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Blog #4, Isaiah 14:3-23, What Does this Passage Mean?

The passage is Isaiah 14:3-23. In Blog #1, I explained who the author is, the date and occasion of his writing, the Biblical audience along with their historical and cultural context, and finally the literary context of the text itself. In Blog #2, I gave a verse-by-verse commentary in light of everything explained in blog #1. Then in Blog #3, I gave a list of similarities between the Biblical audience and us, and a list of differences between the Biblical audience and us. Today in Blog#4, I will explain the three timeless theological principles being taught in the text; all the while keeping in mind the differences and similarities we share with the Biblical audience. So, what are the three timeless theological principles being taught in Isaiah 14:3-23?

The Cruel King

Firstly, a ruler can be cruel, because of his pride and sinful desire. You’ve heard the old aphorism, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”1 The Lord God created the king of Babylon and gave him his kingdom. Isaiah 14:5-6 depicts the king of Babylon as a cruel king. By this, the king of Babylon demonstrated himself to be an unfit ruler.2 He hurt many people and did so without any moral restraint. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted and did so as often as he wanted. This king of Babylon was given a staff to rule with, to do good, but instead of using it for good he used it to beat the subjects entrusted to his care. Selfish ambition and prided caused him to treat people this way. He was like a spoiled, undisciplined child, who was given no moral restraint. The first timeless theological principle being taught in this text is this: A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire.

The People and Earth Rejoice

Secondly, when an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice. Isaiah 14:7-8 demonstrations this kind of rejoicing. This cruel king of Babylon was powerful and mighty on the earth. This is evident, because the Babylonian king’s death brings joy to all the earth.3 All the earth being its nations and people. But it was not only the people of the earth who rejoiced. The earth itself rejoiced, because of the damage that the king of Babylon inflicted on the land and trees. The second timeless theological principle being taught in this text is this: When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice.

Descending to Sheol

Thirdly, the Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; therefore, death is the great leveler of man. Eventually every single person on the earth will die. Including kings and rulers. How can one be prideful when they have become a rotting corpse covered by worms and maggots?4 From the poorest to the richest we are all the same in death. No one is great while rotting away. The only thing that remains on the earth is memories of the good a person has done. For the king of Babylon there are no good memories of him. This is soundly depicted in Isaiah 14:9-21.

In verses 12-15 Isaiah depicts the king of Babylon as a star who desired to be above God and His stars. This king of Babylon made himself out to be the center of the universe. This king who believed himself to be great; is therefore, relegated to Sheol from life. This demonstrates that he was not who he thought he was, but was actually like everyone else. The poor have no monuments erected for them; likewise, there will be no monument erected in the king of Babylon’s honor and his children will be cut off from ever taking his place as king.5 The third timeless theological principle being taught in this text is this: The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; therefore, death is the great leveler of man.


1 A. Walter James, "John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton," Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, May 29, 2013, accessed September 19, 2017, https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Emerich-Edward-Dalberg-Acton-1st-Baron-Acton.

2 Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah Volume I Chapters 1-18 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965), 436.

Ibid.

4 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (La Habra: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 958.

5 William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 950.


Bibliography

James, A. W. (2013, May 29). John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Emerich-Edward-Dalberg-Acton-1st-Baron-Acton

MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer's Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

McArthur, J. (2006). The McArthur Study Bible. La Habra: Thomas Nelson.

Young, E. J. (1965). The Book of Isaiah Volume I Chapters 1-18. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.


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