Reading through the Bible together
In the previous chapter, Isaiah mentioned that people were fleeing from the king of Assyria as he invaded Egypt which at that time was ruled by the Ethiopians. So there were mass-deportations of both Egyptians and Ethiopians. When the Assyrians took Samaria they also deported Israelites. That’s why Isaiah in the previous chapter said that the people were asking where they could find security and a safe haven.
In this chapter three visions are listed: one against Elam and Media, another one against Edom, and one more against Arabia. Isaiah received these visions when Ahaz died and when Hezekiah became king of Judah. In his time, Isaiah was a specialist on world affairs, but his ability is from above. “God knows,” “God says,” that is, “security is only in God.” We know that Satan is in a “Great Controversy” with God. That is why Isaiah says “A harsh vision has been shown to me. The “treacherous one” deals treacherously, the destroyer still destroys” referring to the actions of Lucifer (v. 2). God permitted Satan through the Assyrians to punish Elam and Media for they have caused great “groaning” on others (v. 2d).
Isaiah’s reaction to this vision was one of shock (v. 3). Horror overwhelmed him and he was trembling (v. 4). He saw the Assyrians set the table, spread the cloth, eat and drink, and then the captains and their men oiling their shields (v. 5). Isaiah saw war. The vision takes on “end time” proportions: the Lord is asking the watchman to get up in the tower and report what he sees (v. 6-7). The watchman emphasized that he is doing his work faithfully (v. 8). It is a God-given task and no longer just a military task of humans.
The watchman saw horsemen riding towards Babylon and someone answered: “Fallen is Babylon” (v. 9a-b). Isaiah is seeing the Medes and Persians coming to take Babylon in the time of Cyrus. There is a “Fall of Cities” theme in Isaiah, linked to Satan’s fall mentioned in Chapter 14:12-14, to the coming fall of Babylon, and to what will take place at the “time of the end” mentioned in Revelation 18.
In Isaiah day there were afflicted people. Many Israelites were deported from Samaria by the Assyrians a few years before allowed by the God of Israel (v. 10). In another vision, Isaiah’s focus was turned to Edom. The vision is short and he hears someone calling out: “Watchman, how far is the night?” The question is really: How long do we have to wait before the coming? The watchman answered that the morning is coming and also the night, meaning that potential danger or trouble is not on the immediate horizon, but it will come (vv. 11-12).
In this chapter Isaiah had one more vision, it is about Arabia (v. 13). The endangerment of the “kings’ highway” by Arabic tribes led to Assyrian invasions against the southern Arabian lands. Also the last king of the Babylonian empire moved to Tema to better control the Arabian tribes. And many faithful fugitives rushed to Tema (v. 14) to flee from the swords and bows and the stress of the battle (v. 15). Isaiah calls on the inhabitants of Tema to take care of the refugees that fled from the war (vv. 13-15). The Lord said that in one year, the “the mighty men of Kedar (the Arabian tribes) will be diminished” (v. 16), as indeed it happened.
Help us that we, too, will do all we can to assist faithful refugees and migrants of war who have come to where we live. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea