war and civilians. Children of those not pardoned receive of the judgment of their parents. Just as America indiscriminately dropped those bombs on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so we see her judgment is meted back on her in like manner. (Ez. 22:31, 24:14)
“I will stir up the Medes.” Much of the prophetic text has a dual nature. There is an ancient Babylon and a present-day, end-time Babylon. There’s an ancient Medo-Persian Empire and a present-day Medo-Persian nation. In the case of Babylon we know her latter-day counterpart was carried to a distant land. (Zechariah 5) But Iran was still called Persia as recently as 1959. Already in this narrative we have seen how the “king of Assyria” is Gog of the land of Magog. He will come upon America, then soon after Palestine, “with a great company.” (Ez. 38:4) Among the “kingdoms of nations” (v.4) are “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya.” (Ez. 38:5) In this chapter “the Medes” refers to Persia, who we call Iran today. Gog is told to “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.” (Ez. 38:7) It takes no great stretch of the imagination to see how Russia today is preparing these nations by providing them with advanced weaponry. Is she a guard for them? It wasn’t but a few years ago that Putin stated an attack on Iran would be considered an attack on Russia. Even this year (2012) Putin is still warning against an attack on Iran.
6. (v.19-22) [ER 3.1.7, 3.5.2]
“The glory of kingdoms.” America today is the cream of the crop. We sit as Queen over all peoples and nations. We are the stronghold of the daughter of Zion. “For you shall no longer be called The Lady of Kingdoms.” (Is. 47:5) We are the Lady of Kingdoms. We are the world’s only superpower. We are THE hyperpower. We say in our heart, “I am, and there is no one else besides me.” (Is. 47:8)
“As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” Just as we saw in chapter 1, had God not preserved a remnant, that remnant would have been made like Sodom and Gomorrah. Those twin cities were completely destroyed by fire from the sky. We can understand the modern-day counterpart to this is nuclear-tipped missiles raining down on our largest population centers. Those who survive (but not among the pardoned remnant) will be left to fend for themselves in a ruined land. (see chapter 3)
“Her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged.” As I showed in “Quenched”, the days are numbered. There is a set day when her time will expire and these events will commence. Nothing will remain. Life will not continue on for the survivors. They will eventually perish and only wild animals will remain. Eventually she will be covered by the ocean waves. (Jer. 51:42)
1. Jump up and down, wave your hands around to get their attention.
2. The alliance of nations comes from afar to destroy Babylon.
3. This is how the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation, begins.
4. The whole world will be affected.
5. There is no discernment among the slain.
6. It’s over. Babylon is completely destroyed forever.
End of Age Context
In verses 6 and 9 we can plainly see the day of the Lord is being mentioned here. That key phrase, just as we saw in chapter 2, denotes the end of the age just before the return of Christ. It is used as a key marker throughout the prophets.
End of Age Themes
- The Lord musters the army against Babylon.
- An alliance of nations from afar destroys Babylon.
- This destruction occurs on the first day of Tribulation.
- This event affects the entire world.
- Great terrestrial and celestial disturbances are observed.
Sequence of Events
The very first event of the day of the Lord, also known as the Tribulation, is the complete and utter destruction of end-time Babylon, who is America today. I devote an entire chapter to this topic in my book “Quenched Like a Wick.” While it is most obvious in Isaiah 13, other texts within the Bible support this argument as well. The overthrow of America is the event mentioned as early as chapter 1 of Isaiah. While this overthrow occurs in the early evening hours, we see from other prophets that at midday “the sun will be darkened in its going forth.” Before them, before the army arrives, we will experience great terrestrial disturbances (earthquakes, etc.) caused by something celestial. (Joel 2:10)
After examining the first twelve chapters in detail, we find that chapter 13 is really a flashback to chapter 1 where we learned that all her cities are burned with fire. While there was an ancient Babylon who was defeated by the Medo-Persian Empire, it did not happen as told here and it was not a judgment coming to the whole earth. Men died in the battle but the land was not made desolate. Man was not made as rare as the gold of Ophir. Though leadership changed hands, the world was not punished. What we can conclude then is, although some of this can be applied to ancient Babylon, the true recipient is present-day Babylon. These events will occur in the near future exactly as shown here. Isaiah 13 is a hinge chapter. The door of the Tribulation swings on this chapter.