From Isaiah 23-27
Chapter 24 describes the collapse of the created order following the destruction of the cosmic covenant. The structures of society have gone, the land is barren, and Jerusalem has become desolate. Everything has reverted to the state of chaos. This will happen because the earth has become polluted by its inhabitants. They have broken “the everlasting covenant”.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The LORD declares war on the whole world. Everyone is found guilty. Everyone will be punished.
24 Behold, the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the LORD has spoken this word. (Isa 24:1–3)
The prophecy says the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate. Its a universal judgment.
The passage lists a series of people with differing relationships. The main point is no one will be exempt. People regardless of their role in society will be wiped out.
Isaiah explains why the LORD will bring this calamity on the earth and its people.
4 The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. 5 The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.
7 The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. 8 The mirth of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. 9 No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The wasted city is broken down; every house is shut up so that none can enter. 11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished. 12 Desolation is left in the city; the gates are battered into ruins.
13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done. (Isa 24:4–13)
All the people will suffer because all have transgressed the laws, statutes and everlasting covenant.
The pleasures of the world will be removed. No wine or music. All the houses and cities will be broken down. Desolation.
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.
15 Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” (Isa 24:14–16)
The singing seems to come from the faithful few who remain. The remnant. They sing and give glory to the LORD. They praise him as the righteous One.
Yet Isaiah still cries out in dismay and for help. He has been betrayed. Traitors.
His own people have turned against him and also the LORD.
Isaiah contrasts himself and the faithful few who give glory to the LORD with the inhabitants of the earth. Some it would seem consist of the people of Israel.
17 Terror and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! 18 He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit, and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. (Isa 24:17–20)
There shall be no escape for the wicked. They will flee one punishment only to run into another. The imagery describes cataclysmic events that will rock the world.
21 On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.
23 Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders. (Isa 24:21–23)
Isaiah now aims the judgment of the LORD at the heavens. The supernatural realm. As the lot of the earth is affected by the influence of the heavens and its powers, so the judgment that falls upon the earth must reach even to it.
The cosmic imagery could very well be depicting worldly events and the downfall of nations and kingdoms. The LORD brings judgment on the nations by wiping them out by other nations. Kings are disposed. Nations are conquered. Cities are sacked and plundered.
Israel and Judah were conquered. The kingdoms around them eventually met their end. Isaiah paints a bleak picture. Thankfully the people of God are still singing his praises.
If all the nations around you were destroyed how would you describe what happened?
When Jesus described the destruction of the second temple, his disciples asked him when it would happen. He describes many events. Some of which describe the end times.
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Lk 21:25–28)
Have courage if these things happen in your time. The judgment of the earth and the heavens is also the time where God’s people will be redeemed.
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