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Read Isaiah 21

A Prophecy Against Babylon

21 A prophecy against the Desert by the Sea:

Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland,
    an invader comes from the desert,
    from a land of terror.

A dire vision has been shown to me:
    The traitor betrays, the looter takes loot.
Elam, attack! Media, lay siege!
    I will bring to an end all the groaning she caused.

At this my body is racked with pain,
    pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor;
I am staggered by what I hear,
    I am bewildered by what I see.
My heart falters,
    fear makes me tremble;
the twilight I longed for
    has become a horror to me.

They set the tables,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink!
Get up, you officers,
    oil the shields!

This is what the Lord says to me:

“Go, post a lookout
    and have him report what he sees.
When he sees chariots
    with teams of horses,
riders on donkeys
    or riders on camels,
let him be alert,
    fully alert.”

And the lookout shouted,

“Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower;
    every night I stay at my post.
Look, here comes a man in a chariot
    with a team of horses.
And he gives back the answer:
    ‘Babylon has fallen, has fallen!
All the images of its gods
    lie shattered on the ground!’”

10 My people who are crushed on the threshing floor,
    I tell you what I have heard
from the Lord Almighty,
    from the God of Israel.

A Prophecy Against Edom

11 A prophecy against Dumah:

Someone calls to me from Seir,
    “Watchman, what is left of the night?
    Watchman, what is left of the night?”
12 The watchman replies,
    “Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
    and come back yet again.”

A Prophecy Against Arabia

13 A prophecy against Arabia:

You caravans of Dedanites,
    who camp in the thickets of Arabia,
14     bring water for the thirsty;
you who live in Tema,
    bring food for the fugitives.
15 They flee from the sword,
    from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
    and from the heat of battle.

16 This is what the Lord says to me: “Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end. 17 The survivors of the archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be few.” The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.

Go Deeper

This chapter contains the first three of a series of five oracles that the Lord speaks through Isaiah. There is abundant wickedness throughout the nations, and God is proclaiming His judgment over them. Isaiah had long waited for God to intervene in the sin that has captivated the nations around him, but when he sees what God’s response to the nations’ sin will look like he is gripped with anguish. Verse 11 says, “Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?” It’s like we can hear him yelling, “How much longer? How much longer?” There is desperation in the peoples’ voices as they see the consequences of their sin surrounding them.

In her book Holier than Thou, Jackie Hill Perry reminds us of God’s identity as Holy, and how that determines His relationship to sin. She says, “When God sees sin in all of its different colors, He doesn’t see himself, He being the most beautiful. There is nothing so unlike God than sin. Nothing so awful as that presence within us that is repelled by God’s voice.” Because God is holy, He cannot be in the presence of sin and sin cannot remain in His presence. His justice and wrath is rooted in His holiness.

God’s holiness defines how he is unlike us. He cannot sin, He is only good, only love, only righteous, only holy all of the time. A right understanding of God is a right understanding of His identity as holy. With this proper understanding of God, our only response to Him is to fall flat on our faces in worship and surrender. 

May we see and know God for who He is, and trust His ways all the more deeply because of His character that has been revealed to us all throughout Scripture. Praise God that sin and wickedness cannot stand in His presence, that there is justice for all of the pain, brokenness, and wrongdoing that we come face-to-face with each day. Praise God for covering us with the blood of Jesus through sacrificing His Son on our behalf. Because we are seen as righteous through Jesus, we are able to come near to God. He is good, just, and holy, and he will come again to make all things right. 


  1. How have you understood God’s holiness?
  2. How do you view and respond to the sin in your own life as a result of God’s holiness?
  3. What would it look like for you to live with God’s holiness in mind?

A Quote

“As He is transcendent and thus different, incomparable, God’s wrath is nothing like the anger we know of by experience. Wrath isn’t a response to God’s ego being bruised nor is it that He’s a sadist, taking pleasure in our pain. It is quite the opposite. The wrath of God is the ‘holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is a contradiction to his holiness.’ God cannot be indifferent to sin because He is too holy, holy, holy to do so.”–Jackie Hill Perry, Holier Than Thou

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3 thoughts on “Isaiah 21”

  1. I sense Isaiah’s weariness as day after day he calls out the blatant sin around him. Babylon was a powerful city known for heinous sins that stood in direct opposition to God’s holiness. Sometimes the parallels to present day America are striking! He speaks of a threshing and winnowing in v10 to prepare the people for what was to come. God would indeed remove the sinful & rebellious people like worthless chaff. I’m convicted of times we are prone to casually treat sin as if it’s not that big of a deal. Why do we tolerate, accept and even celebrate things that Christ died for? Today we get to voice our choice in the election of new leaders at the polls, but more importantly as believers we are tasked with taking the gospel message and sharing it with whomever crosses our path. It’s sacred work!

  2. BUT GOD, He is such a loving God and wants us but we must want Him back. We are not doing much better than those we are reading about that God is destroying. We are turning, running, lying down, saying somebody else not me, but we have to stand up and have a voice. Is this what the Word says, is this what God wants for your life? I am the very best at not wanting to have to challenge anyone due to not wanting ANY type of confrontation. I am wrong, this is sin. When it comes to what God says in His word then I am wrong if I dont stand up for it. His Word is the authority and I should know it stand up for it and stand on it. We should be encountering and worshipping God constantly. It should be very evident in our lives. I read “”If worshiping God yesterday does not make us different from those who did not worship him, did we truly encounter God?” “We must hear the words with our hearts, we must bask in God’s own glory, we must be moved to a sense of overwhelming awe at God’s riches in glory, we must think again on the incredible wonder that these riches are ours in Christ Jesus, and we must then worship the living God by singing praises to his glory.”
    God please forgive me for not speaking. I am so selfish in that I do not want to make waves. I do want to SHOUT You from the rooftops. I am in overwhelming awe of who You are and what You have done in my life. I love to bask in Your love. I am so thankful for the riches I have through Christ Jesus. My hearts desire is to be at Your feet and worship worship worship You. Thank You for helping me to do better for speaking up when things are not right. Give me good memory for Your scripture to know what to say. I give You all praise honor and glory for this day in Jesus name amen


  3. What stands out to me is the absence of peace. V4 … the twilight I longed for
    has become a horror to me. V12 Morning is coming, but also the night.
    The repeat of fear day after day…
    You could insert here the sermon from Sunday. Addictions and loneliness are at a highest peek at night. Looters take loot (v2) mostly at night.
    There are a lot of people not sleeping with heavenly peace in this passage and in the world today.
    We, as watchman, do have a duty to uphold. We are called to be the light. 2 Peter 3:11-12 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
    Oddly enough, the blood moon occurring this morning should remind us to be diligent to spread the gospel and live holy, as if the day of the Lord is near.

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