(6) Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
Under the old covenant, “every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,” according to Hebrews 2:2. The punishment which was inflicted upon the house of Israel in the first century was a “just retribution” for their sins. The double payment for sins is the same standard guideline of judgment which ancient Jerusalem (587 B.C.) faced during the days of the Babylonian conflict,
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:2).
Of course, the double portion for the Jerusalem of 70 A.D. was a much greater punishment than the double portion for the Jerusalem of 587 B.C. After all, 10×10 is much greater than 2×2. The first century Jerusalem had much to answer for with the murder of the Son of God and their rejection of his grace.
(7) As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’
Instead of glorifying God, she glorified herself. She took the great things that God gave her and trusted in her own fame and beauty. God expounds on this point through Ezekiel, saying to Jerusalem,
“You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. (14) And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD. (15) “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” (Ezekiel 16:13-15).
God spoke of how Jerusalem’s beauty was perfect because of his own glory and splendor, but Jerusalem trusted in that beauty as if it were all her own. The exceedingly great wealth that the city had and the splendor of its buildings, especially the glory of the temple, was all to reflect the majesty of God, for Jerusalem belonged to him, and his house was with the people. But she was proud and believed her beauty to be her own and not God’s.
“I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.” This statement is in keeping with the theme of the figure “Babylon,” for this is the same pride which old Babylon had when she heavily oppressed God’s remnant and “showed them no mercy” (Isaiah 47:6). She said,
“I shall be mistress forever… I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children” (Isaiah 47:7-8).
She said this because she “felt secure” in her wickedness (Isaiah 47:10). She believed her splendor and her wealth would uphold her forever, but she will face a shocking end. The next verse (18:8) will continue this message taken from Isaiah 47.
(8) For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”
Still following the message of Isaiah 47 against Babylon (see comments on previous verse), the voice says that her “plagues will come in a single day.” Likewise, Isaiah said “these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day” (47:9). The promise of “a single day,” is no more literal than Jerusalem being literal Babylon. The figurative concept is that there will be a suddenness to the judgment against Jerusalem; it will take them by surprise; like a thief in the night (Revelation 16:15). They were so blind to the inevitable that their fall came as a complete surprise. This idea repeated in 18:10, 17, 19. It is further confirmed by Isaiah that the “single day” is a figure for suddenness and surprise, when he says, “ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing.” (47:11).
“Death and mourning and famine.” Similarly, Isaiah said of Babylon, “the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure” (47:9). This goes back to Revelation 18:7, and Jerusalem saying “I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.” And Isaiah’s point of her judgment “in full measure,” is also reflected in words of the previous verse, “give her a like measure of torment and mourning” (18:7).
“She will be burned up with fire.” Just as Isaiah spoke of Babylon’s religious leaders,
“Behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself is this, no fire to sit before!” (47:14).
All these things will befall Jerusalem because of her pride; she felt unstoppable, she felt mighty. But she will be in utter shock when she witnesses just how weak she is, and how “mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”