Scripture reading – Isaiah 20; Isaiah 21

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This is the second of two Bible studies for today. Three nations are the objects of prophetic doom in Isaiah 21.

Isaiah 21

A Prophecy of Babylon’s Fall (Isaiah 21:1-10)

Isaiah 21 introduced another prophecy with the phrase, “The burden [i.e., the terrible vision] of the desert of the sea” (Isaiah 21:1). Who was the nation designated as “the desert of the sea?” Isaiah 21:2 and Isaiah 21:9 reveal it was Babylon. Though Assyria was the most powerful kingdom in Isaiah’s day, his prophecy revealed the rise of Babylon to prominence and its defeat by “Elam” (i.e., Persia) and “Media” (Isaiah 21:2).

Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would suffer what it afflicted on other nations. The Scriptures record, and history concurs, that Babylon looted Jerusalem and stripped the Temple and the palaces of their gold and silver. So it came to pass that the spoiler became the spoiled (Isaiah 21:2).

Isaiah was Pained by the Vision of Babylon’s Fall (Isaiah 21:3-5)

Isaiah was Pained by the Vision of Babylon’s Fall (Isaiah 21:3-5)

Having foreseen the fall of Babylon, the vision of carnage physically and emotionally moved Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3). The prophet’s heart raced. He became paralyzed with fear and experienced sleepless nights (Isaiah 21:4).

Having the prophet Daniel’s record of the night Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5), we understand Isaiah’s description of that city’s narcissistic pursuit of sin and drunkenness that led to the fall of the Chaldean empire (Isaiah 21:5; note also Isaiah 22:13).

Isaiah Declared Babylon’s Fall (Isaiah 21:6-10)

The LORD came to Isaiah and commanded His prophet, “Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he seeth” (Isaiah 21:6). The watchmen in Isaiah’s vision saw symbols of war racing toward Babylon (Isaiah 21:7). We read the watchmen “cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, And I am set in my ward whole nights” (Isaiah 21:8).

The watchmen then declared, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen; And all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground” (Isaiah 21:9). Great Babylon serves in the Scriptures as a place, if not the mother, of idolatry. Therefore, it is appropriate that the fall of that city proved “the graven images of her gods” were dead and incapable of saving that nation. (Note Jeremiah 50:32 and Jeremiah 51:8 for Jeremiah’s vision of Babylon’s fall.) 

Isaiah 21:10 declared that Isaiah’s vision of Babylon’s fall was from the LORD and would be fulfilled.

Isaiah Declared Babylon’s Fall (Isaiah 21:6-10)

A Prophecy of Doom Concerning Edom (Isaiah 21:11-12)

“The burden of Dumah” introduced Isaiah’s second prophecy in this chapter (Isaiah 21:11). Who were the people of Dumah?  

Dumah was the name of a son of Ishmael, a son of Abraham who was born to Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid (Genesis 25:12-14; 1 Chronicles 1:30; Joshua 15:52). Dumah’s lineage was a Bedouin people of Arabia and associated with the Edomites. Dumah was doomed and would fall to Assyria and again to Babylon (Isaiah 21:12).


A Prophecy of Doom Concerning Arabia (Isaiah 21:13-17)

The “traveling companies of Dedanim” (Isaiah 21:13b) were descended from Abraham’s wife Keturah (whom he took as a wife after his beloved Sarah’s death, Genesis 25:1). To Keturah were born six sons, one of whom was Jokshan, whose son he named Dedan (Genesis 25:2-3).

The Dedanimites were a Bedouin people who traversed the desert of Arabia. Though caravans generally cross the sands of the desert, the Dedanim [de-dan-im] were described as lodging in the forest (perhaps where they retreated in their flight from Assyria’s army, Isaiah 21:13-15).

The Dedanimite people would be shown compassion by “the inhabitants of the land of Tema” (Isaiah 21:14). Though they would escape the swords of Assyria, it was only temporary (Isaiah 21:15). In one year, the Dedanimites would be all but annihilated as a people (Isaiah 21:16-17).

A Prophecy of Doom Concerning Arabia (Isaiah 21:13-17)

Closing thoughts –

In Isaiah’s day, the Middle East was in turmoil, even as it is in our day. Mercifully, the LORD sent His prophets to Israel and Judah, who foretold His judgments against the nations. Yet, the people did not heed the warnings or turn from their sins and trust in the LORD.

The signs of God’s judgment were seen everywhere, but Israel and Judah continued in their sins until there was no hope. The people had the Lord’s Law, Commandments, and the word of His prophets; nevertheless, they rushed on to their demise.

Is the world of our day any different?

The nations of the world are in turmoil. Every day, the news reminds us of the signs of Christ’s Second Coming and “the end of the world” (Matthew 24:3). He taught His disciples:

Matthew 24:6–86And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.“

 Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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