Next up is Isaiah 13:1-5
G-d’s judgment in prophecy, for the most part, affects the nations around Israel. Israel herself will also experience judgment, but in the last days G-d will move in a unique way to bring about salvation to the remnant of the sons and daughters of Jacob – the Jewish people. Over the next few weeks, we are going to be studying G-d’s judgment. Most scholars agree that this judgment should be understood as a dual fulfilment. This means that some of this was fulfilled in and around Isaiah’s day, but that fulfilment was a paradigm or a foreshadowing of the judgment that is going to take place in the last days. Within this chapter, there are numerous references that, by and large, tell us that this is talking about a last day fulfilment. It is important for us to understand this, as it helps to lay a foundation for us to be better able to discern those clues and be able to apply them in other prophecies that we encounter.
v1: Burden: This was a judgment that was placed upon the people. It is a proclamation that will be put into action.
- Babylon: The empire/nation that took Judah (the southern kingdom) captive – placing them in exile for 70 years. G-d used Nebuchadnezzar as an instrument of His judgment (because He was displeased with Judah’s lack of justice and righteousness), but Nebuchadnezzar was not a wilful servant of G-d. Isaiah and Jeremiah inform us, in very clear terms, that the king of the Babylonians – Nebuchadnezzar – was not acting in obedience to G-d when he did this, but he was acting according to his sinful nature. This is the reason why G-d brought His judgment upon them. In the book of Revelation, Babylon is used symbolically for an Empire who wants to take G-d’s people captive. It symbolises a nation who disagrees with the purposes of G-d. It is in conflict with the will of G-d. In Revelation, Babylon symbolises the final empire – the antichrist empire – that G-d will destroy.
- Saw: Isaiah received a vision of this.
v2: Banner: (נֵ֔ס): This is a word that repeats frequently in the Bible, and it is a word that has great significance. It is a word that relates to that which is miraculous, but it is also a word referring to a banner or a pole which had a message/proclamation attached to it. Often a victorious army returning from battle would carry a banner. This army would fly a banner over their captives – announcing that their enemies were defeated and in submission to them. This word should always cause us to pay attention.
- High: The Hebrew word used here is the word ‘bare’. This is referring to a mountain whose peaks are higher than the treeline and the peaks are therefore bare. Trees do not grow above a treeline because of high altitude. Prophetically a mountain that is high up is referring to a very strong government. Babylon was that. It was a powerful empire, but G-d was going to bring a change upon it.
- Them: Referring to the defeated Babylonians.
- Nobles: Someone who, in a literal sense, is generous or volunteering. In this case it is speaking about those of a noble quality. ‘Noble’ implies wealth. These nobles had both the time and the resources to make donations. These defeated enemies were marched through the gates that were usually reserved for the noblemen.
v3: I: Referring to G-d.
- Sanctified: Those who have been made holy. Holiness is related to purpose. These individuals have been set apart for the purpose of G-d.
- My sanctified ones… My mighty ones: Possibly referring to G-d’s heavenly hosts/armies. They are going to be the ones to execute His anger (eg Revelation 8 and 9). G-d’s end time judgment is not going to come so much through human means. It will be a heavenly judgment that comes to earth through supernatural means.
- Those who rejoice in My exaltation (Majesty): Those who praise and exalt G-d. These angels praise and magnify G-d, and they are the ones who have been set apart, and who are going to be used to execute G-d’s judgment on the world.
v4: Noise: A large sound.
- Multitude: An abundance of people
- Mountains: Other governments and authorities. Although this judgment is primarily upon Babylon, it has implications for not only the Babylonian Empire but for other empires or seats of government as well.
- Gathered together: The nations are being assembled, gathering together. This verse implies that they are not assembling themselves, but the implication is that G-d is causing them to come together.
- The L-rd of hosts musters the army for battle: This is something that has implication beyond Babylon. Some would say that the L-rd is bringing the nations to judge Babylon. Historically we know that the Medes and the Persians did gather against Babylon to battle against and defeat them. Although this took place in the past, it foreshadows what is going to be yet in the future – in the last days.
v5: They come: Referring to these armies – both natural armies (far country) and heavenly armies (from the end of heaven).
- Destroy: Literally this is the word for terrorise: To bring about destruction or harm. This word is used in the New Testament (Rev 7:2-3) to announce the wrath of G-d in the last days. This word talks about Divine retribution.
- Whole land: Most scholars interpret this to have a broader meaning than just one land. They interpret it to mean the whole earth.