Up to this point, Isaiah has preached against primarily Jerusalem (Judah) – the southern tribes of God’s people. At this point, God will now direct His judgment in eleven chapters against the nations surrounding Judah. This is done for a few reasons:
1. These nations are guilty of sin and sin has to be punished.
2. God had warned Israel not to trust in men (2:22); therefore, they should not trust in nations for their security. God, alone, is to be trusted.
3. God has promised that He will establish a new body of people (pictured as a Kingdom, with the Son of David as the King – 7:14; 9:6-7). How will these foreign nations react to this new kingdom? Well, on one hand, they will flow to this new kingdom (2:1-4); on the other hand, God will destroy the kingdoms so they cannot inhibit the establishment of this new kingdom.
4. In a culture in which gods of conquering nations were viewed as more powerful than those of conquered nations, God would show that He, indeed, was God Almighty. Israel should not trust other gods as Ahaz had done.
Most of the punishment God will bring on these nations will be through Assyria, the “rod of His anger” (10:5). Smith comments these chapters: “teach the principle that believers should not be motivated by fear to compromise their beliefs about the sovereignty of God. They should confidently serve God regardless of their situation, knowing that his plans are being fulfilled” (292).
Babylon is the first nation critiqued by Isaiah, in chapters 13-14. Assyria was the dominant and most threatening power in Isaiah’s day, but Isaiah will begin with Babylon. Why? Although Assyria would fight against Judah, that nation would not be victorious. But, Babylon will. Babylon is the nation in which Hezekiah will place ill-founded trust – chapter 39. Babylon is the nation who will carry Judah into exile for 70 years.
There is a brief message against the world empire of Assyria (14:24-27), which Isaiah delivered the year King Ahaz died. Isaiah had already spoken extensively about Assyria (chapter 10) and he will deal with Assyria more in the historical section (chapters 36-37). Here, we have just a short message that God will break and remove Assyria (verse 26).
“Here is the final issue of biblical faith. If there is one almighty Creator of the universe, who is intimately and purposefully involved with his creation, then there is no power on earth, least of all human pride, which can successfully rise up against him (43:13; Ps. 33:6-11; Prov. 19:12)” (Oswalt, 328).
Isaiah also preaches against Philistia (14:28-32) and Moab (chapters 15 & 16). Finally (for now), Isaiah rebukes Damascus (17:1-3) and the northern tribes of Israel (17:4-14).
The key point: Don’t trust in men nor nations of men! Where is our confidence? It ought not to be in Wall St. nor in Main St. Neither in Congress or the President. Not in Republicans or Democrats. Not in the military or our own weapons. Salvation comes from the Lord! We must consent and obey His will (1:19). If there is one message that pervades these chapters it is: Be humble & submit to God! (James 4:7)
One other key point, in the words of John from Revelation 11:15 (whose setting would be similar to Isaiah’s): “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” The Son of David will establish His kingdom and the nations of the world will not stop Him.