I Am and There is None Besides Me

Babylon_DurKurigalzu01_full

The partly restored ziggurrat of Dur-Kurigalzu

“Go down, sit in the dust, Virgin Daughter Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, queen city of the Babylonians.  No more will you be called tender or delicate.   Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil. Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams.   Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered. I will take vengeance; I will spare no one.”   Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.   “Sit in silence, go into darkness, queen city of the Babylonians; no more will you be called queen of kingdoms.   I was angry with my people and desecrated my inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke.   You said, ‘I am forever— the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.   “Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’   Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells.   You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’   Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you. – Isaiah 47:1-11

This passage describes the downfall of Bablyon.  There are many mixed metaphors and confusing aspects of this passage.  I confess I was tempted to skip this passage of Isaiah.  The water reference is somewhat minor and the content very confusing, but I signed up for the whole river so I will give it my best shot.

Babylon is compared to a “virgin daughter”.  I am pretty sure there is cultural meaning here that I am missing.  My initial reaction would be that comparing a city or nation to a “virgin daughter” would be a complement, but it does not seem like that was God’s intention.  Perhaps this is alluding to the lack of a relationship with God? I do not know.

The confusion continues when God paints an image of the “queen city” of Babylon sitting in the dust engaged in the unqueenly activity of milling grain: “Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil”.  There seems to be a sense that this city is a bit full of itself and not seeking God.  God really takes the city of Babylon down a notch: “Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams. Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered.”

So it seems there will come a great humbling of this proud people and city that God allowed to enslave the people of Israel: “Sit in silence, go into darkness, queen city of the Babylonians; no more will you be called queen of kingdoms.”  Babylon seems to be self sufficient and in no need of God or His people.  God accuses them of saying “I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.”  They have made themselves the great “I am” instead of acknowledging the great I Am.

The God who sees us was not being seen by the Babylonians because of their pride and wickedness, “You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’   God goes on to remind Babylon that they are trusting their own wisdom and not acknowledging His existence, “Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.”  This description sounds eerily like the post-modern, secular, and independent United States of America of 2015.

The coming calamity that is to befall Babylon is sobering and scary: “Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you.”  I hope and pray that the fate of Babylon does not fall upon the U.S. someday, but to be honest we are kind of asking for it with our pride and our trust in our own wisdom and knowledge to the exclusion of the far greater I Am.

Prayer: God You often remind us of our incomplete and imperfect grasp of the greater spiritual world around us.  Help us to trust in You more than our own wisdom and understanding.

This entry was posted in Conflict, Covenant, Discernment, Faith, Following God, Free Will, God's Love for Us, Isaiah, Obedience, reconciliation, The Spiritual Realm, Trusting God, Truth, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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