12/09/2010

Worldly Glory is Never Permanent (Isaiah 21)

All the splendor of the kingdoms of the world, like Babylon in her glory, like the temple in Jesus' day, like the Twin Towers before 9/11, seem indestructible and permanent. But the time for the fall of all worldly glory and splendor is set by God in Isaiah's time, as it is today. In light of this, how should we Christians live?

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I'll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee." (C.T. Studd, missionary to China, Africa and India)

Fallen, Fallen is Babylon (Isa 21:1-10)

In this oracle/prophecy, Isaiah predicts the sudden destruction of Babylon in 539 B.C. by the Persian army, which included the Elamites and Medes (Isa 21:1,2). The severity of the violence which Isaiah must prophecy caused him extreme agitation (Isa 21:3,4), while the world celebrates the seeming invincibility of human power and worldly alliance (Isa 21:5). The watchman stationed by Isaiah announces an advancing army and the fall of Babylon (Isa 21:6-10).

Oracles Concerning Edom and Arabia (Isa 21:11,12; 13-17)

Dumah, another name for Edom, asks how long the Assyrian oppression will last (Isa 21:11). The answer is vague: "Morning is coming, but also the night" (Isa 21:12), Isaiah alludes to a short-lived deliverance from Assyrian oppression, but quickly adds the threat of Babylonian domination to follow soon.

Isaiah prophesied that "the splendor of Kedar," the northwestern part of the Arabian desert, "will come to an end" (Isa 21:16), leaving only a few survivors (Isa 21:17). This anticipates the conquest of the region by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 49:28). The ultimate reason for Arabia's decline is not human militarism (Isa 21:13-15), but the word of the God of Israel, for "this is what the Lord says" (Isa 21:16a).


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