Journey Through The Scriptures

Isaiah I

Lesson 5: Judgment on the Nations

(Scripture to Read: Isaiah 13:118:7)

One inescapable aspect of Bible prophecy that we have encountered in our study of Isaiah is the pronouncement of judgment on people and nations who disregard and disobey God. Chapter 13 begins a remarkable section of Isaiah that extends through chapter 23, which we are calling judgment on the nations. These texts are referred to repeatedly as an “oracle,” a word that comes from the verb meaning “to be lifted up or carried.” Thus the prophet’s word of judgment was a burdensome weight which, nevertheless, must be delivered because it too was the word of the Lord.

The first nation that comes up for this prophecy is Babylon, a center of rebellion against God from its very founding as Babel (Genesis 11). This prophecy looks far into the future, well over a century after Isaiah’s day, to the conquest of Babylon by the Medo-Persian empire (13:17) in 539 BCE. Philistia was a longtime enemy of Israel, as was Moab. And Cush, which included Sudan and the northern part of Ethiopia, was named for trying to persuade Judah to align herself with Egypt against Assyria. One of the most unpopular portions of Isaiah’s message to Judah was a warning not to ally herself with anti-Assyrian coalitions and depend on this for her protection, but to turn to the Lord and trust in Him alone.

Study Questions

  1. Why did Babylon fall under such severe judgment from God?
  2. What promise to “Jacob,” or the people of Israel, is stated again in Isaiah 14:13?
  3. How does Isaiah 15:5 give us a glimpse into the heart of Isaiah himself?
  4. Why is the northern kingdom of Israel included in Isaiah’s oracle against the nations?

Something to Think About

Isaiah 17:12–14 describes the ultimate fate of nations that took it upon themselves to oppress God’s chosen people. These verses are very pertinent to our day as we stand with Israel against enemies devoted to her destruction. Let us be reminded that our God is sovereign over the nations of earth, and His plans will be accomplished.