Isaiah 21 pictures judgment and calamity coming upon Babylon, then a world leader in every way, by surprise. What kind of guard must a country have against such collapse?
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 21” pp. 170-174.
Luther observes that the Jewish attitude toward Babylon was very negative. Babylon was the nation which would even sack Judah and God’s temple. Luther sees the comments in Isaiah 21 as an interruption of Isaiah’s other messages, which point to Christ (LW 16, 170). The concept of “the wilderness of the sea” is one which Luther ties not to a geographical location but rather to the tremendous destructive potential of the sea (LW 16, 170). The destructive force of Babylon will come to an end. In verse two the power of Babylon is ended, inflicting great pain and sorrow on the people (LW 16, 171). This destruction will come upon Babylon as a surprise. In verse three through five the people are engaged in the normal affairs of a life with no expectation of opposition. The prophet, as a watchman, warns of the coming doom and sees the invasion of Cyrus (LW 16, 172). Oddly enough, Luther does not mention that Cyrus’ invasion took place during a drunken fast.
Luther sees the two very brief oracles in verses 11-17 as subsidiary to the larger oracle against Babylon (LW 16, 173). The watchers in neighboring nations will see destruction but the people as a whole will not. Consolation they might expect will not be delivered. The end of all is exile and flight (LW 16, 174).
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