Scripture Focus: Isaiah 14.3, 26-27
3 On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
How the oppressor has come to an end!
How his fury has ended!
26 This is the plan determined for the whole world;
this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
27 For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
Reflection: Taunting Ourselves
By John Tillman
God promises those who suffer under oppression that one day he will turn the tables and they will taunt those who harmed them.
Isaiah’s taunts target specific oppressors such as Babylon, Assyria, and the Philistines. God expands these taunts to include the whole world—any nation who takes up the spirit of Babylon. There are still nations of this kind today and some of us may live in them. We should be careful not to take up Isaiah’s taunts too quickly—we may end up taunting ourselves.
Babylon considered itself the ultimate pinnacle of human achievement. They felt they deserved to wield ultimate power because of their ultimate enlightenment. They considered themselves the light of the world and a provider of peace. Babylonian exceptionalism was part of their core belief system.
Babylon’s utopian self-concept was a lie. Their definition of peace was murdering anyone who resited them. Their definition of achievement was enslaving the smartest people from other nations and re-educating them to serve the empire. Their definition of light was snuffing out the gods of other nations and absorbing them.
Babylon, in the Bible, is both a literal kingdom and a figurative representation of all human opposition to God. When God says, “I will wipe out Babylon’s name and survivors, her offspring and descendants,” he isn’t speaking literally of human offspring. He is speaking of nations who would follow the spirit of Babylon—those who succeed her, ascend her throne, and continue her prideful destruction of the weak.
Babylon’s highest value is ultimate autonomy and unrestricted freedom—at least for the very, very powerful. Many pursue ultimate autonomy today as well. The dirty little secret of ultimate autonomy is that it only exists for those willing to take it by force or those privileged enough to have it handed to them.
The spirit of Babylon is not only adopted by nations or people groups. It is often adopted by individuals. Has any part of our heart been taken over by the spirit of Babylon?
Babylon disdains God’s demands for righteousness and justice.
Babylon rejects God’s definitions of sin and holiness.
Babylon honors the brutal and brutalizes the gentle.
Babylon protects the powerful rather than the weak.
Babylon uses freedom to harm others.
One day we will taunt Babylon, but first we must come out from among her. Let us root out Babylon’s influences in our own lives and hearts.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
God is a righteous judge; God sits in judgment every day. — Psalm 7.12
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Christians, just like the nation of Israel, can become complacent about the coming of judgment.
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When we read the oracles against other nations, it is easy to distance ourselves from them.