Sunday, June 3, 2012

Isaiah 14 - Babylon, Assyria, and Philistia's Defeat

LINK: Isaiah 14

BACKGROUND

The LORD will have compassion on Jacob;
once again he will choose Israel
and will settle them in their own land.
Aliens will join them
and unite with the house of Jacob. (14:1)

There is a prominent theme in Isaiah, and one I have been pointing out to you periodically throughout the Old Testament: "aliens" (non-Israelites) would join the returning Israelites (56:6,7; 60:10; 61:5). I have been saying since Genesis 12:3 that God's intention has always been that all the world would be blessed through His people. Beyond this and including 2 Samuel 7, through the descendant of David, the whole world could be saved through Jesus Christ. God loves the whole world (John 3:16)!

Isaiah 14:3-21 is a "taunt" (proverb or song) that will be sung by the people who are freed from the fear of the king of Babylon. The king is most likely Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) because of the parallels in the descriptions in Isaiah 14 and 37:21-29. He was king of both Assyria and Babylon. Sennacherib's grandfather, Tiglath-Pilesar III, had made himself king of Babylon in 728 B.C. The Babylonians were rebellious, but Sennacherib's father, Sargon II, cultivated and cared for them. Unlike his father, Sennacherib dominated them and completely destroyed Babylon in 689 B.C. Sennacherib seized Jerusalem in 701 B.C. leaving Hezekiah on the throne as a vassal ruler. Sennacherib's death by assassination (2 Kings 19:37) eight years later would give rest and quiet to Judah and the whole earth. God permitted Babylon to have power in order to punish His rebellious people, but he would again have compassion.

In a Bible Book Club Live meeting back in 2009, Laura made a very good point, "It seems like one minute God is saying He is not having compassion on Israel and the next minute He is having compassion." She is right!

Isaiah 14:1 is in contrast to 9:17, where Isaiah said God, in punishing His nation, would not have compassion ("pity" and "compassion" are the same Hebrew word in these two verses). I believe that this all means that God, because of His justice, must punish them for their sin in order to bring them to repentance resulting in renewed compassion for them! The purpose of His discipline is always to bring His people back to Himself. He has no compassion for His people's sin, but He has compassion for His repentant people!

Also, it should be noted that some commentators think 14:12-14 refers to the entrance of sin and Satan's fall. Other commentators believe that this is a very "forced" view (Ezekiel 28:12-19 is a much more sure bet in that most commentators believe this is about Satan), and it is most likely just referring to Sennancherib.

Though the Lord was using the Assyrian Empire to destroy Babylon, ultimately Assyria would also fall (14:24-27; 2 Kings 19, and Isaiah 37:21-38).

The chapter concludes with a prophecy in the year King Ahaz died (715 B.C.). "The rod that struck you" (14:29) is referring to when Sargon II of Assyria defeated Ashdod, the Philistine city, and Judah when they revolted in 711 B.C. As a result, Philistia became an Assyrian province.

This was a LOT of history today, and my head is spinning. We will suspend with a REFLECTION and APPLICATION until tomorrow!

PRAYER

Lord, we praise You as the God of history and that You do all things with a purpose. It is YOUR story (HIStory). We give the story of our lives to You, asking You to use us for Your glory. In Jesus' name, who gave His life for us. Amen.
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