Description
This chapter reveals the Antichrist as the King of Babylon and human incarnation of Lucifer. It portrays his death and humiliation as he descends to the world of the dead, where he is met with astonishment by the spirits of departed world leaders.
Commentary
Verse 1 prophesies the end-time restoration of Israel to her land. Fulfilment of this began in the late 19th century, and accelerated after the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948. However, it then forsees the oppression of Israel by the Antichrist, referred to as the King of Babylon. This king is ultimately defeated, and Israel triumphs over her enemies. Verse 5 indicates that it is the Lord who delivers Israel, and verses 7 and 8 foresee the establishment of peace. Verse 2 sees the completion of Israel's restoration at the beginning of the Millennium when foreign nations will actively help their Jewish citizens return to Israel. So far, Israel's return to the land has been largely resisted and condemned by the international community.

Verse 4 in the KJV is translated, 'That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!'. The golden city is a translation of the hebrew word 'madhebah', a variant of the word 'dehab' meaning gold. It is the only occurrence of 'madhebah' in the bible, and the NIV interprets it as 'fury'. But if taken as 'the golden city', this would correspond with 'Mystery Babylon', the city associated with the Great Prostitute in Revelation 17-18, which is suddenly and catastrophically destroyed. Several clues in Revelation 17-18, together with Isaiah 21, associate the Great Prostitute with Arabia, so it is reasonable to associate 'the golden city' with Mecca. In Jeremiah 25:26, the Antichrist is called 'the king of Sheshach', where Sheshach is a code word for Babylon (see notes on Jeremiah 25). In end-time prophecies, the Bible uses 'Babylon' as a codename for a city in Arabia.

Verses 9 to 20 foresee the descent of the defeated Antichrist into the world of the dead, where he is met by the spirits of departed world leaders who express astonishment at his humiliation and fall. These verses reveal that the Antichrist is more than a mere man. He is revealed in verse 12 as an incarnation of Lucifer or Satan (Hebrew 'heylel ben shachar', translated 'Morning Star, Son of the Dawn' in the NIV). Based on this verse, it is reasonable to argue that the morning star and crescent moon symbol of Islam is actually a symbol of Lucifer. This symbol is incorporated into many muslim flags, and the crescent moon adorns the top of every mosque.

In verses 13 and 14, these spirits of departed rulers recall Lucifer's boastful claims, the five 'I wills...'. The most ambitious of the these claims is 'I will make myself like the Most High'. Lucifer has attempted to fulfil this boast by masquerading as God in the form of Allah, the false god of Islam. His other boasts may be seen as being fulfilled through the Prophet Mohammed who claimed to ascend to heaven above the angels of God in the story of his miraculous night journey, (Isra wa Al-Mir'ajj in Arabic). It is likely that the end-time Antichrist will be recognised by Muslims as their Mahdi, and that he will make claims similar to those made by Mohammed. 2 Thessalonians 2 says of the Antichrist, "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God" (NET).

Verses 16 and 17 reveal that Antichrist will terrorise the earth. Verses 19 and 20 tell us that he will be denied a proper burial. According to Revelation 19:20, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be thrown alive into the lake of fire.

Verses 22 and 23 prophesy God's utter destruction of Babylon. Rather than modern-day Iraq where ancient Babylon was located, this more likely refers to Arabia which is called Babylon in Isaiah 21 and Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18. In verse 23, God says 'I will get rid of her, just as one sweeps away dirt with a broom', possibly a description of destruction by a nuclear bomb. Isaiah 13:17 and 21:2 indicate that Iran (the Medes and Elamites) will be involved in its destruction. It is possible that Iran will succeed in its nuclear program and will eventually nuke its arch-rival, Saudi Arabia.

Verse 25 tells us that the Antichrist will be defeated in the land of Israel. God refers to the Antichrist as 'the Assyrian', a name that is also used for the Antichrist in Micah 5. This indicates that he will come from the region that historically was part of the Assyrian empire. Ezekiel 38 calls him 'the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal' implying he is from Turkey. Eastern Turkey was part of the Assyrian empire, so it fits with him being called 'the Assyrian' by Isaiah.

Verses 28 to 32 contain an oracle of doom and famine against the Philistines. This had a historic fulfilment, but most likely also has an end-time fulfillment for the Palestinians. Historically, the Philistines were invaded and exiled by Nebuchadnezzar at about the same time as Judah's exile in 586 BC, and they then disappeared into the pages of history, never returning to Philistia. In verse 29, Nebuchadnezzar is pictured as a 'viper that grows out of the serpent's root', portraying him as 'Satan's man'. Verse 31 says, "out of the north comes a cloud of smoke, and there are no stragglers in its ranks". This likely describes Nebuchadnezzar's historic army, but also Antichrist's end-time army. When the Antichrist, Satan's end-time man, (as in verse 5 to 21) invades Israel, it is likely that the Palestinians (the modern-day inhabitants of Philistia) will look to him expectantly as their great liberator, but their hopes will be dashed. First of all, the Antichrist will invade Israel for his own interests, not for those of the Palestinians. And then at Armageddon, the Palestinians will have Jesus and his armies to contend with. Jesus' purpose will be to make Zion secure (v32).
Tags
Places: Babylon, Iraq, Mystery Babylon, Arabia, Palestinian territories, Philistia, Gaza, Zion, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Mecca
Symbols:
Tags: Restoration of Israel and Judah, Israel gathered from the nations, Antichrist, Antichrist as King of Babylon, Antichrist as the Assyrian, Antichrist as Satan-incarnate, Defeat of Antichrist, Death of Antichrist, Antichrist cast into hell, Antichrist taunted by the nations, Satan as Lucifer, Zion established, Mecca, The Golden City, Great Prostitute
1 The Lord will certainly have compassion on Jacob; he will again choose Israel as his special people and restore them to their land. Resident foreigners will join them and unite with the family of Jacob.
2 Nations will take them and bring them back to their own place. Then the family of Israel will make foreigners their servants as they settle in the Lord’s land. They will make their captors captives and rule over the ones who oppressed them.
3 When the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and anxiety, and from the hard labor which you were made to perform,
4 you will taunt the king of Babylon with these words: “Look how the oppressor has met his end! Hostility has ceased!
5 The Lord has broken the club of the wicked, the scepter of rulers.
6 It furiously struck down nations with unceasing blows. It angrily ruled over nations, oppressing them without restraint.
7 The whole earth rests and is quiet; they break into song.
8 The evergreens also rejoice over your demise, as do the cedars of Lebanon, singing, ‘Since you fell asleep, no woodsman comes up to chop us down!’
9 Sheol below is stirred up about you, ready to meet you when you arrive. It rouses the spirits of the dead for you, all the former leaders of the earth; it makes all the former kings of the nations rise from their thrones.
10 All of them respond to you, saying: ‘You too have become weak like us! You have become just like us!
11 Your splendor has been brought down to Sheol, as well as the sound of your stringed instruments. You lie on a bed of maggots, with a blanket of worms over you.
12 Look how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations!
13 You said to yourself, “I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon.
14 I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!”
15 But you were brought down to Sheol, to the remote slopes of the Pit.
16 Those who see you stare at you, they look at you carefully, thinking: “Is this the man who shook the earth, the one who made kingdoms tremble?
17 Is this the one who made the world like a wilderness, who ruined its cities, and refused to free his prisoners so they could return home?”’
18 As for all the kings of the nations, all of them lie down in splendor, each in his own tomb.
19 But you have been thrown out of your grave like a shoot that is thrown away. You lie among the slain, among those who have been slashed by the sword, among those headed for the stones of the Pit, as if you were a mangled corpse.
20 You will not be buried with them, because you destroyed your land and killed your people. The offspring of the wicked will never be mentioned again.
21 Prepare to execute his sons for the sins their ancestors have committed. They must not rise up and take possession of the earth, or fill the surface of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “I will blot out all remembrance of Babylon and destroy all her people, including the offspring she produces,” says the Lord.
23 “I will turn her into a place that is overrun with wild animals and covered with pools of stagnant water. I will get rid of her, just as one sweeps away dirt with a broom,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
24 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies makes this solemn vow: “Be sure of this: Just as I have intended, so it will be; just as I have planned, it will happen.
25 I will break Assyria in my land, I will trample them underfoot on my hills. Their yoke will be removed from my people, the burden will be lifted from their shoulders.
26 This is the plan I have devised for the whole earth; my hand is ready to strike all the nations.”
27 Indeed, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has a plan, and who can possibly frustrate it? His hand is ready to strike, and who can possibly stop it?

The Lord Will Judge the Philistines

28 This oracle came in the year that King Ahaz died:
29 Don’t be so happy, all you Philistines, just because the club that beat you has been broken! For a viper will grow out of the serpent’s root, and its fruit will be a darting adder.
30 The poor will graze in my pastures; the needy will rest securely. But I will kill your root by famine; it will put to death all your survivors.
31 Wail, O city gate! Cry out, O city! Melt with fear, all you Philistines! For out of the north comes a cloud of smoke, and there are no stragglers in its ranks.
32 How will they respond to the messengers of this nation? Indeed, the Lord has made Zion secure; the oppressed among his people will find safety in her.
(NET)