Isaiah 34


‘Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it! The LORD is angry with all nations; his wrath is on all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter. Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will stink; the mountains will be soaked with their blood. All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shrivelled figs from the fig tree.’ Isaiah 34:1-4

Judgment Against The Nations

In this chapter, we see that God avenges His people.

These verses speak of a warning to those, that is, the nations, who hate God’s people. It’s possible that this prophecy had its fulfilment in the great desolations made by the Assyrian army at first and, later, by Nebuchadnezzar’s army.

All nations should hearken to the voice of God in peace and tranquillity, but they will hearken to that voice in judgement. When the angel killed 185,000 of the Assyrian army, 2 Kings 19:35-27 / Isaiah 37:36, there would have been dead bodies lying around everywhere.

Before the Jews had a chance to burn them, Isaiah 14:19, the stink would have been awful. When the burning of the bodies was completed, the result of their destruction would be forever, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

The sun, moon, stars, and physical universe are transitory and temporary, Isaiah 13:10 / 2 Peter 3:10-12 / Revelation 6:13, when compared to God, their Creator, who is eternal. The heavenly bodies often represent kings and princes, Isaiah 24:21.

‘My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. The sword of the LORD is bathed in blood, it is covered with fat—the blood of lambs and goats, fat from the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom. And the wild oxen will fall with them, the bull calves and the great bulls. Their land will be drenched with blood, and the dust will be soaked with fat.’ Isaiah 34:5-7

Here we read that God’s tempered sword is used to judge, Isaiah 27:1 / Jeremiah 46:10 / Revelation 19:21. All who ‘take the sword shall perish with the sword’, Matthew 26:52.

The Edomites first showed themselves enemies of Israel when they refused to allow the Israelites, under Moses to pass through their land, Numbers 20:14-21.

Notice that ‘the sword of the LORD is bathed in blood, with the blood of lambs and goats’.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The idea here is taken from the notion of sacrifice, and is, that God would devote to sacrifice, or to destruction, the inhabitants of Idumea. With reference to that, he says, that his sword, the instrument of slaughter, would be satiated with blood. ‘It is made fat with fatness.’ The allusion here is to the sacrifices which were made for sin, in which the blood, and the fat were devoted to God as an offering, Leviticus 7.’

Bozrah was the main stronghold of Edom in its north, bordering southern Palestine, Isaiah 63:1. The wild oxen, bull claves and great bulls all represent the government officials of Edom, Revelation 19:18, who will come down to judgment, along with the land itself, Revelation 17:6.

The KJV renders verse 7 as follows, ‘and the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.’

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the unicorn.

‘This was evidently an animal well known in Palestine, since it is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, Numbers 23:22 / Deuteronomy 33:17 / Job 39:9-10 / Psalms 22:21 / Psalms 29:6 / Psalms 92:10, in all which places it is translated unicorn. The derivation of the word is uncertain, and it has been regarded as doubtful what animal is intended.’

‘For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause. Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulphur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again. The desert owl and screech owl will possess it; the great owl and the raven will nest there. God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation. Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom, all her princes will vanish away. Thorns will overrun her citadels, nettles and brambles her strongholds. She will become a haunt for jackals, a home for owls. Desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and wild goats will bleat to each other; there the night creatures will also lie down and find for themselves places of rest. The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings; there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate.’ Isaiah 34:8-15

God avenges Zion because He is not to be mocked, Galatians 6:7-8.

The long-delayed retribution comes at last to those who refuse to obey God. Notice ‘it will not be quenched’, in other words, the judgment would simply intensify, not in reference to burning heat, but in the fact that they would be destroyed from the presence of God, Isaiah 34:9 / Zephaniah 1:1-3 / Matthew 25:41 / 2 Thessalians 1:6-9.

Judgement has come upon the people as the land is seared and burned, the smoke rises forever, Revelation 14:11 / Revelation 18:9 / Revelation 18:18 / Revelation 19:2-3. The nation and land of Edom become a wilderness and no longer has a king to rule over it.

Isaiah tells what kind of life now fills Edom, Ezekiel 35:10. The destruction would be complete, with consequences that would not be changed.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The idea here is, that there would be a great and awful a destruction as if the streams everywhere should become pitch or resin, which would be set on fire, and which would fill the land with flame. This image is very striking, as we may see by supposing the rivers and streams in any land to flow not with water, but with heated pitch, turpentine, or tar, and that this was all suddenly kindled into a flame. It cannot be supposed that this is to be taken literally. The image is evidently taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:25-28, an image which is more fully used in reference to the same subject in Jeremiah 49:17-18.’

‘Look in the scroll of the LORD and read: None of these will be missing, not one will lack her mate. For it is his mouth that has given the order, and his Spirit will gather them together. He allots their portions; his hand distributes them by measure. They will possess it forever and dwell there from generation to generation.’ Isaiah 34:16-17

God’s scroll serves as a memorial as well as a warning. As every creature has his or her mate, so the mate of prophecy is fulfilled. What Isaiah has written in the scroll will be fulfilled.

One of the main purposes for the writing of prophecy is to allow readers to have the evidence to read for themselves that what was written was accurate and has been accurately fulfilled.

Go To Isaiah 35