Isaiah 14:1-16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 18, 1999

Introduction

The previous chapter had been about how God would destroy Babylon.

We talked about this being a double fulfillment prophecy, how it was partially fulfilled in 539 BC when the Medes conquered Babylon, but how it would be ultimately fulfilled with the destruction of some future Babylon when Jesus returns (Rev. 17-18).

:1-27 Burden of Babylon (contíd)

:1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob

The reason God will destroy Israelís enemies is because He hasnít given up on His people.

In an earlier prophecy that talked about Godís judgment coming on Israel, we had heard that God would be withholding His compassion on them (Isa. 9:17). This was because Godís people were unwilling to repent from their sins. They were unwilling to turn to the Lord. But that time of chastisement is over. Itís now time for compassion.

In Israelís future, there will be a time when God will once more "choose" them as His "most favored nation" (Rom. 11:25). They are getting very close.

Lesson

Learn your lessons. Get back to His compassion.

We see this happen several times in Israelís history. From Isaiahís day, the southern kingdom of Judah fell further and further away from the Lord until they reached the point where God would send the Babylonians to conquer them and take them into captivity in Babylon.

They had gone further and further into idolatry, worshipping every new little idol that came in the latest junk mail adds. But after being taken captive to Babylon, they got rid of their idols and went back to worshipping Yahweh and only Yahweh.

And when their "time out" was up, when Godís discipline on them was complete, and they had learned their lesson, the Medes and Persians came in and conquered the Babylonians. One of the first things that the Persian King Cyrus did was to give the Jews their land back. They went back to Israel, rebuilt their temple and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem.

As Christians, itís not that God ever stops loving us, but there are times when weíve been so rebellious against God that He has no other choice but to resort to harsher measures, a tougher kind of discipline, just to get our attention.

But when we turn from the thing that Heís been trying to keep us from, we find that His mercy and grace are waiting for us.

:1 and the strangers shall be joined with them

There will be Gentiles in alliance with Israel.

:2 they shall rule over their oppressors.

The tables will be turned. Instead of Israel being the oppressed nation, they will be the ones on top.

That places this prophecy clearly in the future. Though the Persians restored the Jews to their homeland, they were still a subject people.

:4 take up this proverb against the king of Babylon

Who is this individual?

Some look at it as being an historical human person like Sennacherib (Bible Knowledge Commentary). Though Sennacherib was Assyrian, Babylon was one of his major cities.

Most others see it as Belshazzar. He was the king of Babylon when it was conquered by the Medes and Persians in 539 BC.

Some look at this as being both an historical, human person, as well as the spiritual entity that guided and empowered him, namely, Satan. More later. (vs.12)

:5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked

Speaking of the king of Babylon.

:8 no feller is come up against us.

feller Ė tree cutter. No, this is not what the single gals say at the Tennessee ball. It means that the guy who used to cut down all the trees to conquer the nations is gone.

:9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming

Hell Ė shí@owl Ė sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit

Before Jesus rose from the dead, all those who died, both the righteous and the wicked, went to a single place, Sheol. This place had two compartments, a place for the righteous known as "Paradise" or "Abrahamís bosom". The place for the wicked was known as "Gehenna", a place of fire. Apparently this latter place is the one being described.

At this verse, the scene now shifts to Sheol. All those who have died before this king of Babylon get up from their places and are excited to meet this great person. Well at least for a chance to poke fun at him.

:10 Art thou also become weak as we?

All these dead people will mock this great king, who will probably be a little surprised that heís dead.

Lesson

We will all die.

In our society, we can do a pretty good job of avoiding death. If a friend gets sick, they go to the hospital, and if we never visit them, we never risk the chance of seeing them die. If weíre particularly scared, we can even stay away from the funeral. But as much as we want to pretend that we can live forever, the truth is that we will all some day die. Not a single person has yet cheated death.

The real questions in life are not about how to live longer. The important questions have to do with being ready for the other side.

(Eccl 7:2 KJV) It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

:11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave

All the majesty of the court of Babylon is gone, and thereís nothing left but worms crawling in, worms crawling out Ö

Thereís an old saying, "You canít take it with you".

Youíre never going to see a casket with a U-Haul trailer behind it.

Lesson

Store your treasures in heaven.

If you are working for treasure here on earth, youíll have to leave it all behind one day.

But if you want to, you can store up treasure in the next place youíre going to, at least if youíre planning to go to heaven.

Itís kind of like these South American dictators who took all the money they robbed from their country, and put it in a Swiss Bank for the day that they would have to flee their country. They thought ahead and stored their treasure up ahead of them. You too will one day have to flee this country. Will there be treasure waiting for you up ahead?

Mat 6:16-21 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

People who do their good works for the purpose of getting applause and approval from people, will already have their reward here on earth. There will be nothing waiting on the other side.

{17} But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; {18} That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Do your good deeds in a way that doesnít draw attention to yourself, but draws attention to God. God will take care of giving you your bonus when you get to heaven.

{19} Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What does your heart spend its time dreaming about? New cars? New clothes? Better computers? You can tell where youíre stashing your investments because those will be the things youíll think about. Thatís where your heart will be.

True Riches Ė

From Making Life Rich Without Any Money by Phil Callaway, copyright (c) 1998. Used by permission of Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, around 60 A.D. said "Money has never yet made anyone rich." We know the truth in his statement, yet millions of us spend our lives pursuing what we think rich means: a new car, a plane trip to someplace exotic, or a worry-free journey to retirement.

Six things that characterize the truly richest people on earth:

1 Rich people know the speed limit. Most of us know what makes our lives rich. We know what brings us joy, what glues a permanent smile to our faces. The trouble is, we're driving too fast to notice. We're too busy working overtime, meeting deadlines, running stoplights; the things that make life rich are lost in the blur. Rich people pull out of the fast lane and look around for the answers.

2 Rich people hit curveballs. Their lives have not been the easiest. They don't always pick up the phone and hear good news, or respond with grace to every crisis. But they are learning how to stand in the batter's box and take a swing when life throws them a curveball. They are learning where to turn when the road starts to wind unexpectedly.

3 Rich people are people people. C. S. Lewis said that "Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods." At its best, companionship deepens our joy, lightens our load, and brightens our paths. But, face it, friendships end. Marriages dissolve. People disappoint. Rich people still reach out to others, even when they've been disappointed or hurt.

4 Rich people know where the buck stops. It is important to know what money can - and cannot - buy. Money can buy nice houses, but not a home; a fancy bed, but not a peaceful sleep; companions, but not friends; sex, but not love; new cars, but not safety; pills, but not health, fun but not fulfillment. The apostle Paul said, "I have learned in whatever state I am to be content."

5 Rich people leave the right things behind. When we leave this earth, we won't take anything with us. Some will leave an inheritance of wealth. But the greatest legacy we can leave behind are our footprints - everywhere we go. Grace-full footprints. Footprints of encouragement. Of kindness. Of forgiveness. Of love. Footprints that others will want to follow.

6 Rich people have the last laugh. Some people do their darndest to bring us "back to earth," focusing on the bad times. But although times may be bad, they are the only times we have. It's much better to spend time playing ball with your kids, or planting a tree, than to be depressing yourself - and others - with unfulfilled dreams or regrets. In the darkest of times, rich people know that the best is yet to come...heaven.

:12-15 Satanís Boast

:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

Lucifer Ė the name is Latin for "morning star" (or, "light bearer"). The Hebrew word used here is heylel Ė shining one, morning star, Lucifer. This is the only place this specific Hebrew word is found, and it comes from another Hebrew word, halal, meaning to shine; to praise, boast, be boastful. The term "morning star" is used to describe angels (Job 38:7), and Jesus (Rev. 22:16).

The morning star is actually the planet Venus. It shines brightly for a short time in the early morning, but soon fades with the rising of the sun.

Why I believe this also refers to Satan, the power behind the king of Babylon:

1. There are angelic beings (both good and bad) which seem to be connected with earthly, political persons.

a. In Daniel 10, Daniel meets the angel Gabriel, who describes having been in a war with the "prince of the kingdom of Persia", apparently a title of a demonic spirit which was in charge of the kingdom of Persia, perhaps even in charge of the king of Persia.

b. We have another passage similar to the one here in Isaiah, in Eze. 28:12-20, where a word is given to the "king of Tyre". At first he seems to be talking to a human, but there comes a point where suddenly things sound different. This "king" is described as having been in the garden of Eden (Eze. 28:13), and being the "anointed cherub that covers" which is a term describing an angel (Eze. 28:14). Again, the idea is that at a particular point, the prophecy turns and addresses the angel behind the person.

2. There are just too many telltale signs that this is Satan:

a. vs.12 - "Fallen from heaven" supposes that the person was in heaven. Satan is in heaven accusing us. (Job 1:6; Rev. 12:10)

b. vs.12 - Satan can be an "angel of light":

(2 Cor 11:13-15 KJV) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. {14} And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. {15} Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

c. vs.12 Ė Satan loves to imitate Jesus and deceive people. Jesus is the "morning star" (Rev. 22:16; Mat. 24:5; Rev. 13:2).

d. vs.12 - Jesus referred to seeing Satan falling from heaven (Luke 10:18), and one day Satan will be cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:10).

e. vs.14 - Satan wants to take Godís place in having everyone worship him. He even tried getting Jesus to worship him (Mat. 4:8-10).

f. vs.15 - Satan will one day be thrown into a bottomless pit (Rev. 20:2) and then later thrown forever into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10).

:13 I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

stars of God Ė a term used to describe angels (Job 38:7)

:13 upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north

mount of the congregation Ė refers to Mount Zion, the place where God had His temple built, the place where He would meet with His people.

the sides of the north Ė the side of the mountain that the temple was on.

The Antichrist, who will be empowered by Satan (Rev. 13:2), will one day set up his throne in the temple and demand to be worshipped as God (2Th. 2:4).

:14 I will be like the most High

Lesson

Take an "I" exam.

If you look at verses 13-14, you will notice one word popping up consistently. Itís the word "I". This is Satanís problem, and I believe itís a problem that many of us have as well. We are too focused on ourselves and our own needs and desires. We are the center of our own little universes. We are the apple of our eyes.

I find that there are at least two kinds of people who have "I" problems.

The first kind are those who think that they are absolutely the best thing since sliced bread. They are totally in love with themselves. They really think they are a cut above the rest. They know that they are better than everyone else. And so youíll hear them talk about nothing other than themselves.

The second kind is the person who thinks they are absolutely worthless. They think that God made some serious mistakes when they were born. They think that everyone else is better than they are and that everyone is secretly laughing at them. And so, to make up for all these shortcomings, they also will talk about nothing other than themselves.

Sometimes you can hear it when people share prayer requests. How often are a personís requests solely for their own needs? Do they ever ask for prayer for other people?

Sometimes we disguise it by asking for prayer for another person, but itís only because we want the other person fixed so they arenít as much of a bother to "me".

This is all in direct contradiction to what Jesus told us was required of those who desire to follow Jesus:

(Mat 16:24-25 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. {25} For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

"But my needs are really, really great!" you say. Are they too big for Jesus to handle? Could you stop thinking about yourself just for a day and think more about others?

Illustration

Years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic was asked, "If someone felt a nervous breakdown coming on, what would you suggest that he do?"

"If you feel a nervous breakdown coming on, I would urge you to find somebody else with a problem -- a serious one -- and get involved with that individual, helping him solve his problem."

I find that the people I consider the most "healthiest" in our church are those who are the most concerned about helping others. Itís not that these people donít have problems of their own. In fact, some of these people actually have worse problems than some of us who complain all the time. Itís just that these people have learned the healthy balance of taking their eyes off of themselves, and putting them on others first.

Lesson

The danger of "self-will"

If you look carefully, there is another word that pops up in verses 13-14 as well. Itís the word "will". It always follows the "I".

I think there are certain situations where we need to be careful that we arenít the ones pushing our own agendas all the time. Itís not that we canít have ideas or share them, but once weíve shared, do we continue to push? Ask for and look for confirmation. Ask for advice, donít put people in the position of not wanting to hurt your feelings.

Be careful that you arenít the only one promoting you. I know that sometimes we need to let people know weíre available and we have certain abilities. But after youíve told them, stop promoting yourself and see if anyone else thinks youíre as great as you say you are.

Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

(Psa 75:6-7 KJV) For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. {7} But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Instead of the "sides of the north", Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:3; 10) and the Lake of Fire.