What Does this Passage Mean: Isaiah 14:12-14

Isaiah 14:12-14
“How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

Prophetic passages like this one usually have more than one meaning. The passage itself is part of a song, a taunt against the king of Babylon. Biblical prophecy is a lot like skipping rocks on water. The prophet cast the stone and it touches the water (the first meaning of the prophecy); the rock then lifts up off the water and touches the surface of the water again (the second meaning of the prophecy); eventually the rock reaches its culmination and plunges into the deep (the final meaning of the prophetic word).

In Isaiah chapter 13 the prophet has already told us that Babylon will fall to the Medes. (cf. Isa 13:17-22) Through scripture being the interpreter of scripture we know that the first meaning of our passage is a taunt against the king of Babylon. (Isa 14:4) The taunt is a mocking one in the manner with which Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal. (cf. 1 Ki 18:27) When one exalts himself as the king of Babylon did, part of his punishment is to be stripped of all honor and glory. Therefore, the first meaning of Isaiah 14:12-14 is a mocking taunt against the king of Babylon.

Belshazzar was a historical king in Babylon who fell to the Medes, (cf. Dan 5) but he was also a type of the antichrist. The taunt says that he has fallen from heaven and calls him “O star of the morning, son of the dawn!” (Isa 14:12) We know from the New Testament that Jesus is the bright and morning star, (Rev 22:16) the Son of God who came from heaven. (Jn 1:14) We also know that Jesus said that He watched Satan fall from heaven. “And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.’” (Luk 10:18) The Devil, the beast and the false prophet will all be tormented; “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Therefore, the second meaning of Isaiah 14:12-14 is a mocking taunt against Satan, the beast on which Babylon the great, the mother of all harlots and of the abominations of the earth sits. (cf. Rev 17)

In conclusion, prophetic scripture has more than one meaning. It is like skipping stones on water. In Isaiah 14:12-14 the first meaning is a taunt against the historical king of Babylon. The second meaning is a taunt against Satan at the eschaton.

The Holy Bible, Updated New American Standard Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.