We now commence the second circle of the first division of our book, in which are contained Isaiah's prophecies concerning the nations and the world. The first describes the doom of Babylon. Whereas the word "Babylon" occurs here, there is no doubt Assyria is in view. The prophecy concerning Babylon comes later (21:1-10). This is clearly shown by Dr. Thirtle in his Old Testament Problems.
In graphic language the prophet foretells the nearness of judgment. He describes the mustering of the hosts, and then their marching. He next declares the purpose of the judgment. It is to punish evil. Finally he describes the process of judgment. Media is to be against Assyria, and the result will be abiding ruin.
The issue of this judgment is intended to be the restoration of Israel through the compassion of Jehovah. He will yet choose them and set them in their own land. The peoples who have oppressed them will submit themselves to them and serve them, and they will rule over their oppressors.
Anticipating the great day of restoration, the prophet puts into the mouth of Israel the great parable or song which celebrates the downfall of Assyria. This moves in five distinct strophes. In the first (verses Isaiah 14:4-8), the deliverance wrought for the whole earth through the overthrow of Assyria is described. The golden city had been the seat of widespread oppression, and when by the action of Jehovah it is destroyed, the whole earth is at rest. In the second (verses Isaiah 14:9-11), the consternation of the underworld at the fall of Assyria is described. All the great dead ones are astonished that at last even Assyria had become weak. In the third, the sin which had culminated in such destruction is revealed (verses Isaiah 14:12-15). The sin was that rebellion against God, the ambition which attempted to thwart His purpose and contest with Him the right of empire. The completeness of Assyria's destruction is the subject of the fourth (verses Isaiah 14:16-19). While other kings sleep in glory, the king of Assyria is to be flung out unburied as utterly evil. The fifth strophe (verses Isaiah 14:20-21) announces the utter extermination of Assyria, even to its name and remnant.
The prophecy concerning Assyria ends with a summary of the sentence which affirms the act of Jehovah and the consequent doom of Assyria. While the first application of this great prophecy was undoubtedly to the actual kingdom of Assyria, it is impossible to study it without seeing how graphically it sets forth the ultimate issue of the principle of rebellion which is based on unbelief.
In this section we have three prophecies: concerning Assyria ( Isaiah 14:24-27), concerning Philistia (Isaiah 14:28-32), and the commencement of one concerning Moab (15). This fragment concerning Assyria consists of the reaffirmation of Jehovah's intention to break its power. The oath of Jehovah is declared, and its irrevocable certainty affirmed.
The fragment concerning Philistia is of the nature of a warning spoken to her. Although she oppresses the people of God, she is herself in peril. She is not to rejoice because the rod that smote her is broken, for there are other forces at the disposal of Jehovah, and they threaten Philistia.
The prophecy concerning Moab commences by describing her desolation. A catastrophe will overtake her in a night, the result of which will be the mourning of her people, and their scattering far and wide. In this chapter, moreover, we have an incidental record of the death of Ahaz.
the First Week of Advent