Isaiah 21

Feb 16, 2024    Pastor Daryl Zachman

“And he answered, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the carved images of her gods he has shattered to the ground.” (Isaiah 21:9, ESV)

In the beginning of chapter 21, Isaiah prophesied about the coming fall of Babylon. It is interesting that at the time Isaiah wrote this, Babylon was not even a significant world power. Assyria was the dreaded dominant force. But in the Spirit, Isaiah saw what would happen in the future. There would be a near-term fulfillment when Babylon would dominate and later fall. Commentators are divided as to whether this fall was to the Assyrians in 689 BC or to the Medes and Persians in 539 BC. Isaiah mentions Elam (the early name for Persia) and Media, which would tend to support the second invasion of Babylon in 539 BC.

What is more important to us today is that Isaiah also prophesied the fall of Babylon the great, the religious, commercial and political system that opposes God. This same phrase is used in Revelation when God destroys this highly influential world system.

“Another angel, a second, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.’” (Revelation 14:8, ESV)

The sexual immorality spoken of here primarily refers to spiritual adultery—that is Babylon is responsible for turning people away from God to the various idols that take the place of God. But on the other hand, literal sexual immorality was usually practiced in the worship of pagan gods. Today many people bow at the altar of sexual immorality.

What was Isaiah’s reaction to this great vision of destruction?

“Therefore my loins are filled with anguish; pangs have seized me, like the pangs of a woman in labor; I am bowed down so that I cannot hear; I am dismayed so that I cannot see.” (Isaiah 21:3, ESV)

Isaiah empathizes with the great mourning that will occur when Babylon is judged. We must remember that God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Sin inevitably brings sadness, because it also brings forth death. But in order for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the LORD, judgment must come against the wickedness and idolatry of man.

Have we permitted the spirit of Babylon to infect and corrupt our own hearts? If so, then let us seek the godly sorrow that produces repentance and leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). This death leaves no regrets.