Isaiah 24 - Outline of Isaiah (MENU page)
I. D. Tribulation and Kingdom Blessing (Isaiah's Apocalypse), 24:1-27:13
1. Universal judgment upon universal sin, 24:1-23
1. Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste,
and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the servant, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled:
for the LORD hath spoken this word.
the LORD maketh the earth empty... waste... spoiled...-
The word for earth, HB= 'erets (used 16 times in this chapter), can refer to either the land of Israel, or to the whole world. Some interpreters see only Israel in this chapter. However, v.4 indicates that the land of Israel and the entire world are fully involved in the troubles described here. The preceding chapters (ch. 13-23) pronounced judgments upon individual nations, including Israel. Although each of those 'burdens' of judgment have seen historical fulfillment, each also foreshadows elements of judgment yet to come. The present chapter (ch. 24) summarizes the future judgment that will overtake all nations.
as with the people, so with the priest...- This future judgment will overtake all people,
regardless of rank or role in life. It will not be a respecter of persons. Six categories of persons are mentioned. In scripture, the number six is regarded as the number of 'man,' in that man falls short of God's perfection (which is often symbolized by the number seven).
4 The earth mourneth [and] fadeth away, the world {HB= tebel} languisheth [and] fadeth away,
the haughty people of the earth do languish.
5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof;
because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate:
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
the earth... is defiled under the inhabitants thereof... therefore hath the curse devoured the earth...-
The cause of earth's desolation is the sinful condition of mankind.
because they have...
    a. transgressed the law {HB= torah}...- ie., God's moral law,
the standard of righteousness before God, the foundation and framework of righteousness between men.
Whether written on tablets of stone or on the heart, the Law convicts men of guilt before God (Rom 2:11-16).
Those who 'transgress' the Law, by pass it, disregarding it as irrelevant for them.
    b. changed the ordinance {HB= choq, statutes, civil decrees of God}...-
ie., God's governing principles, which make practical application of His Law to life situations...
the fabric woven on the Law's framework for the good of mankind (eg., Ex 21:1-f; Deu 6:1-f).
Those who 'change' the ordinances seek to find loop-holes or make amendments favorable to their own agenda.
    c. broken the everlasting covenant {HB= olam, everlasting, perpetual; HB= berith, alliance, pledge} -
God's promises cannot be broken. But God's Word divides men who trust Him, from all others.
God's promises secure His children. But men who believe the lie will be broken by the Truth they seek to overturn.
- - The phrase 'everlasting covenant' refers to several covenants in scripture. How is it applied here?
The discussion below includes all of the passages containing this phrase (which are shown in bold.):
  • The Lord's promise to Noah (Gen 9:15,16), that He would never again destroy all flesh with a worldwide flood.
    This is a covenant of Grace, in which the Lord withholds the judgment deserved by sinful men (Gen 8:21,22).
  • The Lord's promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 17:7,13,19; 1Chr 16:14-22; Psa 105:6-15).
    God promised Abraham a seed, a nation, a land, a blessing to all peoples (eg., Gen 12:1-3,7).
    This also is a covenant of Grace, granted not on the basis of merit, but on faith in the One who promised (Rom 4:2-5).
    This is an unconditional covenant, secured by God alone. Therefore, it cannot be broken by the unfaithfulness of Abraham's seed (cp. Gen 15:6,17-21; 22:16-18).
  • The Lord's promise to David (2Sam 23:5; Isa 55:3) of a son who would reign forever.
    This covenant is also unconditional and cannot be broken by the unfaithfulness of David's seed (2Sam 7:12-16).
    David recognized that he was not worthy of this promise, which was entirely by God's Grace (2Sam 7:18-29).
    Unbelieving men will attempt to disannul God's everlasting promises to Abraham and to David,
    but these covenants are secured by God Himself (Psa 2; Jer 33:20-21,25-26).
  • The continual presence of the Showbread, in the Tabernacle, signified 'an everlasting covenant' (Lev 24:5-8).
    It was the perpetual responsibility of Israel to continually display fresh showbread within the Holy Place of the Tabernacle (or Temple), as a memorial before the LORD of His covenant provisions for Israel. Since there is no standing Temple, Israel has been unable to fulfill this responsibility. However, their inability cannot void the unconditional covenants (eg., with Abraham and David), which the LORD has sworn to fulfill.
    Symbolically, the bread reminds us of the One who is the Bread of Life (Joh 6:35,41). The twelve loaves declare that He is sufficient for all who partake of Him by faith. God's blessing belongs to every individual believer from every tribe of Israel (and, in Christ, it overflows to believers from every kindred, people, tongue and nation).
  • The New Covenant with Israel (and all believers) secured through Christ's blood.
    (see Isa 61:8; Jer 32:40; Eze 16:60; 37:26; Heb 13:20,21)
    This covenant will be established with Israel, at the time of their future restoration, when as a nation they recognize and receive their rejected Messiah. (Many of the blessings of this covenant are available now, to all who believe.)
    - - It is helpful also to observe two points about the Lord's introduction of the New Covenant, in Jer 31:31-37.
    1. He contrasts it with the Mosaic covenant which Israel broke. The Mosaic covenant was conditional: ("If... then..." Ex 19:3-8). It was never called an everlasting covenant. In fact, it was broken almost immediately.
    2. He links it to His unbreakable promises to "the seed of Israel" (ie., to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
Considering all of the above, the term 'everlasting covenant' is applied to unconditional promises, which are secured by God's Grace, to those who trust Him and His Word. The covenants of Grace (discussed above) provide blessings to unworthy men, on the basis of faith alone. Through the New Covenant, a sinner (recognizing his inability to keep the Law) is transformed into a saint, through faith in the One who has satisfied the Law in his behalf.
But unbelievers reject God's assessment of their sinful condition, and see no need for His Word or for His offer of salvation.
therefore hath the curse {HB= 'alah, oath, curse} devoured the earth...-
The 'curse' is the negative side of God's 'oath' by which He declares that His Word is true and unbreakable. All who trust and obey Him, will find His promised blessings are as sure as His 'oath' (eg., Deu 29:12-14). But all who reject His Word, will belatedly discover its truth, to their eternal sorrow (in these verses, the words 'curse' or 'oath' are HB= 'alah, Deu 29:19-21; Eze 16:58,59; 17:19; Dan 9:11{where 'curse' is HB= 'alah, but 'oath' is HB= shebuah, oath, curse}; Zech 5:3).
     Wherever God's Word (including the Law, the Ordinances, and His promises of Grace) is disregarded, that nation or people is building its civilization on an unstable foundation. Such a society suffers the judgment of God, as it crumbles under its own weight of human evil.
     The unbelieving world not only rejects God's Word for itself, but also seeks to interrupt and thwart His promises to believers: eg., robbing Israel of the land which is their inheritance, installing a king in Jerusalem to supplant the King from David's line, persecuting to death those who own Christ as their Life. During the Tribulation period, the antichrist will seek to change God's Laws and to destroy His people (cp. Dan 7:25; Rev 13:6,7). In that day, the oath of God's Word, will come upon the unbelieving world, to its destruction.
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.- cp. Mal 4:1
7 The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merryhearted do sigh.
8 The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.
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, 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 In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction.
the new wine mourneth...- Wine is often associated with joy.
But joy has ceased. The music has died. Hope is gone.
the city of confusion {HB= tohu, without form} is broken down...-
The word used for 'confusion' is used in Gen 1:2 ('without form {tohu} and void {bohu},' describing the earth's condition prior to God's creative activity) and in Jer 4:23 (describing the effects of judgment upon Jerusalem).
     Therefore, in v.10, 'the city of confusion' appears to be Jerusalem, which has fallen to such a state because they turned from the LORD to serve false gods. However, for similar reasons, the world system of gentile dominion (Babylon the Great) is also in 'confusion' (the meaning of 'Babel'). Jew and gentile are together in their fallen state and in the resulting desolations of the Tribulation. In the remainder of the chapter, both confused cities are viewed, but with differing end states. The Lord will reign in restored Jerusalem (v.23), while Babylon, in its final form, will be destroyed without hope of restoration (cp. Isa 25:2,3,12).
13. When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people {lit., peoples},
[there shall be] as the shaking of an olive tree,
[and] as 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 ye the LORD in the fires,
[even] the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
16. From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, [even] glory to the righteous.
But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!
the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously;
yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
the shaking of an olive tree... the gleaning of grapes...- Few will survive the struggles of the Tribulation (cp. v.6).
they shall lift up their voice...- 'They' encompasses the believing remnant of Israel ('in the midst of the land,' v.13, Rom 9:27)
and also believers from the gentile nations ('from the sea,' v.14,15).
Together, these are the saints who come to faith during the Tribulation. Rev 15:2-4
...glorify the LORD... even the LORD God of Israel...- In the midst of the Tribulation fires,
they sing praises to the God of Israel, whose Word is rejected by the world.
from the uttermost part... have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous {ie., the Righteous One}.-
They yearn for the coming of the Messiah, the King of Righteousness.
Meanwhile, they praise God for His righteous judgments poured out upon the earth (Rev 18:20 - 19:6).
But I said, my leanness {ie., wasting}...- Foreseeing the terrors of the Tribulation,
Isaiah's spirit is emaciated within him.
...for the treacherous {deceitful} dealers have dealt treacherously {deceitfully}...-
Israel dealt treacherously with the Lord (Jer 3:20). The nations of the world have dealt and will deal treacherously with Israel, especially when led by the antichrist (Isa 21:2; 33:1; 2The 2:9-12).
17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, [are] upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.
18 And it shall come to pass, [that] he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit;
and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare:
for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.
19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage;
and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it;
and it shall fall, and not rise again.
...upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth...- Three dangers:
  • fear {HB=pachad, terror, dread} - cp. Luk 21:26
  • the pit {HB=pachath, pit, hole} - ie., the grave, the imminent danger of death, cp. Mat 24:21,22; Rev 6:8
  • the snare {HB=pach, trap, snare} - ie., deadly deception, cp. Mat 24:4; 2The 2:8-12
the earth shall reel to and fro...- cp. Rev 6:12-17
removed like a cottage {ie., a flimsy temporary shelter, cp. Isa 1:8}
21 And it shall come to pass in that day,
[that] the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones [that are] on high,
and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
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 shall they be visited.
...the host of high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth...- cp. Eph 6:12; Rev 12:7-9
Observe the order of their judgment.
  1. they shall be gathered... as prisoners gathered in the pit...- Spirit entities and human kings will be imprisoned in the pit (Rev 19:20; 20:1-3).
  2. after many days... (ie., after the Millennial Kingdom, Rev 20:4-9).
  3. shall they be visited (ie., with final judgment, Rev 20:10-15).
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.
then {ie., after the tribulation of the preceding days}... when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion...-
With the Lord in His rightful place as King, and with Jerusalem as the place of His throne, the world will no longer be in a state of confusion. v.10; Isa 2:2-4; Mic 4:1-5
the moon shall be confounded... the sun ashamed... -
During the Tribulation, there will be signs in the sun and the heavens (eg., Isa 13:10; Joel 2:31; 3:15). However, this verse is describing things that will come after the Tribulation. The glory of Christ on His throne, in His Millennial Kingdom, will put the sun to shame, and, in His eternal Kingdom, will displace the sun entirely (Isa 60:19; Mat 24:29,30; Rev 21:23).

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