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Isaiah 24

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The Lord's Devastation Of The Earth (ch 24:1 - 23)       


Chapters 24 through 27 of Isaiah form a unit of prophecy within Isaiah.  If you are a Prophetic Biblical Futurist you will most likely understand these chapters to be in reference to what we see at the end of the book of Revelation; at the end of the thousand year rule of Christ.


In the book of Revelation we see that at the end of the thousand years of Christ's rule on earth, the devil is let lose for a while before he is thrown into the Lake of Fire.  That's all Revelation says about this time of history.  We do not know what the devil does; how much damage he does on earth; who will follow him; and how bad things get.  It's my thinking at present that what we see in this chapter clues us in on this part of history.  We see the damage done to the earth and those dwelling on the earth that's caused by satan.  God uses satan here as a form of judgment on those who give into satan at the end of the thousand years.    


After the devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire we see a new heaven and a new earth.  The old heaven and earth will be destroyed and laid waste.  This is the topic of this chapter.


Verse 1 tells us that the Lord will lay waste to the earth.  It is God Himself who will eventually destroy the earth.  Mankind is beginning the process as we are not taking care of the earth God gave us, but we will not finish this process of destruction. It's not climate change or anything else that brings humanity and the earth down.  It is God alone that brings an end to all things.


When the text here says that the Lord "will lay waste to the earth and devastate it and ruin its face", this suggests to some the there is a parallel between this verse and Genesis 1:1.  In Genesis 1:1 we note that the earth became formless and empty.  Some believe in what is called the "Gap Theory" that states the earth became empty and formless because God judged a pre-adamic race.   Those holding to the gap theory use Isaiah 24:1 as evidence that the same took place in Genesis 1:1.


The scattering of the inhabitance of the earth as seen in verse 1 tells us how chaotic the earth will become in the last days.  Men will be so scared, they'll run here and there attempting to avoid all the things that are coming upon them, but as the book of Revelation makes clear, there is no place to run.


Verse 2 tells us that it doesn't matter who you are, the judgment that comes on the earth will affect all mankind living on the earth at that time. This is not a regional event.  It's a world wide event.


Again, verse 3 suggest a similarity to Genesis 1:1 when it says the "earth will become completely laid waste and totally plundered".


Verse 4 begins with the destruction of the earth but it continues by giving us the reason for its destruction.  It says that the earth is defiled by its people, they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant".  We need to ask, "What laws, statutes, and convents are being talked about here"?  There are a number of covenants in the Bible.  Right off the bat, many will think of the Mosaic Covenant, but it's not the Law of Moses which is being spoken of here.  That covenant was temporary.  The Abrahamic Covenant was an everlasting covenant, as this particular one is, but this verse can't be talking about that covenant either. The Abrahamic Covenant, like the Davidic Covenant, concerned different matters than what is being talked about here.


I believe the covenant that Isaiah is speaking of is the Adamic Covenant.  When God created Adam He gave him responsibility to care for the earth, which he subsequently handed over to satan.  Subsequently, satan became the custodian of the earth. From the fall of Adam until now, mankind is subject to how satan is looking after the earth, the responsibility that we in fact gave him, not God.  For this reason, the earth will be judged and come to an end.  We the people have not cared for the earth as we should have, and we forfeited our God given responsibility.


All of the above being said, there are creditable scholars who believe Isaiah is speaking of the Noahic Covenant that God spoke to Noah.  


Verse 6 makes it clear what I've just said.  The people of the earth are guilty.  God will curse the earth.  We're not just talking about Israelis here, or any other specific ethnic peoples.  We're talking about all cultures; all peoples of the earth are guilty.  One ethnicity is not more or less guilty than another.


Note the word "curse".  When it comes to any of God's covenants, there are blessings and curses associated with it.  If we obey, we're blessed.  If we disobey, we're cursed. 


Part of the curse is the burning of the people of the earth.  Verse 6 also says that "very few will be left".  Very few suggest to me a remnant of people.  It doesn't matter what judgment God brings on a society, a civilization, or a nation, it seems that He always has a remnant of people He keeps for Himself, and it appears He does here as well.  It's debatable who this remnant is.  If indeed we're speaking of the end of the thousand years, then the remnant might well be those redeemed from the present age who rules with Jesus in His thousand year rule, or those who don't fall to satan at the end of the thousand years.  Those who are destroyed would be those who satan conquered for himself at the end of the thousand years.


We need to realize that the destruction of the earth spoken of here is not at the end of this age when Jesus returns to set up His thousand year rule of the earth from Jerusalem.  The earth is still in existence then.  This judgment takes place after the thousand years, when satan is let lose for a short time as we see in the book of Revelation.  After this short run of satan on earth, this destruction takes place.


Verses 7 through 9 speak to the end of the partying.  As our world moves on, more emphasis is being place on the good life, the life of luxury, self indulgence, partying, and the rest.  All this will come to an end.  All the self indulgence will end in judgment.


Verses 10 through 12 continue with the partying atmosphere.  The verse speaks of a city as if it's a specific city, and it might well be an unnamed specific city, although I feel as many scholars think, the singular word "city" represents all cities of the earth.


Verse 13 uses agricultural terminology.  It's painting a picture of a farmer reaping his fields and then totally cultivating his fields once the crops are in.  This paints the picture of God being the farmer.  It's His field, His crops, and He will cut it all down and dig up the whole field.


Verses 14 and 15 bring a sudden shift of mood in this chapter as prophecy often does.  From the doom and gloom of destruction we now move to joyful praise and singing, giving the acclaim properly due to the God of Israel.  It's a bit debatable just who is rejoicing here.  It might be the remnant of people on the earth who have not given into satan's last attack.  It might be those on the new earth rejoicing because of what the Lord has done.  At the moment, I lean to this being the remnant of those on the earth when satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire.  


Note it's the God of Israel.  Those who hold to Replacement Theology who believe that Israel has no more relevance in both human history and prophetic history should note that here at the end of this present earth, we see God as being "the God of Israel".


The "Righteous One" spoken of in verse 16 is the Lord Jesus Christ. 


In the midst of this glorious singing of praise seen in verse 16 are the words "but I said'.  The pronoun "I" refers to Isaiah.  He is overwhelmed by the destruction he has seen, destruction that is a result of the treachery of mankind.


Verses 17 and 18 speak of "terror and pit" await the people of the earth.  Many scholars understand the word "pit" here to be the bottomless pit as seen in the book of Revelation. 


When verse 18 speaks of the floodgates of heaven opening and the foundation of the earth shaking, this is exactly what happened in the flood in Noah's day.  The judgment spoken of here is being compared to the judgment of the flood of this world.  This is partly why some feel the word "covenant" that we saw earlier in this chapter refers to the Noahic Covenant.


Verses 19 and 20 continue with how devastated the earth will become. Verse 20 seems to suggest that the earth itself is guilty when it speaks of "its rebellion".  The KJV doesn't make it sound exactly like the earth was the one in rebellion.  How you view this verse depends directly on how you translate it. My suggestion is that the guilt should be placed on mankind, as we've already seen in this chapter.  Romans 8:20 tells us that the creation waits and groans with eager expectation for the manifestation, or, the revealing, of the sons of God.   This is so because it was mankind who brought the curse on all creation as seen in Genesis 3, and when the remnant of mankind become the sons of God, then all creation will be released from the curse.   Mankind is the guilty one, not the earth.


Note in verse 21 that God will punish both the powers of the heavens above and the kings below.  I believe the powers of the heavens are the satanic powers that rule over and behind the nations of this world.  We need to understand that there is a whole spiritual world in another dimension around us.  That satanic world will fall in judgment at the same time as this earth falls in judgment.  The judgment here of the satanic world is probably when satan and his demonic forces are thrown into the Lake of Fire. 


Verse 22 speaks of the punishment of both the rulers of the satanic world and the rulers of the earth.  Note the word "dungeon" in the NIV.   The KJV uses the word "pit", which I believe is the bottomless pit seen in the book of Revelation.  Note also the words "after many days".  This might be in reference to satan and his demons being throne into the Abyss or bottomless pit as seen in the first few verses of Revelation 20.


Verse 23 speaks to the destruction of  the sun and moon.  We know from Revelation and other passages that both the heavens and the earth will be destroyed, not at the end of this age, but at the end of the thousand year rule of Christ on earth. 


The chapter ends on a glorious note.  The Lord Almighty will rule from Mount in Jerusalem.  I don't believe Isaiah is speaking of the thousand year rule of Jesus from Jerusalem.  If we're going in chronological order, I believe he is speaking of the Lord God Almighty ruling from the New Jerusalem, as seen in Revelation 21. 


Note the words ruling "before the elders" in verse 23.  I believe these are the 24 elders we see in Revelation 4:4.   




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