Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Destroyer Destroyed

Daily Readings
Psalm 23 Genesis 21 Isaiah 21 Acts 19

Daily Text: Isaiah 21

The Destroyer Destroyed
The 1st prophecy is that of the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. A stern vision comes like a dust storm out of the desert and suggests that the betrayer is betrayed, the destroyer is destroyed. Elam and Media, nations just to the west of Babylon and Assyria, lay siege to the great nation and the vision of it bowls the prophet over with gut-wrenching pain. He neither sees nor hears, and wants it that way, a sort of twilight zone, except that even that is lost to him and he trembles in abject fear.
In his vision he sees the Babylonians at a feast, at table, seated on their carpets. The Lord says in the vision, go post a lookout and the lookout should announce what he sees. Isaiah becomes the lookout. His vision is the warning to Judah of that which is taking place. He sees charioteers and cavalry come upon the hapless city. Belshazzer’s kingdom is lost in a night. With warmth and love he announces to his beaten countrymen the subject of his vision—Babylon is fallen.
The succeeding visions are of more or less nomadic peoples of the Arabic lands to the east of the Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula. Dumah, Tema and Dedan are oases from north to south in that order. Babylonia as the ‘night’ is over, but new distress is coming. The caravans of Dedanites traveling north (or south) come under attack and flee to the relative safety of the oasis town, Tema. The prophet calls for the Temanites to succor these merchants with water and bread. This same unnamed enemy is obviously an enemy also of Judah, to whom the prophecy is uttered. Finally, the prophet speaks of the downfall of the region of Kedar, north of these aforementioned oases. Kedar’s glory is her numerous warriors and they will soon be very few. In fact, they may be the’enemy’ of the previous prophecy in vss. 13-15. There is no security in this land at this time outside that offered by YHWH.

Siegfried Sasson

Babylon that was beautiful is Nothing now.
Once to the world it tolled a golden bell:
Belshazzar wore its blaze upon his brow;
Ruled; and to ruin fell.
Babylon—a blurred and blinded face of stone—
At dumb Oblivion bragged with trumpets blown;
Teemed, and while merchants strove and prophets dreamed,
Bowed before idols, and was overthrown.

Babylon the merciless, now a name of doom,
Built towers in Time, as we today, for whom
Auguries of self-annihilation loom.

Collect for the Day
O God, who through thy prophets of old hast foretold a day when the armaments of war shall be beaten into the implements of peace: Hasten we beseech thee, the fulfillment of thy most sure promise. Still the tumult of the nations, and set at naught the peoples that delight in war, that we may be speedily delivered from our present confusion into the order and righteousness of thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[(474) 1965. The Book of Worship for Church and Home. The Methodist Church, p. 162, #3.]


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