Greetings in Christ!
In Chapters 19 and 20 Isaiah prophesied concerning Egypt. In Chapter 21, he prophesies concerning Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. There are eleven burdens in our current section of Isaiah and Chapter 21 contains burdens seven, eight, and nine. Babylon is assigned burden #1 (Isa 13) as well as burden #7.
Father, speak to us through your word which is our sure foundation, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.
According to Dr Halley, Babylon was “surrounded by a vast system of dikes and canals . . . like a city in the sea.” We do not have to guess who Isaiah is referring to because he identifies “the desert of the sea” in verse 9: Babylon.
2 A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer [Babylon] dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler [Babylon] spoileth. Go up, O Elam [Persia]: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.
3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.
4 My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.
I do not believe Isaiah is seeing the fall of Babylon recorded in the Book of Daniel. Isaiah predicts that event in verse 2, but I do not think that is what he sees in verses 3 and 4. When Darius the Mede conquered Babylon there was no real battle; General Gobryas reportedly took the city without firing a shot. However, what Isaiah sees strikes terror into his heart. I believe what Isaiah sees is the fall of the worldwide system of MYSTERY BABYLON that John describes in Revelation 18. Like the forerunner event in 6th century BC which took place in one night (Dan 5:30), the final judgment on Babylon will take place quickly as well, in one hour (Rev 18:10,17,19).
5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
6 For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:
8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:
9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor [ie true believers, as opposed to chaff and stubble]: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.
The fall of Babylon is woven through the prophets from Isaiah (cf Isa 47; 48) to Jeremiah (Jer 50; 51) to the Revelation of John (Rev 18). Babylon is portrayed in Daniel 7:4 as a winged lion. Who Isaiah’s chariots of men, donkeys, camels, and horsemen are, I do not know.* I doubt Isaiah knew either. He is just telling us what he heard (v 10).
Based on the ten horns of Daniel 7:7, Revelation 17:3, and the ten toes of Daniel 2, prophecy teachers have long predicted a revived Roman empire. Just as they said, indeed, the revived Roman empire has been steadily rising for decades now. A major step took place when the old currencies of Europe were officially phased out in favor of the Euro on January 1, 2002. Likewise, the creation of a European Army that has been expected for some time is now being announced. Recently at Davos, Angela Merkel voiced her reservations about nationalists who resist the new order. I met a couple of German tourists a few weeks ago. When I asked them what they thought of Merkel saying nations (including Germany presumably) should give up their sovereignty, they said they did not have a problem with it. The rise of the revived Roman empire is one of the key components, or essential steps, that leads to the fully formed MYSTERY BABYLON foretold in Scripture (Rev 17:5). This corrupt system is described as the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird (Rev 18:2b). Her fate has already been sealed. Revelation 18:2 shows the fulfillment of Isaiah 21:9 when an angel will cry, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen…
Anyone who is acquainted with Bible prophecy can plainly see the end of days is upon us. With respect to the escalation taking place now between Israel, Damascus, and Iran, which dovetails with the Magog invasion foretold by the prophet Ezekiel (Ez 38; 39), we must consider the convergence of these and other events foretold in Scripture. Now is not the time to be lukewarm. (Rev 3:16) Now is not the time to be fearful either. (Rev 21:8) If there was ever a group of guys that had cause to be afraid, it would have been the disciples in the upper room. After Jesus washed their feet, He told them one of them would betray Him, one of them would deny Him, and besides that He was going away and they couldn’t go with Him. Jesus told them (and us) Let not your heart be troubled (Jn 14:1). He told them (and us) He was going to prepare a place for them. He promised He would come again and take them (and us) to the new home He was going to prepare for them (and us) in heaven. In other words, the way to have a trouble-free heart is to keep our mind on heaven. That is how Jesus was able to endure the cross:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If your circumstances or current events have got you feeling fearful or anxious consider the joy that is set before us. Consider that it only took Jesus six days to create the world, but He has been working on our mansions for nearly 2000 years. Consider that all the things He told us to watch for are converging. (Lk 21:28)
Father, your word tells us to be in this world but not of this world. Help us to keep our minds stayed on Thee, but also to occupy until You send your Son to take us home. We do not know the day or the hour, so help us to be salt and light and to represent your Son well as long as we are here. When You do decide to send your Son to collect us, please count us worthy to stand before Him and escape all these things that shall come to pass, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
* From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:
And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen – This passage is very obscure from the ambiguity of the word רכב rekeb – ‘chariot.’ Gesenius contends that it should be rendered ‘cavalry,’ and that it refers to cavalry two abreast hastening to the destruction of the city. The word רכב rekeb denotes properly a chariot or wagon Judges 5:28; a collection of wagons 2 Chronicles 1:14; 2 Chronicles 8:6; 2 Chronicles 9:25; and sometimes refers to the “horses or men” attached to a chariot. ‘David houghed all the chariots’ 2 Samuel 8:4; that is, all the “horses” belonging to them. ‘David killed of the Syrians seven hundred chariots’ 2 Samuel 10:18; that is, all “the men” belonging to seven hundred chariots. According to the present Masoretic pointing, the word רכב rekeb does not mean, perhaps, anything else than a chariot strictly, but other forms of the word with the same letters denote “riders or cavalry.” Thus, the word רכב rakâb denotes a horseman 2 Kings 9:17; a charioteer or driver of a chariot 1 Kings 22:34; Jeremiah 51:21. The verb רבב râbab means “to ride,” and is usually applied to riding on the backs of horses or camels; and the sense here is, that the watchman saw “a riding,” or persons riding two abreast; that is, “cavalry,” or men borne on horses, and camels, and asses, and hastening to attack the city.
With a couple of horsemen – The word ‘couple’ (צמד tsemed) means properly a “yoke or pair;” and it means here that the cavalry was seen “in pairs, that is,” two abreast. A chariot of asses – Or rather, as above, “a riding” on donkeys – an approach of men in this manner to battle. Asses were formerly used in war where horses could not be procured. Thus Strabo (xv. 2, 14) says of the inhabitants of Caramania, ‘Many use donkeys for war in the want of horses.’ And Herodotus (iv. 129) says expressly that Darius Hystaspes employed donkeys in a battle with the Scythians. And a chariot of camels – A “riding” on camels. Camels also were used in war, perhaps usually to carry the baggage (see Diod. ii. 54; iii. 44; Livy, xxxvii. 40; Strabo, xvi. 3). They are used for all purposes of burden in the East, and particularly in Arabia.