The Day of the Lord

Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth,
And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
“I will punish the world for its evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will halt the arrogance of the proud,
And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold,
A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.
Therefore I will shake the heavens,
And the earth will move out of her place,
In the wrath of the LORD of hosts
And in the day of His fierce anger.
It shall be as the hunted gazelle,
And as a sheep that no man takes up;
Every man will turn to his own people,
And everyone will flee to his own land.
Everyone who is found will be thrust through,
And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
Their houses will be plundered
And their wives ravished. (Isaiah 13:9-16)

Prophesies are often given as poetry to increase their emotional impact. God’s judgment against Babylon is rendered even more horrific thanks to that choice.

Like the Assyrians before them, the Babylonians were guilty of harming God’s chosen people. So the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persians within the lifetime of Daniel the prophet, who had been carried to Babylon and served under Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, who saw a hand writing on the wall, would die at the hands of Cyrus and his Persian army.

Most of the time the words translated “world” and “earth” refer not to the planet, but rather a land—in this case, the land of Babylon. The “day of the Lord” is used to describe any time of God’s judgment. In this case, Isaiah employs this language against Babylon, predicting its downfall. The darkening of the stars, moon and sun that he describes are literally fulfilled in the destruction of the city: the flames that consume it, and the smoke that rises, blacken the sky—just as Southern California loses sight of the sun and moon during those periods when the fires rage every autumn. Isaiah had doubtless witnessed a few cities burn and so described the experience very vividly.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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