Those Who See You Stare and Ponder Your Fate

14: 16-20a

     DIG: What is the contrast between the antichrist’s early power and his final condition? Unable to have his power endure, what is his final judgment? Where will he die? What is the paradox about him not letting his captives go home? Why will he not be buried?

    REFLECT: How does this section speak to you regarding earthly belongings? Earthly power and prestige? How can your outlook change? Where does it start?

    The final scene of the poem returns to the earth where it began. Here the antichrist suffers the ultimate disgrace; his body is left to rot out in the open without an honorable burial. There is a sense of wonder among the onlookers. They are awestruck at the thought that someone so powerful could come to such a dreadful fate. Much like the people of ancient times, those in the end times will believe that if the body was not properly buried, the soul was condemned to roam the earth looking for a home. The Jews didn’t believe it because the rabbis taught that the lack of a proper burial was a disgrace. This was demonstrated by the risk the people of Jabesh-gilead took in order to recover and bury the bodies of Saul and Jonathan (First Samuel 31:11-13; Second Samuel 2:4-7).

    In the beginning of the fourth stanza the scene is no longer in hell. Isaiah has dealt with the soul of the antichrist and now he deals with his body. In between he talked about Satan; this is once again an example of double reference, that is one person or event in one verse or section followed by a second person or event in another verse or section, blended together in such a way that they form one picture. There is astonishment again, but this time the astonishment comes from the people of the earth as they view the body of the antichrist. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate, saying: Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble (14:16). They find it hard to believe he was the same one who had made everyone tremble in fear.

    Isaiah emphasizes the fact that he does not have a proper burial. Lesser kings than he have a place to be buried, but not the antichrist. While he has prepared a tomb for himself, he will not lie in it. The place where he lies is in the field of battle. He will be cast out and his body will be exposed and covered with the dead bodies of his soldiers, or clothed with the slain, who were pierced by the sharp sword that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD at the Second Coming (Revelation 19:15). To clear the battlefield they make a hole and throw stones on the top of it, without taking the trouble to shovel in the earth. But the antichrist is left lying there, like a corpse trampled underfoot. They do not even think him worthy of being thrown into a hole with the rest of the corpses. Evil cannot, and will not, be in control forever.

    On the one hand, Isaiah does not explain why the body remains unburied. But we have several other passages in Scripture to explain this. It starts with the fact that he is the first casualty of Messiah’s Second Coming, before any of his soldiers are killed (Second Thessalonians 2:8). When the antichrist is killed, his soul enters into hell (14:9-11), but he does not remain there very long. Before the Millennial Kingdom is established he is cast alive into the lake of burning sulfur. He and the false prophet are the only ones in the lake of burning sulfur for the entire thousand years of the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 19:20). Therefore, the reason the body of the antichrist remains unburied, according to Isaiah’s prophecy, is that soon after he is killed and his soul enters into hell, he is resurrected and cast alive into the lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10).

    They questioned themselves, already knowing the answer. They asked: Is this the man who made the whole world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home (14:17)? He not only made the earth his home, he made it his toy. He would yawn and repercussions could be felt in the furthest regions of the earth. People lived in terror of displeasing him. But what the beast (Revelation 13:4-10) failed to recognize is that the LORD is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and He gives them to anyone He wishes (Daniel 4:25).

    The antichrist’s capacity to oppress and destroy people became his undoing. It actually became a source of pride for him (14:6). However, the tables will be turned on him. Normally all the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. But the Beast will be cast out of his own tomb like a rejected branch. He will lie in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2 and 14; Revelation 19:17-21); covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit (14:18-19a). At that time, he who would not let his captives go home will have no house to go to himself.

    He, who had exiled millions of people and would not let them go home, now is himself homeless. But he was homeless in a much more profound sense. He will not have a tomb like the lesser kings he himself had killed. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, he will not join them in burial, for he will have destroyed the Jewish homeland and killed millions of Jewish people (19:19b-20a).

    A psalm of David (Psalm 37) and a psalm of Asaph (Psalm 73) speak to the problem of focusing on the prosperity of the wicked in the midst of our suffering. David instructs us not to worry because of evil men who do wrong. For the wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but ADONAI laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming (Psalm 37:1, 12-13). While acknowledging that God is good to Israel and to those who are pure in heart, he readily admits that part of him envied the wicked when he saw their prosperity. It seemed to him that they had no struggles in life, being free from the burdens common to us all. They wear pride as their necklace and don’t seem any worse for it. Sometimes Asaph thought, like sometimes we think, “Where was the LORD anyway?” When he tried to understand why, it was oppressive to him. His perspective changed, however, when he entered the sanctuary of God. When he stopped looking to man and started looking to ADONAI, things changed for him. Then he gained some perspective because he understood the final destiny of the wicked like the antichrist (Psalm 73:3, 6 and 17).

    All of us can learn a good lesson from Asaph. We all get discouraged at times. This should not surprise us, for Jesus said: In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33). We are all human and we are not going to be perfect in this regard, but we need to stop looking to men and women when we get disheartened. The Holy Spirit encourages us to come near to God, with the promise that He will near to you (James 4:8a).


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