Thursday, December 23, 2010

Isaiah 23:1-3

This chapter does not refer to Babylon, as in ancient Babylon, however as one goes through the prophecies, one finds that many of the prophecies seem to speak to the same entity although they are seemingly addressed to different recipients. This is because the first fulfillment was to the actual Biblical recipient mentioned, and the second (usually end times fulfillment) is aimed at the recipient described. Therefore while the name may not be same in all cases for the first fulfillment, if the prophecies seem to be saying the same thing, it is an indication that it is aimed at the same entity for the future fulfillment. For instance, we have ascertained that Babylon the Whore must refer to America, as the description only fits America in this day and age, at least to date. As the prophecies are examined with that in mind, one finds more prophecies aimed at Babylon the Whore, although it may not be speaking directly to ancient Babylon. One must remember that the whore rode many beasts through the ages - Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, etc. So depending on the description, if it is clear that the prophecy is an end time prophecy, it may be that it applies to America whether or not Babylon is mentioned. We will see as we go through this chapter that it does refer to the end times, so it must be looked at to see how it fits with the Scriptures we have already studied.

As this prophecy is aimed at ancient Tyre, it is needful at this time to give a little background on that city. Tyre was a Phoenician city and was known as the queen of the seas. It was an island city of unprecedented splendor. She grew wealthy from her far-reaching colonies and her industries. That also made her a target of jealous nations. She originally consisted of a mainland settlement and an island city that lay a short distance off shore. In the first millennium BC it experienced a golden age. In the 10th century BC King Hiram connected two islets with a landfill. Later he expanded the city by reclaiming land from the sea. Its colonies spread around the Mediterranean and Atlantic bringing prosperity and power. In the sixth century BC Nebuchanezzer laid siege to it for thirteen years and while the city stood firm, the people abandoned the mainland settlement for the safety of the island. Tyre gave Babylon’s king a modest tribute to keep him happy. They were more of an ally than a subject of Babylon. In 332 BC Alexander the Great blockaded the island for seven months but they held firm. He ended up using the debris from the mainland to build a causeway out to the island and finally conquered them. The town’s residents were either massacred or sold into slavery. Zidon was the first great city of Phoenicia and the “mother” of Tyre. As Zidon’s greatness waned, the prosperity and power of the “virgin daughter” Tyre began to grow.

Verse 1 “The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them.”

The burden or divine judgment is being pronounced on Tyre. The term Tarshish was used in two ways in Scripture. It denoted either the city itself (which scholars sometimes argue over as to who it was, some saying a city in Spain, some saying a city in Asia Minor) or it could in general be said to refer to large merchant ships. I believe that is the way it should be applied here, especially for the future fulfillment of this prophecy. The island city of Tyre will be laid waste so that not a house will be left upon it. The great merchant ships will howl for this is the major city of commerce for them. They will lose a major source of their income, because of the destruction of Tyre. No one will be able to enter into it. The city will be gone. The land of Chittim originally referred to the islands of Phoenicia and later came to simply mean the islands along the coasts. The ships get the news via the other islands.

This prophecy is almost an exact duplicate of what we read in Revelation about Babylon, therefore we can make the connection that it might apply to modern Babylon. In looking at this as a prophecy yet to come, we see that the great trading ships will howl at the demise of the modern day "Tyre", when it is laid waste. No one will be enter into the harbor or the city. This exactly corresponds to what we read in Revelation 18:15 “The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torments, weeping and wailing.” As the description given is the same as the description of Babylon in Revelation, we must look to see if there is further evidence that possibly this passage in Isaiah is another prophecy that applies to the entity who is modern day Babylon.

Verse 2-3 “Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations.”

This tells us that the hustle and bustle of business taking place on Tyre will be no more. There will be silence and stillness in its place. The mariners that did business came from the mother city of Zidon. They kept the city supplied with its needs and carried out the goods from the mainland to the colonies and other trading cities. The “seed of Sihor (which means dark colored and is a reference to the Nile which is blackened from the mud that it drags down when overflowed), the harvest of the river” refers to the produce of the Nile delta region. Egypt was the greatest producer of corn in the ancient world. Tyre was a large and profitable exporter of Egyptian goods in exchange for wine, oil, and a variety of other products. Tyre was the mart or great trading center of all the nations of her day.

To apply it to the modern counterpart we would have to find someone who fits the following: “Tyre” would be one of the world’s biggest ports of commerce and trade and the queen of the seas. It is the daughter of another “city” who was also once the queen of the seas and trading. It is a supplier of corn to the world from the world’s greatest supplier of corn, whose corn fields are along one of the world’s major rivers, and more specifically a large, long river that ends in a delta. Does this fit America? Well, New Orleans, Lousiana, is a port of commerce and trade in the world for corn. We are the world’s greatest producer of corn and our corn fields lie adjacent (so to speak) to the great Mississippi River (also known as the Muddy Mississippi), which is known for its delta as is the Nile. America is the present queen of the seas and she is the “daughter” of someone who was also once the queen of the seas - England. So far it all fits very well. This is as perfect a description of America as it is of Tyre, right down to the "muddy" river delta, so it looks as if this is a prophecy that is aimed at modern Babylon, as the similarities are too much to be a coincidence.

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