Isaiah 21 has the prophet talking about what’s coming for Babylon. Babylon is called the Wilderness of the Sea because the great plain of Babylon was divided with lakes and marshes, so it was referred to as a “sea.” Elam and Media are the ancient names for the peoples of Persia, modern day Iran. God has often used one evil nation to punish another, which is what Isaiah is talking about here with Persia conquering Babylon. The Persians didn’t remain on God’s good side as they were conquered soon after by a long list of other nations.
God tells Isaiah to put a watchman in the tower. “For thus the Lord said to me: Go, set a watchman; let him announce what he sees.” It’s going to be quite a show as the riders come. The watchman stands there gazing across the horizon. “Then he who saw cried out: “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed whole nights”. He stands in his position day and night watching to see what God would do. And he isn’t disappointed as God takes action.
“And he answered, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the carved images of her gods he has shattered to the ground….I announce to you”. Guzik says ‘This dramatic scene was fulfilled when the Medo-Persian Empire conquered Babylon, but it also has a prophetic application. Revelation 18:2 describes the cry of an angel when God judges the world system, both commercial Babylon and spiritual Babylon: And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” The repetition of the phrase is fallen, is fallen connects the two passages.’
But the terror doesn’t end here. Isaiah goes on to paint a picture of the coming destruction of Dumah (Edom) and Arabia. There would be terror and judgment coming their way too. The freedom and peacefulness from Babylon’s defeat will be short lived. Isaiah tells them the attack on their nation will come “Within a year”. It’s not going to be a long respite, but it is certainly welcome in the short term. God’s in control of all peoples, nations and events. It’s all in His hands and Isaiah is His messenger of what is to come!