September 22, 2021

Kingdoms and Altars Will Come and Go. Focus on Trusting the One Who Is Constant.

Isaiah 13-18

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The Judgment of Babylon

The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.

On a bare hill raise a signal;
    cry aloud to them;
wave the hand for them to enter

The Judgment of Babylon

The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.

On a bare hill raise a signal;
    cry aloud to them;
wave the hand for them to enter
    the gates of the nobles.
I myself have commanded my consecrated ones,
    and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger,
    my proudly exulting ones. 1

The sound of a tumult is on the mountains
    as of a great multitude!
The sound of an uproar of kingdoms,
    of nations gathering together!
The LORD of hosts is mustering
    a host for battle.
They come from a distant land,
    from the end of the heavens,
the LORD and the weapons of his indignation,
    to destroy the whole land. 2

Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
    as destruction from the Almighty 3 it will come!
Therefore all hands will be feeble,
    and every human heart will melt.
They will be dismayed:
    pangs and agony will seize them;
    they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at one another;
    their faces will be aflame.

Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
    cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
    and to destroy its sinners from it.
10  For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
    will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
    and the moon will not shed its light.
11  I will punish the world for its evil,
    and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
    and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12  I will make people more rare than fine gold,
    and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
13  Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
    and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the LORD of hosts
    in the day of his fierce anger.
14  And like a hunted gazelle,
    or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
    and each will flee to his own land.
15  Whoever is found will be thrust through,
    and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16  Their infants will be dashed in pieces
    before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
    and their wives ravished.

17  Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them,
    who have no regard for silver
    and do not delight in gold.
18  Their bows will slaughter 4 the young men;
    they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb;
    their eyes will not pity children.
19  And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
    the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans,
will be like Sodom and Gomorrah
    when God overthrew them.
20  It will never be inhabited
    or lived in for all generations;
no Arab will pitch his tent there;
    no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21  But wild animals will lie down there,
    and their houses will be full of howling creatures;
there ostriches 5 will dwell,
    and there wild goats will dance.
22  Hyenas 6 will cry in its towers,
    and jackals in the pleasant palaces;
its time is close at hand
    and its days will not be prolonged.

The Restoration of Jacob

For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD's land as male and female slaves. 7 They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.

Israel's Remnant Taunts Babylon

When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

“How the oppressor has ceased,
    the insolent fury 8 ceased!
The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked,
    the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
    with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
    with unrelenting persecution.
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
    they break forth into singing.
The cypresses rejoice at you,
    the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
    no woodcutter comes up against us.’
Sheol beneath is stirred up
    to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
    all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
    all who were kings of the nations.
10  All of them will answer
    and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
    You have become like us!’
11  Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
    the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
    and worms are your covers.

12  How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
13  You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north; 9
14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’
15  But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the far reaches of the pit.
16  Those who see you will stare at you
    and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
    who shook kingdoms,
17  who made the world like a desert
    and overthrew its cities,
    who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18  All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
    each in his own tomb; 10
19  but you are cast out, away from your grave,
    like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
    who go down to the stones of the pit,
    like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20  You will not be joined with them in burial,
    because you have destroyed your land,
    you have slain your people.

May the offspring of evildoers
    nevermore be named!
21  Prepare slaughter for his sons
    because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
    and fill the face of the world with cities.”

22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the LORD. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, 11 and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts.

An Oracle Concerning Assyria

24  The LORD of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
    so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
    so shall it stand,
25  that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
    and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
    and his burden from their shoulder.”

26  This is the purpose that is purposed
    concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
    over all the nations.
27  For the LORD of hosts has purposed,
    and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
    and who will turn it back?

An Oracle Concerning Philistia

28 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle:

29  Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
    that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder,
    and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
30  And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
    and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
    and your remnant it will slay.
31  Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
    melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
    and there is no straggler in his ranks.

32  What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The LORD has founded Zion,
    and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”

An Oracle Concerning Moab

An oracle concerning Moab.

Because Ar of Moab is laid waste in a night,
    Moab is undone;
because Kir of Moab is laid waste in a night,
    Moab is undone.
He has gone up to the temple, 12 and to Dibon,
    to the high places 13 to weep;
over Nebo and over Medeba
    Moab wails.
On every head is baldness;
    every beard is shorn;
in the streets they wear sackcloth;
    on the housetops and in the squares
    everyone wails and melts in tears.
Heshbon and Elealeh cry out;
    their voice is heard as far as Jahaz;
therefore the armed men of Moab cry aloud;
    his soul trembles.
My heart cries out for Moab;
    her fugitives flee to Zoar,
    to Eglath-shelishiyah.
For at the ascent of Luhith
    they go up weeping;
on the road to Horonaim
    they raise a cry of destruction;
the waters of Nimrim
    are a desolation;
the grass is withered, the vegetation fails,
    the greenery is no more.
Therefore the abundance they have gained
    and what they have laid up
they carry away
    over the Brook of the Willows.
For a cry has gone
    around the land of Moab;
her wailing reaches to Eglaim;
    her wailing reaches to Beer-elim.
For the waters of Dibon 14 are full of blood;
    for I will bring upon Dibon even more,
a lion for those of Moab who escape,
    for the remnant of the land.
Send the lamb to the ruler of the land,
from Sela, by way of the desert,
    to the mount of the daughter of Zion.
Like fleeing birds,
    like a scattered nest,
so are the daughters of Moab
    at the fords of the Arnon.

“Give counsel;
    grant justice;
make your shade like night
    at the height of noon;
shelter the outcasts;
    do not reveal the fugitive;
let the outcasts of Moab
    sojourn among you;
be a shelter to them 15
    from the destroyer.
When the oppressor is no more,
    and destruction has ceased,
and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land,
then a throne will be established in steadfast love,
    and on it will sit in faithfulness
    in the tent of David
one who judges and seeks justice
    and is swift to do righteousness.”

We have heard of the pride of Moab—
    how proud he is!—
of his arrogance, his pride, and his insolence;
    in his idle boasting he is not right.
Therefore let Moab wail for Moab,
    let everyone wail.
Mourn, utterly stricken,
    for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth.

For the fields of Heshbon languish,
    and the vine of Sibmah;
the lords of the nations
    have struck down its branches,
which reached to Jazer
    and strayed to the desert;
its shoots spread abroad
    and passed over the sea.
Therefore I weep with the weeping of Jazer
    for the vine of Sibmah;
I drench you with my tears,
    O Heshbon and Elealeh;
for over your summer fruit and your harvest
    the shout has ceased.
10  And joy and gladness are taken away from the fruitful field,
and in the vineyards no songs are sung,
    no cheers are raised;
no treader treads out wine in the presses;
    I have put an end to the shouting.
11  Therefore my inner parts moan like a lyre for Moab,
    and my inmost self for Kir-hareseth.

12 And when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself on the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail.

13 This is the word that the LORD spoke concerning Moab in the past. 14 But now the LORD has spoken, saying, “In three years, like the years of a hired worker, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all his great multitude, and those who remain will be very few and feeble.”

An Oracle Concerning Damascus

An oracle concerning Damascus.

Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city
    and will become a heap of ruins.
The cities of Aroer are deserted;
    they will be for flocks,
    which will lie down, and none will make them afraid.
The fortress will disappear from Ephraim,
    and the kingdom from Damascus;
and the remnant of Syria will be
    like the glory of the children of Israel,
    declares the LORD of hosts.

And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
    and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain
    and his arm harvests the ears,
and as when one gleans the ears of grain
    in the Valley of Rephaim.
Gleanings will be left in it,
    as when an olive tree is beaten—
two or three berries
    in the top of the highest bough,
four or five
    on the branches of a fruit tree,
    declares the LORD God of Israel.

In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.

In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation.

10  For you have forgotten the God of your salvation
    and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;
therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
    and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,
11  though you make them grow 16 on the day that you plant them,
    and make them blossom in the morning that you sow,
yet the harvest will flee away 17
    in a day of grief and incurable pain.

12  Ah, the thunder of many peoples;
    they thunder like the thundering of the sea!
Ah, the roar of nations;
    they roar like the roaring of mighty waters!
13  The nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
    but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
    and whirling dust before the storm.
14  At evening time, behold, terror!
    Before morning, they are no more!
This is the portion of those who loot us,
    and the lot of those who plunder us.

An Oracle Concerning Cush

Ah, land of whirring wings
    that is beyond the rivers of Cush, 18
which sends ambassadors by the sea,
    in vessels of papyrus on the waters!
Go, you swift messengers,
    to a nation tall and smooth,
to a people feared near and far,
    a nation mighty and conquering,
    whose land the rivers divide.

All you inhabitants of the world,
    you who dwell on the earth,
when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
    When a trumpet is blown, hear!
For thus the LORD said to me:
“I will quietly look from my dwelling
    like clear heat in sunshine,
    like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
For before the harvest, when the blossom is over,
    and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
he cuts off the shoots with pruning hooks,
    and the spreading branches he lops off and clears away.
They shall all of them be left
    to the birds of prey of the mountains
    and to the beasts of the earth.
And the birds of prey will summer on them,
    and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.

At that time tribute will be brought to the LORD of hosts

from a people tall and smooth,
    from a people feared near and far,
a nation mighty and conquering,
    whose land the rivers divide,

to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the LORD of hosts.


[1] 13:3 Or those who exult in my majesty
[2] 13:5 Or earth; also verse 9
[3] 13:6 The Hebrew words for destruction and almighty sound alike
[4] 13:18 Hebrew dash in pieces
[5] 13:21 Or owls
[6] 13:22 Or foxes
[7] 14:2 Or servants
[8] 14:4 Dead Sea Scroll (compare Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate); the meaning of the word in the Masoretic Text is uncertain
[9] 14:13 Or in the remote parts of Zaphon
[10] 14:18 Hebrew house
[11] 14:23 Possibly porcupine, or owl
[12] 15:2 Hebrew the house
[13] 15:2 Or temple, even Dibon to the high places
[14] 15:9 Dead Sea Scroll, Vulgate (compare Syriac); Masoretic Text Dimon; twice in this verse
[15] 16:4 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; Masoretic Text let my outcasts sojourn among you; as for Moab, be a shelter to them
[16] 17:11 Or though you carefully fence them
[17] 17:11 Or will be a heap
[18] 18:1 Probably Nubia

Kingdoms and Altars Will Come and Go. Focus on Trusting the One Who Is Constant.

Key Verse | Isaiah 17:7-8

In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.


Bio | Garrett Cox

Hi, everyone. My name is Garrett Cox, and I have the great privilege of serving as the Controller on the finance team at Watermark. I was raised in a believing family and accepted Christ at an early age. But my faith really developed as I entered high school, and it continued to grow in college.

I am a CPA by trade and am so blessed to use those skills to serve the local church. I am married to my wonderful wife, Rachel, and have been proud to call Dallas home as we seek to live on mission with this body!

Central Truth

Kingdoms and kings will come and go. When all of the works of our hands and altars of this world fade away, God is the one we can look to in all seasons.

Devotional | Isaiah 13-18

How often do we seek to rely on the work of our own hands? In my case, almost always. As someone who can be labeled as a bit of a perfectionist, I constantly wage war against self-reliance. I can so easily become...

How often do we seek to rely on the work of our own hands? In my case, almost always. As someone who can be labeled as a bit of a perfectionist, I constantly wage war against self-reliance. I can so easily become consumed in my own ability to push through difficulties that I find myself at the end of my rope with nothing to look to except the power of God in my life. These moments are truly heartbreaking as I am confronted by my insufficient trust in the sovereign will of God to take care of me in the midst of circumstances that I believe I can fix.

Isaiah 13-18 provides many examples of kingdoms coming and going as they are subjected to the righteous judgment of a holy and perfect God. We see throughout this text examples of nations being brought to desolation under the judgment of God, in spite of their great cities and achievements. In chapter 17 we see that Israel will be brought low, and they will not look to the things that they have done to save themselves, but instead they will look to the God of their salvation, whom they had forgotten.

I often need this same reminder, as I am given to forgetting that the God of my salvation has His hand in every circumstance that occurs in my life. Sometimes I need all of my fortresses and accomplishments stripped away in order to truly see what will sustain me apart from everything else. It's in these moments that I am reminded that my focus and reliance on God should not depend on how capable I think I am. Instead, I should be continually seeking and believing in God's constant provision in my life and trusting that He will sustain me in both good times and difficult times.

See Comments

Discussion Questions

1. In what areas of your life do you rely on your own abilities instead of trusting in God's sovereign will?

2. How can you remind yourself of God's constant provision and resist falling into pride and self-reliance?

5 Comments available

david hasse about 9 hours ago

To quote (at least this is where I heard it for the FIRST time ) Blake Holmes …” there is nothing I CAN DO to make God love me MORE and there is nothing I CAN DO to make God love me LESS…” I am a charter member of the Perfectionist Procrastinators Clubs of America (if there was such a club…my John Hancock would be on the declaration ) …. Yikes … Lord , I pray , that you will be glorified by my non-perfect effort . Amen .

Linda Green about 17 hours ago

Excellent devo, Garrett! Am also a perfectionist about many things.Have realized I often think I know better than God. If it wasn’t true, I would immediately obey Him.

Have now realized the mercy of God to bring me to failure in my own devices. I used to shake my fist at Him and think He didn’t love me because things weren’t going my way. It’s BECAUSE He loves me that He allows me to see where my choices lead, which is often to failure and heartbreak. And then I turn back to Him and He welcomes me- amazing!

Isaiah 23:19-20 Babylon is still not inhabited today! God’s word is true- like Hugh, I pray Revelation 22:20- Come, Lord Jesus!

Michael Scaman 1 day ago

Rome isn’t a superpower, the brothers Romulus and Remus are breaking ground to build the city.

Babylon isn’t even a superpower.

Judgement for Israel in the future70 years of rest for the land coming. God will use Babylon to discipline Israel then like the parent who might break a wooden spoon after using it to discipline their child, God breaks the spoon He used (aka Babylon).

Here Israel is taunting the fall of Babylon in far future.

Hugh Stephenson 6 days ago

2 of 2

The oracles interest me as I see how God ultimately will keep His promise of dealing with sin and evil. This part of the passage seems to echo Revelation, (somebody edify please).

Being transparent, it does get difficult to see the sin and rebellion of Israelites happening over and over. Since the writings concern Exilic times its also hard to watch the unrepentant oppression and idolatry.

Jesus come soon.

Hugh Stephenson 6 days ago

1 of 2

GM Garrett. Love your title and Central Truth; each complements the other.

Q1 – All of them. Not 100% of the time but way too much of the time. It’s a spiritual battle for me to rely on my own God-given abilities versus just relying on God.

Q2 – I am chuckling because I don’t need to remind myself. Consistent failure does that for me.

What I love in this passage is the promise of God being repeated in chapter 14 as I see once again how His covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled.

I am not much for touchdown dances but given the supremacy of the enemy as Babylon it seems fitting to have a few taunts. Not sure I get the cypresses and cedars getting on on the acts, though.

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