Isaiah 21

Isaiah 21

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Fallen, Fallen Is Babylon

21 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea.

  As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
    it comes from the wilderness,
    from a terrible land.
  A stern vision is told to me;
    the traitor betrays,
    and the destroyer destroys.
  Go up, O Elam;
    lay siege, O Media;
  all the sighing she has caused
    I bring to an end.
  Therefore my loins are filled with anguish;
    pangs have seized me,
    like the pangs of a woman in labor;
  I am bowed down so that I cannot hear;
    I am dismayed so that I cannot see.
  My heart staggers; horror has appalled me;
    the twilight I longed for
    has been turned for me into trembling.
  They prepare the table,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink.
  Arise, O princes;
    oil the shield!
  For thus the Lord said to me:
  “Go, set a watchman;
    let him announce what he sees.
  When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
    riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
  let him listen diligently,
    very diligently.”
  Then he who saw cried out:
  “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
    continually by day,
  and at my post I am stationed
    whole nights.
  And behold, here come riders,
    horsemen in pairs!”
  And he answered,
    “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
  and all the carved images of her gods
    he has shattered to the ground.”
  O my threshed and winnowed one,
    what I have heard from the LORD of hosts,
    the God of Israel, I announce to you.

The oracle concerning Dumah.

  One is calling to me from Seir,
    “Watchman, what time of the night?
    Watchman, what time of the night?”
  The watchman says:
  “Morning comes, and also the night.
    If you will inquire, inquire;
    come back again.”

The oracle concerning Arabia.

  In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge,
    O caravans of Dedanites.
  To the thirsty bring water;
    meet the fugitive with bread,
    O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
  For they have fled from the swords,
    from the drawn sword,
  from the bent bow,
    and from the press of battle.

For thus the Lord said to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken.”

(ESV)


Isaiah 21 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Babylon first suffered a stinging blow to the Assyrians in 689 B.C. and received their final defeat to the Persians in 539 B.C. However, this prophecy would not only speak to this truth, but to the end times as well. Isaiah was likening Babylon and Judah’s other neighbors to the enemies of God. That force, led by the power of darkness, will ultimately be defeated.

The warning Isaiah flashes before our eyes is totally relevant for our culture today. No matter what happens, TRUST GOD! No matter how bad it gets, TRUST GOD! Even when everyone else follows, TRUST GOD!

One day God’s people in unison will proclaim, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.” – Revelation 14:8

Many Old Testament prophets would use the analogy of a threshing floor.  Within the ancient farming practices, threshing and winnowing was a 2-step process.

Many times the heads of wheat, which was often spoken of as a symbol of Israel, would be gathered and trampled upon. This would break open the to seeds and expose the valued grain inside.  This was called threshing.  These seeds would then be gathered and thrown into the air.  What would happen was the chaff that was alongside the grain would be caught in the wind and blown away.  The solid grain would fall to the ground.  This was called winnowing.

Within this prophecy of Babylon’s fall, Israel is mentioned of having this process take place against them. The threshing and winnowing would remove the sinful, rebellious people.  In time the good grain would replenish Israel.

Although the terms are not used today, this is something the Holy Spirit still does.  Because God loves and continues to call us forward in an active relationship many times we go through periods of threshing.  God will allow situations and circumstances that trample us.  It’s a terrible thought, I know.  But He is working to breakdown the things in our lives that are hindrances.    What remains are the seeds of our faith.  The winnowing removes the chaff, the things that are not of substance to bring us back to the things that matter.

We’ve all gone through such experiences, and maybe you’re at such a place right now.  The perspective is to embrace what God is doing, even in the pain, and recognize He’s at work.  He’s readying us for something far greater than what we could imagine.


Isaiah 21 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

A shared truth sticks out over the past few chapters of Isaiah. All the main players surrounding Judah (Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, and Ethiopia) are under the authority of God. The domino effect that occurred as nations rose and fell presented the temptation to align with the next greatest power. The temptation for Judah was to trust in the power of a nation over the promises of God.

Reality check. We do this all the time.

Each day we are bombarded by the next greatest gadget that will solve all of life’s problems. We flip on the TV and the same message is blasted in our faces – you can’t live without this! We are prone to adding things to our lives that make it easier and more comfortable, so naturally, we can’t help taking the bait. What makes it even more difficult is that we live in a world where the masses flock to the latest trends.

It is so hard to resist temporary comfort for eternal security. As Randy Alcorn would say, “We must give what we can’t keep in order to gain what we can’t lose.” Metaphorically speaking, Isaiah 21 really captures this idea. The central theme is not necessarily about Babylon – it’s about God. The only true security we can trust is Him, and for us, that means Jesus.

For the Lord God of Israel has spoken. The audacity of such a statement is lost on us today. What does Israel’s God have to do with Babylon or Edom or Arabia? They have their own gods to whom their destiny is committed. Yet the Israelite prophet dares to say that it is his God alone who holds the nations in his hand. Dare we believe this today?

Is it true that the word of Yahweh alone shapes the course of the nations? Or was that just nationalistic bombast which we, a more enlightened people, may dismiss? In fact, we may not dismiss it, for only in God’s sovereignty is there any hope for a race of human beings that seems determined to destroy itself.”

New International Commentary – Old Testament
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