(If this day is the Fourth Sunday in Advent, please refer to that day
in the list of devotions.)
The Not-Sovereign Babylon
Yes, I know the title of today’s devotion hardly rolls off the tongue, but it expresses the contrast to the theme of the last two days which was God’s sovereignty or rule/dominion over the world. The miraculous thing here is that Isaiah is prophesying the fall of Babylon even before its rise which was still one-hundred fifty plus years from Isaiah’s time. At any rate, the Lord reveals to Isaiah the pride of ancient Babylon and the judgment He would pour out upon her. We have seen this prophesied numerous times before in other passages of Scripture – a dominant world power is to be ground to the dust – and history reveals that ancient Babylon eventually was.
But in this passage, it seems that Babylon’s pride and claim to be God is what is highlighted and judged. Isaiah prophesies: “Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children.’” But then comes the word, “These two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day; the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure.” Again, “You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, ‘No one sees me’: your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away.” Then the Lord taunts Babylon, “Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries … perhaps you may be able to succeed … You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you.”
Ecclesiastes 7:29 tells us “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” Earthly knowledge and wisdom, power, enchantments – they all come to naught before Almighty God. Babylon was merely a tool in God’s hands to chasten his people. And naturally as power-hungry and vicious men, they showed no mercy, even on the aged. They conquered and destroyed as the empires of this world are ever doing. But they do not know that God, Himself, has “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God” (Acts 17:26-27; emphasis added). But they don’t. Nevertheless, the hardness of men’s hearts and blindness of men’s eyes do not nullify God’s sovereign will. Babylon was not sovereign; Rome was not sovereign; the United States is not sovereign; and, most important, I am not sovereign. For that, I am grateful. Let us rejoice this Advent season that we wait for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords.