Prophecies Against Babylon, Edom and Arabia (Isaiah 21)

Scripture Text:

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Isaiah 21

1. What scary theme recurs in your dreams? Car accident? War casualties? End times? Other? How do you feel when you wake up from a bad dream?

2. When have you been a lookout?

3. What might these three prophecies refer to historically? Explain your answer.

  • the temporary defeat of the Babylonians by the Assyrians (in 710 and 689 BC)
  • their ultimate defeat by the Persians in 539 AD
  • both of the preceding options or
  • primarily that “fall of Babylon” associated with the end times

4. In Isaiah’s day, Babylon sought allies among the other nations (including Judah – see Isaiah 39) to help her resist Assyria. Why is that a faulty, even fatal hope?

5. How does this “dire vision” affect Isaiah? Why is he so upset? What does that show you about him?

6. Though verse 5 may refer to events just before an Assyrian attack, compare it as well with Daniel 5:1 – 30. What were the leaders of Babylon doing the very night of their final overthrow?

7. Why post a watchman (verses 6 – 10)? If Judah in Isaiah’s day hoped that Babylon might protect them from Assyria, how would they react to the news “Babylon has fallen” (verse 9)?

8. Dumah, invaded by the Assyrians when they came against Babylon, was an oasis on a major trade route to Seir (Edom) and an ally of Babylon. In calling the watchman (Isaiah?) regarding these events (verses 11 and 12), what are the Edomites really asking? What’s behind their question? And Isaiah’s puzzling answer?

9. In reference to Question #8, how do you think Edom responds to this divine call in verse 12b (see Isaiah 34:5 – 15 and the book of Obadiah)?

10. What are the Arabian cities of Dedan and Tema told to do (verses 13 and 14)? Which fugitives (or refugees) are they to care for? From verses 16 and 17 (also Jeremiah 49:28 – 33), what does the future hold for Arabia (Kedar)?

11. How might these three prophecies affect Judah’s sense of hope as they consider the Assyrian threat? Why do you think God revealed these things to Judah?

12. What “Babylon” are you betting on to shelter you from the uncertainties of life? Knowing that such temporal security will be swept away (like Babylon), how do you feel? What can you do to fill that God-shaped void of insecurity?

13. When Isaiah envisions a suffering Babylon (even though it was a direct judgment by God), he is moved with God’s compassion. What model does that give you for how to respond to the sufferings of others? Does television or social media help you identify with the sufferings of others, or does it harden you against it? Why?

14. Babylon’s leaders feasted and partied, unaware of their impending doom. Is that typical of people under God’s judgment? How will the fall of this Babylon typical of the final judgment on human pride (Revelation 18:2ff)? What is the lesson for you regarding in whom or what you trust?

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