ISAIAH CHAPTER 24.
The Judgment upon the Earth.
The four chapters, 24 to 27 inclusive, form one continuous poetical prophecy, remarkable both for form and for content. It is a great chorus in four movements, describing the end of the world, the revelation of Jehovah, the establishment of the Church of Christ, and the glorious growth of the communion of saints. This chorus embraces every form and style of poetry, from the most elevated heavenly hymn to the most simple and appealing folk-song. “This entire finale is a great hallelujah to chapters 13 to 23, its contents hymnic, its form musical, and this to such a degree that, as in chap. 25, 6, the prophecy is like text and score together. Only Isaiah is such an incomparable master of language.” (Delitzsch.)
THE DESTRUCTION OF TILE SURFACE OF THE EARTH. — V. 1. Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, depopulating it, taking away its inhabitants, and maketh it waste, by a final devastation, and turneth it upside down, changing its form and appearance, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof, thereby making it desolate. V. 2. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest, all sharing the same calamities alike; 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, the creditor, so with the giver of usury to him, the debtor. They are alike in the midst of this great catastrophe; no favored class shall escape. V.3. The land shall be utterly emptied, made altogether desolate, and utterly spoiled, consumed by plundering; for the Lord hath spoken this word, and according to His word things would come to pass. V. 4. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, like a flower that is stepped upon and wilted, the world languisheth and fadeth away; the haughty people of the earth, the most prominent persons, do languish, in utter despair. V. 5. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, affected with the blood-guiltiness of its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant, that is, men disregarded the revelation of God in the works of creation, ignored the admonitions of Conscience, set aside the agreement made at the time of Noah: all mankind has returned to the baseness of the time before the Flood. V. 6. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, with the fire of the divine wrath, and they that dwell therein are desolate, compelled to do the most bitter penance; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men left, namely, the small remnant of those who are true to Jehovah. V. 7. The new wine mourneth, the grape-juice as extracted from the fruit becoming vapid, the vine languisheth, because there is none to cultivate it, all the merry-hearted do sigh. V. 8. The mirth of tabrets, or tambourines, used to accompany merry songs, ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp, or zither, ceaseth. V. 9. They shall not drink wine with a song, as in the days of peace and prosperity; strong drink, date-wine or a brandy-like liquor, shall be bitter to them that drink it. All the former incentives to joy are removed, and utter desolation prevails. The world with her lust is judged and therefore also the leading city of the world, in which this lust was concentrated. V. 10. The city of confusion is broken down, there is nothing but ruin and desolation; every house is shut up that no man may come in, the entrance being choked up by ruins; everything is chaos. V. 11. There is a crying for wine in the streets, lamentation on account of the destruction of vineyards out in the fields; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. V. 12. In the city is left desolation, only chaos and ruin to be found there, and the gate is smitten with destruction, battered down. Cp. Matt. 24, 6-8; Mark 13, 7. 8; Luke 21, 9-11.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MASS OF THE EARTH. — V. 13. When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, as described in the first part of the chapter, there shall be as the shaking of an olive-tree, when the few olives remaining at the close of the harvest are struck down with a stick, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done, for only a small remnant, the true children of God, would be left. V. 14. They shall lift up their voice, namely, those who are delivered in the general destruction, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, by whose glorious power they have been preserved, they shall cry aloud from the sea, from the Mediterranean, as the western body of water, the cry of the believers thus going forth toward the East and toward the West. V. 15. Wherefore glorify ye the Lord, so the song of the redeemed reads, in the fires, in the Countries of light, in the Eastern countries, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the Isles of the sea, in the Western countries. The meaning is: “Where- ever ye be scattered, whether in the far East or in the remote West, glorify the Lord.” This urgent invitation is not issued in vain. V. 16. From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, all the believers joining in the praise of Jehovah, even glory to the Righteous, literally, “Praise to the Just !“ But I said, the prophet cried out in remembering the afflictions of the final Judgment, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! for he felt his powers wasting away as the result of the extraordinary terror taking hold upon him. The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously. He saw perfidy and faithlessness exercised on every hand, and in the highest degree. V. 17. Fear and the pit and the snare are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. The Hebrew text here has an alliteration by means of which the very sound of the words conveys the dreadfulness of the judgment. V. 18. And it shall come to pass that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear, the shouting which produces terror, shall fall into the pit, forgetting all caution under the influence of a blind fear, and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit, scrambling out of its confining depth, shall be taken in the snare, all chances for escape thus being cut off; for the windows from on high are open, through which the Lord’s instruments of punishment are sent down to the earth, and the foundations of the earth do shake, its very supports tottering and preparing to fall. V. 19. The earth is utterly broken down, deep gashes appear on its surface, the earth is clean dissolved, burst open, the earth is moved exceedingly, shaken to pieces. The picture shows the earth with deep clefts, which quickly widen down to its innermost recesses, until finally the whole fabric collapses. V. 20. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard and shall be removed like a cottage, it swings back and forth like a hammock; and the transgression thereof, which has caused this punishment to come upon the earth, shall be heavy upon it, pressing her down to the ground; and it shall fall and not rise again, the total destruction of the earth in its present form being pictured. V. 21. And it shall come to pass in that day, at the time of the final Judgment, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high and the kings of the earth upon the earth, the angels being regarded as presiding over the kingdoms of the world and being held responsible for the manner in which matters are taken care of on earth. Cp. 1 Cor. 6, 3. V. 22. And they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, 2 Pet. 2, 4; Jude 6; Rev. 20, 1-3; and after many days shall they be visited, for the final punishment which would then be carried out upon them. V. 23. Then the moon shall be confounded, covering her face in shame, and the sun ashamed, shrinking back in disgrace, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, in the final great victory over all His enemies, and before His ancients gloriously, the leaders of the believers, together with the entire Church of the saints, partaking of His eternal glory in heaven, Rev. 21, 23; 22, 5.