Isaiah 11-14 The Righteous Reign of the Branch October 29, 2018
Last week we saw that God was so angry with Israel that he was going to destroy it. There was no longer any opportunity to repent. Israel was invaded by her neighboring countries and then completely destroyed by Assyria. God took no pity on her, not even on the fatherless and the widows. We read: “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”
But God eventually gives in and Isaiah prophesies a remnant of Jacob will turn to the mighty God. They will return to a reconstituted Israel that contains both Judah and Israel, as in David’s day. A second child is born who will rule the new Israel and will rule all nations as the promised Messiah. “O the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne David an over is kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”
Meanwhile when God is finished using Assyria as a tool of his wrath, Assyria will also be punished for its arrogance in thinking what she accomplished was by her own strength, and not by the hand of God. “Her fruitful land will be destroyed, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes way”.
The last vision we saw was of God walking through the length of Judah as powerful forester who will strike down trees, that is nations, with an axe. Assyria was his axe at this time in history. This week we will see that although Judah was struck down to a stump by the Assyrian invasion, she was not uprooted. A stump remained and from that stump will come a shoot.
11:1-5 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Judah has been reduced to a stump. Only Jerusalem remains intact. But the royal seed is spared in the city and from there a branch will grow and bear fruit. The Messianic seed is protected and will continue to the day of Jesus.
11:6-9 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
The new kingdom will be like the Garden of Eden where righteousness and peace reign. We understand this to be the New Heaven and the New Earth of Revelation. Some post-millennialists will argue that this will happen before Christ’s return as the message of the church reaches all nations.
Review Isaiah 2:1-5 and 9:1-7, and Habakkuk 2:14.
11:10-12 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
He will raise a signal for the nations
and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
and those who harass Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west,
and together they shall plunder the people of the east.
They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites shall obey them.
And the LORD will utterly destroy
the tongue of the Sea of Egypt,
and will wave his hand over the River
with his scorching breath,
and strike it into seven channels,
and he will lead people across in sandals.
And there will be a highway from Assyria
for the remnant that remains of his people,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from the land of Egypt.
The Lord Is My Strength and My Song
12:1-6 You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah inserts this beautiful song of praise in the middle of this prophesy.
The Judgment of Babylon
13:1 The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
This is the first time Babylon appears in the Vision of Isaiah. Babylon means ‘The Gate of God’. It is not the Babylon that invaded Judah in 586 BC. That was the Neo-Babylonian empire. Babylon is an ancient city and has been powerful many times through history. It is considered the site of the Tower of Babel where men gathered to challenge God in Genesis 11. God intervened by confusing they language and dispersing them over the face of all the earth. In the eighteenth century Babylon was the capital city of Hammurabi who established his code of ethics that governed the world for centuries.
Hammurabi (also known as Khammurabi and Ammurapi, reigned 1792-1750 BCE) was the sixth king of the Amorite First Dynasty of Babylon, assumed the throne from his father, Sin-Muballit, and expanded the kingdom to conquer all of ancient Mesopotamia. The kingdom of Babylon comprised only the cities of Babylon, Kish, Sippar, and Borsippa when Hammurabi came to the throne but, through a succession of military campaigns, careful alliances made and broken when necessary, and political maneuvers, he held the entire region under Babylonian control by 1750 BCE.
According to his own inscriptions, letters and administrative documents from his reign, he sought to improve the lives of those who lived under his rule. He is best known in the modern day for his law code which, although not the earliest code of laws, came to serve as a model for other cultures and is thought to have influenced the laws set down by Hebrew scribes, including those from the biblical Book of Exodus.
Joshua J. Mark
published on 16 April 2018
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, dated back to about 1754 BC (Middle Chronology). It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code. A partial copy exists on a 2.25 metre (7.5 ft) stone stele. It consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (lex talionis) as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free, man or woman.
Nearly half of the code deals with matters of contract, establishing the wages to be paid to an ox driver or a surgeon for example. Other provisions set the terms of a transaction, the liability of a builder for a house that collapses, or property that is damaged while left in the care of another. A third of the code addresses issues concerning household and family relationships such as inheritance, divorce, paternity, and reproductive behaviour. Only one provision appears to impose obligations on an official; this provision establishes that a judge who reaches an incorrect decision is to be fined and removed from the bench permanently. A few provisions address issues related to military service.
The code was discovered by modern archaeologists in 1901, and its editio princeps translation published in 1902 by Jean-Vincent Scheil. This nearly complete example of the code is carved into a basalt stele in the shape of a huge index finger, 2.25 m (7.4 ft) tall. The code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, using cuneiform script carved into the stele.
It is currently on display in the Louvre, with replicas in numerous institutions, including the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, the Clendening History of Medicine Library & Museum at the University of Kansas Medical Center, the library of the Theological University of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, the Pergamon Museum of Berlin, the Arts Faculty of the University of Leuven in Belgium, the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, and the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, and Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.
Babylon was always a thorn in the side of the Assyrians. Tiglath-Pileser III had himself crowned the King of Babylon around the same time he was invading the Levant. But a powerful Chaldean prince, Merodach-Baladan, seized power over Babylon. He was repelled but returned a number of times in war with Assyria over the city. We hear of him in
Isaiah 39. Sennacherib was unable to conquer Jerusalem and returned home to Nineveh where he was murdered by his sons. Merodach-Baladan used this unrest to regain Babylon. He sent envoys to Hezekiah, probably to scout out the city of Jerusalem, under the guise of sending Hezekiah well wishes after he's recent illness (Isaiah 39). It is this Babylon that this prophesy addresses.
13:2-12 On a bare hill raise a signal;
cry aloud to them;
wave the hand for them to enter
the gates of the nobles.
I myself have commanded my consecrated ones,
and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger,
my proudly exulting ones.
The sound of a tumult is on the mountains
as of a great multitude!
The sound of an uproar of kingdoms,
of nations gathering together!
The LORD of hosts is mustering
a host for battle.
They come from a distant land,
from the end of the heavens,
the LORD and the weapons of his indignation,
to destroy the whole land.
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
Therefore all hands will be feeble,
and every human heart will melt.
They will be dismayed:
pangs and agony will seize them;
they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at one another;
their faces will be aflame.
Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.
I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
I will make people more rare than fine gold,
and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
Assyria will again be God’s tool for carrying out this prophesy. In 700 BC Sennacherib will campaign against Babylon and place his son Assurnadin-sumi on the throne. A punitive campaign will be carried out against the Chaldeans. Merodach-Baladan will escape once more, but we do not hear of him again. We will hear of a further judgment on a later Babylon in chapters 46 and 47.
13:13- 16 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the LORD of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger.
And like a hunted gazelle,
or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
and each will flee to his own land.
Whoever is found will be thrust through,
and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
Their infants will be dashed in pieces
before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
and their wives ravished.
13:17-18 Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them,
who have no regard for silver
and do not delight in gold.
Their bows will slaughter the young men;
they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb;
their eyes will not pity children.
13:19- 22 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans,
will be like Sodom and Gomorrah
when God overthrew them.
It will never be inhabited
or lived in for all generations;
no Arab will pitch his tent there;
no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
But wild animals will lie down there,
and their houses will be full of howling creatures;
there ostriches will dwell,
and there wild goats will dance.
Hyenas will cry in its towers,
and jackals in the pleasant palaces;
its time is close at hand
and its days will not be prolonged.
The Restoration of Jacob
14:1-2 For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD's land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.
God cannot remain angry forever. As angry as he was earlier, he now events of his anger and will draw his scattered peoples back to the Holy Land. The ones turning will only be a remnant, but they will return and will repossess their land. This repeats, and therefore reinforces the promises in chapter 11.
Israel's Remnant Taunts Babylon
14:3 When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
14:4-11“How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.
Babylon has not been an element in Biblical history to the point. Egypt and Assyria have been the heat oppressors. Yet this taunt against Babylon is sung. Could this be by the Israelites that were displaced from Israel and settled in the Mid-east? The Neo-Babylon kingdom will be a great oppressor, but that will be more that a century later.
14:12-21 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.
“May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
This is a familiar section from Isaiah for all of us. We understand it to refer to Satan, and indeed it does. However, it can refer to a king of Babylon as well. Remember Babylon means ‘The Gate of God’. Here mankind planned to assault God and free himself from God. The city had become a city of many gods. Bel was a major god there, and the rulers would show subjection to this god by ‘seizing the hands of Bel’ in the crowning ceremony. Marduk was a second major god of the city. Therefore, I think Babylon demonstrates a power center for Satan in the world. Saddam Hussein was planning to restore Babylon to its former glory and he even minted gold coins with the picture of Nebuchadnezzar on one side and his one face on the obverse.
14:22-23 “I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the LORD. “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts.
Fortunately God has the last word.
An Oracle Concerning Assyria
14:24 -27 The LORD of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.”
This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
For the LORD of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?
This completes the judgment on Assyria that started in chapter 10.
An Oracle Concerning Philistine
14:28-32 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle:
Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder,
and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
and your remnant it will slay.
Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
and there is no straggler in his ranks.
What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The LORD has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”
The Philistines were always a thorn in Israel’s side. God often used them o punish his disobedient people. However she will pay a price for her treatment of Israel. Assyria will again be God’s tool for carrying out his judgment.