Buckle up. We've concluded the section on the oracles of the nations. Now we're heading into a new set of chapters, 24-27. Just to give the sense of it, here the section heading in my Ryrie Study Bible: THE FUTURE TRIBULATION AND KINGDOM (ISAIAH'S APOCALYPSE). That's quite a title. Isaiah's Apocalypse sounds like the title to a horror film. Previously, I might have been tempted to skim this section very quickly. But I've learned that, even though these times are often filled with horror, they are actually a time of Hope. God drawing every last soul who will choose Him.
Ryrie titles this chapter, The Judgements of the Tribulation Period.
It starts with a bang.
Behold, the Lord lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts it surface, and scatters its inhabitants.Isaiah 24:1
It's worth noting that this event is worldwide. This isn't a single volcano, storm, earthquake, or other event. These devastating events in a single location might give us a glimpse; help us keep in mind what's coming worldwide.
Verse 2 tells us that this event will "level the playing field." Suddenly everyone is in the same situation. No distinction between:
- people and priests
- servant and master
- maid and mistress
- buyer and seller
- lender and borrower
- creditor and debtor
In end, it's not going to matter what you did for work, your social standing, your religious standing, your financial standing...you will be facing God's judgment stripped of all of your worldly labels.
Get your priorities straight now.
Verses 3-6 describe the earth in this time.
- by God's word- laid waste and despoiled (despoiled is a new word for me. It means plundered or stripped of valuables and beauty. All the good stuff and the beautiful stuff will be gone!)
- the Lord has spoken (MacArthur states that the repetition of this phrase is to emphasize his confidence in the predictions.)
- the earth mourns, withers, fades away
- the exalted (or haughty) of the earth fade away (Several other translations use "haughty". That should make us all pause and consider ourselves. Whatever sin we despise, God despises pride.)
- the earth is polluted by the inhabitants because they didn't go by the laws, statues, and covenants. (If they/we had farmed, lived, and produced by the biblical standards, we wouldn't have the environmental issues we're facing no- let alone whatever is coming in this event.)
- A curse devours the earth and those on it are held guilty
- the inhabitants are burned, with few left
Verses 7-13 describe some of the specific affects on the people
- the new wine mourns; vines decay; merry-hearted sigh (To me, I'm guessing this includes not just alcohol, but all of life's "painkillers" that we use to make ourselves feel merry instead of submitting our lives to God and obeying.
- gaiety of the tambourine and harp cease (music, at least musical instruments will cease. This makes a lot of sense. We take music for granted. I wonder if we think it's something we created. But David "invented" many of our praise instruments to praise the Lord. And the Lord mentions in other places in the bible that He is unhappy when those instruments are used for our own merriment.)
- Partying stops (There won't be a corner bar or nightclub to go to)
- they do not drink wine with song
- strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. (This seems like an example of the despoiled mentioned above. We seek pleasure and comfort from the world. Not knowing that the things we have made into idols and crutches were originally made by Him. At some point He is taking them back and they will lose the power we have come to rely on. Again, this mentions strong drink; but some of us aren't tempted by that. But we do have our own idols and our own weaknesses. We're better off identifying those now and laying them at the foot of the cross for redemption by Jesus. It's easy to read these Tribulation prophecies and assume that it doesn't apply to us. But I think that's a tragic view of God's Word.)
- cities are in chaos (Oh wow. The Ryrie footnote here points out that this is the same word as used in Genesis 1:2 ["without form"] other synonym in the Strong's are "nothingness, ruined, void, emptiness, and primeval" It's not just that there's going to be some looting and riots...there will be nothing left.)
- homes are shut up so that none may enter
- there is an outcry in the streets about the wine (wow)joy turns to gloom and gaiety is banished
- cities are desolated, with their gates battered to ruin (no safety or security in urban places!)
- it's going to be for everyone like those at the end of harvest who have to glean the leftovers and shake the trees to get he final fruit of the season (I know it's not true for most nations, but in our country, at this time, we live in absolute overabundance. We have grocery stores packed with cheap, easily available food. We've completely lost our connection to where our food comes from. People like us will be shaken to the core to have to live on scraps that took a lot of work to harvest.)
The tone really changes in verse 14. It states that they will raise their voices and shout for joy. Crying out from the west concerning the majesty of the Lord. I have to assume the "they" refers to those who shake the trees and glean and find something. It sounds like the remnant that remains starts to understand from Whom all blessings flow.
In verse 15 Isaiah proclaims to glorify the name Lord in the east, Lord, the God (Jehovah Elohim) of Israel, in the coastland of the sea.
Verse 16 starts with a spark of beauty in the midst of utter destruction:
From the ends of the earth we hear songs, "Glory to the righteous One."Isaiah 24: 16a
However, despite this, Isaiah cries woe. And in the rest of verse 16 through the end of the chapter, he points out many terrible circumstances for those who survive.
- the treacherous deal treacherously
- terror and pit and snare confront the inhabitants. Run from the disaster and fall in a pit. Climb out of the pit, get caught in a snare.
- the world is fundamentally changed: the windows above are open, the foundations of the earth shake, the earth is broken asunder, split, shaken violently, reels like a drunkard, totters like a shack
- the second half of verse 20 tells us that this is happening because its transgression is heavy upon it. It's going to fall, never to rise again. (Sin adds up. And has weight to it. it will cripple you and you will fall-- unless -- But God. Jesus paid for your sin. He can carry your weight in exchange for HIS righteousness.)
The final three verses of this chapter seem to change focus to the rise of the Millennial Kingdom. The years when Jesus will reign and the enemy will be held prisoner until the final Armageddon.
- In that day the Lord will punish the hosts of heaven, on high, and the kings of the earth on earth. They will be gathered together, like prisoners in a dungeon, confined in a prison.
- the moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders. (I think the moon and sun are ashamed because Jesus is going to shine much brighter when He comes.)
The Ryrie footnote for verse 21, concerning "the host of heaven" posits that this refers to the rebellious angels.
The MacArthur Bible Commentary aligns this chapter, Isaiah 24 with Revelations 6.
MacArthur (Abrahamic) and Wiersbe (Noahic) seem to disagree on which covenant is being referred to by the phrase "everlasting covenant."
Ryrie titles this chapter, The Triumphs of the Kingdom Age.
Isaiah starts this chapter with praise to the Lord, exalting, and giving thanks.
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.Isaiah 25:1c
In verse 2, Isaiah credits God will making a fortified city into a heap and ruin- never to be rebuilt.
Verse 3 tells us that strong people will glorify Him and the ruthless will revere Him.
Meanwhile, verse 4 tells us that the helpless and needy in distress will enjoy God's defense.
A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a rainstorm against a wall.Isaiah 25:4b
Contrasting the lack found in Chapter 24, verse 6 describes the Lord of hosts, on His mountain, preparing a lavish banquet with the best wine and marrow to eat.
Starting in verse 7 through the first part of verse 10, Isaiah goes on to describe life with the Lord at this time:
- Him on the mountain removing the covering and veil over the nations (MacArthur says these are death shrouds being removed)
- death will be swallowed up for all time
- He will wipe away all tears
- He will remove the reproach of His people (Israel, I assume)
- for the Lord has spoken
- and the people will proclaim the Lord they have been waiting for to save them. They rejoice and are glad in His salvation
- the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain
Meanwhile, starting in the second part of verse 10, we see how those not proclaiming the Lord will fair:
- Moab will be trodden down in the water of a manure pile (yikes. very specific!)
- "Moab" will spread out his hand; but the Lord will lay him low- his pride and trickery
- bringing down "unassailable" walls- laying them low into dust
Ryrie titles this chapter, Praise in the Kingdom.
This is a song being sung in the land of Judah during the Millennium.
- praise for a strong city with secure walls and ramparts
- they ask for the gates to be open to allow entrance by the righteous nations (how safe do they need to feel to open the gates for other nations to enter!)
- "The steadfast of mind Thou will keep in perfect peace." (Keep your heart set on Him for perfect peace.)
- This trust is now forever, in an everlasting Rock
- Confirming the description at the end of Chapter 25, they emphasize that the "unassailable city" will be brought low. The feet of the afflicted and helpless will help trample it.
Next, starting in verse 7, they reflect on the journey to here.
- The way of the righteous is smooth, made level by the Upright One.
- They have been waiting eagerly while following His judgments
- His name and memory is the desire of their souls
- the singer remembers how his soul longed for the Lord at night and his spirit seeking diligently for Him (Reminds me of a psalm of David. Sure enough, the cross-references lists several psalms and other passages.)
Though the wicked is shown favor, he does not learn righteousness...Isaiah 26:10a
Biblical evidence that receiving favor doesn't necessarily lead to righteousness. People an take that favor and learn the wrong lessons, dealing unjustly and not perceiving the majesty of the Lord.
If I remember my church's recent study of Revelations, there will still be people in the Millennium Kingdom who are not fully devoted to the Lord and will continue to sin- despite the enemy being held in prison. No longer able to blame the devil for their sin. I think verse 11 supports this, as a continuation of verse 10, explaining that these people cannot see His lifted hand. And they are ashamed when seeing His zeal for the people. Fire will destroy His enemies.
Verse 12 praises the Lord for establishing peace, "since Thou has also performed for us all our works."
Then the singers remembers the other master who have ruled them; then proclaims that the dead will not live nor rise, God having wiped all remembrances of them." (I remember a discuss I had with a spiritual mentor I had in my teens about whether we'll be grieving our lost loved ones for eternity. I wonder if this is the answer to that question.)
Starting in verse 15 describes how the nation will be increased. The people sought Him in whispered prayers; but the lord chastening was upon them. As a woman about to give birth, they writhed in labor only to give labor to the wind. They could not accomplish deliverance for the world. Very interesting that God's plan includes this suffering and we're inclined to try and circumvent it. I know this well. I've been ill all week for what should have been vacation days. I have tried to be faithful in prayer and respecting God's will. I know the enemy can't touch me without God's permission. But physical pain is such a weakness for me. I can easily imagine trying to move labor along on my own.
Verse 19 is very interesting. The dead who belong to the Lord will live. Their corpses will rise. Those who lie in the dust awake and shout for joy. The earth will give birth the departed spirits. Hallelujah!! The Ryrie footnote proffers that this verse explicitly teaches the bodily resurrection.
The final 2 verses in this chapter seems to be Isaiah calling to his people to enter into their room, close the door, and hide for awhile. He promises that the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish iniquity and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and no longer cover her slain.
Last year my women's ministry did a Precepts study on Ruth and the "Kinsmen Redeemer". We learned how death entered the world, how the earth cries out, and how Jesus will return to pay the debt held on the land to redeem us. That last verse, 21, reminds me of that same concept.
Ryrie titles this chapter, Israel in the Kingdom.
In verse 1: the day when the Lords comes (Come, Lord Jesus, Come!), the Lord will punish the Leviathan, the fleeing serpent. He will kill this dragon with his sword. Ryrie identifies this beast as a symbol of the enemies of God.
We begin to see the transition of the Lord's reign as the Lord sings over the vineyard- keeping, watering, protect, and guarding it. Many of the damages described in the early tribulation chapters was the passing of the vineyard and wine.
He proclaims He has no wrath. If someone gives His vineyard briars and thorns, He'll step on them and burn them completely. If pre-Trib theology is correct, I assume that this is because those saved by grace are gone, along with the Holy Spirit.
"Let them make peace with Me." The Lord proclaims.
In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout; and they will fill the whole world with fruit.Isaiah 27:6
He has struck them, slain them, and expelled them. But their iniquity will be forgiven. Part of this is pulverizing all idols.
He will gather up Israel in that day.
A trumpet will sound and those from the middle east and Egypt (the world) will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.
Whewww! That was a lot. The terror of the Tribulation and the goodness of the coming Kingdom Age.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
He is coming back and how you live is preparing your heart for the choices you'll make.