Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Isaiah 24 - The Day of Judgment

Isaiah's 24th chapter is accurately titled "The Earth Judged" in the HCSB. ESV has "Judgment on the Whole Earth" while the KJV has "The doleful judgments of God upon the land." I would say that seeing this chapter as "judgments upon the land" conveys too small a picture. This judgment is described in terms that force us to consider what the Bible says elsewhere of the end of this age.

The structure is poetic, with repeats of certain phrase and pairing of others. Isaiah 24:1a (HCSB) "Look, the LORD is stripping the earth bare and making it desolate." Verses 1b & 2 describe the effects of stripping the earth and making it desolate - the earth's surface will be twisted, its inhabitants scattered, without regard to status or condition of the people. Verse 3 repeats part of verse 1: "The earth will be stripped completely bare and will be totally plundered for the LORD has spoken this message."

How do we know these things will happen? YHWH has spoken it! I read a book once wherein the author asserted some of the good stuff from age - even that done by unbelievers - would be deemed by God to be so good that they would survive judgment and be extant on the new earth. There are so many passages that flatly deny that idea, including verse 3 of this passage: "The earth will be stripped completely bare and will be totally plundered." Not partially or mostly stripped bare; completely. Nothing man can do is truly good: "If you make a stone altar for Me, you must not build it out of cut stones. If you use your chisel on it, you will defile it." (Ex 20:25)

Verses 4-12 describe the effects of the judgment of God mentioned in verses 1 & 3. Isaiah used couplets to emphasize the totality of the devastation. Isaiah 24:4 (HCSB) "The earth mourns and withers; the world wastes away and withers; the exalted people of the earth waste away." Note how the earth mourns and withers, wastes and withers and the rulers of earth waste away. The repetition of terms conveys the idea of completion.

Verse 5 tells us those who dwell on the earth have polluted it, they have transgressed His teaching and decrees, and violated "the everlasting covenant." The language here likely refers to Genesis 6, where man is wicked in every thought, full of violence, having corrupted their way on the earth; and Genesis 9, where God gave law to Noah and all the earth and set His bow in the sky as a sign of "the everlasting covenant."

As an aside, read Gen 9:1-7 and then read Acts 15:23-29 and think of other passages in the New Covenant Scriptures that touch on what YHWH told Noah. The continuity of God's law does not depend on His covenant with national Israel.

In Isaiah 24:6-12 we see "only a few survive" the judgement of God upon the earth, after a curse consumed it and burned up most of the inhabitants. The vineyards have withered, the tambourines are quiet, earth's rejoicing has gone into exile - only desolation remains as the city's gate has collapsed in ruin.

Verse 13 brings a change in perspective, "For this is how it will be on earth among the nations: like a harvested olive tree, like a gleaning after a grape harvest." When an olive tree or vineyard is harvested, only a few olives or grapes remain. This remnant sings and praises the majesty of God (vs 14), "From the ends of the earth we hear songs: The Splendor of the Righteous One" (vs 16a).  What a contrast from those who pollute and corrupt the earth - despising their Creator.

Verse 16b brings Isaiah's voice to our attention: "But I said, “I waste away! I waste away! Woe is me.” The treacherous act treacherously; the treacherous deal very treacherously." This ought to draw our attention to something written much later, as an angel spoke: Revelation 22:10-11 (HCSB) He also said to me, “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near. Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.” At the end, there is no room for repentance, no second opportunity for salvation. Only judgment for those who are not in Christ while those in Christ can only sing His praises.

Verses 17 & 18 bring poetic terms of trouble that await those who deal treacherously - "Panic, trip, and trap" await them; windows in heaven are opened up and the foundations of the earth are shaken - just as noted in Hebrews 12:25-27 (HCSB) Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain.

Scripture cannot be broken. When the foundations of the earth are shaken, the end is nigh. The security for the saints is found in Christ and the kingdom that CANNOT be shaken, which shall remain forever.

Verses 19 & 20 continue to describe God's judgment on earth: Isaiah 24:19-20 (HCSB) "The earth is completely devastated; the earth is split open; the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunkard and sways like a hut. Earth’s rebellion weighs it down, and it falls, never to rise again." The totality of God's judgment, the completeness of man's depravity are on display.

Isaiah 24:21-23a (HCSB) On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven above and kings of the earth below. They will be gathered together like prisoners in a pit. They will be confined to a dungeon; after many days they will be punished. The moon will be put to shame and the sun disgraced."

Peter had this to say: 2 Peter 3:10-13 (HCSB) "But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell."

The angels that rebelled and all the people of the world will be thrown into hell and all the saints eagerly await the NEW heaven and the NEW earth, where RIGHTEOUSNESS dwells. Do you yearn for that?

Isaiah 24:23b - "the LORD of Hosts will reign as king on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, and He will display His glory in the presence of His elders." This is displayed in another book based on a vision from God:

Revelation 5:8-14 (HCSB) "When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth. Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice: The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing! I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped."

When the end us upon us, YHWH reigns as King of kings, displaying His glory in the presence of His elders. And all will sing praises to the One who is worthy to open the seals; the One who ransomed His people from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. Countless redeemed people will never tire of praising the Lamb Who is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

If you cannot say "Amen!" to that, perhaps you are of those who corrupt the earth. While it is yet today, before He returns ON THAT DAY, cry out for mercy and harden not your heart. For time is running out and there is a day appointed wherein Christ will judge the works of man. He stands as a refuge for all who trust in Him.

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