What does it say?
This begins a series of prophecies concerning the nations around Israel. Isaiah 13 is a prophecy against Babylon. Babylon is not even a power at this time, but a century in advance God is already predicting the demise of Babylon and has prepared the Medes to execute that judgment. The prophecy at the end of the chapter turns to Philistia.
Isaiah 15-16 is judgment against Moab. Remember that the Moabites descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot. Not following any chronological order, Isaiah’s prophecies against Damascus and the Syrians are the focus of Isaiah 17
What does it mean?
These prophecies against other nations demonstrate that even during this time in history God’s concern extends far beyond the borders of Israel. He chose to bless Israel in order to be a blessing to all nations (Gen 12:1-3). Ethnocentrism is the tendency to see the world through the lens of our own culture and worldview; something to which we are all subject. Just as God never loses interest in the nations that surround Israel, as followers of Jesus Christ we should never lose interest in what is happening in the nations around us.
The prophecy against Babylon in Isaiah 14 seems to suddenly transcend history to give us a glimpse of Lucifer (Light-bearer). Lucifer represents Satan, the Devil. That Satan should use a political power as his instrument should be natural to those of us who believe in spiritual warfare. We should remember, however, that even believers could be used as satanic instruments, evidenced by Jesus’ words to Peter to “Get behind me, Satan” (Mat 16:23).
How will I respond?
Are my interests too narrowly centered on my own private world? Am I ignorant of what God is doing in other places? Is my prayer life limited only to that which concerns me and mine? What can I do to increase my awareness of the world beyond my limited view? Could I ignorantly be used of Satan? Why? How? What will I do to end or prevent this?