About seven hundred years before the birth of the Christ, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Isaiah. Part of Isaiah’s message to mankind was about the activities and future of Middle East nations familiar to the Jewish people.
The entire contents of Isaiah 13 pertain to Babylon. The first words of that chapter indicate it was a message “against Babylon” (13:1). Babylon was a city, and at one point, an empire. The city was located on the Euphrates River, about 50 miles/80 kilometers south of modern-day Bagdad, Iraq. Babylon’s most well-known monarch was Nebuchadnezzar, who lived about one hundred years after Isaiah’s day. According to one source, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon was the largest city in the world” [www.britannica.com]. The historian
Herodotus claimed that the walls of the city of
Babylon were around 87 feet wide, 300 feet tall, and
covered a distance of up to 60 miles (96 kilometers).
When it was at the peak of its might, Babylon
may have cause people to be in awe, but Jehovah
was not impressed. Babylon’s powerful rulers may
have struck terror in the hearts of men, but no one
In speaking about Babylon, the Lord said:
Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who will not regard silver; and as for gold, they will not delight in it. 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. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited . . . But wild beasts of the desert will lie there . . . (Isaiah 13:17-21).
It is as if the Lord was proclaiming, “Babylon is going down!” Indeed, it was. There are lessons for us.
Babylon was in the hands of the Lord. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Well, that depends. It is a fearful thing for the ungodly to fall into His hands (Hebrews 10:31), but it is a comforting thing for His faithful servants to be in His hands (Hebrews 13:5).
The world and all that is contained therein belong to the Lord (Psalm 24:1). Babylon’s survival was dependent on God . . . not its economic policy, Center for Disease Control, or having advanced military weapons. God raises up rulers and nations, and He also brings them down (Daniel 2:20,21; 4:17).
Babylon must face “the day of the LORD.” Without doubt, Isaiah was writing about Babylon when he wrote, “Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty . . . Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger . . .” (Isaiah 13:6,9). “The day of the LORD” refers to God’s judgment/visitation on a city or country. Bible students must look at the context to see the specific application in each case. Again, we emphasize that the language of Isaiah 13 about “the day of the LORD” is not talking about the end of the world, but the fall of Babylon.
Why would God bring down Babylon? Why was the Lord so upset/angry with it? Babylon’s fall was not an accident. It did not “just happen.” God made it happen (Jeremiah 50:17,18,24,25).
But why? Why would God bring Babylon down? Hear God’s answer: “And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done . . .” (Jeremiah 51:24). Babylon’s sin against the Lord is what caused her downfall. Babylon was proud (Jeremiah 50:29), trusted in her wisdom (Isaiah 47:10), was superstitious, and worshiped idols (Isaiah 47:12,13; 21:29). Never forget: God sees all that occurs on the earth, and He holds us all accountable for our choices. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).
God said He would use the Medes to bring Babylon down, and that is exactly what transpired (Isaiah 13:17,18). It was the combined efforts of the Medes and Persians which overthrew Babylon (Daniel 5:28-31). Jehovah God, as the great Sovereign of the universe, would make it happen. The Lord raised up Babylon as His rod of justice against nations in the Middle East, then He later turned around and punished Babylon for her own iniquities (Jeremiah 25:9-12).
Isaiah foretold Babylon’s complete destruction. Babylon never would be inhabited, Arabs would not pitch tents there, and there would be no sheepfolds (Isaiah 13:20). Wild animals would take it over (13:21,22). Babylon, called “the glory of kingdoms” (13:19), would become void of humans. God said so.
Please note this historical perspective. When Isaiah was living and made the prediction of Babylon’s destruction, Babylon was not “the big dog” in the Middle East. Assyria was. Thus, when Isaiah foretold that Babylon would come crashing down, his prophecy meant that (1) first Babylon must rise to become recognized as a mighty power, then (2) later it would be destroyed.
God said that Babylon would fall long before it occurred. Isaiah, how do you know all of this stuff?! Such “inside information” had to have come from one Source . . . God. It was revealed to and through the prophet by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20,21). Fulfilled prophecy proves the Bible is God’s word. Only God knows perfectly what the future holds. Think about it.
— Roger D. Campbell