Judgment upon the nations in 13-23 now expands to judgment of the whole earth. Chapters 24-27 proclaim the Lord of all the earth in a literary form called “Apocalyptic.” The coming Day of the Lord will affirm His sovereignty, including over the current time of Isaiah.
Isaiah 24:1 recalls the effects of Noah’s flood (Gen. 7:23; 11:9). The social order will be disrupted (24:2). The scope of the Day of the Lord transcends any one nation to extend to the entire earth. Devastation will leave nothing untouched (24:3). The issue God has with the earth is the same issue He has with the nations – pride (24:4). Earth itself will suffer because of the wickedness of its inhabitants (24:5). The covenant mentioned in 24:5 is first mentioned just after the Flood in Genesis 9:8-17. There it was a covenant God made with every living creature never again to destroy the earth by water. The rainbow was the sign of the covenant (Gen. 9:16). God has upheld His part; Israel has not.
Curses are pronounced only on disobedience. Since sin is universal, judgment is universal. All are guilty (24:6). The means of judgment will be by fire and only the faithful remnant will survive. The joy people derive from sin will cease (24:7-9, 11). Society will break down and fear will reign (24:10). What remains is “desolation” (24:12). Judgment means gloom and destruction for the unrepentant, yet it means celebration for the faithful due to their deliverance by God. The few who are left (“gleanings,” 24:13) will sing for joy to the majesty of the Lord from wherever they live (24:14-16a).
This devastation stuns Isaiah. He has a heart for Israel that no amount of celebration can assuage (24:16b). He knows no one will escape “panic, pitfall, and plot” (24:17-18, Berkeley). Natural disasters become instruments of God’s wrath, causing the earth to “reel like a drunkard” (24:19-20a). Disasters do not merely “happen;” they occur because of humanity’s unrepented sin (24:20b).
The Day of the Lord is a rebuke of persons who have rebelled against God (24:21). Verse 22 allows an interval between the pronouncement of guilt and final punishment. Since Isaiah began by referring to the Flood of Noah, there may be some connection in verse 22 with First Peter 3:18-20. The apocalyptic format depicts in graphic detail Isaiah’s emphasis on the sole authority of the Lord to pass ultimate judgment (24:23).
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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