Those who read Isaiah at the first had to be a bit bewildered – and frightened. The great enemies of Judah in the days of Isaiah were their kinsmen to the north, Israel, their neighbors further north (Syria), and finally, the Assyrians. In the first half of Isaiah, Judah is told that she will not have to worry about any of these. But that assurance was tempered by the notice that they were not out of the woods by any means.
A new enemy, one they had never experienced before, was coming: the Babylonians. Babylon would treat them without compassion, terrify the people of God, and treat them like they slaves they had become. Imagine being a part of Judah and, seeing God’s word come true regarding the Assyrians, Syrians and Israelites, knowing that any time, your turn was coming at the hands of the Babylonians.
Imagine living with that anticipation for 100 years – because that’s how long it took before the Babylonians actually showed up.
Isaiah was not appreciated for delivering such a message (chapter 50), just as Judah would not be appreciated by the Babylonians (chapter 51). But God promised to deliver them both (chapter 52).