Choose to walk the path of humility; It beats being humbled! God’s law of gravity says that ‘what goes down must come up!’
We are traversing what has been called the ”jungle of prophecy’’ (Chapters 13-25). These are oracles against foreign nations. Today’s verses for reflection form the last part of the oracle against Babylon. (If you are able, it would be good to read Gen.11:1-9 and Rev.18:2, 3 in conjunction with Isaiah 13:1-14:23).
Like the king of Babylon (12-14) Lucifer (Satan) exalted himself and was humbled, but Jesus, God’s Son, humbled Himself and was exalted (Phil.2:5-11). In so doing He has left us a pattern. This template is counter-intuitive; it moves against the world (we might say ‘Babylonian’) system, but herein lies real life (Jas. 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). ”If the Lord’s going to raise you up, let him raise you up; but whatever you do don’t try to raise yourself up!”
You will see the repetition of the words ”I will” in (13, 14; see James 4:13-17). How different was the plan, the aim, the stated ambition, to the actual outcome (15-23). See what was intended, and compare it with what happened. Then learn! ”Stop! Look! Listen!” Ancient kings often fancied themselves as gods, but the more they lifted themselves up, the less like God they became. When the true God appeared on earth, it was in the form of a humble servant. When human rulers exalt themselves they follow the devil’s example and are energised by him (13; compare with Gen.11:4. The name ”Babel” is the Hebrew word for Babylon. From Babel to Babylon human nature hadn’t changed.)
Satan said ”I will” but Jesus said, ”Thy will”. The essence of sin is self-love; it is the enthronement of self, and effectively the replacement of God with me. ”I did it my way”. But there can only be one Lord in a human life (Mt.6:24). Who’s it going to be? ”If self is on the throne, Christ is on the cross; but if Christ is on the throne, self is on the cross.” Don’t you think today’s passage says that it’s not good to get your own way. I don’t want God to allow me to have my own way (however much I want it, if you see what I mean!) It’s an exceedingly risky enterprise when you seek to get your will done in heaven.
Powerful people in this world, those who oppose God and His people, will get their come-uppance in God’s good time (and that goes for the one who empowers them: Phil. 2: 10, 11; see also 2 Thess.2:4. When the antichrist comes:”the man of lawlessness”, he will be the embodiment, the incarnation of Satan himself. But he will be no match for the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Thess.2:8). You can see in Isaiah 14: 12 -23 how the king of Babylon is going to be utterly humiliated. His ruin will be total. He will have no ”tomb” (19), no ”burial” (20). He will be ”Like a corpse trampled underfoot’’ (19). A man’s memorials include his grave stone and children, but the king of Babylon will have neither.
So, humble yourself under God. If Jesus is your Lord you will follow Him in taking up the basin and towel. (See John 13, and especially verses 12-17. It really is important to read these words.)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, suffering servant, help me to reject the way of self-importance, and take every opportunity to humbly serve.