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The Judgment Announced
The previous chapter gives the judgment on the gods of Babylon. This chapter explains the judgment on Babylon itself. The LORD speaks directly to Babylon. He shows her how enormously she will be humiliated. Her pride will be humiliated down to the dust (Isa 47:1). She who was first a queen and commander must now do the tiresome handiwork of a female slave. As a prisoner she will be forced to give up her modesty and wade through rivers (Isa 47:2-3).
All this humiliation Babylon has to blame herself for because of her cruel treatment of God’s people. The LORD avenges Himself to them and proves Himself as the Redeemer of His people (Isa 47:4). As the “LORD of hosts” He has absolute authority. As “the Holy One of Israel” He indicates what the character of His people should be in their connection with Him. It also indicates the contrast with the unholy character of Babylon.
Although the LORD speaks to Babylon here, the message is addressed to Israel, to those who have also fallen into the sin of idolatry. By seeing the end of the way of idolatry, Israel must learn to thoroughly condemn this evil in their own hearts. As often happens, the judgment is described in the past perfect tense, as if everything has already taken place.
In the near future, the song of praise of Isa 47:4 will sound again from the mouth of Israel when the fall of Babylon is announced (Rev 19:1-3). There, Babylon is the representation of professing Christianity of Europe, the papacy, which first has power over the beast, the dictator of the restored Roman Empire, the united Europe, but then is destroyed by the beast (Rev 17:3-4; 16).
Reason for Judgment
The king of Babylon has been called “king of kings” (Eze 26:7; Dan 2:37), one who commands other kingdoms. But that will be over (Isa 47:5). Babylon will go into darkness to hide herself because of the shame she has fallen prey to. This is her fate because she has exceeded her task, which is to serve in the hand of the LORD as a disciplinarian rod for His people (Isa 47:6). In His anger God used Babylon to discipline His people. He even has let desecrated His sanctuary. But Babylon has had her own motives in the subjugation of Israel. Babylon will be judged by God because of her treatment of His people and His sanctuary (Jer 50:28).
This is also important for us when exercising discipline in the church. This should only be done in humility, in the awareness that the church members are no better than the one on whom discipline should be exercised. Otherwise God’s discipline will turn against us and His judgment will hit us.
Babylon abused her power and showed no mercy to the aged. She has been particularly violent against God’s people, much harder than God wanted. There is no thought of God in her, but only self-centered thoughts (Isa 47:7). There is also no thought of the finiteness of her task, but she appropriates eternal authority. In the exercise of power man shows his true nature. Only God can judge this.
The Wicked Character of Babylon
In these verses the wicked character of Babylon is further described. It is a lascivious, herself-exalting city that has arrogated to herself divine attributes. The statement “I am” (Isa 47:8) can only be made by the LORD, for it applies only to Him (Exo 3:14). In the New Testament it is clear that everything that is said here about Babylon must be applied in our time to apostate Christianity, especially the roman-catholic church (Rev 18:7). She does not feel like a widow, while the true church does. The true church lives in the awareness of the absence of her Husband, the Lord Jesus. She misses Him. After all, He is not visibly present.
The roman-catholic church, however, moderates in the person of the pope that she replaces Christ on earth, that He is present. She does not miss Him. Because of her false presentation of matters she does not take Him into account. In her corruption she wants to exert influence over the whole earth. “For this reason in one day her plagues will come” (Rev 18:8a).
Babylon believes that her sorceries will protect her from disaster (Isa 47:9). The LORD laughs at it and mocks it. Suddenly disaster will strike her. Cyrus has gradually taken the land, but the city has fallen in one day and she has lost everything: husband, children and glory.
In her foolishness she also thinks that nobody sees her (Isa 47:10). Once again she says in her moderation that she possesses divine qualities: “I am.”
Evil Can Be Repelled by Nothing
She is so full of herself that she has completely banished the thought of the omnipresent God from Whom nothing is hidden. She imagines her natural wisdom and knowledge so great, that she does not realize that she is blind and that her own wisdom and knowledge lead her to these follies. Therefore, an evil will come upon her of which she has no suspicion and against which no spell will help (Dan 5:30). All her sorceries will prove to be useless (Isa 47:11).
The LORD mocks it (Isa 47:12; cf. 1Kgs 18:26-27). After all, she has practiced black magic for so long. He says: ‘Then let’s see what it is worth, perhaps it will frighten Me. If not, let the astrologers tell her how to escape disaster (Isa 47:13). Surely they claim that they can read the future from the position of the stars and deliver the horoscope every month?’ How many people read in it regularly and attribute a certain value to it?
Babylon is a city of people who practice the dark practices of spiritism. The city relies on that too. The city is the home basis of idolatry, of the worship of demonic powers. This is also true of Babylon in the future, the roman-catholic church, in which we can also involve the liberal professing Christianity: “And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird”” (Rev 18:2).
Let it be clear: they are all like stubbles that the fire burns (Isa 47:14). The fire of hell is their part. It is a fire that make you suffer eternally. That is what happens when you do not turn to the one and true God, but follow your own way of error (cf. Isa 53:6a). Then there is no one who saves. All traders will go back to their own places and leave Babylon to her fate (Isa 47:15).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 47". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13