Isaiah 21

Neither the skill of archers nor the courage of mighty men can protect a people from the judgments of God.

1 The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

2 A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

4 My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

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

6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

11 ¶ The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

13 ¶ The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

14 The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.

16 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:

17 And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

Isaiah 21:11—Watchman, what of the night?

​   Across the desert spaces a voice was heard calling from the land of Esau, calling to the prophet, to know whether the long night of Assyrian oppression was nearly over. He stood on the hills of Zion watching the dawn, as the priests were accustomed to do, that they might give the first signal for the offering of the morning sacrifice. The question, “Watchman, what of the night?” was repeated twice as if the weary sufferers were at their last gasp.
   The prophet’s answer was enigmatical. The morning was already on its way; but the night was chasing it, spreading her raven wings in the same sky—“The morning cometh, and also the night.” Morning for Israel, but night for Edom; but if Edom would repent, she might come again with her inquiries to find that for her also God had turned the shadow of death into the morning.
   Never in the history of the ages have men looked more eagerly towards the Eastern sky, or inquired more persistently, What of the night? What of the night? To those that watch the Eastern sky, standing on the mount of vision afforded by the Word of God, there is but one answer: The morning cometh, but also the night. The morning of millennial glory, and of the bridal chamber; of the taking home of the saints, and the revelation of Jesus Christ: but the night of unutterable sorrow to the servant who knew the Lord’s will and did it not, and to the world which would not have this Man to reign over it. Yet if individuals will but turn from darkness to light, and from Satan to God, they will be welcomed, and receive an inheritance amongst the children of the morning. “Come ye again, come.” —Our Daily Homily