In Isaiah 21, we see another prophecy that involves the downfall of Babylon. At the point of writing, Babylon was in a precarious position. Babylon was technically under Assyrian rule around this time in history, but they were beginning to get their kingdom back together. They had been great, but then they were overrun. At this point in history, they were on the rise again.
It was in this environment that Isaiah made a bold prediction.
Isa 21:7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:
Isa 21:8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:
Isa 21:9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
This is interesting. Again, like I have been coming back to throughout this book, it would not have seemed likely that Babylon would fall. After all, even though the Babylonian Empire had fallen for some time, the city itself was still intact, and it was still an important part of Mesopotamia for the Assyrian Empire.
In some sense then, it had never fully fallen. It remained prominent, but you have Isaiah talking about Babylon actually falling. That must have been hard for the people to believe. After all, even if foreign invaders had not taken down the city, what would possibly take it down entirely?
As we all know, Babylon does not exist anymore. It is a little bit hard to tell exactly when it went off the map, but we had the very least know that Alexander the Great conquered it, died there, and it fell into ruin sometime after that.
Again, it is interesting that this prophecy came hundreds of years before its fulfillment. I don’t know of any other way to predict this accurately other than through supernatural assistance.
Again, it is important to remember the time that Isaiah was written. Traditionally, it was written in the eighth century BC. As we enter chapter 20, we hear about the people of Egypt and Ethiopia being invaded and led away in slavery. This must have been a ridiculous prophecy at the time since Egypt had traditionally been one of the most dominant empires of the ancient world.
Isa 20:3 And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;
Isa 20:4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Isa 20:5 And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.
Isa 20:6 And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?
That is exactly what happened. Near the middle of the seventh century BC, Esarhaddon was the King of Assyria, and he expanded the empire to include both Egypt and Ethiopia. This prophecy was approximately 50 years ahead of its time, and that is pretty remarkable to say the least.
I find these prophetic passages to be fascinating. We live in a time where you end up with a lot of people making a lot of predictions about a variety of things. I generally laugh at them. We can certainly predict what might happen, but we all do that with the understanding that we very well might be wrong. No one can predict everything correctly.
I take that last sentence back. Isaiah was able to. His predictions were eventually fulfilled. Even ones like this that must have seemed ridiculous were fulfilled. Humans don’t normally do that. People are not able to have this kind of accuracy as a general rule. Is it possible that the best explanation would be a supernatural one?
Unless you have a presuppositional bias that the supernatural is not possible, doesn’t it at least make sense to consider that perhaps Isaiah had some kind of supernatural experience? Maybe he didn’t, but it at least deserves to be in the conversation, and I think that when you look at the evidence, there is no natural way that Isaiah would have had this remarkable accuracy.
Sometimes I wonder if God just looks down from heaven and shakes his head at the oddities of human nature. Remember that all through Isaiah, we are going to be watching a nation who was being punished for abandoning God. They are be punished as the Assyrians will come marching in. However, now that we are in Isaiah 10, we see that the Assyrians are going to make a very similar mistake to what the people of Israel had done.
Isa 10:12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
Isa 10:13 For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:
Isa 10:14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
I have a feeling that if the King of Assyria had spoken to the people of Judah, there would have been some who could had told him exactly why Judah fell. They could have told him about the people drifting away from God, and they could have told the King something about how he ought to relate to God.
That was not what happened though. He doesn’t seem to have ever come to that realization. He began to take credit for himself, and God was not going to let him remain in charge either. He got overrun just like the people of Judah did.
Pride seems to do that. We think that we have all the answers, and we start drifting away from God because He simply doesn’t seem necessary anymore. We don’t need to rely on Him because we think that we have everything put together.
Assyria was obviously not a Godly nation to begin with, but you can see the obvious problem here. Pride is never a good thing when you begin to take the place that God deserves.
I’m not an expert on debate techniques yet, but it seems as if in 2 Chronicles 32, the king of Assyria was ordering his men to commit a pretty large logical fallacy as they tried to dishearten the defenders of Jerusalem.
Hezekiah was absolutely certain that God would be able to defend Jerusalem.
2Ch 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:
2Ch 32:8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
However, the men of Assyria took a shot directly at this claim indirectly if that makes sense. It is similar to a straw man argument.
2Ch 32:15 Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?
Hezekiah presented the first argument that said that God would be able to protect the city of Jerusalem and all the people. That is what should have been the debate topic.
Rather than debate the argument directly, the Assyrian presented the argument that no other god had been able to stop his army yet. Based on that argument, he then said that the God of the Bible would not be able to stop him.
Do you see the problem with this argument? He was setting up an argument that he knew was true, but he did not take the current situation into account and actually avoided the topic altogether. He had never come up against the one true God, so it is kind of irrelevant what happened with all the other deities.
I have become very interested in this field of apologetics lately, and this is very similar to what we often encounter in the world every day. I am not saying that we all need to become brilliant orators, but it is beneficial to think about the situation and be able to follow a conversation.
If you need a good resource to get you started, check out my review of Tactics by Greg Kokul. I would definitely recommend it.