Isaiah 21:1-17

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 21:1-17

Isaiah 21
Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. — Isaiah 21:5

“Do you think the Lord will accept that excuse?” rang in my ears as I walked back to my cabin. I had been late for curfew, and the gate to the church campground was closed before my friends and I could make it back from our dinner. The plan had been simple: go out quickly, get a bite to eat, and be back before the appointed time. But the best laid plans fall short sometimes.

When the car had stopped, I ran to the gate, hoping that I would be excused because I wasn’t driving . . . because I wanted to get back in time . . . because I was running to show my earnestness . . . . However, the watchman’s words had said it all. I was late and nothing changed that.

I knew that the watchman at the gate had only been speaking in jest and that my being late for curfew did not exclude me from the Rapture, but his point was well taken. Back at my cabin, I thought long and hard about the Lord’s return, and the importance of being “on time” for that event. When the Lord comes back, I’m going to be ready! I’m looking forward to losing gravity and meeting my Lord in the air.

The focus verse can be broken down into three parts: prepare, watch, and arm oneself. We want to prepare for the day when the Lord will come back for us, daily striving to obey Him and to have our hearts in tune with His will. We must also watch for His coming with anticipation and eagerness. Our Lord is going to appear one day in the clouds to bring us to Heaven “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is very exciting, indeed! And, finally, we must arm ourselves to fight against our spiritual enemy.

Nothing is important or valuable enough to make it worth missing the “gate.” Nothing is of more value than our eternal souls. Let’s make sure to keep our priorities straight and give due diligence to our walk with the Lord.


Isaiah chapter 21 is a portion of a set of judgments proclaimed against the Gentile nations surrounding Judah at the time. The judgments of Babylon, Edom, and Arabia were covered in this chapter.

Verses 1-10 record the prophecy of the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (539 B.C.). Babylon was on a plain, and violent winds from the desert of Arabia often hit it. The Medes were wild mountain warriors, and the onslaught of armies would hit Babylon like a hurricane. Verses 3-5 are a reference to Belshazzar’s feast and the handwriting on the wall as described in Daniel chapter 5, when the very thing that Isaiah saw came to pass. Belshazzar was killed and Darius the Median took the throne.

Verses 11-12 refer to Edom, whose people were the descendants of Esau. Historically, these people were Israel’s bitter enemies. Isaiah was the watchman and gave Edom warning of the coming day (light) if they repented, but also of the coming night if they did not heed this warning. They ignored their opportunity, and as foretold, their country was controlled by Babylon, later by the Persians, and eventually by the Romans. Edom was renamed Idumea, and King Herod of Jesus’ time was a descendant of this nation. Edom was not heard of after Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D.

Verses 13-17 refer to the Arabians who were nomads and traders, and controlled trade routes in the area. They had previously assisted the Philistines in an attack on Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoram and were defeated later by Uzziah. Isaiah prophesied here that judgment was coming. Even if they hid in the thickets and the people of Tema brought them bread and water, they would be overcome. On their camels, they could not outrun or defend themselves against Assyria’s cavalry and weaponry.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
     C.   Prophecies related to the foreign nations
           8.   The judgment of Babylon (21:1-10)
                 a.   The destruction by Media (21:1-5)
                 b.   The report of the watchmen (21:6-10)
           9.   The judgment of Edom (21:11-12)
           10.  The judgment of Arabia (21:13-17)


  1. In verse 2, how did Isaiah describe his “vision”?

  2. Why do you think God inspired Isaiah to prophecy against the countries near Israel? 

  3. Isaiah was called of God to give a message of coming judgment. What message are we called of God to proclaim in our day?


Jesus might come back today. Let us be certain that we have prepared and are watching and living to be ready for that event.