V. 1: “The Lord will have compassion on Jacob.” As we go through various problems in life, we tend to think it will never end. We bog down in the misery that life will always be this way. A verse like this shows us that all such things are but passing waves, and what sorts of experiences are just temporary:
– they’ve been in exile
– they’ve had trouble
– they’ve experienced God’s discipline
– they have felt rejected
– they have felt isolated
You know, it’s always temporary. Stuff like this, even though it may last years, does eventually go away. God doesn’t leave us.
V. 2 is a classic example of “the first shall be last, and the last first” teaching. Judah, that has been down and out for, uh, CENTURIES, is going to be restored.
v. 3: They had brought their problems on themselves, and God didn’t stop that from happening, but they couldn’t bring relief to themselves. The Lord is responsible for that; He’s the one who redeems our messes.
So we have learned about the last being first. Now we’ll learn about the first becoming last. Babylon, the symbol of power of the world in hostility to God. It was known as a city of idolatry and demonism, and it became the embodiment of evil, symbolizing all that was rotten and corrupt. So the good guys, who have been oppressed for centuries, are resurrected by the Lord. And the symbol of hostility to God is brought down.
The chapter then continues the last/first and first/last illustration, and in v. 9 what kicks in is a scornful, smug taunt: “Ha, ha, you got what you deserved. As you sow, so you shall also read, buddy. Finally someone gave you a taste of your own medicine.”
Just an aside here: usually verses 12-14 are said to be talking about Satan, but I just don’t see it. The point of Isaiah 14 is about how God is going to exalt those who have been humble, and humble the proud, godless, and the worldly. Babylon, Tyre, and all such worldly kingdoms are prophesied that they will eventually be brought down (15). No matter how powerful and mighty you are, there is a power higher than you who will not allow false contenders to deceive people into the comfort of life of false gods. The implications echo in eternity, so the Ultimate Power, God, cannot allow the deception to go on. Instead, you will be judged for your hauteur. We put so much stock in power and pride, as if they’re the most important thing in life, but they’re just illusion, or delusions, I should say—a vapor that goes away when the sun rises. The first shall be last. (v. 25) No matter what your reputation, history, power, or strength, you will be brought to naught. No one is invincible before God, and no kingdom lasts forever except God’s.