26” He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come! 27 None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistband is loose, not a sandal strap broken; 28 their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind. 29 Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions they roar; they growl and seize their prey; they carry it off, and none can rescue. 30 They will growl over it on that day, like the growling of the sea. And if one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds.” (Isaiah 5:26-30)
The Prophet Isaiah ministered for the LORD, and on behalf of the LORD’s people, from 739-686 B.C. The LORD prepared His people for His eventual judgment upon them, which would come prophetically, and later historically, in 605 B.C. This judgment was because of Judah’s unrepentant sin against the LORD and against each other. God’s judgment would come through the secondary means of the 8th century conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel by Assyria in 722 B.C. and the 7th century B.C. conquest of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonian Empire.
Dr. James N. Anderson, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C. writes, “The Reformed or Calvinistic doctrines of providence and predestination are often charged with being fatalistic. Yet this characterization trades on some deep confusions. Calvinism does indeed affirm that all events in creation are foreordained by God. As the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” (3.1). Nevertheless, the Confession immediately adds that this divine fore-ordination does not render meaningless the wills of God’s creatures. On the contrary, God normally works out His eternal purposes though secondary causes such as human agents and natural processes. Biblical examples of God directing human actions to His own ends include the story of Joseph (Gen. 45:5–8; 50:20), the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel (Isa. 10:5–11), and the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:27–28).”
God’s use of the Babylonians against the Jewish people is another example of His use of secondary causes to accomplish His will. God not only determined the final outcome of events in Judah’s and Jerusalem’s destruction, but also the means to those ends.
The poetic description of the Babylonian invaders is striking and terrifying. They are a force with which to be reckoned. There will be no escape for God’s rebellious people from God’s righteous judgment.
Even as Isaiah prophesied this judgment, the Prophet Habakkuk recoiled against it. He could not fathom how a holy God could use an unholy nation, such as Babylon, to punish Judah (Habakkuk 1:1-2:1). Ultimately, Habakkuk submitted to the LORD’s righteous sovereignty and providence (Habakkuk 3:1-19).
Another theologian explains it this way: “The fallen world is a hard place to live. And yet, God’s sovereignty mitigates that world. Though the bad things that happen are in accord with His sovereign will, He continues to love His creation. The beauties, satisfactions, and pleasures of life are the deeper signs of God’s sovereignty.”
God would preserve a remnant from Judah who would obediently follow Him. The Book of Daniel is a testimony to this truth.
The LORD still retains a believing remnant in this fallen world. It is the church. May each of us who has received Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD be a fervent and vocal witness to those who are lost and who face a certain judgment from God.
Soli deo Gloria!