Today Isaiah has a vision of the future that makes him physically sick as God shows Isaiah the future of Babylon. Many times we think we would like to know the future but the reality is that somethings that happen in our world we would rather not know that they are going to take place. God gave this vision not only to Isaiah but to us as well as we can see who is going to be destroyed by the enemy.
Isaiah 21:1-2 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on, it comes from the wilderness, from a terrible land. 2 A stern vision is told to me; the traitor betrays, and the destroyer destroys. Go up, O Elam; lay siege, O Media; all the sighing she has caused I bring to an end.
1) The Enemy brings Destruction
“Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland” Storms would come quickly and would be destructive and without warning and that is how Isaiah describes the enemy. The Story in Job gives an idea of what these storms were like and how violent they were.
Job 1:18-19 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Isaiah compares the military attack to these violent winds that came without warning and would destroy everything. The enemy is not named but we are told he comes from a terrible and feared land and is a betrayer who betrays and a looter who loots. Just like in our day there are world leaders and politicians who only care for themselves and do not care who gets hurt in the process, so Isaiah is describing an enemy who has no concern for others. He will use his power to promote his purposes and destroy lives along the way. Although this passage is talking about an actual invasion of Babylon we know that there is an enemy who brings destruction to the earth.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Many of us do not treat our daily lives as if there is an enemy who wants to destroy us. In fact many people fail to realize the impact of the spiritual world on their lives instead of seeing that there is an enemy that hates God and hates you. If you were told there was a pack of dogs roaming the neighborhood that you live in what would change on how you enter or exit your house? Being aware and alert is the only thing we can do to prepare for the enemy that wants our lives destroyed.
21:3-4 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. 4 My heart staggers; horror has appalled me; the twilight I longed for has been turned for me into trembling.
2) The Enemy brings pain
“I am bewildered and staggered by what I see and hear” We all have experienced pain in this world because of the enemy. There have been Families torn apart, deaths, friendships ruined, people stealing and so forth all have a common connection and that is the enemy. One of the questions that always comes up is, “if there is a God then why is there evil?” We live in a fallen world and because of what we see and what we hear we wonder how God can allow this to happen. One of the difficulties of being a pastor is walking with people when they are in pain like Isaiah is describing about himself because of the destruction in people’s lives. Isaiah got the wind knocked out of him, he literally doubled over in pain, his heart faltered, and fear came over him. Isaiah during this vision is wondering how God is going to use this and that is a common feeling that many who have placed their trust in Jesus feel when the things of life cause them pain. Although this is a difficult question, we do know that God does use everything somehow and for purposes that go beyond our understanding.
God allows suffering to draw us closer to Him, to change something about our character, and sometimes to discipline us because the things we are doing are going against His will. Sometimes Pain is like warning lights on your car which indicate something needs to be fixed and the reality is our entire world is broken. We see the pain in the world, and we realize that this is not the way things are supposed to be. Evolution has no answer for the presence of evil in fact according to evolution (there is no God) we could not even call something good or evil it is just what it is. Only knowing that there is a God who created us and made us who we are puts the desire in us for us to say that there is something better than the way the world is currently operating. Isaiah saw what was going to take place to those who did not place their trust in God and it literally gave him pain because he knows that there is something better waiting for all of those who put their trust in God.
Isaiah 21:5 They prepare the table, they spread the rugs,[a] they eat, they drink. Arise, O princes; oil the shield!
3) You must prepare for the Enemy
“Get up you officers, oil the shields” The eating, drinking and lounging must stop because the enemy is coming was what Isaiah was saying to them because they were living their lives as if there was no enemy. Oiling the shields was done in preparation for the enemy and it was something that would be done way in advance of the attack. We cannot wait till we face the enemy we must prepare before he comes and attacks us. Get up: It was a call to battle (Jeremiah 6:4-5) it was a preparation for war. How many times do we not take our enemy seriously? Satan has a plan to destroy your family do you have a plan for him not to. The people were called to take seriously what was happening around them and we are called to take seriously the battle that we face daily.
Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 7 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Every argument, murder, divorce, church split has a common enemy and that is Satan. Satan’s forces are organized and structured to do the most destructive warfare possible. There are things taking place behind the scenes that we are made aware of through scripture and we must take those warnings seriously. When Peter tried to get Jesus to not go to the cross who did Jesus address? Satan, because He knew Satan was using Peter to try and keep Jesus from dying for us and fulfilling His mission. Fighting Satan is not about special prayers but about being prepared with what God has given
Belt of Truth: (Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:2) Is it true? If what you are thinking about or focusing on is not true, then it is not from God. Breastplate of Righteousness: Holy Living (1 Peter 2:11; Romans 13:12-14) Shoes: Gospel of Peace, we are at peace with God because of Christ. Peace with God and peace in any situation because we belong to God. Shield of Faith: Faith is in God and the flaming darts are doubt “Faith is acting as if God is telling you the truth” Tony Evans Helmet of Salvation: You cannot lose your salvation and you look forward to a final salvation from this world. This is one of Satan’s most successful attacks and it is a head shot. Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God: (Only offensive weapon)
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Submit and Resist is what we are called to make sure you do not buy into some of these other things that are taking place that make it seem that Satan has power over God’s children. You do not have to give into Satan’s lies and you have the power through God to not to give in but you must prepare for the battle.
4) You must watch for the Enemy
“Post a look out or a watchman” When a lookout was posted it meant they were on high alert for the enemy could come at anytime and from any location. How many churches are on high alert for the enemy? If the church stops being a watchman for the world then we will leave the world to be destroyed by the enemy. We must pay attention to what is happening around us so that we can see the enemy coming. The lookout had a responsibility to make sure that any sign of the enemy would be called out. People would be doing their daily responsibilities and the lookout would give them time to react before the enemy was upon them. Can you imagine anyone getting mad at the lookout for calling out the enemy? But that is what happens when things are pointed out for people to pay attention to. When the church sees that the enemy will use gay marriage to destroy people, people get mad. When the Church sees that the enemy is killing babies people get mad even though there is an emotional and sometimes physical toll on women. Regardless of their reaction the watchmen on the wall had a responsibility to call out what they saw.
“Day after Day, every night on my post “The Lookout does not get a break from his duties but must be diligent because if the lookout fails people die. It’s a tiring job to constantly be looking for the enemy and the many ways he can sneak into people’s lives to destroy them.
“Babylon has fallen, all its images of god have faltered” The lookout hears a message that Babylon has fallen, and its gods are worthless. Babylon has been known to represent the world system and throughout the Bible is used as such and we have the responsibility to tell people that the ways of the world are not to be trusted and to not put our hope in them. The people of Isaiah’s day were hoping Babylon would be enough to stop the Assyrians but even they would fall and be destroyed. Isaiah told the King of Judah to not put his hope in Babylon because it will fall and we have the responsibility to tell others that the things of this world will fall as well.
“Crushed like stalks of Grain” Isaiah sees the destruction of people and how they are going to be trampled on by the enemy and God has the same view of what sin does to His creation. We too often overlook sins, but the Bible tells us that sin leads to death. (Romans 6:23) How do you view people who are getting ready to be crushed by the enemy? Does your heart break for those who are in Hollywood or for our Politicians? People are being used by the enemy and they will promise them things and then destroy them and if we stop caring then when they are crushed they will have no one else to turn to.
5) You must verbally warn others about the Enemy
“I tell you what I have heard from the Lord Almighty” Our job is to share the message and Isaiah is begging his people to respond to the warnings of God to not put their trust in the world. The outcome of Judah still lies in their hands. If they trust God they will live but if they put their faith and hope in something else they will be destroyed.
1 Corinthians 15:1-6 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
This is the message we need to share because the enemy is leading many people toward destruction. Our job is to share the message just like the watchman on the wall had the job to let them people know and then what people do with the information shared is on them and they will give an account for it. Ezekiel 33 gives the warning of the watchman and the consequences if he does not speak or blow the trumpet and it is a warning we all should take seriously.
Question I was asked : How do you decipher between being watchful for false prophets and being a Pharisee? The concern is that we can be hyper critical with everyone just like the Pharisees were as they made themselves seem better than everyone else as they added more rules and regulations than the bible called for. Jesus reserved His rebukes not for the lost and searching but for those who were the religious leaders of His day that were actually leading people away from God. Matthew 7:2 says that the same way we judge we will be judged so how are we to judge? Matthew 7:5 says first take the log out of your own eye so you can then help your brother get the splinter out of his eye. The Bible is clear that there will always be people who distort the message of God and so I will allow Romans 16:17-18 to speak for itself. Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[a] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.