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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 47

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3

ISAIAH - CHAPTER 47

DIVINE JUDGMENT UPON BABYLON

To fully appreciate the judgment of Babylon one should study this chapter along with chapters 13 and 14. The kingdom of

Babylon reached the height of her glory under Nebuchadnezzar, who captured and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, around 586 B.C.

- some time after Isaiah’s prophetic ministry had ended. The prophet Daniel pictures the conditions that existed in Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors - clear on down to the fulfillment of the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 47. One may read his record of Babylon’s fall to the Medes and Persians in Daniel 5.

As suggested in our approach to Isaiah 13, Babylon is sometimes used symbolically, in the scriptures, of a highly organized world-system (religious, political and commercial) which is diametrically opposed to God and His order for man and the universe. Of this Babylon, one must understand that her judgment awaits the future. But, the same sovereign God Who put an end to the ancient city and empire, will as surely call a halt to the world system of rebellion at the exact time appointed by the good counsel of His will!

Vs. 1-3: DEGRADATION OF THE ROYAL VIRGIN

By use of striking symbolism, Jehovah addresses proud Babylon with a command to manifest the signs of her degradation: "Come down! and sit in the dust!" (vs. 1).

a. "Virgin" is used of Babylon because she had never before been conquered, and her defenses were considered impregnable.

b. "Daughters of Babylon" speaks of the citizenry, (comp. Jeremiah 51:33-40).

c. To "come down and sit in the dust" depicts the extreme reversal of Babylon’s fortunes.

1) From exaltation, honor, power and glory, she has been reduced to humiliation and shame.

2) No more will she be called "tender and delicate", she will be the "mistress" no longer!

2. A second command is given that she perform the work of abject slavery, (vs. 2).

a. One is reminded of the task assigned to Samson when he was enslaved by the Philistines, (Judges 16:21).

b. To remove her veil, put off her luxurious robes and expose the nakedness of her leg, was the most degrading humiliation

conceivable to the modest women of Babylon, (comp. Isaiah 32:11)..

c. The shame of Babylon would be obvious to all, (vs. 3a).

3. Undiluted calamity is the destiny of Babylon, and nothing can intervene to thwart or hinder the judgment divinely purposed upon her, (vs. 3b; 34:8; comp. Isaiah 63:4).

Verses 4-7

Vs. 4-7: DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY OVER HUMAN GOVERNMENT

1. The overthrow of Babylon is a further exhibition of the universal sovereignty of Jehovah of Hosts, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, (vs. 4).

a. From ancient times He has been bound to them by the strong, yet tender, ties of covenant relationship.

b. His purpose for her has been clearly stated, and He is able to bring it to pass.

2. Babylon is commanded to sit in silence and darkness - no longer to be called "the mistress of kingdoms", (vs. 5; Isaiah 13:18-22; Daniel 2:37-38; comp. Revelation 17:18; Revelation 18:1-10).

3. Wroth with His people, the Lord profaned His inheritance -delivering them up to the discipline of captivity in Babylon, (vs. 6; Isaiah 43:28).

a. Babylon’s dealings with them were without mercy; unconscious that she was acting as God’s agent, her actions were cruel, inhumane and wicked!

b. She laid an unbearably heavy yoke upon the aged and helpless, (comp. La 4:16; 5:12).

4. Presuming herself to be "mistress forever", she gave no thought to the consequences of her conduct - no consideration of an inevitable judgment on her attitude and actions, (vs. 7).

Verses 8-11

Vs. 8-11: A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY THROUGH PRIDE AND PRESUMPTION

1. The pride of wickedness of Babylon is evident in the presumptuous attitude of one who feels so secure that she may abandon herself to pleasure, (vs. 8; Jeremiah 50:11-12).

a. "1 am," she said, "and there is none beside me!"

1) This involved the claiming of a title that belongs to God alone, (see on Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 46:9).

2) The Babylonian tablets, in the British Museum, show that the rulers of Babylon were entitled "King Vicars" - the same title that is given to the Roman Pope on his coronation day.

3) This signified that the king was the earthly voice of God; as such he had no equal among men.

4) One king of Babylon learned by experience that his rule was totally dependent on the God of Israel, (Daniel 4:4-37).

b. "I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I suffer the loss of children!" (Revelation 18:7).

1) She cannot conceive of herself as mourning or experiencing any sense of personal loss.

2) She feels perfectly secure in the midst of all her wickedness.

2. The calamity that befalls Babylon will be sudden and shocking; "In a moment" (in one single day) she will suffer both "widowhood and the loss of children", (vs. 9a; Isaiah 13:16-18; Isaiah 14:22; Psalms 73:19; comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Revelation 18:1-8).

3. Babylon has looked, for counsel, to her sorcerers and enchanters, (vs. 9b, 13; Revelation 18:23; comp. Nahum 3:4-6).

4. Trusting in her wickedness, she presumed herself unaccountable for her actions, (vs. 10a).

a. Her heart perverted, through wisdom and knowledge, she said: "1 AM", and, in essence, "NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!"

b. The inevitable fruit of such an attitude is CALAMITY that cannot be charmed away.

c. Desolation, sudden and unexpected, is her inescapable lot! (Jeremiah 51:8; Jeremiah 51:43).

Verses 12-15

Vs. 12-15: THE IMPOTENCE OF IDOLS IN THE HOUR OF NEED

1. From her origin, under Nimrod (Genesis 10:10), Babylon has trusted in sorcery and enchantments; Jehovah now challenges her to look to them and see whether they so terrorize the Holy One of Israel as to prevent His purposed judgment upon her sin, (vs. 12).

2. Since she has a wearying number of counselors (astrologers, stargazers and monthly prognosticators), let them rise up, if they can, and save her from what Jehovah has declared will be her lot, (vs. 13; Jeremiah 51:58; Jeremiah 51:64; Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:10).

a. They will all be as stubble - consumed by the fire of divine indignation, (vs. 14a; Isaiah 10:17; Jeremiah 51:29-32; comp. Isaiah 5:24-25; Nahum 1:10; Malachi 4:1).

b. They cannot even deliver themselves from the power of the flame, much less those who trust in them!

3. In the day of her distress Babylon will be forsaken of all those who have labored with her - those who have been her merchants from youth - none will be able to save her! (Revelation 18:9-11).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 47". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-47.html. 1985.
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