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Isaiah 14:9,11,15 – Sheol Beneath; Down to Sheol

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Sheol from beneath is moved for you to meet you at your coming; it stirs up the dead for you, even all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. — Isaiah 14:9, World English

This scripture is often referred to as proof that those in sheol are conscious. The context shows that this verse is figurative. The prophet is not speaking of literal fir trees and literal cedars rejoicing at the destruction of a literal golden city. (Isaiah 14:4,8) Although the prophecy of this chapter does have a partial fulfillment in the destruction of ancient Babylon, we believe that this whole chapter is pictorial of the destruction of the Great Babylon of Revelation, and the abyssing of Satan during the 1,000 years of the reign of Jesus and the saints. Elsewhere, we intend to produce, if Yahweh permits, a detailed study of this chapter. But for our purposes here let us look carefully at what the prophecy says so that we may see that it is not speaking of anyone having consciousness in sheol. The prophecy says that sheol from beneath is moved in order to meet the king of Babylon as the king descends into there. Of course, sheol itself does not move, so it is speaking pictorially. The coming of the king of Babylon to sheol is said the stir up the dead for him. Pictorially, this is a taunt of Satan and his works. Their being ‘stirred’, however, as though being aroused from sleep, does indicate that the dead there are in the condition of oblivious sleep as described elsewhere in the scriptures. Yet the abyssing of the king of Babylon, that is, Satan the Devil (Revelation 20:1-3), does also result in the dead being brought forth, ‘stirred up’, from sheol/hades during the “last day” judgment, not only the small, but even all the great, the chief ones of the earth. (John 12:47,48; Revelation 20:12) The coming of the king of Babylon causes the kings of the heathen to ‘raise up from their thrones.’ John Wesley states concerning this phrase along with verse 11: “From their graves, which he seems to call their thrones by way of irony: the only thrones now left to them. Thrones both paved and covered with worms, instead of their former thrones, adorned with gold and precious stones.”*
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*Wesley, John. “Commentary on Isaiah 14“. .John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible. 1754.

Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, [and] the noise of your viols: the worm is spread under you, and worms cover you. — Isaiah 14:11, World English

This is a continuation of the same prophecy as Isaiah 14:9. The Greatness of Babylon will soon be pass. Her pomp, her pride, and her showy displays of mystical religious rites, symbols, doctrines, etc., will be brought down and silenced in sheol. They will no longer make any peep or utterance, so as deceive the heathen, which, in effect, weakens the heathen, bringing them low, with lies. (Isaiah 14:12; Revelation 16:12; 20:3) The destructive force of the worms of the ground totally destroy all influence of Babylon and its king.

Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts [“recesses”, New American Standard; “lowest depths”, New King James Version; “deepest regions”, Holman Christian Standard] of the pit. — Isaiah 14:15, World Enlish

As king of Babylon, Satan [along with his cohorts] is totally silenced in sheol, depicted as being brought down to the uttermost parts of the pit. (This pictorial usage of sheol here should not be misunderstood to mean that Satan is under the same condemnation as mankind. — Romans 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) He is far removed from his former kingdom. This is similar to his being abyssed in Revelation 20:1-3, so that he cannot deceive the nations, and finally his being symbolically thrown in the lake of fire, where is he is symbolically tested forever. — Revelation 20:10.


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