Today: [Isaiah 14] Who is the King of Babylon? In Isaiah 14 we find Isaiah continuing to prophesy of events generations beyond the day in which he actually lived. He predicts that the 10 tribes will be taken into captivity and that the Assyrians will ultimately fall to the Babylonians, who were not perceived as an immediate threat to the region at the time. He further declares that the Babylonians will fall to the Persians and the Medes, whose king Cyrus would then restore the city of Jerusalem and the temple in a time yet to come. In this chapter, we see the Latin word used to describe the king of Babylon and by most Christian scholars to also apply to Satan himself as a rebellious fallen angel. Is there precedent to call Satan, Lucifer? We will explore this further in our study of the chapter.
[Isa 14:1-32 KJV] 1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. 2 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 handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors. 3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, 4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! 5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, [and] the sceptre of the rulers. 6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, [and] none hindereth. 7 The whole earth is at rest, [and] is quiet: they break forth into singing. 8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, [and] the cedars of Lebanon, [saying], Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. 9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet [thee] at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, [even] all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. 10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? 11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
Isaiah chapter 14 is a proclamation against Babylon predicting its destruction for its pride and its cruelty against the people of God. It begins with a promise that the Lord will have mercy upon Jacob. When we see the prophets speaking in behalf of Jacob it refers to Israel in its unredeemed state. Jacob is Israel’s name before He wrestled with the Lord and was forever changed. In Gen. 32:27 the angels asks Jacob what his name was and then touched him in the hollow of his thigh, calling him Israel. This is a type of the conversion experience. Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:32 “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren…” Every one of us in life will have a wrestling experience with the Lord from whence we will forever be changed. This is what following on to know the Lord is all about. Yet before that time as Jacob of old we live with things in ourselves that do not reflect God’s character. The promise to us is the promise here in verse 1: “The Lord will yet have mercy upon Jacob…” This is speaking of the deplorable state of the southern kingdom at the time, of the Jewish people in general, and of believers in Jesus who struggle in their faith.
The passage goes on to promise that those who had oppressed the nation will ultimately be placed in servitude to those who they tormented. It is a truth in life if you live long enough and wait long enough that people who make your life difficult will sooner or later be made vulnerable to you by the hand of the Lord. The question in that moment is what will you then do with them. I remember a time that God told me “I have placed your enemy in your hand – what will you do with him?” My answer after consideration was “Lord I am going to love him…” to which the Lord replied: “Just checking!” What will be your answer and your conduct when those who oppress you and persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you are made vulnerable to you in life? Are you going to lash out and repay evil for evil? Or will you extend clemency and kindness even if it is undeserved? This is a great test of the character of Christ in your life.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, [and] consider thee, [saying, Is] this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 [That] made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; [that] opened not the house of his prisoners? 18 All the kings of the nations, [even] all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. 19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, [and as] the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. 20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, [and] slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. 21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities. 22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
As in other chapter Isaiah is focusing initially on political events and regional situations when the curtain of time is drawn back and he then addresses matters of eternal depth and cosmic consequence. Who is this “Lucifer, son of the morning”? Literally, it is applied to the king of Babylon whom Isaiah is addressing in this chapter and the chapter previous. Babylon is to be defeated and in the process of time conquered by the Persians from whence Cyrus will order the rebuilding of the temple and the exaltation of the Jewish people above their former captors the Babylonians. This literally came to pass. Christian theology also applies this to Satan as a fallen angel. Is Satan Lucifer. The Lucifer word here is interesting because it is the only Latin word deployed in this English translation of the bible. Literally translated from the Hebrew it would otherwise be rendered “shining one” or “morning star”. The literal rendering in Hebrew would actually be “shining one, son of the morning”. The Septuagint version of the Old Testament, written before the time of Christ rendering the Hebrew term into Greek using the title “Heosphorus” meaning “one who bears light in the morning”. The Vulgate version of the Bible (translated in 405 AD) used the term Lukophos which was actually another title used at that time for Apollos, son of Zues and alternatively Pan, god of erotic love. It is because of this that images of Pan morphed into iconography of the devil in the Middle Ages. The term Lucifer then is the only Latin word used in the English translation bible and was never found in any of the translations of Isaiah or elsewhere deployed in the bible until the fifth century after Christ. Its usage to the English bible translators was preferable to “Morning Star” which is a Messianic title and if used here would have confused (in the translator’s minds) Satan with the Messiah.
Who is Lucifer then? In verse 16 he is described as a man whom the nations will look narrowly upon saying “is this the man that troubled the nations?” Nowhere in scripture is Satan referred to literally, in type, shadow or allegory – as a man. This brings us back around to the literal interpretation that Isaiah is referring then to the future king of Babylon who will be brought to destruction by the Persians and the Medes. One of the final kings of Babylon carried a name that meant “lamp of heaven”. He ascended to the throne as a child and was assassinated within a year. Thus, the prophecy of Isaiah that the grave would hasten to meet the king of Babylon’s demise was fulfilled.
From the previous chapter that not only is there a literal Babylon but also as Rev. 17, 18 declare there is a spiritual Babylon that functions as a spiritual principle in opposition to the kingdom of God in the earth. Ancient Babel was a tower erected by ambitious men under Nimrod who thought to overthrow the heavens by its construction. This was the ambition as well of Adam who in the fall hoped to be like God, independent of God. Whether or not the king of Babylon here is the serpent of Genesis chapter 3 cannot be established but it can be observed that Adam was certainly a “son of the morning” who was perfect in the garden of God before iniquity was found in him, and was thereby summarily judged and cast out. That perspective then would identify Adam as the “man who troubled the nations” and all humanity by his obedience. Are we saying then that there is no Satan? Hardly. Rather we are pointing out that the popular interpretation that this passage refers to Satan is not beyond question.
23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts. 24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, [so] shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This [is] the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this [is] the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul [it]? and his hand [is] stretched out, and who shall turn it back? 28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden. 29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit [shall be] a fiery flying serpent. 30 And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant. 31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, [art] dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none [shall be] alone in his appointed times. 32 What shall [one] then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
In verse 28 we see that this passage defined as chapter 14 was written on the occasion of king Ahaz’ death. At the time of Ahaz’ death Assyria had overthrown the northern kingdom and subjected the southern kingdom of Judah, or Judea as a vassal state. However after Ahaz’ day Hezekiah becomes king and the southern kingdom is restored through his reforms. Much of the prophesying of Isaiah against the city of Jerusalem and the southern kingdom was intended and successfully brought about repentance among the people of God, restoration of the temple doors, the removal of idols and pagan altars from the holy place under the reign of good king Hezekiah. As Jonah prophesied and Nineveh was spared, so Isaiah prophesied and for at least Hezekiah’s time the southern kingdom was spared, because Hezekiah venerated Isaiah and served the Lord God. Yet the ominous warning even for those of that day was that ultimately though Assyria was thrown back and its rule broken over Jerusalem that the day would come that the Babylonians would overthrow the nation who then ultimately would be destroyed themselves.
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