Isaiah 47

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 13, 2000

Introduction

There are going to be some very disturbing warnings of judgment in this chapter. These prophetic warnings are going to apply in several ways.

First Ė they are to a specific nation, Babylon, which would conquer the world and mistreat the Jews.

Second Ė they are aimed at a worldwide religious and commercial system that are opposed to God, a system which will be present at the time of the end and will be judged when Jesus returns. Weíll look at that connection when we get to verses 7 & 8.

Third Ė There are some principles in this chapter that we too need to be careful about.

:1 O virgin daughter of Babylon

virgin daughter Ė the idea is that the nation of Babylon had not yet been conquered or captured. The city walls had never been broken down.

:2-3 ÖTake the millstones Ö Thy nakedness shall be uncovered

These are images of slavery. Instead of being the "queen of the world", Babylon would become a slave, grinding at the mill, naked and ashamed.

Lesson

Sin leads to slavery.

Later in the chapter, God will explain why this judgment will take place. Itís because Babylon would be a kingdom given to arrogance (vs.7). It was given to pleasures (vs.8). It trusted in all kinds of wickedness apart from trusting in God (vs.9).

It was for these things that it would become a slave.

(Rom 6:16-19 NLT) Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. {17} Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. {18} Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. {19} I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves of righteousness so that you will become holy.

Illustration Ė

We see this pictured vividly in the life of Samson.

The Israelites were in a mess, being under slavery to the Philistines. They needed a deliverer, and God gave them a man named Samson. He was a man gifted with incredible strength. His great strength flowed from his dedication to Yahweh, and the symbol of his dedication was his uncut hair.

But Samson had a weakness. Women. It started when he became attracted to a girl he had no business being with, a Philistine gal. His marriage ended in tragedy. Then we catch him in bed with a prostitute. Then he gets attached to another gal who would be trouble for him, a gal named Delilah. She was bribed by the Philistines to find out the secret of Samsonís strength. As you read the story, she keeps asking him to tell her the secret of his strength. Instead of wondering why this woman is trying to ruin him, Samson just canít get himself to get up and walk away from his sin. Each time she asks, he gets closer and closer to telling her his secret.

(Judg 16:15-21 KJV) And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth. {16} And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; {17} That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. {18} And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. {19} And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. {20} And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not (he didnít know) that the LORD was departed from him.

This is one of the saddest verses in the Scripture. Samsonís strength was such a natural thing to him that when God took it away, he wasnít even aware of it. His strength wasnít in the hair, it was in his dedication to God which was symbolized by his hair.

{21} But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

Samsonís sin led him into slavery, grinding flour in the prison house.

Samson would be given another chance by God, but he would also die in it was well. When his strength returned, he brought down the house on the Philistines. Literally.

Is it possible that you find yourself somewhere in the story of Samson? Have you been playing with fire? Have you dabbled a few too many times with going somewhere you donít belong?

Get up and run from the sin. Keep running. Thatís repentance.

Donít forget that the temptation will always be there. You probably wonít stop being tempted by it. But you can stay as far away as you can from it.

:3 I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

I will take vengeance against you and will not negotiate. (NLT)

:5 daughter of the Chaldeans

The Chaldeans were the main race that lived in Babylon.

:5 thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.

(Isa 47:5 NASB) Öyou will no more be called The queen of kingdoms.

:6 I was wroth with my people Öthou didst show them no mercy

I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke (NIV)

God was angry with His people and would given them over to the Babylonians for judgment. God would give Babylon authority over His people, yet they would abuse that authority and take advantage of the Jews.

Keep in mind Ė this is prophetic. The Jews wouldnít be given over to the Babylonians for another hundred years.

Lesson

Donít abuse your authority.

For most of us, we have some part of our life where weíve given authority in a situation.

Some are bosses or managers at work. Others are parents with children. Others may be involved in a leadership position at church. Some teach Sunday School.

(Eph 6:5-9 KJV) Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; {6} Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; {7} With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: {8} Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. {9} And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

This doesnít mean that youíre a "push-over" at work. You need to do what is right. But not because your supervisor is watching you, but because Jesus is watching you. He is your real Master.

"Forbearing threatening" doesnít mean that you donít give sincere warnings. But it means that if you give a warning, then you better be prepared to follow up on it. And it better be something thatís right and fair.

:7 And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever

(Isa 47:7 NASB) "Yet you said, 'I shall be a queen forever.'

:8 thou that art given to pleasures

You are a pleasure-crazy kingdom (NLT)

:8 I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

In Revelation 17-18 we read of Godís judgment on another kind of "Babylon". There we read of a world system that is in rebellion against God. It is a world system that has a false religion and a world system that has a world-impacting economic power. Our passage here in Isaiah is quoted there:

(Rev 18:7 KJV) How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

Even though Isaiah 47 was partially fulfilled through the fall of Nebuchadnezzarís Babylon to the Persians, there are some aspects that have not yet been fulfilled, such as the "sudden destruction". Babylon was captured suddenly by the Persians, but itís destruction came slowly over time. Yet the Babylon in Revelation 17-18 will be destroyed with a sudden judgment.

Lesson

Things donít always go according to your plans.

The folks in Babylon had never known defeat. They had all their five year and ten year plans written in stone. They had thought that they were in control of their future. But they were wrong.

Illustration

The Mermaid

Three guys are out having a relaxing day fishing. Out of the blue, they catch a mermaid who begs to be set free in return for granting each of them a wish. Now one of the guys just doesnít believe it, and says, "Okay, if you can really grant wishes, then double my IQ." The mermaid says, "Done." Suddenly the guy starts reciting Shakespeare flawlessly and analyzing it with extreme insight. The second guy is so amazed, he says to the mermaid, "Triple my IQ." The mermaid says, "Done." The guy starts to spout out all the mathematical solutions to problems that have been stumping all the scientists in various fields-physics, chemistry, etc. The last guy is so enthralled with the changes that his friends that he says to the mermaid, "Quintuple my IQ." The mermaid looks at him and says, "You know, I donít usually try to change peopleís minds when they make a wish, but I really wish that you would reconsider." The guy says, "No, I want you to make my IQ five times higher, and if you donít do it, I wonít set you free." "Please," says the mermaid, "You donít understand what youíre asking, it will change your entire view on the universe. Wonít you ask for something else...a million dollars, anything?" But no matter what the mermaid said, the guy insisted on having his IQ increased by five times its usual power. So the mermaid sighed and said, "Done." . . . . And he became a woman.

The point is, things donít always go according to your plans. Are you willing to submit to Godís plans for you?

(James 4:13-17 NLT) Look here, you people who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." {14} How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone. {15} What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." {16} Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. {17} Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

There is a God in heaven who is both powerful and interested in your life. Your life does not go by unnoticed by Him. He is able to work in your life and will do it.

Learn to be flexible. Sometimes Godís plans arenít the same as your plans.

:9 they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.

sorceries Ė kesheph Ė sorcery, witchcraft. It suggests seeking information about the future by means of demonic forces. Itís like todayís "Ouija Board" games. There is something there. Itís demonic.

the great abundance of thine enchantments Ė could be translated, "because of the exceeding power of your spells", or "all your potent spells" (NIV)

There is power behind Satanic things. Thatís why they are so attractive. The power is in the demonic beings that are behind them.

:10 thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

I am self-sufficient and not accountable to anyone! (NLT)

Lesson

Are you accountable?

Ultimately, we are accountable to God. We will one day have to face Him with what we have done with our lives.

He sees you. There are no secrets from God. Being honest about your life starts with being honest with God. If you arenít totally aware that He sees everything you do, youíre in trouble.

I think we need to be careful that we donít just limit our accountability to being accountable with God.

Why be accountable to others when I could just be "accountable to God"? Because my heart is pretty wicked and I can talk myself into just about anything.

(Heb 3:12-13 KJV) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. {13} But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Do you have someone who will call you on the carpet if need be?

Do you bully all those close enough to you so they donít dare say anything?

Yet even accountability relationships wonít work if youíre not going to be honest. Itís very possible to be in all kinds of support groups and just be a good actor or actress. You need to be real. You need to be honest.

:11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee Öthou shalt not be able to put it off

Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. (NIV)

:12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries

Call out the demon hordes you have worshiped all these years. (NLT)

:13 Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up Ö

astrologers Ė habar (to divide) + shamayim (heavens, sky); to be an astrologer

Horoscopes, etc.

stargazers Ė chozeh Ė seer; vision

monthly Ė chodesh Ė the new moon, month, monthly

prognosticators Ė yadaĖ to know; (Hiphil) to make known, declare

Those who would make predictions once a month at the time of the new moon.

Lesson

Warning about astrology.

These things are not from God. Donít even get started with horoscopes. It can be a snare that can draw you away from God. People can start by being simply "curious" about their horoscopes, but then get hooked to the point where they plan their whole life out according to what some astrologer predicts for their life. Donít even go there.

:15 none shall save thee

There will be none to save Babylon from its judgment.

Lesson

There is Another who can save you.

The world system around us, Babylon, is like a sinking ship. You have a choice of going down with the sinking ship, or getting into the lifeboat.

Jesus is that lifeboat.

Without Jesus we face a certain judgment for our sins. God has seen our sins. And a correct penalty must be paid for our sins. The penalty for our sins, according to the Bible, is death (Rom. 6:23).

But Jesus offers to rescue us from the judgment for our sins by having died in our place. Jesus came to earth for one reason, to be crucified on a cross, to take the penalty for my sins, that I might have a chance to be correctly forgiven by God.

Jesus offers to rescue you, but you must get into the lifeboat. It does you no good to just see the lifeboat. You must get in. God offers you a free gift of forgiveness, but you must choose to accept it into your life. You must be willing to turn from your sins and ask God to rescue you.