"Wail, for the day of Yahweh is near. As destruction from the Almighty it will come! Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt. They will be dismayed. Pangs and agony will seize them. They will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another. Their faces will be aflame." - Isaiah 13:6-8
In writing of Babylon around 700 bc, Isaiah speaks of a time when Yahweh will muster a huge army, attack Babylon, and bring her to her knees. Isaiah's prophecy probably refers to the Medo-Persian destruction of Babylon in 539 bc. But the language also seems to prefigure end time events. The main point of these verses is that those who have arrogantly rebelled against Yahweh will experience severe emotional distress as final judgment approaches.
The idea of final judgment used to be common in the West, but now few give it much thought. However, the biblical picture is that final judgment will happen. When God does begin to move, and people begin to realise that God is real and that his judgment is approaching, their whole attitude and demeanour will change. Their hearts will melt (v. 7). It will be a rude awakening for the human race. It will be a day of destruction (vv. 5-6, 9) and punishment for evil (v. 11). It will impact the entire world (v. 11), not just the area once occupied by Babylon. It is very sad this has to happen, and it is certainly not what God prefers. He loves the human race and wants to bless us. But he is holy, and he must deal justly with sin and rebellion. God made mankind to be morally responsible and accountable to him.
Our only way out of this predicament is to take shelter in God's Son, Messiah Jesus. Jesus went to the cross to save us from this destruction. He took the punishment we deserved upon himself because he loved us. For believers, all our sins are wiped away, and we stand righteous before the holy God. We need not fear final judgment at all.
God's judgment is coming. It will not long delay (v. 6). We need to get ready. We need to believe in the Lord Jesus. We are either for him or against him. This is a huge choice each of us must make. It is the most important decision of our lives.
Father, the words of Isaiah are serious. May we understand deep within our hearts that we are accountable to you and will be judged fairly by you. May the doctrine of final judgment again be clearly understood by mankind. May we end our pride and arrogance against you and humble ourselves. Only then can we truly live. Thank you for the Saviour you have sent, the Lord Jesus. I believe in him today. Amen.
- Jeff Coleman