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speakable, and full of glory to every emancipated and waiting soul: to every penitent and confiding believer in the Lord Jesus. Amen.
The City of Confusion to be Destroyed at the Second
Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah xxv. 2.-"For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a
ruin; a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.”
This chapter contains a song of praise to the God of Israel, in reference to the events which were predicted in the preceding chapter. These generally were, the destruction of the city of confusion, mentioned in the 10th verse, "the city of confusion is broken down;" the preservation of a chosen people, "as the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done,”-mentioned in the 13th verse; and the reigning of the Lord of Hosts, "in mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously,"-distinctly declared in the last verse. In the midst of these predictions, the Prophet, as if arrested by the overwhelming view of the majesty, faithfulness, and grace of God, breaks off the line of his direct prophetic discourse, and gives utterance to a burst of admiring praise. “O Lord,” he exclaims, at the opening of this chapter, “thou art my God: I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name, for thou hast done wonderful things: thy counsels of old are faithfulness and
As if, in the contemplation of the performance of the things which he had predicted, he had said, “Thy purposes, 0 God, fore-ordained in thyself, and declared of old by the fathers, thou hast now accomplished with infinite faithfulness and truth. These are wonderful things: I will praise thee, I will exalt thee. Thou art my God, my soul delights in such a God as thou art.” He then proceeds to recapitulate the things he had prophecied of. “For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city: it shall never be built.”
In order to make the subject as clear and simple as possible, I must remind you that the great city or kingdom of Babylon, during the pride of her power and authority, exercised it in the most tyrannical manner, greatly to oppress the children of Israel. In the days of Isaiah, the kingdom of Babylon had not risen into notice. The Assyrian was then the leading empire,
and it was not till a considerable period after the Prophet's death, that Babylon assumed the pre-eminence. It was at its height of glory under Nebuchadnezzar. Isaiah lived and prophecied chiefly in the time of Hezekiah; and Hezekiah lived 120 years before the time of Nebuchadnezzar. But Isaiah, though living so long antecedent to the glory of Babylon, was inspired by God to speak of her. He foretold her luxury, her tyranny, her oppression of Israel, and her desolation and ruin. You find this plainly set forth in the 13th chapter. After describing even by name the power that would destroy Babylon, -the Medes,-he says at the 19th verse, “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there: But wild beasts of the deserts shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.” This he combines with the deliverance of Israel, in the beginning of the next chapter. “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land.' Here is the reason, “The Lord will yet choose Israel.” He depicts the glory of Babylon, and the captivity of Israel,—the desolation of Babylon, and the restoring of Israel, all to happen so many years after the Prophet's death. “And the people shall take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and bondmaids, and they shall take them captives whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their
oppressors. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall give thee rest” —that is Israel — from thy sorrow and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the King of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased,—the golden city ceased;" —the city made a heap,—the defenced city a ruin; "the Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked and the sceptre of the rulers.” The same subject is declared with equal plainness in the 47th chapter: “Come down and sit in the dust, О virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground;"—she is called a virgin because she had never suffered invasion, nor had her power been broken by any adversary:"Take the millstones and grind meal; uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.
Thy nakedness shall be uncovered,-yea, thy shame shall be seen,"as a bearer of burdens, a grinder of meal, the most degrading of employments. Then there were only hand-mills. not till the decline of the Roman republic, immediately before the
age of Augustus, that water-mills were known; and windmills were not introduced until a much later period. Grinding was, therefore, done by hand, and it was the occupation of the vilest among
the slaves. This was the task to which Samson was put by the Philistines. "Sit thou silent,” he continues, “and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shall no more be called the lady of kingdoms.” Now Mark the 6th verse: I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst show them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.” God gave Israel into the hand of Babylon to be chastised, but she shewed her no mercy. Indulging her tyrannous spirit, she laid her hand very heavily on the Lord's ancient people, beloved for their father's sake. “And thou,"—that is, Babylon,"saidst, I shall be a lady for ever; so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.”
I wish to shew you a few other plain prophecies bearing upon this subject, before I come more closely to the interpretation of our text. Take the 50th and 51st chapters of Jeremiah. At the 17th•verse of the former it is said, “Israel is à scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away. First the kings of Assyria have devoured him, and last this Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.' Again, in the 51st chapter, at the 35th verse: “The violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and, My blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.” Here is an allusion to the sea of Babylon, the great river Euphrates running through her: and God put it into the heart of Cyrus to turn the channel, to draw off the waters, and to march his army in the night through the bed of the river into the city, and take it. Thus God dried up the sea, by turning her channel elsewhere, through the instrumentality of the Medes and Persians. “I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.
With the assistance of these clear prophecies we shall have light on the beautiful passage of our text, where the prophet exclaims to God, in the anticipation of the accomplishment of his work, the judgment of Babylon, and the deliverance of Israel. “For thou hast made of a defenced city an heap,—that proud city, Babylon, the city of the 'oppressor, the golden city, that said she would be a lady for ever, and laid her yoke very heavily on thy people, Israel; thou hast made of the city an heap,-of a defenced city a ruin; a palace of strangers,”-a place of much celebrity, visitors from all quarters flocking to behold her glory, her beauty, and her magnitude to be no city: it shall never be built. Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee,"—they shall give God glory in their ruin; as he said concerning the Egyptians when he overthrew them: “I will get me honour upon Pharoah and upon his horsemen; so he got honour upon the Babylonians when he overthrew them, and the strong people were forced to glorify him in their destruction: "the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.' Then follows his protection of Israel, again combined with his destruction of Babylon. “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress.” This was his people, oppressed and overwhelmed by the Babylonish power: they asked her to sing one of the Lord's songs, when she sat by the rivers weeping, and her harp hanging on the willows, they said, “Come, sing one of the Lord's songs for us,” making a mock of her distress. “How can we," she replied, "sing the Lord's song in a strange land?” But the Lord was protecting her still: “Thou hast been a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shelter from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” The fury of Babylon is represented as a storm raging against a wall, -the Lord's kind protection over Israel as a refuge from the storm, affording a gracious assurance of hope and safety, notwithstanding the inveterate enmity, and the unrestrained and ungovernable tyranny of the Babylonish conquerors.
“Thou shall bring down the noise of strangers as the heat in a dry place, even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.”
This is the same subject. The noise of the tyrant shall fall upon Israel tempered by the hand of God, as the heat of the sun falls tempered by the cloud, softened and abated of its burning vigour. The threatenings of Babylon shall be prevented falling with full force on Israel,—the heat should be brought down under the shadow of a cloud. The image is very beautiful. She should not be altogether delivered from the threatenings, but they should fall in a manner mitigated and broken. Not that her oppressors so intended
it: they intended only her ruin. But God interposed a cloud, and its shadow abated the heat of their wrath.
Now if this were the whole of the prophecy we might be induced to suppose that it had been entirely fulfilled by the destruction of Babylon literally, and the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity. That destruction took place 200 years after Isaiah, under Cyrus, by means of a mixed army of Medes and Persians; and immediately on getting the possession of the kingdom, he made proclamation that such of the Jews as chose, might return to their own land. But the Prophet does not end here: there follow events for which he gives praise in the next verses, and concerning which, we have an inspired comment, which enables us to feel assured that we possess true light upon the whole strain of this
prophecy. “And on this mountain"—the mountain already mentioned in chapter 24, verse 23, before the Prophet burst forth in his song,—the mount Zion, wherein the Lord shall then be reigning—“On this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountuin the face of the covering ,-or covering of the face, the blind from the face of all people, the veil, another name for the covering of the face--"cust over all people and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up
death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces: and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Now what events are these, and when have they been, or shall they be fulfilled? I said we have an inspired comment upon the subject: it is quoted by St. Paul, who tells us distinctly when it shall come to pass. I allude to the opening of the Sth verse. “He will swallow up death in victory.” In the 15th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, the 54th verse, we read thus: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. “He will swallow up death in victory,” saith the Prophet. When? The Apostle's answer is: When this mortal shall have put on immortality, and this corruptible incorruption. And when is that? At the 52nd verse he tells us, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we,"-we, in opposition to the dead—we who are alive, and remain on the earth