Prophecies Regarding Foreign Nations and the World
SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS Isaiah 13:1 through 27:13
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (Isaiah 13:11)
In chapters 13 through 23 of the Book of Isaiah, the focus shifts from Judah and Jerusalem to God’s pronouncement of judgment on ten Gentile nations (see chart below). These prophesies are called “burdens,” which in the original language meant “to lift up.” Divine judgment was going to be lifted up, and the prophet’s solemn messages were a heavy weight as he lifted up his voice in warning. He knew that cities would be destroyed and thousands of people would be killed.
Knowing of these coming judgments on the Gentile nations should have impacted Israel for several reasons:
• When Gentile nations oppressed them, the people should not have despaired because God had stated that He would eventually punish those nations.
• The people should have seen the futility of forming alliances with these nations.
• Israel and also the Gentiles should have recognized that God has authority over all earthly powers.
• This knowledge should have strengthened the faith of the people.
Babylon was listed first in Isaiah’s condemnation. In 586 B.C., the Babylonian empire would destroy Jerusalem and the people of Judah would become their captives. From Genesis (the tower of Babel) through Revelation, Babylon typifies those who are defiant toward God, while Jerusalem often symbolizes the chosen of God.
In chapters 24 through 27, the prophecy broadens to include judgment to the whole world in the end times. God revealed to Isaiah, as to other Biblical writers, details regarding the Tribulation, causing these chapters to sometimes be referred to as “Isaiah’s Apocalypse.” The word “Behold” (Isaiah 24:1) indicated a future event. Individuals as well as nations would be judged. However, these chapters also hold out hope. God would provide deliverance, blessing, and protection for His people. After Israel was purged, they would be gathered and restored.
Isaiah’s prophecies were received with scorn and unbelief by many of the people of his time. But God’s Word has proved itself unfailingly. Fulfilled predictions regarding former nations reinforce Isaiah’s prophetic statements about events which have not yet transpired.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
Chapter 13 of Isaiah speaks of the fall of the great city Babylon. What verses foretold not only the fall of this city but also gave the identity of the conquerors?
The destruction and doom of Babylon was predicted in verses 19 and 20. These two verses indicated total annihilation of this city. Verse 17 prophesied that the city would be overthrown by the Medes. Point out to your students that this prophecy came to pass when Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall during Belshazzar’s feast (about 539 B.C.) nearly 200 years after Isaiah spoke these words. Your class should conclude that prophecies yet to be fulfilled will come to pass just as surely.
What did God say would happen to Moab? (Isaiah 15:1-3). Why? Isaiah 16:6
Isaiah speaks of the destruction and downfall of the Moabite nation. Looking back from a present-day vantage point, we can see that this came to pass. The Moabite nation was conquered several times before finally succumbing to Arab control. This judgment came upon Moab because of its pride. Moab, the father of the Moabite nation, was conceived by Lot and his eldest daughter after they fled from Sodom and Gomorrah. Through the years, the Moabites, as a country, despised the Children of Israel and caused them great trouble.
Discussion should bring out that the sinful may appear to flourish for a time, but God will eventually judge their evil deeds if they do not repent.
Early in the history of the Children of Israel, the Egyptians had enslaved them, and God brought about a miraculous deliverance through Moses. Yet years later in Isaiah’s time, some of the people of Judah wanted to form an alliance with Egypt as protection from Assyria. What should they have thought when they heard Isaiah’s prophecies about Egypt? Isaiah 19:1-4
Judah should have realized the futility of seeking help from Egypt. Ask your class where people turn today when they have problems. Where can the most effective help be found? Why do people look elsewhere? The point should be made that God is most able to help us, but many people are not willing to humble themselves and submit to His will. We want to be among those who are willing and obedient.
The city of Tyre was part of the Phoenician nation that was located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the area of Lebanon today. The Phoenicians had built up a vast network of trade with surrounding countries, and they had a fleet of ships that were used to export goods. Yet Isaiah saw a time when this prosperous nation would fall, and their economic collapse would affect many of the nations around them. Who planned Tyre’s destruction and why? Isaiah 23:8-9
God planned the fall of Tyre. Discuss with your class why, directing the discussion to bring out that it was not because they were prosperous, but because they were proud and no doubt trusted in their own abilities and prosperity. Many people today have possessions and prosperity, and these are not inherently sinful. Have your class discuss what our attitudes should be if we are prosperous. We need to remember who blessed us, to keep our possessions consecrated to the Lord, and to be good stewards of what He has given us.
Isaiah 24 details many happenings that will come to pass in the earth in what will be a universal desolation. List three of the happenings described in this chapter.
It could be interesting to make a list on the board. The point should be made that while we cannot say exactly what the events described will be, the picture is clearly one of universal desolation. Class discussion could bring out how we see what could be similar disasters today — earthquakes, massive storms, and epidemic diseases — that could make us think of these events. What we have seen so far in history will pale in comparison to what will come at the end of the world. Verse 18 foretells of people fleeing from one danger only to face another. We understand that God will send judgment upon the earth, but we have a way of escape if we trust wholly in the Savior. How can we be ready to escape?
Those who are delivered from God’s judgment will certainly rejoice, and in chapter 25, Isaiah prophesied of this praise. What are some of the future deliverances that God promises in Isaiah 25:6-12?
God promises a feast and celebration. He will “swallow up death in victory,” and tears will be wiped away. Those who rebel (symbolized by Moab) will be destroyed. Ask your class why these verses should give us hope today. We can anticipate the time when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom and rules the world in righteousness.
When Christ establishes His Millennial Kingdom, the nation of Israel will be the center of it, and the Jews will be restored to the land of Israel. How does Isaiah say the people will be gathered? Isaiah 27:12
“Ye shall be gathered one by one.” As this section of the Book of Isaiah ends, we can see foretold the time when the Jewish people will realize their redemption. They will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and will worship Him in Jerusalem. Not only the people of their nation will worship Him, but people of all nations will go to Jerusalem to “worship the Lord in the holy mount.”
The fifteen chapters of our text detail God’s revelation to Isaiah of the future of numerous nations. Additionally, Isaiah prophesied of the end time. What are some of the benefits of knowing, through prophecy, the future of the world?
When we are forewarned of coming trouble, it gives us time to prepare for it. We are living in a day when technology can predict a storm days before it arrives. Ask your class how people react when they hear that a storm is coming. Discussion will bring out that some people flee, while others stay and try to ride it out.
A coming “storm” has been prophesied, and it will be more cataclysmic than any the world has seen yet. Discuss with the class God’s plan for escape. Ask how people react to these “storm warnings.” How should we react?
No doubt some of Isaiah’s prophecies sounded harsh to the people of that day, but Isaiah made the people aware that it was their own doings that would bring about their destruction (see key verse).
When we accept Christ as our personal Savior and live for Him, we will escape the wrath that is coming.