“For thus the LORD said to me, ‘Go set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.’” “Then he answered and said, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods.’” Isaiah 21: 6, 9 NKJV (emphasis mine)
Much to my mother's chagrin, I began listening to popular music in the early sixties. We all did! There was no K-Love then, and with the advent of Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, what was a teenage boy supposed to listen to outside of church and hymns? When I went to college, no one was filtering my music choices and, in 1967, Bob Dylan came out with a song called All Along the Watchtower. I'll admit that I didn't think too deeply into the song's lyrics at that time, but I did like the tune, and it was the counterculture sixties. I never thought I would see another time like that one.
Flash forward to 2020: People are in the streets rioting and shouting, "chop" (a reference to the guillotine). Statues are being torn down, and businesses and lives are torn asunder. Pandemic and political division are ubiquitous. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course, it does! That is our world right now, and we sometimes feel that we can't escape it. This brings me back to the words of Dylan's song:
There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
But what does any of this have to do with Christmas and what the watchman saw in the above verses from Isaiah 21? More than you might think. While the fall of Babylon is an actual historical event, it also represents the source of all idolatry in scripture. And, just as in Isaiah's day when things looked darkest, the watchman on the wall gave the report from the approaching messengers, "Babylon has fallen, has fallen!" Looking beyond the literal, historical fall of Babylon in 689 B.C. to the Assyrians, it must have felt that way again in the first century A.D.
Four-hundred years without a prophetic word from Yahweh! Then, at just the right time, in just the right place, "the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light," just as Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 9:2 as quoted by Matthew in 4:16). That Light was the Light of the world. That Light was the Word, and the Word was God. He became flesh and lived among us. Babylon is fallen, is fallen! Christ Jesus has come!
Nevertheless, how does any of this help us survive the biological and societal pandemic that is our masked and distanced reality now? Even those who follow the One who conquered sin and death at His first advent might be anxiously asking, "When will be the ultimate fall of Babylon, the great enemy of God?" Alas! Isaiah's prediction looked forward to not only the nativity but also to the culmination of God's perfect plan yet to come. This is confirmed for us by the Apostle John in Revelation 14:8. "And another angel followed saying, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of her fornication.'"
Take heart, Pilgrims of earth. God is not finished. The Light is coming again soon! With that glorious promise, you can indeed have a blessed Christmas.