It’s hard for us, 2,500 years removed, to understand the deep devastation of the Babylonian Exile. The sin of God’s people had become so great that judgment reigned down. Although severe, the punishment was foretold. About 1,000 years before its occurrence, Moses stood before the people of Israel prior to entering the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 28, Moses shared about the many blessings Israel would receive through obedience. However, he also shared the myriad curses and devastations that disobedience would bring. It is Deuteronomy 28:64–65 that we read, “Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.”
As bad as Exile was, it was part of God’s plan. And, as important as Deuteronomy 28 is for us to understand the biblical story, Deuteronomy 30 lays bare the heart of a God who bleeds restoration. Moses concluded, “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.”
Stepping into Isaiah 46, this restoration is in-process. Again, our imagination can barely grasp the overwhelming might of Babylon. And, in ancient times, nations credited success or failure to the gods of the nations. Therefore, when Babylon went about conquering and subduing people groups, Bel and Nebo proved their might over the gods of the other nations—including Israel’s God—or so they thought. As we learned yesterday, in Isaiah 45, God used king Cyrus of Persia as “His anointed.” Persia did the unthinkable. They whooped Babylon.
The image of Isaiah 46:1–2 is amazing. Over 100 years before Babylon even conquers Israel, the prophet, Isaiah, pictures the Babylonian gods bent over, carried by pack animals. These gods that subdued nations were so powerless, that they had to be carried as they were shamefully carted off to exile. Yet, the true God does not need to be carried and instead carries his people to restoration and victory (46:3–4).
Yahweh is unmatched. Yet, as we read the rest of this chapter, we see God’s commitment to his plan of restoration. He will carry out Deuteronomy 30. He says, “I have planned it, surely I will do it.”
I hope you begin to see that these events are a microcosm of the time in which we live. Great world-powers exists. They seem invulnerable. Yet, God is in control. He is willing to suffer the shame of defeat, to let His name be tarnished, in order to rescue. He is patient, but the time is coming when modern-day “Babylons” will fall before our great God!