Babylon, Your Time Is Up
Lord, we stand in awe at the thought of how You dispense perfect justice in this earth.
Read ISAIAH 47:1–15
“Go down, sit in the dust,
Virgin Daughter Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
queen city of the Babylonians.
No more will you be called
tender or delicate.
2 Take millstones and grind flour;
take off your veil.
Lift up your skirts, bare your legs,
and wade through the streams.
3 Your nakedness will be exposed
and your shame uncovered.
I will take vengeance;
I will spare no one.”
4 Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.
5 “Sit in silence, go into darkness,
queen city of the Babylonians;
no more will you be called
queen of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people
and desecrated my inheritance;
I gave them into your hand,
and you showed them no mercy.
Even on the aged
you laid a very heavy yoke.
7 You said, ‘I am forever—
the eternal queen!’
But you did not consider these things
or reflect on what might happen.
8 “Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure,
lounging in your security
and saying to yourself,
‘I am, and there is none besides me.
I will never be a widow
or suffer the loss of children.’
9 Both of these will overtake you
in a moment, on a single day:
loss of children and widowhood.
They will come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and all your potent spells.
10 You have trusted in your wickedness
and have said, ‘No one sees me.’
Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you
when you say to yourself,
‘I am, and there is none besides me.’
11 Disaster will come upon you,
and you will not know how to conjure it away.
A calamity will fall upon you
that you cannot ward off with a ransom;
a catastrophe you cannot foresee
will suddenly come upon you.
12 “Keep on, then, with your magic spells
and with your many sorceries,
which you have labored at since childhood.
Perhaps you will succeed,
perhaps you will cause terror.
13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
Let your astrologers come forward,
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
let them save you from what is coming upon you.
14 Surely they are like stubble;
the fire will burn them up.
They cannot even save themselves
from the power of the flame.
These are not coals for warmth;
this is not a fire to sit by.
15 That is all they are to you—
these you have dealt with
and labored with since childhood.
All of them go on in their error;
there is not one that can save you.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face” (Psa. 11:7).
If we live in peaceful, democratic countries we may find this chapter disturbing. If we live, on the other hand, in areas subjected to violence, occupation, rape, pillage and ethnic cleansing, we may find this chapter deeply reassuring. God sentences Babylon to a grave reversal of its fortunes, so that the once-envied empire becomes an object of derision, shame and poverty.
God initiates Babylon’s downfall. Why? In a sentence, it is because God is committed to righteousness and justice. The heart of today’s passage explains why God’s treatment of them is just. God had appointed Babylon as an instrument of discipline for wayward Israel, but the Babylonians overstepped the mark and, showing no mercy, became drunk on their own sadistic power (5–7). The empire was fixated on satisfying its own pleasure and enjoying lazy security at other people’s expense (6). Babylon became arrogant, believing itself to be exempt from any accountability to others, especially the God of Israel (8b–10). The Babylonians were so locked up in themselves that they failed to see the coming tsunami of God’s judgment that would bring them to ruin and catastrophe (11). It was too late. Having failed to heed the warning signs earlier, they were unable to find anyone who could advise them how to escape God’s wrath (12–15). So, the tsunami engulfed them.
In Revelation 18 and 19, Babylon stands as a symbol for all human empires and powers that arrogantly practice injustice and, assuming themselves to be unaccountable, live how they like. All governments need to know that one day their time will be up, and they’ll reap the just reward of their evil deeds. Rather than being disturbed by this, we should rejoice that justice will win and that the victims of oppression will be saved and recompensed.
Are you comfortable adding your voice to that of the magnificent angel who celebrated that, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great” (Rev. 18:2)? If not, why not?
Lord, thank You that I am no longer the object of Your righteous judgment.