God was not only interested in the sins of Israel, but also the sins of the entire world, when he put together his plan of salvation. What differentiated God’s children from everyone else was his mercy toward the nation of Israel. As God had promised Abraham that he would make of him a great nation, so also he said he would “bless them that bless thee and curse them that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:2-3).
The Assyrian empire was a key enemy of the nation of Israel because it wanted to create a single world system that its king would rule over. Within the Assyrian empire was a city known as Babylon that would one day rise to the top of God’s most evil list. Babylon symbolized the world powers arrayed against God’s kingdom and its role in the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem made it a target of God’s judgment.
In his burden of Babylon recital, Isaiah stated, “the day of the LORD cometh cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it” (Isaiah 13:9). Isaiah spoke of a purging of sinners that would be cruel, meaning it would be violent and deadly (393). God intended to punish the world for its mistreatment of his people. In particular, Isaiah said of Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19).
In his discourse, Isaiah spoke of the king of Babylon as if he were Satan himself. Isaiah said, “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! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15). The king of Babylon was a type of antichrist, perhaps the first leader that attempted to exterminate the Jews.
God’s overthrow of the Assyrian empire was intended to set in motion the collapse of Satan’s kingdom on earth. The link between Jewish captivity and the destruction of Babylon was necessary to establish the true source of Israel’s spiritual weakness, idolatry. God said he would break the Assyrian and tread him under foot, “then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders” (Isaiah 14:25).