Isaiah 21:1-17 – Be On Guard

Read Isaiah 21:1-17

Disaster is coming to Babylon. “Go ahead, you Elamites and Medes, attack and lay siege. I will make an end to all the groaning Babylon caused.” Babylon was a strong nation that had oppressed many people. We see again how God is orchestrating the demise of this powerhouse. He is going to use the Elamites and Medes to help him. But note he is taking credit here, “I will make an end.”

Isaiah’s own body is being physically assaulted simply by the thought of what is to come. “I grow faint when I hear what God is planning; I am too afraid to look.” He realizes that a power such as Babylon will not fall gracefully or with ease. It will be bloody, and lives will be lost. This message is truly affecting Isaiah in a profound manner.

“Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, “Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees.” The significance of God telling Isaiah to set up a watch tower would indicate this prophecy wasn’t going to happen right away. It wasn’t even going happen in Isaiah’s lifetime, but that didn’t stop him from being prepared and on the watch.

Babylon would fall. In fact, this could actually be seen as a prophecy with two fulfillments. First, Babylon was conquered by the Medes in 539 B.C. Second, in the book of Revelation, Babylon takes on a symbolic meaning. For example, Revelation 14:8 says, “Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” We walked through Revelation together on this blog, and you might recall that Babylon represented the Roman empire which was persecuting the church, together with all things evil. If you reread today’s passage, in light of that passage, you can see why Isaiah was shaking in his boots!

“O my people, threshed and winnowed, I have told you everything the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has said, everything the God of Israel has told me.” In case you are like me and were not sure of the significance of this statement, here’s a bit of an explanation. Threshing and winnowing are two steps in ancient Israel’s farming process. With threshing, the heads of wheat were first trampled to break open the seeds and expose the valued grain inside. The seeds were then thrown into the air, and the worthless chaff blew away while the grain fell back to the ground. This was the winnowing step. Israel was thought to be the heads of wheat. They were about to be trampled so that God could separate out the good from the bad. The good would then be the remnant.

The message I took away today is to be on guard. We need to be prepared for whatever is to come. We don’t need to fear what’s happening in our world, even though it is a frightening place right now. We have the pandemic, wars, riots, severe weather/climate events, and lots of corruption.  It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not because of how sensationalized the media is these days. I realize they are in competition for our attention, and they are doing whatever possible to get it. More and more I understand why some people are content to be hermits and shut out the world all together.

God wants us to enjoy our life. He gave us this beautiful planet to care for. He wants us to treasure every moment. More importantly, he desperately desires for us to spend time with him and shut out the noise that is clamoring around us. When is the last time you just turned everything off and just spent time with God? Take some time today to disconnect from the world and rest in arms of God.

Let’s pray … Lord, forgive me for my worry and fear of the unknown. I want to instead be invigorated by new things and graciously step out of my comfort zone. Give me wisdom to stay vigilant and be prepared for enemy attacks. Empower me to be ready. Increase my boldness. May I sense your nearness in directing my path. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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