Isaiah 14, Part One: Punishment or Providence?
God revealed to Isaiah the soon-to-come gathering of nations to war, resulting in the fall of the Babylonian empire to the might of the Medes. The arrogant and pompous Chaldean kingdom of Babylon had attempted to utterly conquer the weakened state of Israel.
Now, in chapter 14...
This chapter contains three separate oracles, or proclamations, concerning three different nations:
- Babylon (verses 1-23)
- Assyria (verses 24-27)
- Philistia (verses 28-32)
The triumph of the Medes over Babylon would be a critical part of God's plan for Israel.
Isaiah 14:1-2 (ESV) 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. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.
"Those who oppressed them" referred to Syria, Assyria and Babylon - nations that had each in their turn attempted to destroy or control Israel. Most of the Jewish population had been captured and removed to faraway lands.
Many Israelites experienced the life of a sojourner, a foreigner in an alien culture, probably fearful of the unknown, expecting hostility, hoping for hospitality.
The LORD had moved foreign nations to battle and oppression against Israel, as punishment for Israel's idolatry, wickedness and injustice. But the punishment would end, and Israel would be restored to God's love and to a place of favor. Jews would return to their homeland and be made masters and providers for those who once were enemies.
Through Isaiah, the LORD promised that the exile would end, their oppressors would themselves become sojourners among the Israelites.
"Sojourners" conveys an image of people without a home, people once rich and powerful reduced to seeking shelter and succor from those who had triumphed over them.