Isaiah 24


‘See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.’ Isaiah 24:1-6

The LORD’s Devastation Of The Earth

Beginning in this chapter, through to chapter 27, we read of God’s judgment against various nations. This chapter begins with the judgement upon Judah.

The particular destruction which Isaiah had in mind is difficult to tell.

Young, in his commentary, says the following.

‘To apply these chapters to a specific period in Isaiah’s ministry is very difficult. In fact, they do not have references to specific events. Rather, the prophet here sets forth his philosophy of God’s judgements. His purpose is to exalt God as Sovereign Ruler overall. Hence, he seeks to show that God can and will visit the earth in judgement. In this visitation, God’s own people will suffer that they may ultimately be glorified, but the enemies of God will utterly perish.’

The chapter begins with the waves of approaching judgements, Zephaniah 1:2-3. They give us a picture of mankind trying to escape God’s judgment but they can’t, no one can escape. Whenever there is a national calamity, there are refugees and that calamity touches all citizens of a nation.

Isaiah envisions the calamity that would come upon the earth, Matthew 24:6-8 / 2 Peter 3. The judgement involves all ranks of people, Revelation 6:15, it is universal.

This is happening because they have defiled the earth, Numbers 33:33 / Psalms 106:38, they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant, Genesis 9:6 / Genesis 9:16.

Mankind in effect has cursed themselves with sin and they are going to reap what they have sown and sadly, everyone is going to pay the consequences.

From verse 6, through to verse 15 picture the curse of Deuteronomy 30:15-19 coming upon Israel. Only a remnant will be left because of the penalty of their sins, 2 Kings 24:14-16.

‘The new wine dries up and the vine withers; all the merrymakers groan. The joyful timbrels are stilled, the noise of the revellers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. The ruined city lies desolate; the entrance to every house is barred. In the streets they cry out for wine; all joy turns to gloom, all joyful sounds are banished from the earth. The city is left in ruins, its gate is battered to pieces. So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.’ Isaiah 24:7-13

We get here a picture of that celebration which was going well, but now it has come to an end. Wines waste away because there is of no-one to cultivate them, Revelation 16:19, and food and drink are no longer available.

The cities became confused because of the attackers, there is chaos in the streets, Isaiah 16:8-10, and the people barricade themselves in their homes. The survivors hide themselves in fear of intruders. The joy, the land once had is gone, the olive tree being beaten and the very last gleaning of grapes, Isaiah 17:5-6, both of which represent joy, is taken away.

‘They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the LORD’s majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One.” But I said, “I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray! With treachery the treacherous betray!” Terror and pit and snare await you, people of the earth. Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare. The floodgates of the heavens are opened, the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again.’ Isaiah 24:14-20

Out of earth’s ruin and wreckage, comes the song of the righteous remnant. Out of the destruction, the righteous remnant will emerge, with shouts of joy and the voices of singing. The righteous remnant would come back to Jerusalem from the east out of Babylonian captivity. The songs of praises would again come to the city.

Isaiah gives us a picture of the punishment and deliverance of Israel.

Pledge, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This seems to describe the desolation brought on Judah by Assyria in the days of Hezekiah when all the people of Judah had to seek refuge in larger cities and more, especially in Jerusalem. In those days the Assyrian army overran all the land of Judah and even came before the city of Jerusalem and threatened its very existence.’

Those who dealt treacherously are those who took advantage of others. They are thieves who were shamelessly going about stealing from others. Isaiah says when the hunted try to escape they are themselves entrapped, Jeremiah 48:43 / Amos 5:19.

The earth is utterly broken, Isaiah 2:19 / Amos 1:1, this is a picture of an earthquake which emotionally shakes people. The social chaos that prevails leaves people hopeless and confused.

The earth reels like a drunkard, Isaiah 29:9, it sways like a hut in the wind, Psalms 107:27, are references to the destruction which had come upon the land. The words, ‘never to rise again’ is a reference to the ten Northern Tribes.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These verses also entail the account of cosmic disturbances that shall mark the final judgment. The great earthquake that shall move every mountain and every island out of its place, Revelation 6:14, resulting, as Isaiah reveals here, in the ‘fall of the earth’, which shall ‘not rise again’, thus supporting Peter’s revelation that we shall indeed look for ‘a new heaven, and a new earth’, 2 Peter 3:13. To us, it appears absolutely mandatory to view this portion of Isaiah as applicable to the final judgment.’

‘In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory.’ Isaiah 24:21-23

These apocalyptic words are similar to what we read in the New Testament, Matthew 25:41 / 2 Peter 2:4 / Revelation 6:12. In the end, God will not only bring the wicked kings of this world into the judgment of condemnation but also Satan and his angels, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 / Jude 1:5.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The heavenly bodies are often employed in the sacred writings to denote the princes and kings of the earth. These expressions are not to be pressed as if the sun denoted one thing and the moon another but they are general poetic expressions designed to represent rulers, princes, and magistrates of all kinds, Ezekiel 32:7 / Joel 2:30-31.’

Hailey, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These ‘many days’ are the same as, the symbolic thousand years of Revelation 20:1-6. Amazingly, a number of the time designations in Revelation all have the same meaning, that being, all of the time between the first advent and the second advent of Christ, namely, the whole current dispensation of the grace of God. Note the following references from the Book of Revelation.

1. The souls of the martyrs were promised that before the judgment they would rest for a little time, Revelation 6:11.

2. Christ’s church will be nourished in the wilderness, her probation, for one thousand, two hundred and sixty days, Revelation 12:6.

3. Satan is wroth against God’s people because he knoweth that he hath but a short time, Revelation 12:12.

4. God’s church will be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, Revelation 12:14.

5. The beast had the authority to oppose the church for forty and two months, Revelation 13:5.

6. It is obvious that 42 months, 1,260 days, and time and times and half a time are all exactly the same amount of time, i.e., three and one-half years.

7. It is just as obvious that the thousand years of Revelation 20:1-6, refer to exactly the same time as indicated in the other symbolical expressions, namely, the whole dispensation of Christ.

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