The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 47 Part 1

Isaiah

There are a couple of difficult concepts to ponder as we go on to Isaiah 47:1-7

A very important doctrine in the Scripture is the Sovereignty of G-d. This does not mean that everything that happens in this world, or in our lives, is the will of G-d. Sin is always a violation of G-d’s will. G-d does not do evil and nor does He encourage us to do evil. G-d does not need evil to be done for His will to be fulfilled. However, although G-d does not cause evil, He is free to use it for His glory and to fulfil His will. This is what we see in regard to Babylon. G-d used Babylon as His instrument to inflict punishment on Judah, but then (once that punishment had been completed) G-d, because Babylon was evil, inflicted judgment on Babylon. G-d did not cause or incite Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and the temple. Nebuchadnezzar’s motivation to take Judah into exile was not because he was in submission to G-d, but he did what he did because of the evil in his heart. G-d, being free to use evil, used Nebuchadnezzar as an instrument to fulfil His will. 

v1: Come down and sit: This is a command that G-d is giving to Babylon. These words are an example of the defeat and shame of the Babylonian empire. 

  • Sit in the dust: For those who show faith sitting in the dust (and ashes) is a sign of repentance. Here, however, it is a sign of humiliation. 
  • Virgin daughter of Babylon: This is how Babylon portrays herself – as clean, as pure, as good. We should not be deceived by this (when the final Babylonian empire emerges – Revelation 18). 
  • Without a throne: Their rule will come to an end. The Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonians and moved their empire to another capital. 
  • Tender and delicate: Babylon will no longer be seen as soft, delightful, precious. 

v2: Take the millstones and grind meal: This is speaking about labour. Babylon was going to have to work, rather than benefitting from the enslavement of others who had served them. 

  • Veil: Some translators translate this word to mean ‘hair’. 
  • Remove…take off…uncover: What the Babylonians did to the Jewish people (exposed their bodies and humiliated them) when they took them into exile is what is going to happen to the Babylonians when they are taken into exile. The measure that they used will be measured against them (Matt 7:2)
  • Pass through the rivers: The Babylonians were going to also be taken away to far off places – crossing many rivers on their way to captivity. 

v3: Shame: Disgrace.

  • I will not arbitrate with a man: No plans will be made for Babylon. No matter who prays for Babylon, or who intercedes for her, G-d will not receive or listen to these prayers or requests on her behalf. 

v4: As G-d brings an end to the Babylonian empire there is going to be a change. Babylon’s judgment brings about a redemptive change. G-d again renews His covenantal relationship with Israel. 

  • Holy One of Israel: This term clues us into the fact that G-d is going to sanctify Israel and she will eventually begin to do the will of the L-rd, she is going to fulfil His purposes. 

v5: G-d continues pronouncing Babylon’s judgment. 

  • The Lady of Kingdoms: Babylon had ruled over many kingdoms, many nations. She was seen as the lady of all of these nations. This, however, is all coming to an end. She will no longer be thought of in this way. 

v6: G-d explains why the Babylonian captivity took place – why Nebuchadnezzar took control of Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple.

  • I have profaned My inheritance: This is what G-d did. Note: In the beginning G-d did NOT say: It is My will to profane My inheritance. This is something that G-d did that was NOT according to His will from the beginning. It was never G-d’s will that Israel would be disobedient to Him. His will was that Israel would be obedient, that they would stay away from idolatry and sin. But they did not act according to G-d’s will. 
  • My people…My inheritance: Parallelism demands that we recognise that G-d’s inheritance is His people. 
  • Your hand: The hand of the Babylonians. 

v7: You said: This is what Babylon thought. 

  • A lady: This was a term of honour, a term of prominence and prestige. This is how she thought of herself. 
  • Did not take these things to heart: She did not pay attention.
  • Nor remember the latter end of them: They did not ever think about the consequences of their actions (that they were attacking the city of the G-d of Israel and were doing something against G-d’s covenant people).

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