This week in our review of Isaiah Decoded we’ll continue with Chapter 3 - Babylon, Rebels and Worshippers of Idols and look at Babylon. Dr. Gileadi spends much of chapter 3 comparing Babylon to Zion as opposites to get a sense of what defines Babylon. We previously noted that he stated that the primary sins of Babylon are idolatry and injustice – p.72. In this post, we’ll explore the opposites of Babylon and Zion as it relates to these two primary sins. Finally, we’ll introduce how Zion really transcends a higher standard by separating herself from the degeneracies of a fallen world.
When we look at the Hebrew meaning of Babylon, what we see is the concept of confusion, which is what God did to Babylon with the mixing of languages. Beyond the mixing of languages, Babylon was a pagan culture ruled by conquering kings. Babylon is a culture focused on satisfying the passions and desires of the natural or carnal man. Yeshua(Jesus) demonstrated His resolve to overcome the natural man by rejecting Satan’s efforts to tempt Him with power, passion and pride - Matt 4. Dr. Gileadi summarizes these sins of man and of Babylon with idolatry and injustice. Moreover, Dr. Gileadi has said that to understand Babylon is to compare her to Zion – they are opposites.
Babylon and Zion as Opposites
Dr. Gileadi repeatedly compares Babylon to Zion as opposites to develop a definition of what defines Babylon.
“Both Isaiah’s seven-part structure and the Servant–Tyrant Parallelism contrast Babylon with Zion, depicting one as the opposite of the other. As codenames, “Zion” and “Babylon” represent two spiritual entities that exist in the “last days,” one ascending, the other descending; one righteous, the other wicked. From the way Isaiah draws this contrast—by juxtaposing Zion and Babylon using different kinds of literary devices—we can best learn about these entities by their comparison itself.” – p.74
“A surface reading of Isaiah’s writings alone provides a clear contrast between Zion and Babylon. In one definition that Isaiah gives, for example, Zion consists of people of Jacob/Israel who repent of transgression, who cease breaking God’s covenant. (Isaiah 1:27; 59:20.)” – p.75,76
“Babylon is made up of the world in general and its wicked inhabitants—all who are under condemnation for transgressing God’s word. With such a wide definition of Babylon we begin to see the contrast: Babylon is the opposite of Zion.” – p.77,78
“In effect, Babylon is not merely the antithesis of Zion but also its sworn enemy. Whatever Zion does, Babylon fundamentally opposes it. Whatever God does for Zion, he does the reverse to Babylon.” – p.79
“Zion and Babylon are thus archetypes of good and evil, with little room, in that day, for maneuvering between the two.” – p.82
Babylon defined in Rhetoric
Another method that we see in Dr. Gileadi’s analysis of Isaiah is the use of rhetorical conventions to describe Babylon.
“Babylon’s sins are injustice and idolatry,” – p.72
“As a codenames, … Babylon is wicked” – p.74
“Babylon by context as “sinners,” “the wicked,” “insolent men,” “tyrants,” “the earth,” and “the world” – p.77
“Babylon [is an] archetypes of evil,” – p.82
“Babylon” as a composite entity, made up of … tyrants and oppressors, rulers and men of power, enemies and adversaries, proud kindred peoples, and the wicked of God’s people.” – p.83
“Isaiah depicts this city [Babylon] as exalted, arrogant, rowdy, boisterous, oppressive, alien, and chaotic.” – p.87
“Personal gain and power—the quest for self-exaltation—are the main driving forces behind Babylon.” – p.91
Babylon defined by God’s Standards
The frustrating aspect of Dr. Gileadi’s analysis of Isaiah is that Dr. Gileadi doesn’t provide us with a strong connection with God’s standards of conduct as a basis to define Babylon. Certainly, Isaiah was intimately aware of the law code God gave to Israel. What then is the standard of conduct for those who are not in covenant with God? In our previous post, we introduced the concept that our conscience or the Light of Messiah is given to every man to know right from wrong – John 1. Beyond the Light of Messiah, is there something else that establishes a standard of conduct for non-believers – a universal law for all humanity? The answer to this is yes there is a universal law for man, which is called the Noahide Laws or the seven basic laws for man.
“The Noachide laws, … establishing a minimum standard of civilization, … is universal law in that all people must adhere to some standard of behavior to be able to cooperate” – (Foley JD, The Noachide Laws, FARMS AND STUDIA ANTIQUA, Summer 2003, p.42)
In the New Testament, we see the Apostles use the Noahide Laws as a steppingstone for new Gentile believers until they can come into full covenant – Acts 15; 15:20.
Here, then, Babylon is defined by breaking these seven laws set by God for all non-believers. Those law are –
Not to worship idols.
Not to curse God.
Not to commit murder.
Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality.
Not to steal.
Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal.
To establish courts of justice.
Dr. Gileadi closes chapter 3 by reviewing those who rebel against Him, break covenant, and sin against the Holy Spirit. He briefly touches on the commandments given to Israel as a covenant of life and death – p. 105; Deu 30.
Though we see similarities between these seven Noahide Laws and the Ten Commandments, there are important differences between Babylon and Zion. Zion is more than rejecting Idolatry and Injustice. As God’s covenant people, Zion transcends this fallen world. Yeshua stated that His kingdom – the realm of the Son – is not of this world – John 18:36. Those important differences, included in Israel’s law code and in the fullness of Messiah, were designed to separate His people from the degeneracies of a fallen world. We’ll go into more detail of Zion when we get to chapter 5.
Babylon, Immortality, and Standards of Conduct
What we see here with Babylon and immortality is similar to Sodom and Mahan. Babylon will suffer for her sins until the terms of justice are met, but can still be saved – receive immortality – in God’s lowest eternal realm.
We have also learned that God has standards of conduct that define each level on the Ladder to Heaven. These standards provide a sure measure of where we stand with God,