Preparation for Worship (1/31/15)

Scripture to consider: Isaiah 13.1–14.23

1 A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw: 2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. 3 I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—those who rejoice in my triumph.

4 Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. 5 They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens—the Lord and the weapons of his wrath—to destroy the whole country.

photo courtesy of allposters.com

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7 Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. 8 Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. 10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.

14 Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. 15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. 16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.

17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. 18 Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. 19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. 21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. 22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.

1 The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. 2 Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors

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! 5 The Lord has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, 6 which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. 7 All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. 8 Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon gloat over you and say, ‘Now that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us down.’

9 “The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones—all those who were kings over the nations. 10 They will all respond, they will say to you, ‘You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us. 11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. 12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. 16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 17 the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?”’

18 “All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. 19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, 20 you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again. 21 Prepare a place to slaughter his children for the sins of their ancestors; they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities.”

22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will wipe out Babylon’s name and survivors, her offspring and descendants,” declares the Lord. 23 “I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland; I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord Almighty. (NIV)

Thought to ponder:

Humanity cannot sustain itself by itself. It cannot expect in its own strength to produce more and more of everything until it fills the earth. There has come the day, again and again, in war, in famine, or in pestilence when a self-sufficient portion of humanity has been brought face to face with its insufficiency. Thus far, in his mercy, God has allowed the torch to be passed to other civilizations, but as we move more and more toward a global society, Babylon’s burden becomes more and more the word addressed to the entire earth. God’s glory will fill the earth, not humanity’s. If we will not learn that voluntarily, we must learn it involuntarily.”

John Oswalt, pp. 309–10

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