Isaiah 13:  Judgment Day of Babylon

I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 3:11

Isaiah 13-17, Summary


With chapter 13, we enter a section filled with words of judgment and promise, with the darker side of the future emphasized.  Isaiah 13-17 contains massa’, translated “oracle,” which indicates a message of judgment directed against a specific person or peoples with full divine authority.  The oracles in these chapters are directed against Babylon, Assyria, the Philistines, Moab, and against Damascus.

Key verse.  13:11  God will judge the sins of all.

Personal application.  Don’t judge others blessed by present prosperity.  Look to their destiny and your own!

Key concepts.  The Day of the Lord, Satan, Babylon, Assyria, Edom and Philistines.

The Book of Isaiah takes a major turn at 13:1.  The focus in this extended section is first on the Lord’s judgments against the nations:  Babylon and Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, and Tyre.  This prophecy of judgment is followed by an end-time prophecy that is sometimes called “the little apocalypse of Isaiah” (ch. 24-27).

13:1-14:27  The oracle against Babylon consists of seven sections: 1. The assembly of the army of the Lord of Hosts, 2. The announcement of the day of the Lord, 3. The annihilation of Babylon 4. The salvation of Israel 5. Israel’s mocking dirge for the king of Babylon 6. The destruction of Babylon 7. The destruction of Assyria.

13:6 The day of the Lord refers to a time of unusual activity of God in the lives of people, for judgment or for mercy.  At hand is also translated near.  The basic idea of the term is not that of approaching a fixed date, but that the day of the Lord is about to burst into one’s world.  The day of the Lord is imminent – able to happen at any time – not because people have almost reached it as a destination, but because it may burst in upon people without further warning.  The title the Almighty is the Hebrew name Shaddai (Ex. 6:3; Ps. 91:1).

13:17 The Medes, who lived in what is today northwest Iran, were fierce enemies of the Israelites.  Significant for dating this prophecy is the fact that Persia, which conquered the Medes in 550 B.C. and in conjunction with the Medes conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. is not mentioned.  Silver… gold:  The point is that the Medes will not be bought off with bribes.

13:20 It will never be inhabited:  The fulfillment of this prophecy should not be sought in a specific event, but in the general principle that the kingdoms of this world would not endure.  Places that once were fabled for their great structures will become so desolate that even deserted peoples would not pitch tents there.

13:21, 22 The language of these verses is that of the ancient Middle Eastern curse.  The animals named in these verses ominously represent that which is unclean, unholy, uncivilized, and unsettled.  The godly people of ancient Israel would have no associations with such animals.

⇒  The day of the Lord’s judgment will come “suddenly.”  It can happen at any time.  This is an important truth.  This chapter is very scary, we all could face terrible suffering and death.  But it shouldn’t be so scary for believers.  After witnessing what the evildoers can do to humans including children and babies, this chapter sounds like good news, like the kind of movies that ends with terrible demise of villains.


13 1  The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. 2  “Lift up a banner on the high mountain, Raise your voice to them; Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles. 3  I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger– Those who rejoice in My exaltation.” 4  The noise of a multitude in the mountains, Like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts musters The army for battle. 5  They come from a far country, From the end of heaven– The Lord and His weapons of indignation, To destroy the whole land.

6  Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7  Therefore all hands will be limp, Every man’s heart will melt, 8  And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; They will be amazed at one another; Their faces will be like flames. 9  Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10  For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. 11  “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12  I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13  Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger. 14  It shall be as the hunted gazelle, And as a sheep that no man takes up; Every man will turn to his own people, And everyone will flee to his own land. 15  Everyone who is found will be thrust through, And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16  Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished. 17  “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, Who will not regard silver; And as for gold, they will not delight in it. 18  Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; Their eye will not spare children.

19  And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 20  It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. 21  But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches will dwell there, And wild goats will caper there. 22  The hyenas will howl in their citadels, And jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, And her days will not be prolonged.”


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