Every Tuesday my intention is to post some notes drawn from a commentary on some part of the Old Testament. Drawing on scholars who take a high view of history, integrity, truth, and Scripture will help with our day to day focus. Today, kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. What lasts forever? Only God’s kingdom. As in the time of Isaiah, so today.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 13” pp. 132-137.
In Isaiah 13 the prophecy turns to speak against Babylon. Luther summarizes the defenses of Babylon, possibly drawing on information from Herodotus’ Histories (p. 132). Enemies, appointed by God (v. 3), are prepared to overrun Babylon. Luther identifies these as the Persians and the Medes (LW 16, 133). The “day of the Lord” from verse 6 is a day of judgment which the Babylonians will be unable to resist (LW 16, 134). This will be a time of fear and dismay which the Babylonians have never imagined. They will see death all around them. Verse 11 speaks of the judgment not being only against Babylon but to much of the rest of the earth as the Babylonians will scatter (p. 135). In verse 17 it becomes clear that the people used as God’s instruments of judgment will be the Medes, who will attack mercilessly. Luther makes some comments about politics. “Great dominions bring great injuries. Although kingdoms and dominions are God’s good institution and creation, nevertheless human stupidity cannot make advantageous use of them. It is too limited to be able to manage the best affairs well. It is better, therefore, for everyone to live content with his own lot and not go after high stations. For to whom important matters are entrusted, to him much difficulty and trouble is also added” (LW 16, 136). Luther then continues to contrast history and allegory. History teaches the truth. Allegory illustrates the truth, which is found in history (LW 16, 137).
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