Isaiah 14 shows that God linked Israel’s restoration with Babylon’s doom. Part of this divine prediction concerning the recovery of Judah was fulfilled when through a decree of the conquering Cyrus a remnant was permitted to return to Jerusalem. Likewise the future final restoration of Israel will be connected to the complete overthrow of Gentile power.
Note the expression in 14:2, “They shall take them captives, whose captives they were.” This seems to explain that much-debated passage in Ephesians 4:8: “He led captivity captive.” Paul was quoting those words from Psalm 68:18. The same Hebraism is found in Judges 5:12, where the meaning is perfectly clear: Barak was to lead captive those who had held Israel captive. Similarly Christ by His triumphant resurrection has overthrown the powers of Hell and led captive Satan and his hosts who had held humanity captive for so long. The devil was utterly defeated at that time and those who had once been his victims are now delivered from his power (Hebrews 2:14). In Colossians 2:15 we are told that Christ, in rising from the dead, spoiled or made a prey of principalities and powers— that is, the hosts of evil—and therefore Satan is now a defeated foe. His judgment has not yet been carried out, but it is as certain as God’s Word is true. The believer, knowing that the devil can have no power against those who cleave to the Word of God, is to resist Satan and remain steadfast in the faith.
This passage shows Israel exulting over the destruction of her great enemy. The “king of Babylon” seems to be used in 14:4 as a synonym for all the Gentile powers that throughout the centuries have taken part in the persecution of God’s ancient people. When their last great enemy is destroyed, they will be able to rejoice in the display of Jehovah’s power. Just as Israel sang on the shores of the Red Sea when they viewed the destruction of the pharaoh and his host, so in that coming day they will be able to raise the song of Moses and the Lamb when they see all their enemies brought to naught.
These verses enable us to understand how sin began in the heavens and to comprehend something of the unseen powers that throughout the centuries have dominated the minds of evil-disposed men who seek to thwart the purpose of God. This passage, which portrays the fall of Lucifer (Satan), links very closely with Ezekiel 28, which should be carefully considered in an effort to understand Isaiah’s words fully.
These words of Isaiah cannot apply to any mere mortal man. Lucifer (the light-bearer) is a created angel of the very highest order and is identical with the covering cherub of Ezekiel 28. Apparently he was the greatest of all the angel host and was perfect before God until pride caused him to fall. His ambition was to take the throne of deity for himself and become the supreme ruler of the universe. Note his five “I wills” in 14:13-14: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (italics added). The assertion of the creature’s will in opposition to the will of the Creator brought about his downfall, and thus an archangel became the devil!
Cast down from the place of power and favor that he had enjoyed, he became the untiring enemy of God and man, and throughout the millenniums since his expulsion, he has used every conceivable device to ruin mankind and rob God of the glory due to His name. In John 8:44 the Lord showed that Satan is an apostate, having fallen from a position once enjoyed, and we know from 1 Peter 5:8 that he ever goes about “as a roaring lion…seeking whom he may devour.” The cross was the precursor of Satan’s doom, but because his heart is filled with hatred against God and those whom God loves, he is determined to wreak his vengeance on mankind as much as he can before his own final judgment takes place.
We know from passages such as 2 Peter 2:4 that Lucifer was not alone in his rebellion. This is confirmed in Matthew 25:41, where our Lord spoke of “the devil and his angels,” and in Revelation 12:7, where we read of the coming war in Heaven between Michael (and his angels) and the dragon (and his angels). These evil angels are “the world-rulers of this darkness” (literal rendering of Ephesians 6:12). They seek to dominate the hearts and minds of the rulers of the nations and stir them up to act in opposition to the will of God. Therefore it is not surprising to find that in the next verses of Isaiah 14 the king of Babylon seems to be confounded with Lucifer. The meaning of course is that the king was controlled or dominated by Satan.
This passage, which describes the downfall of the king, is highly poetical. Yet it was in no uncertain terms that Isaiah depicted the utter destruction of the last great enemy of Israel in the day of the Lord. (See also Ezekiel 31:16-18.) All the glory of the warrior and the pride of world conquest will be destroyed. No one who has dared to rise up in pride and arrogance to defy the living God has ever been able to escape the inevitable result of his folly.
In the Assyrian of the last days we see the incarnation as it were of all the persecuting powers who have distressed Israel since their dispersion among the Gentiles. When the nations are gathered together for the Armageddon conflict, the Lord Himself will destroy the Assyrian and every other enemy of Christ and His truth. Israel will be completely delivered and God will be glorified in the kingdom to be set up in righteousness.
In the last five verses of Isaiah 14 we find a separate prophecy relating to Palestine and its people. This prophecy was given in the last year of King Ahaz.
For the time being God had turned back the armies of Syria and Assyria, but greater conflicts were in store for Judah in the days of Hezekiah and at the close of the short reign of Zedekiah. First the land was overrun by the Assyrians. They had to turn back without accomplishing their purpose, but because of Judah’s lack of repentance and self-judgment, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar eventually destroyed Jerusalem, slew thousands of the people, and carried many more into captivity.
This was not to be the last distress that would come upon that doomed land. Throughout the long years since the Jews’ dispersion, Palestine has been a veritable battleground and Israel’s sufferings have beggared all description. The day of their deliverance is yet to come and that deliverance will be through the very One whom the nation rejected when He came in lowly grace as the promised Savior and Messiah.