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Lowell Brueckner

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The Fall of Lucifer


An artist's view of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
16. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 14

I find it necessary to remind God´s people that in order to understand the Bible and godly principle, we must often change our understanding of many words. We see them in the popular form in which they are used, according to the present modes. In that way, it is easy to stray in our minds from what God wants us to understand. This is also true concerning historic meaning of words, as they have been used in the church.

Let´s take into account the word revival. What comes into your mind when you hear that word? In the south of the U.S., the word means a series of evangelistic meetings. In Spanish-speaking countries it might mean an awakening of unbelievers or sinners. This is true, because the Spanish word is avivamiento, which can simply mean somethingan event, a movement or a time that brings life. However, the classical use of the word in the church is, as is found in Psalms 85:6: “Will You not Yourself revive us again, that your people may rejoice in thee.” It means to live again, closely related to the word resurrect.  If that is the case, then it has to do with people, who had been alive, but need a new infusion of life.

The revival of Israel

This leads us to verse 1 of this chapter, where Isaiah writes of God choosing Israel again: “When the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land…” They were chosen from the beginning, but He will confirm their election and make it evident. Quite often, the word remember is used in this way, in reference to God, such as in Genesis 30:22: “God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb.” Does it mean that God had forgotten about her? No, of course not, it meant that, at a certain time, He took her condition into account and moved concerning it. He actively remembered her. Can you see how much trouble we could get into, if we interpreted according to our common usage of these words?

“Strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob” may be applied to the Jews’ return from captivity and the rebuilding in the time of Cyrus. It can also refer to the grafting in of the gentiles into the Jewish trunk, but these are partial fulfillments of the ultimate restauration of the Jews in the last days. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon Isaiah comes also upon Zechariah years later. In Zechariah’s time, the Jews had returned to their land and yet, he speaks of a future time: “In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech.8:23).

In the second verse, we again see that Zechariah’s prophecy is tied to that of Isaiah. He speaks of the oppressive nations becoming plunder for their slaves (Zech.2:9)… the slaves being Israel. Isaiah said that “they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors”. In the power of the redemptive gospel influence upon the Jews, they will rule in love, as we have already seen in Zechariah 8:23. This is a beautiful time for all the world, but especially for the Jew, when they will rest from their past history of persecution and hardship (v.3).The Jew will suffer through many times of hardship, right through the Nazi prison camps and the Great Tribulation.

Isaiah focuses on the Babylonian bondage of the end times and the great liberation that the Lord will bring. In fact, He invites His people to taunt them, as their power is broken at that time (v.4). The cruel reign of persecution has ceased (v.5-6), millennial peace has come over the whole earth and joy reigns (v.7).

The destiny of Babylon

We have the symbol of the trees before us again (v.8), as we did in chapter two and in our study over a year ago of Zechariah 11:2. They seem to symbolize the proud state of men and nations and the tyranny of Babylon against them. However literally, when the tyrant falls, nature has rest and no longer is the high quantity of lumber required to satisfy the lust for elegance and comfort.

The emotions of hell are aroused and a committee of kings, conquered by Babylon, are sent to its gates to welcome the new arrival from this world-governing power (v.9). They testify to the fact that the spirits of the mighty on earth come to the same place as their weaker brothers. In hell, earthly rank gets no respect and alike all are made weak (v.10). Great and small share the same destiny. May all the earth pay attention and receive warning before it is too late! The time of luxurious living will come to an end. Music and entertainment will be no more. Physical shells are laid in the grave, left to rot and become food for the maggots (v.11).  

The fall of Lucifer

We have come to a very interesting portion of Scripture. It is one that Jesus referred to in Luke 10:18: “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” Isaiah spoke of the fall that Jesus witnessed and gives us the clearest picture of it to be found in the Old Testament (quoting the KJV): How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (v.12).

In order to understand what we are studying, we must consider Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan.2) and a dream by Daniel (Dan.7) with a similar significance. I want to refer to Nebuchadnezzar’s, because it shows one image with four components, those components being four empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. The Roman Empire is comprised of historic Rome, as well as a last-day revival of that Empire.

It is important to see this, as God sees it; that is, four major world powers, built upon one another, in order to ultimately form one image. It can all be called Babylon. A spiritual power energizes this one image, composed of four physical nations, and God observes both simultaneously and reveals them to us as He addresses them. In it we learn God’s view and expression concerning the union of men’s power with the diabolical spiritual power. Satan made it his personal concern to usurp control over the king of Babylon. He became the spiritual king of Babylon.

John MacArthur comments: “Jesus’ use of verse 12 to describe Satan’s fall has led many to see more than a reference to the king of Babylon. Just as the Lord addressed Satan in his words to the serpent (Gen.3:14-15), this inspired dirge speaks to the king of Babylon and to the devil who energized him. See Ezekiel 28:12-17 for similar language to the king of Tyre and Satan behind him." It was no different when Jesus addressed both Peter and the source behind his thinking and words, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Mt.16:23).

MacArthur refers to Ezekiel 28:12-17, which is very similar to Isaiah’s vision, in that Satan is addressed in conjunction with a human king, as MacArthur suggests. In Ezekiel’s time, he has personally taken charge of Tyre and its king, so that he has become the spiritual king of Tyre. He chooses these cities and their governments, because they are strategic on the earthly scenario, Babylon because of its governmental influence and Tyre because of its economical influence.  

In Ezekiel we get a character description of the pre-fallen Lucifer, the star of the morning. This powerful and influential angel “had the seal of perfection”, meaning that he had received a seal, as a seal is given to something, which has been completed; in his case, to perfection. He was beautiful and wise (Ez.28:12). “You were in Eden, the garden of God”, and he was adorned with nine of the twelve precious stones that were on the high priest’s breastplate and similarly, the stones are set in gold. It seems like they were created just for him (28:13). He was a guardian angel, a cherub, anointed for that purpose and had access to the highest heavenly realms (28:14). He was perfectly righteous in every way, from the moment of his creation, until… something, which mystifies us and reaches far beyond our understanding occurs.

A point is described, where unrighteousness apparently originates in him. Where else could it have come from? It is outside of his creation and outside of his environment, but there it is. It cannot be explained, but also, it cannot be denied. It is very important that we see the reason behind Lucifer’s fall in order to learn something of his present nature and how men are influenced by him. “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom…” (28:17). Now we return to Isaiah’s account for more detail on his fall:  “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (v.13-14). It is the arrogance of a creature… in this case, a beautiful, powerful, angelic creature… to raise himself to the heights of his Creator. Apparently, as well, he deceived a great host of angels, of all ranks, who fell with him. We see them throughout Scripture, sometimes as an evil army, warring against the angels of God.

At many points, in the Old Testament as well as the New, we see their influence on individuals to the point, at times, of total possession of their faculties. “You will be like God,” he said to Eve and influenced her with the same toxic arrogance that caused his own fall. And so, man fell from his high position before God and became a totally depraved creature, incapable of doing good. It is insane pride that brings man to challenge God and place himself above His Word.

This source of evil is condemned to the deepest recesses of Hell (v.15), and eventually to the Lake of Fire, “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt.25:41). Man, in his fallen state, will follow, led by his own sinful nature. Therefore from verse 16 on, the curse returns upon the human king, who has been so thoroughly possessed by the devil.

Disgrace to Babylon’s kings

All those who are allowed to witness the condemnation of the king will wonder at the eternal depths, to which he is destined. The one, who shook the earth, destroyed nature and overthrew cities and their populace, does not receive a decent burial place. He led his prisoners captive to Babylon away from their homeland. He brought them totally under his dominion. They were manipulated, dehumanized and made eunuchs (v.17).

He was the most powerful, the head of gold, yet he becomes the most dishonored of all. His destructive reign, not only reached his enemies, but his sword was turned on his own people. In the end, power fueled his ego to the point, to which only one person was important and that person was himself.

He is the “offspring of evildoers”, the “son of perdition”. We mentioned in the last chapter the unpopular reign of Nabonidus, the father of Belshazzar, who left his son to revel in the city. He was a tyrant and Belshazzar partook of the guilt of his father. In the night that Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall, the invading Medo-Persians entered the city without resistance. It is reported that they found Belshazzar and dragged him behind Persian horses through the streets of Babylon (v.18-21). As the city ends in ruin, so its rulers’ graves have been destroyed. Who can tell how literally bodies have been exhumed from their tombs during the destruction of Babylon?

The fall of the city, which possessed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, The Hanging Gardens, is more shameful, due to the beauty that it once possessed. “I will sweep it with the broom of destruction” (v.23), says the Lord. More dreadful still, is the utter annihilation of its populace. In contrast to the disciplinary action of the Lord towards His people, in which a remnant is always preserved, “‘I will rise up against them,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity,’ declares the Lord” (v.22).

Isaiah's place in Judah's history (click to enlarge)
Death of Ahaz; fall of the Philistines

God always carries out His purposes, just as He declares, whether in blessing or in judgment. He swears to judge (v.24), just as he swears to bless (Heb.6:13,14). Judgment is declared upon Assyria “in my land” (v.25) and we read of it in the time of Hezekiah and Judah was spared the “yoke” that fell upon their brothers to the north. So has He determined judgment upon the whole earth and it will happen unfailingly, for there is no one with the power or authority to hold back His hand (v.26,27).

The chapter ends with another oracle or burden. It is the funeral dirge upon the death of King Ahaz (v.28). Even though this king did not do right in the eyes of the Lord, much as in the case of King Saul (2 Sam.1:20), Israel’s enemies were denied the right to rejoice over his death (v.29). They were assured that before they can bring revenge upon Israel for the damage received from Uzziah (2 Chr.26:6), a greater destruction was on the way through Hezekiah (2 Kgs.18:8).

Even the weakest of Judah will have sustenance and peace from the continual threat that the Philistines imposed in the past, but the Lord will add his curse along with the sword of Hezekiah in bringing about Philistine ruin. (v.30). Verse 31 describes the terror upon the arrival of the armies of Judah from the northeast. Verse 32 is the testimony to the nations concerning Zion: The Lord is its founder and guards it with His eye, as the very center of His attention at all times. Because of His presence, it continues to be the place to find refuge in Isaiah’s time.       


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