This chapter describes the end-time destruction of Babylon, most likely referring to Saudi Arabia which is Mystery Babylon in Revelation. Isaiah sees two different armies involved in its destruction, one of God's holy warriors, and another from Iran.
In verse 3, Jesus summons his chosen soldiers (literally 'holy ones') to participate in his end-time destruction of Babylon, and calls them "warriors through whom I will vent my anger". It is likely that these holy warriors are resurrected and raptured believers, for Jesus' triumph occurs at the last trumpet which coincides with the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The Lord Almighty is seen as mustering an army for war in preparation for the day of the Lord. In particular focus is the judgment of Babylon. Although ancient Babylon was located in modern-day Iraq, in an end-time context Babylon more likely refers to Arabia. Arabia is figuratively called Babylon in Isaiah 21 and Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18. Northern Arabia was part of the Babylonian Empire at its fullest extent.

Describing this army that God raises up, verse 5 says, "They come from a far country, from the end of heaven" (KJV). This may be a description of resurrected and raptured believers. If so, they will have glorified immortal bodies and will be invincible. Consequently, verses 7 and 8 describe the terror this army instills in the people of Babylon. In verse 8, "They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red (literally 'as flames')". Although the 'flames' are most likely metaphorical in this context, several prophecies show Jesus using fire as a weapon in his end-time battles. If this really is an army of glorified believers it is possible we will be given similar weapons that use fire. (Search tags: Weapons of Jesus)

Verse 9 places this destruction of Babylon in context of the Lord's day of judgment, when he will 'destroy the earth and annihilate its sinners'. At his second coming, Jesus will complete his fulfilment of Isaiah 61:1-2 (see also Luke 4:18-19) by proclaiming the day of God's vengeance. At his first coming, he proclaimed 'the year of the Lord's favour', but stopped short of proclaiming the day of God's vengeance which awaits his second coming.

Verses 10 to 13 describe various signs in the sun, moon and stars that will take place in the Great Tribulation and coincide with the Day of the Lord. Jesus described these same signs in Matthew 24:29.

Verse 12 says, "I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir." See my commentary on Revelation 6 for a discussion of the death toll during the Great Tribulation.

Verse 13 says, "So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation". This seems to describe more than just a great earthquake (although a great earthquake is certainly described in several end-time passages, e.g. Isaiah 24:19, Luke 21:11, and Revelation 6:12, 11:13, 16:18). If the earth itself is shaken loose from its foundation (axis), this might explain the phenomenon described by Jesus in Matthew 24:29, "the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken". If the earth is shaken out of its normal axis of rotation, the stars might appear to fall from the sky.

Verse 14 describes people fleeing back to their native lands. This is a reversal of modern migration trends, and is indicative of world war causing the expulsion of ethnic minorities or foreign expatriate workers.

In verses 16 to 17, the Medes (an Iranian people group) are also seen as participating in the judgment of Babylon, which is overthrown in the end-times like Sodom and Gomorrah. The description of them killing children and raping women clearly differentiates them from the army of holy ones mentioned in verses 3 and 4. Concerning the destruction of Babylon, verse 20 says, "no one will ever reside there again". This rules out the fall of ancient Babylon in 539 BC as the complete fulfilment of this prophecy. Babylon was lived in for hundreds of years after that. "No bedouin (Hebrew: 'arabi', i.e. Arab) will camp there, no shepherds will rest their flocks there', gives another indication that Babylon refers not to modern-day Iraq where ancient Babylon was located, but to the region of modern-day Saudi Arabia which is described as Babylon in Isaiah 21 and as Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18. Verses 21 to 22 tell us Babylon will be left as a dwelling for desert creatures. Her luxurious palaces will become abandoned ruins.
Places: Babylon, Iraq, Mystery Babylon, Media, Iran, Saudi Arabia
Tags: Jesus musters an army, Rapture, War and Rapture, Jesus uses fire, Day of Judgment, Day of vengeance, Mystery Babylon, Destruction of end-time Babylon, Babylon will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, Iran attacks Saudi Arabia, End-time signs, Signs in the sky, Great earthquake, Axis of Earth changed
The Lord Will Judge Babylon
13 This is an oracle about Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
2 On a bare hill raise a signal flag, shout to them, wave your hand, so they might enter the gates of the princes!
3 I have given orders to my chosen soldiers; I have summoned the warriors through whom I will vent my anger, my boasting, arrogant ones.
4 There is a loud noise on the mountains – it sounds like a large army! There is great commotion among the kingdoms – nations are being assembled! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is mustering forces for battle.
5 They come from a distant land, from the horizon. It is the Lord with his instruments of judgment, coming to destroy the whole earth.
6 Wail, for the Lord’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the Sovereign One.
7 For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage.
8 They panic – cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red.
9 Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners.
10 Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine.
11 I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants.
12 I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir.
13 So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, because of the fury of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, in the day he vents his raging anger.
14 Like a frightened gazelle or a sheep with no shepherd, each will turn toward home, each will run to his homeland.
15 Everyone who is caught will be stabbed; everyone who is seized will die by the sword.
16 Their children will be smashed to pieces before their very eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives raped.
17 Look, I am stirring up the Medes to attack them; they are not concerned about silver, nor are they interested in gold.
18 Their arrows will cut young men to ribbons; they have no compassion on a person’s offspring, they will not look with pity on children.
19 Babylon, the most admired of kingdoms, the Chaldeans’ source of honor and pride, will be destroyed by God just as Sodom and Gomorrah were.
20 No one will live there again; no one will ever reside there again. No bedouin will camp there, no shepherds will rest their flocks there.
21 Wild animals will rest there, the ruined houses will be full of hyenas. Ostriches will live there, wild goats will skip among the ruins.
22 Wild dogs will yip in her ruined fortresses, jackals will yelp in the once-splendid palaces. Her time is almost up, her days will not be prolonged.