Babylonian Striding Lions, Pergamon Museum, Berlin
"When Yahweh has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: 'How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased! Yahweh has broken the staff of the wicked, the sceptre of rulers, that struck the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution.'" - Isaiah 14:3-6
Around 700 bc, Isaiah predicts the ascendency of Babylon, which happened about 100 years later. Babylon, filled with arrogance and pride, will oppress the nations of the Middle East, including Israel. But Yahweh will eventually give rest to Israel. Yahweh will break the power of Babylon and end the persecution suffered by Israel. The Jewish people will sing a victory song in celebration. This prophecy was fulfilled around 539 bc, when the Medes and Persians defeated the Neo-Babylonian empire.
We learn from these verses that: (1) God's people sometimes experience temporary pain and turmoil; (2) but God will in the end give rest to his people; (3) God is able to break the power of wicked oppressors; and (4) when rest comes to God's people, it will be a time of great rejoicing and celebration that justice has been done.
Father, my heart goes out this morning to the Christians and other peace-loving people in Afghanistan. There are many who will be experiencing pain, turmoil, and hard service for years to come. Help them to have hope through the good news of Jesus. Give them rest, Father. Break the power of wicked, violent, men in Afghanistan. Do not allow their unrelenting persecution to go on indefinitely. We know you care about every nation on earth. We pray many Afghans will turn to you, the true God, and that they will drink the life-giving water that only you can provide through your Son Jesus. Bring law, order, and religious freedom to Afghanistan, so that people can live free from fear. Give the nation of Afghanistan wise, capable leaders who will know what to do. We pray for your hand of mercy and grace upon the people there, Father. Especially the Christians who are our brothers and sisters. Our eyes are on you, Lord. Act and show yourself holy. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman