Isaiah 24 -26
The End of the World
1. Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty, He makes it waste, and turns it upside down, and scatters abroad its inhabitants.
Verse 1: This chapter makes a turn in a direction that is not followed in any other Old Testament book with the exception of short portions of Job. The end of the world and the conditions immediately leading up to the end of the world is described. These events are: the resurrection of the dead and the general judgement at the end of time. The Douay and Ryrie Bible call it "Isaiah's Apocalypse" Rawlinson calls it "God's general judgement upon the earth." The Amplified Bible calls it the "end of all things." The section introduced will include not just the events imminent to the end of the earthly system but the consummation of the purpose of the establishment of the church or Zion in the days of the first advent of Jesus and the description of the break up of the physical system followed by the judgement, not only of humanity but of the powers in the heavens of whom we know very little. This is followed in the ensuing chapters by a description of the rewards of the saints interspersed with justification for accepting the miseries of this life with peace of mind because the outcome is sure for those who trust in him. This section includes chapters 24 - 27.
2 And it shall be, that as it is with the people, so with the priest; as it is with the servant, so with his master; as it is with the maid, so with her mistress; as it is with the buyer, so with the seller; as it is with the lender, so with the borrower; as it is with the taker of usury, so with the payer of usury to him.
Verse 2: All classes: all classes are to experience this coming physical calamity thus describing the universal nature of the end of the world events.
3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD has spoken this word. 4 The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, the haughty people of the earth languish.
Verses 3 and 4: A Protracted calamity. Intensifying Hebrew idioms are used in each of the descriptive events in these two verses not just in the words emptied and spoiled. The mourning, fading and languishing are also intensified in the text. Not only the earth itself but the "world" as the world system meaning the whole of human interaction in trade, travel, communication, arts, sciences and technology; all are to be brought to a withering before the end. It is the word "languish" or "wither" that carries the idea of the events being a protracted calamity and not an event of a moment of time.
5 The earth also is defiled through its inhabitants; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore has cursing devoured the earth, and they that dwell in it are at fault: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. 7 The new wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry hearted sigh. 8 The mirth of tabrets ceases, the noise of them that rejoice ends, the joy of the harp ceases. 9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. 10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, so that no man may come in. 11 There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. 12 Desolation is left in the city and the gate is struck with destruction.
Verses 5 - 12: The Withering is Due to Human Responsibility : The condition of the earth just before the end seems to be one or of exhaustion of resources. This certainly brings to mind the depletion of natural resources, the hole in the ozone and increase in withering effects of the sun through the inhabitants who have broken natural laws to their own cursing. In verse 5 "The earth is defiled by its inhabitants" and in verse 6 "they that dwell in it are at fault." The final destruction is to be brought by YHWH but the calamities leading up to the end of the earth are the responsibility of these living on the earth.
13. When this happens: in the midst of the land among the people, it shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and like the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done. 14 They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea. 15 Wherefore glorify you the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea. 16. From the furthermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe to me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yes, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously. 17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth. 18 And it shall be, that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he who comes up out of the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth shake. 19 The earth is completely broken down, the earth is fully dissolved, the earth is exceedingly moved. 20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and its transgression shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
Verses 13 - 20: The Withering is the harbinger of a final calamitous end: YHWH will bring the last stroke which will be felt universally and there will be no escape. The pictures of the olive tree with all of its olives on the ground and none left to harvest and of all the grapes of the vineyard not only on the ground but crushed gives an image to total and sudden destruction. The reeling of the earth through space is coincident with its final moments.
21 And it shall happen in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the highest of those on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
Verse 21 The Highest of those on high: A reference to a spiritual battle in heavenly spheres that is hinted at in the scriptures but which we have little information about. A distinction is clearly made between those above the earth and those "high ones" on the earth. Thus the reference is to not only the great powers of this world but to angelic and other powers in spiritual places.
22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days they shall be visited. 23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
Verse 23: When YHWH shall reign in Zion: This sets the stage and the timing of the context of the next two chapters. It speaks of the whole scope of the events set in motion when the Kingdom is finally set up in Zion and the next chapter will encompass the whole of the "day" of Zion from beginning to end. That is from the day of Pentecost in 30 AD until the second coming of Jesus the Messiah the resurrection from the dead and the final judgement.
1. O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things; your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. 2 For you have made of a city an heap; of a defended city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built. 3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify you, the city of the terrible nations shall fear you. 4 For you have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. 5 You shall bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the song of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
Verse 5: As heat in a dry place: In Hebrew the word for dry place is Zion. The Hebrew text reads "in Zion" The Septuagint does not translate this "dry place" as all other English versions read, that is "heat in a dry place" It reads "those thirsting in Zion" (dipsontes en Sion) which is closer to the Hebrew text. The LXX plainly says "Zion" as a name of a place. The LXX translation of the rest of verses 4-6 is also at wide variance with the Hebrew text. This is characteristic of the LXX in passages where there is alliteration, as it is here in the use of the construction "in Zion," (be-zion) which has the obvious double entendre of either "in Zion" or "in a dry place." The verses that follow make it more plausible that Zion is meant and not a "dry place" because the contrast is between the enemies of Zion and "in this mountain " mentioned three times in verses 6, 7, and 10. Which mountain is meant is introduced in verse 5. It is Mount Zion.
6. And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make to all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
Verse 6: In this mountain: It is Mount Zion as in verse 5 and in the last verse of the preceding chapter (24:23) just a few verses above where the "day" spoken of here is the day that YHWH is to "reign in Mount Zion and Jerusalem." The phrase "in this mountain" is in the next verse and in verse 10 as well. The repetition of the phrase is not accidental. It emphasizes the location and the events that are spoken of in the chapter.
Verse 6 "Wine on the lees." This verse is not a verse in support of the use of alcoholic wine. It is a figurative description of the strength and richness of the spiritual life in Zion or the Messianic Kingdom brought to us by Jesus Christ. Quotations from from Barnes and Gill on this verse may help you to see the spiritual and figuarative element in the verse.
One: the fact that fat is mentioned makes it clearer that it is a figure of speech referring to the richness of what is coming because: "of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined: this heap of words, and repetition of them, show the passage is figurative of the plenty and the provisions, and the richness and excellency of messianic times since "fat" being mentioned is a proof that the words are figurative of the times of the Messiah, since, under the law, fat was not to be eaten." Gill
"And in this mountain" - In mount Zion, that is, in Jerusalem. The following verses undoubtedly refer to the times of the Messiah. Several of the expressions used here are quoted in the New Testament, showing that the reference is to the Messiah, and to the fact that his kingdom would commence in Jerusalem. and then extend to all people.
Shall the Lord of hosts - Make unto all people - Provide for all people. He shall adapt the provisions of salvation not only to the Jews, but to people everywhere. This is one of the truths on which Isaiah loved to dwell, and which in fact constitutes one of the peculiarities of his prophecy. It is one of the chief glories of the gospel, that it is unto all people. See Isa_57:7; Dan_5:19; Dan_7:14; compare Luk_2:10 : ‘I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people’
A feast - A feast, or entertainment, was usually observed, as it is now, on occasion of a great victory, or any other signal success. It is, therefore, emblematic of an occasion of joy. Here it is used in the twofold sense of an occasion of joy, and of an abundance of provisions for the necessities of those who should be entertained. This feast was to be prepared on mount Zion - in the provision which would be made in Jerusalem by the Messiah for the spiritual needs of the whole world. The arrangements for salvation arc often represented under the image of an ample and rich entertainment (see Luk_14:16; Rev_19:19; Mat_13:11).
Of fat things - Of rich delicacies. Fat things and marrow are often used as synonymous with a sumptuous entertainment, and are made emblematic Of the abundant provisions of divine mercy.
A feast of wines on the lees - The word which is used here (shemariym) is derived from shemar, to keep, preserve, retain, and is applied usually to the lees or dregs of wine, because they retain the strength and color of the wine which is left to stand on them. It is also in this place applied to wine which has been kept on the lees, and is therefore synonymous with old wine; or wine of a rich color and flavor. This fact, that the color and strength of wine are retained by its being suffered to remain without being poured from one vessel into another, is more fully expressed in Jer_48:11 :
Compare Zep_1:12. And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evilMoab hath been at ease from his youth,
And he hath settled on his lees,
And hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
Neither hath he gone into captivity;
Therefore his taste remaineth in him,
And his scent is not changed.
It is well known that wines, unless retained for a considerable time on the lees, lose their flavor and strength, and are much less valuable Of fat things full of marrow - Marrow is also an emblem of richness, or the delicacy of the entertainment Psa_63:5. Of wines on the lees well refined - The word rendered ‘well refined’ (mezuqqaqiym) is usually applied to the purifying of metals in a furnace 1Ch_28:18; 1Ch_29:4; Job_28:1. When applied to wine, it denotes that which has been suffered to remain on the lees until it was entirely refined and purified by fermentation, and had become perfectly clear." Thus far Barnes
7 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.
Verse 7: in this mountain: This is again Mount Zion as in the preceding notes.
8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD has spoken it.
Verse 8: Swallow up death in victory: This is a final act of the last day events which begin by the introduction of Zion. The fulfillment of the introduction of the blessings of Zion began on the day of Pentecost in 30 AD when the good news of the sacrifice of YHWH's "Salvation" 50 days previous was announced and 3000 souls were added to the kingdom of God. This verse speaks of the final events that complete the "day of Zion." The section begun in chapter 24 and which extends to chapter 27 speak of "last day" or "end time" events such as the resurrection of the dead, the end of the physical structure of the earth, the final end of Satan, so that the mention here of the final end of Death (which will end in victory at the resurrection at the second coming of Jesus) is in its proper place in the book of Isaiah.
9. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Verse 9: His Salvation: "Salvation" is the name "Jesus" in Hebrew.
10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.
. Verse 10: in this mountain: This is the third time in a short space that this phrase is used and it identifies the chapter with the events of the establishment of the hope of Israel, when Zion will be the seat of God's government and a reign of peace is enjoyed. The verse here emphasizes the certainty that the hope of Israel will not be aborted and her enemies will be brought down. Here Moab is mentioned as being humbled and destroyed but there is a bright future for those who wait and put their trust in the coming of Zion.
Verse 10: Moab....dunghill: Moab is to be treated with disgusting retribution but Israel will be renewed in Zion . The Hebrew text is very expressive. The LXX felt the need to be more genteel and changed the picture of the manure-filled watery pit that would approximate the end of Moab, that is in Hebrew, to a picture of a refuse filled wagon leaving a threshing floor. This too may bring a picture to those knowledgeable enough of a wagon filled with chaff mingled with manure from the animals treading out the grain on the threshing floor. After long consideration the images will be approximate but not the same. The Holy Spirit through Isaiah is not so genteel. He pictures Moab in a pit of wet manure and straw. See the next note.
11 And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swims spreads forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands. 12 And the fortress of the high fort of your walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust.
Verse 11: And he shall spread forth: The text is still speaking of a personified Moab in the watery manure in which he will find himself swimming. This must describe the view that YHWH holds of the life style of the Moabites which they will find themselves in at the time of their destruction. Is it possible to surmise from this disgusting picture that there are times when only shocking pictures of the sinful condition of a person or nation are enough to wake up those who may still have a spark of spiritual life left in them so as to bring them to repentance?
Archaeology: Moab and Israel
For a summation of the history of interaction of Moab with Israel and Judah until its disappearance (and a very good photo and translation of the Moabite Stone).Click here Stele of Mesha or The Moabite Stone. Click the Back button to return to this commentary.
For further comments on the end of Moab see my comments on chapters 15 and 16
1. In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.
Verse 1: In that day: What day? is the question that needs to be posed when this phrase appears. The day spoken of in a particular context will not always be the same but will be the day that has been described already in that immediate context. The day here has been identified in the preceding chapter as the day of Zion. It will be a day that will come after the destruction of Moab. It is identified with Zion in 25:5 and the events of Zion are identified as "in this mountain" in 25:6,7,10. The day of Zion in the preceding chapter is a "day" of great spiritual blessings at which time the Gentiles will have the veil of unbelief lifted from their eyes, tears will be wiped away and the greatest enemy "death" will be destroyed by a great victory, at least in prospect, when his long awaited "salvation" is introduced. This theme has been introduced in Isaiah 2:2,3 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (3) And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. The same theme has been repeated often in Isaiah and will be brought up again and again and will be the theme of the very last chapter of the book. It is the day of the events that will justify the patience and suffering of the nation as they await God's promises.
Verse 1: Salvation: In Hebrew "salvation" is the identical form of the name of Jesus, (Yeshu'ah) . The passage could be translated "he will place Jesus for walls and bulwarks." The whole passage is mystically messianic. The "Nazarene" play on words in verse 3 confirms the flight into mystic vision. The introduction of messianic ideas confirming the continuance of Judah and the nation of Israel after the disappearance of Moab (was a theme in the "Burden" of Moab given in chapters 15 and 16 where there are also messianic allusions. The point of the prophesy is that Moab will disappear but there is a messianic visit to the people of Judah which will come "in that day" or the period after Moab has been overthrown. (See 25:10 ff above.)
2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. 3 You will preserve the man of steadfast purpose in perfect peace, because he trusts in you.
. Verse 3: Preserve: The word Nazar which is related to the "Branch" prophecies is used here and translated "preserve." The literal Hebrew of this passage reads: "An established mind, you will "nazarize" because he trusts in you. The current Hebrew word for Christian is identical to this word. The word salvation (the name of Jesus) in verse 1 and the call of the Gentiles or any "righteous nation" into the fold of God's people in verse 2 and the Nazarene word used in verse 3 mark this as one of the many verses in Isaiah where these thoughts and key words are used in combination and contain "more than meets the eye."
4 Trust in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD Yah is everlasting strength: 5. For he brings down them that dwell on high; he causes the self exalted city to fall; he causes it to fall, even to the ground; he brings it even to the dust. 6 The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. 7 The way of the just is uprightness: you most upright, do weigh the path of the just. 8 Yes, in the way of your judgments, O LORD, we have waited for you; the desire of our soul is to your name, and to the remembrance of you. 9 With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. 10 If favor is shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness, he will deal unjustly in the land of uprightness, and he will not behold the majesty of the LORD. 11 LORD, when your hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yes, the fire of your enemies shall devour them. 12. LORD, you will ordain peace for us: for you also have formed all our works in us. 13 O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name. 14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore have you visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. 15 You have increased the nation, O LORD, you have increased the nation: you are glorified: you had removed it far to all the ends of the earth. 16 LORD, in trouble have they visited you, they poured out a prayer when your chastening was upon them. 17 As a woman with child, who draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs; so have we been in your sight, O LORD. 18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, but we have only brought forth wind; we have not worked any salvation in the earth; neither have those who live in worldliness fallen. 19 Your dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Verse 19: My dead body: This is one of three passages in the Hebrew scriptures which speaks of the resurrection of the physical body. The others being in Job 19:26 ff and Psalms 16:10. The word translated "dead body" is the word for carcass or corpse. The rest of the verse speaks of the ones whose habitation is in the dust of the earth, clearly the physical bodies of the departed, and they are to sing again. Thus this is a clear reference to the resurrection of the physical body in the "last day." The confidence of the survival of the spirit beyond physical death is often noted in the scriptures many times beginning in Genesis but the rare mentions of the resurrection of the physical body has caused some to erroneously assume that the concept is a progressive doctrine that did not appear until the post exile period when the division between the Pharisees and the Sadducees was marked by the different views held on the resurrection. (Acts 23:6-8. See also Mt. 22:23 ff.; Lu. 20:27 ff.) This passage, falling in the section that describes "end time" elements beginning in chapter 24 and extending to chapter 27, is here in its proper place as an "end time" event-- that is the resurrection of the dead associated with the period when Satan will be destroyed along with the dissolution of the physical universe.
20. Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself only for a little moment, until the indignation be past. 21 For, behold, the LORD comes out of his place to punish those who dwell in the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
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