Review Isaiah 46
Explain this statement: “Our mothers carried us when we were in the womb, but God has carried us from the womb.”
Identify the two different groups addressed in this chapter and the two different messages given to each group.
Assess your own life and what potentially might become an idol in your life as it demands the most of your time and wealth.
- Are you spending too much time and effort on personal leisure in place of loving others and serving others as you serve the Lord? Is it travel, dining out, sports, hobbies, expensive but time-consuming things which can end up taking the place of loving the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind?
Open idolatry is often costly. Idols and all false gods demand payment and service from those who worship them. How does even secret idolatry become a burden people have to carry?
- We slave after what we crave, but it never satisfies.
In this chapter the Lord says that he has carried his people since their birth and will continue to carry them even in old age. Explain how he has done this for you and will continue to do it.
- Firstly, note how the picture of being carried by God is a picture of total grace. God does all the lifting, not us.
- Various answers possible here. Consider firstly how he spiritually provides all we need for faith through the gospel and by his Spirit. In baptism he brings even the newborn infant into his kingdom of grace through faith and by the working of his Spirit. His Spirit continues to feed faith through life by the gospel and strengthen us. He gives us the Lord’s Super to strengthen our faith in the gospel.
- He also in grace works all things for our good. Each individual Christian can say this as they reflect on God’s working for them in their lives. He does this despite our failings and our sin, he does it in grace.
Jump forward to Isaiah 53:4-5 to see what “The Holy One of Israel” had to carry so that he could carry his people.
- Note the same Hebrew verb is used in both places for “Lift up” נָשָׂא.
Isaiah 47:1-15 The Lord’s Judgment Against Proud Babylon
Biblical prophecy often portrays cities as female characters. They refer to the people who lived in the nation of that city and the beliefs they held. Metaphorically the cities do all the same things people do. We saw this at the start of our Isaiah II study, namely, “Speak to the heart of Jerusalem.” Isaiah’s prophecy will continue to employ this technique. His prophecies will close with a picture of Jerusalem as a birthing and nursing mother. This poetic shorthand can still be found today when we say things like “Washington is sending aid… etc.” This entire chapter speaks about the Neo-Babylonian Empire (626 BC – 539 BC). Yet it is intended to also present a far bigger picture.
47:1-3 Describe the initial depiction here of the “daughter of Babylon.” Scan through the rest of this chapter to find additional traits. Do you see any parallels to other proud and affluent societies in history?
- This would all take place hundreds of years after Isaiah’s time. During Isaiah’s day Babylon wasn’t prominent. Assyria was the world power of the day. In time the city of Babylon became like a beautiful virgin daughter, not conquered by armies or destroyed by warfare. Nebuchadnezzar would build it to include his hanging gardens one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
- Note: The title Chaldean comes from the tribes that lived in southeastern Mesopotamia. The Old Babylonian Empire was absorbed by the Assyrians until Nebuchadnezzar II built a neo-Babylonian Empire that dominated for a century. Until 700 BC Chaldea referred to a small territory, but then expanded to include an area marked by today’s map as Iraq, along the Tigris River, roughly the size of New Jersey.
- It was to be clear that the Lord caused her downfall for Israel’s sake. Judgment would come and it would be from him!
47:4 What do the titles in this burst of praise to God tell us about him?
- He is the Redeemer of his lost people. Jesus did this with his blood. He is the almighty. He is faithful and able to carry out his promises. He is holy –above sinners –yet identifies with Israel as he will become incarnate and walk, live, die, rise among them as the Redeemer.
47:5-8 Describe Babylon’s attitude during its rise to power. Note why God allowed her to attain such a position and power.
- They would be arrogant thinking they would never fall. They had power for a time as the Lord used them like a tool for his purposes.
47:7-8 Share some of the temptations we face when we attain positions of prestige and power.
- Like others before us we are tempted to boast in our own strength and forget the Lord.
- Joseph knew he could get revenge but saw God’s greater purpose for his brothers when he ruled over them.
- Esther was reminded that she came to power for God’s purposes, not her own selfish luxury. In place of arrogance should be humble thanks and a desire to serve the Lord with all our might.
47:9-11 Babylon would rise to power in 626 BC, about a hundred years after Isaiah’s time. God fulfilled this prophecy of its downfall when Babylon fell from power in 539 BC. It happened very suddenly. What does the sudden downfall of a dominating world-power impress on us?
- God can turn around history in a single day! That ought to humble any nation.
47:10-15 The chapter closes with a taunt against the things the daughter of Babylon would look to for maintaining her power. List three of them. How do you see people foolishly putting their trust in these things today?
- 1) Wisdom & Knowledge, 2) Magic charms etc. superstition, 3) Astrology and fortune telling
- All these sources of strength and wisdom will burn in judgment. They can’t help us, nonetheless themselves.
- How fitting that God would emphasize his ability to foretell the future in Isaiah’s prophecy if the people of Babylon were going to be delving in fortune telling and astrology.
47:15 “Those who have worn you out” (EHV) or “you have dealt with and labored” (NIV). How does the person who turns to things such as immorality, witchcraft, superstition, and idol worship become worn out by them?
- The demand everything, but never can really give what people need: salvation from sin and rescue from its curse.
Review Isaiah 47
Chapters 46,47, and 48 all deal with God’s judgment on those who turn against him –both unbelievers and the rebellious unbelieving descendants of Israel. What words of comfort are found for believers in this chapter? Why is it so important that we also find God’s words of comfort interspersed in all these chapters?
- God says he is in charge of history. He promises to bring near “righteousness and salvation” he promises to carry Israel all from conception until old age (always carry Israel). He bears the title “Redeemer” “Holy One of Israel” and Almighty Lord as our loving Savior God.
- We see the Lord is a God of mercy who desires all the earth turn to him and be saved.
- These things are written that we may believe and have life in his name!
For further study look at Revelation 18 to see the way “Babylon” is used to refer to the enemies of God and how it foretells their coming day of destruction. Find some parallels to Isaiah 47. Uncover the main points of each chapter.
- Jesus wins! All his enemies will lose. And it will happen quickly when judgment day comes.
- Note: John writes in 90AD when Rome is in power, 600 years after Babylon.
- Rome is sometimes referred to as Babylon Christians in the New Testament era. Yet it is clear that John has far more than godless Rome in the picture. Babylon is a metaphor for every godless nation and all those who serve the devil.
Read Isaiah 54:5; 61:10; 62:5 to see the strong contrast between the final condition of the proud woman of Babylon and the forgiven and redeemed woman, Jerusalem. Compare with Revelation 21:2.
- Isaiah 54:5 5 For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
- Isaiah 61:10 10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
- Isaiah 62:5 5 As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you
- Re 21:2. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Use the pictures of the woman (the Church) and her husband (Christ) depicted above to comfort a fellow Christian who is ashamed of their sin.
- The disgraceful fall of Babylon is given to warn someone who is unrepentant and proud. The beautiful picture of the bride, Jerusalem, is given to comfort the one who is repentant, trusting in the Lord of mercy and love.