Isaiah 14: A Fine Line

The themes in this chapter are not far from our two main tenets of the book of Isaiah: the punishment of sin and the coming Messiah.

This chapter, in part, discusses how Israel, particularly the house of Jacob, will be blessed. There are some parallels to the exodus from Egypt in the first two verses in that Israel will leave oppressors to settle in their own land.

The bulk of this chapter is concerned with the punishments: the Babylonian king, Babylon itself, Assyria and Philistia will all be destroyed for their wicked ways. Their lands will be destroyed and no one will be able to stop it:

“This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?”” Isaiah 14:26-27

The plight of the Babylonian king is particularly harrowing. Verses 5-8 describe the king’s awful rule and the rest and quiet on Earth after he is gone. On the other side of this idea, verses 9-11 describe how Hell will be excited to meet him. Other kings will greet the king of Babylon as it quickly becomes clear that no matter your status on Earth, if you have been wicked, your place in the hereafter will be one of suffering.

Verses 12-21 are also very interesting. They describe one who has thought himself worthy to be above God. This one wanted to be greater than God by trying to be higher and more powerful than God. Through worldly power, he has esteemed himself greater than God. For this great sin, he is not even allowed to rest in peace:

“But you are cast out of your grave Like an abominable branch, Like the garment of those who are slain, Thrust through with a sword, Who go down to the stones of the pit, Like a corpse trodden underfoot.” Isaiah 14:19

Notice the use of the word “branch” here. Recall from Isaiah 4 and Isaiah 11 when this term was used to describe Jesus. He is the Holy Branch from God that will save us. But the description of the one here in verses 12-21 is of an abominable branch. This branch is one that is false and a nuisance. The one that would be bold enough to try and take God’s place is a shame and a torment.

Whether these verses describe Satan himself as described by Christ in Luke 10:18 (“And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”) or they describe the king of Babylon is not certain as we read this passage. It could mean either, or both. But the lesson is a worthy one, nevertheless.

The idea of not being higher than God is interesting because we are called to be like Him. From passages in Leviticus to this passage in the New Testament, God wants us to be holy: “because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.””I Peter 1:16

Being holy means being set apart, being separate from the rest of the world. When we are holy, we do not have the same desires as the rest of the world, we do not have the same habits and beliefs. In the second Corinthian letter, Paul is exhorting the church in Corinth to be separate and clean in body and spirit:

“O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Corinthians 6:11-7:1

Tonight my prayer for you is that you endeavor to be holy. Keep your mind and body pure. Keep yourself holy and clean before the Almighty God. Living in God’s Word daily and praying is the absolute best way to do this!

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