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Meditate for a while on how trustworthy the Lord Jesus is. Thank him for how secure you are in him.


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Bible passage Isaiah 47:1–15


Isaiah 47

The Fall of Babylon
 1 “Go down, sit in the dust,
   Virgin Daughter Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
   queen city of the Babylonians.
No more will you be called
   tender or delicate.
2 Take millstones and grind flour;
   take off your veil.
Lift up your skirts, bare your legs,
   and wade through the streams.
3 Your nakedness will be exposed
   and your shame uncovered.
I will take vengeance;
   I will spare no one.”

 4 Our Redeemer—the LORD Almighty is his name—
   is the Holy One of Israel.

 5 “Sit in silence, go into darkness,
   queen city of the Babylonians;
no more will you be called
   queen of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people
   and desecrated my inheritance;
I gave them into your hand,
   and you showed them no mercy.
Even on the aged
   you laid a very heavy yoke.
7 You said, ‘I am forever—
   the eternal queen!’
But you did not consider these things
   or reflect on what might happen.

 8 “Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure,
   lounging in your security
and saying to yourself,
   ‘I am, and there is none besides me.
I will never be a widow
   or suffer the loss of children.’
9 Both of these will overtake you
   in a moment, on a single day:
   loss of children and widowhood.
They will come upon you in full measure,
   in spite of your many sorceries
   and all your potent spells.
10 You have trusted in your wickedness
   and have said, ‘No one sees me.’
Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you
   when you say to yourself,
   ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’
11 Disaster will come upon you,
   and you will not know how to conjure it away.
A calamity will fall upon you
   that you cannot ward off with a ransom;
a catastrophe you cannot foresee
   will suddenly come upon you.

 12 “Keep on, then, with your magic spells
   and with your many sorceries,
   which you have labored at since childhood.
Perhaps you will succeed,
   perhaps you will cause terror.
13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
   Let your astrologers come forward,
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
   let them save you from what is coming upon you.
14 Surely they are like stubble;
   the fire will burn them up.
They cannot even save themselves
   from the power of the flame.
These are not coals for warmth;
   this is not a fire to sit by.
15 That is all they are to you—
   these you have dealt with
   and labored with since childhood.
All of them go on in their error;
   there is not one that can save you.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Godly judgement
This declaration of judgement on the city and empire of the Babylonians is devastating in its critique.

First, when God brought the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and bring his people into exile because of their sins, ‘they showed them no mercy’, laying a heavy yoke ‘even on the aged’ (v 6). Secondly, they trusted in themselves. Lovers of pleasure, lounging in their security (v 8), they thought no one could ever topple them from their perch.

Babylonian trust
Thirdly, they relied on the counsel of sorcerers and astrologers to give them guidance. But none of these could save the people – they couldn’t even save themselves from the coming judgement (vs 10–15)!

All of this has quite an up-to-date flavour. How easy it is for us too to trust in worldly values and think we are doing well when actually God sees us as naked and covered in shame (see Revelation 3:17–20). The good news is that when we turn from trusting in ourselves or in advisors who do not know God, we can find forgiveness, reconciliation and true security.


Respond


‘Our Redeemer – the Lord Almighty is his name – is the Holy One of Israel’ (v 4). Thank him that he will judge the wicked one day and that there is hope now for those who allow his kindness to bring them to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Andrew Clark


Deeper Bible study


‘For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.’(Psalm 11:7)

If we live in peaceful, democratic countries we may find this chapter disturbing. If we live, on the other hand, in areas that have been subject to violence, occupation, rape, pillage and ethnic cleansing, we may find it deeply reassuring. God sentences Babylon to a grave reversal of its fortunes, so that the once-envied empire becomes an object of derision, shame and poverty.

God initiates Babylon’s downfall. Why? In a sentence, it is because God is committed to righteousness and justice. The heart of today’s passage explains why God’s treatment of them is just. God had appointed Babylon an instrument of discipline for wayward Israel, but the Babylonians overstepped the mark and, showing no mercy, became drunk on their own sadistic power (vs 5–7). The empire was fixated on satisfying its own pleasure and enjoying lazy security at other people’s expense (v 6). Babylon became arrogant, believing itself to be exempt from any accountability to others, especially the God of Israel (vs 8b–10). The Babylonians were so locked up in themselves that they failed to see the coming tsunami of God’s judgement that would bring them to ruin and catastrophe (v 11). It was too late. Having failed to heed the warning signs earlier, they were unable to find anyone who could advise them how to escape God’s wrath (vs 12–15). So the tsunami engulfed them.

In Revelation 18 and 19, Babylon becomes a symbol for all human empires and powers that arrogantly practice injustice and, assuming themselves to be unaccountable, live how they like. All governments need to know that one day their time will be up and they’ll reap the just reward of their evil deeds. Rather than being disturbed by this, we should rejoice that justice will win and that the victims of oppression will be saved and recompensed.

Derek Tidball


Background: Babylon


Beginnings

According to Genesis 10:10, Babylon was founded by Nimrod. The tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9) was located in Babylon. At the heart of later Babylon was a tower in the shape of a pyramid for the worship of the god Marduk or Bel. It may be a successor to the original tower.

Dominance and decline

We first hear of Babylon about 2100 BC when it came under the control of Ur – Abraham’s home town. It became independent about 2000 BC and was a leading centre under Hammurabi (1792–1750 BC), known for his law code.

It then came under Assyrian control. The later decline of Assyrian power enabled Babylon to become independent again from 626 BC. For a brief period they were one of the major powers in the region.

In 605 BC they defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish which gave them wide control. Judah was caught in the middle and the first batch of Jews were taken in to exile. Jerusalem finally fell to them in 587 BC.

In 539 BC they were defeated by the Persians.

The city

Dominating the city was the temple tower, but there were many other temples. The city was renowned for its impressive architecture including the Ishtar gates and the 920 metre (1,000 yard) long processional way bordered by walls made of glazed bricks with images of lions, dragons and bulls symbolising their gods. Its population may have been as high as 200,000.

Culture

Babylon was a significant centre of learning. It produced a range of literature: law codes, collections of proverbs, religious texts, folktales, historical accounts and scientific text books.

Babylon as a symbol

In both the Old and the New Testaments, Babylon is used a symbol for evil, especially when allied to political power. In 1 Peter 5:13 and several times in Revelation (especially chapter 18) Babylon is used as a code for Rome – another power opposed to God and his people.

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Audio


Song: I hear you fumble for words (I am still willing)
Composer:
Keith Getty & Kristyn Getty
Copyright:
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music
Buy this song here


Who O Lord could save themselves (You alone can rescue)
Matt Redman & Jonas Myrin
Copyright (c) 2009 Thankyou Music/Said And Done Music & Jonas Myrin/SHOUT! Publishing/kingswaysongs.com
www.kingswayshop.com


Comments
  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    "I will take vengeance against you without pity;" (verse 3) these are harsh words given to the evil that will not change its ways and forces others to stop following God's ways.......Explore (Andrew Clark) 'we cannot trust advisors who do not know God.'

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    "Again and again, You have been the salvation of Your people. Whether they are enslaved in Egypt; running from Pharoh’s pursuing army; harassed by Midianites, Amorites, Edomites, Moabites, Canaanites, Perizzites or Philistines; held in captivity by Babylon; scattered to the four corners of the earth; imprisoned in Nazi death camps; threatened with annihilation by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, the Taliban, Al Queda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Boko Haram–You alone are able to shatter Israel’s enemies. Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff. While You are slow to anger and great in power, you will not at all acquit the wicked. You have Your way in the whirlwind and in the storm." An extract from Billy Graham's daughter' 2014 prayer

  • Peter Oliver | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    ,Babylon had its chance to repent but like so many cases it was sadly grace spurned

  • Jennifer Yohannes | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    Thank you for that quotation GILVIN. So true, but why can't the world see it?

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    During the 2nd World War the Allied forces were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, the German forces were bombing the ships taking the troops across the Channel back to England. The Church leaders and Winston Churchill called for a day of prayer. There was a day of prayer the eve of the operation a national day of prayer was declared with King George VI attending a special service in Westminster Abbey . Heavy cloud and mist descended enabling the evacuation. On the first day only 7,669 men were evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day, 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats. It was said that only a miracle would get the men off the Dunkirk beaches. God answered the prayers of his faithful people. What a mighty God we serve.

  • Jess Davey | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    Lord I trust only in you You are the way forward You speak to me when I need to hear Only you know what your desires are for me Selah

  • Ifeoma Ogueri | Tuesday, 08 August 2017

    God indeed is awesome to me. He is indeed my Crown, the Tower of my strength.

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