Isaiah 13-23

Isaiah’s pronouncements of judgement in Isaiah 13-23 underscore God’s jealousy for the trust of His people. God yearns for them to expect that He will deliver, even to the degree that they forsake all others and trust in Him alone. In the midst of international threats, Israel and Judah were tempted to make an alliance with the surrounding nations. Isaiah’s speeches were intended to persuade Israel and Judah to rely upon only their God for deliverance. Isaiah’s speeches also censured the nations from boasting over the vineyard of the Lord—since the nations invading Israel and Judah were merely instruments of the Lord’s wrath against His people. In the storyline of Scripture, Isaiah’s oracles in Isaiah 13-23 form a schema for understanding judgment and redemption.

(1) John’s description of the destruction of Babylon reflected Isaiah’s prophecies of Babylon’s demise. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would be swept away, destroyed by the Medes (Isa 13:17-22). The king of Babylon would be thrown down (Isa 14:3-22), Isaiah said. He exhorted his listeners to take note of the day when Babylon would be destroyed (Isa 21:1-10; Jeremiah 50-51) and flee the temptation to trust in any but the Lord of Hosts. John understood the words of Isaiah to have implications for the consummation of the ages. In Revelation 17-19, John recorded his vision of the destruction of Babylon, concluding with the description of Christ’s victorious return. Then those who boasted over God’s people would finally be destroyed (Rev 19:17-21) and a new creation would be established (Revelation 21-22).

(2) Jesus too saw in Isaiah’s prophecy an apt description of the kind of events that would take place before His return. During His passion week in Jerusalem, one of His disciples was exiting the temple with Him and commented to Jesus about the massive stones used to build such an impressive structure (Mark 13:1//Matt 24:1//Luke 21:5). When Jesus replied that the temple would be destroyed, some of His disciples asked Jesus for specifics of when the temple would be destroyed and what circumstances would incite such a cataclysm (Mark 13:4//Matt 24:3//Luke 21:7). Jesus urged His disciples to beware of whom they trusted. Many false prophets would arise, Jesus said, offering security during the coming tribulation. Jesus then turned to the words of Isa 13:10 where the prophet said, “The stars of the sky and its constellations will not give their light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shine.” These alterations in the natural phenomena (Mark 13:24//Matt 24:29//Luke 21:26) are not an end in themselves, Jesus said. These would reveal the coming of the Son of Man in His power and dominion. Jesus described the day of the Son of Man not only in terms of judgement but also in terms of redemption, when the angels would be sent out to gather the elect from around the world (Mark 13:27//Matt 24:31).