Isaiah 34

 

                                    Divine Judgment on the World

 

Chapters 34 and 35  are generally recognized as constituting a distinct

prophecy, complete in itself, and only slightly connected with what

precedes. The passage consists of two parts, the first (Isaiah 34.) containing

a denunciation of Divine vengeance against the enemies of God; the second

(Isaiah 35.) describing the flourishing state of the Church of God,

consequent upon the execution of those judgments.” The present chapter,

which forms the first half of the poem, is wholly denunciatory. Its theme is

vengeance on God’s enemies generally; but, as a typical specimen, the

Edomites are selected, and their punishment is depicted in the strongest

colors. The awful picture, with its dark and lurid hues, prepares the way

for the soft and lovely portraiture of the blest condition of the Church

triumphant, which is contained in the ensuing chapter.

 

v. 1 – “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken ye people:  let the

            earth hear, and all that is therein; the world and all things that

            come forth of it”

 

v. 2 – “For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His

            fury is upon all nations….and …their armies”

 

v. 3 – “cast out” - refused burial — thrown to the dogs and vultures

(comp. Jeremiah 22:19; 36:30). Such treatment of the dead was

regarded as a shame and a disgrace. It was on some occasions an

intentional insult (Jeremiah 22:19); but here the idea is rather that it

would be impossible to bury the slain on account of their number.

 

The blood of God’s enemies is represented as shed in such torrents

that mountains are melted by it.

 

v. 4 – “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved” - A dissolution of the

material frame of the heavens, in which the moon and stars are regarded

as set, seems to be intended (comp.Matthew 24:29; 2 Peter 3:10).

The slaughter of God’s enemies is here connected with the end of the

world, as in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 19:11-21) – “the

heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll” -  literally, as a book. Ancient

books were written on long strips of paper or parchment, which, when

unrolled, extended to many yards in length, but which might be rolled

together “by means of one or two smooth round sticks into a very small

compass.” Such a rolling together of the widely extended heavens is here

intended, not a shriveling by means of heat (comp.Revelation 6:14).

All their host shall fall (comp. Matthew 24:29, “The stars shall fall

from heaven”). (See notes on Isaiah 24:18-23 – this web site)

 

v. 8 – “it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance” -  (comp.Isaiah 61:2 and

63:4). In all three places the “day” of God’s vengeance is contrasted with

the “year” of His recompense, to show how infinite is His mercy, how short

lived, comparatively speaking, His anger.  Compare the concluding clauses

of the second commandment, where “retribution is declared to descend to the

third and fourth generation, but mercy to the thousandth”!  (Exodus 20:5-6)

 

vs. 9-10 – “And the streams thereof” - the streams of the land of

Edom -  Though Edom has no perennial rivers, it has numerous torrent

courses to carry off the winter rains (see 2 Kings 3:20-22). These

should run with pitch, instead of water. The general idea is that Edom

should be visited with a destruction like that of Sodom and Gomorrah

(Genesis 19:24; comp. Jeremiah 49:18). (Once again may I recommend

the web site arkdiscovery.com – see Jude 1:7 -CY – 2009)  But the prophet

scarcely intends his words to be taken literally; he is making Edom a type

or representation of God’s enemies, and the gist of his teaching is that a

dreadful vengeance, an utter destruction, will come upon all who set

themselves up against the Most High. In the next verse he declares that the

vengeance will be eternal.

 

v. 10 – “NONE shall pass through it FOR EVER AND EVER

 

“And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have

transgressed against me:  for their worm shall not die, neither shall their

fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” -Isaiah 66:24).

 

Jesus reiterates this in Mark 9:43-46 – Remember, He said “Heaven and

earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away” – Matthew 24:35

 

v. 16 – backs up the above statement – “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord,

            and read:  no one of these shall fail”

 

Jesus said “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think that ye have eternal

life: and they are they which testify of me” – John 5:39

 

my mouth... His Spirit- the “mouth” of the prophet and the

“Spirit” of God, which dictates to him what he is to write, are in accord;

and the Spirit will bring to pass what the mouth inspired by Him has

commanded.”

 

It is throughout to be understood that Idumea stands for the world power,

which resists God and will be finally abased and put to shame.

 

 

 

                                   

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

 

 

vs. 1-10 - The Terrors of the Lord Not to be Held Back by the Preacher

 

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord,” says the great apostle of the

Gentiles, “we persuade men.  (II Corinthians 5:11)  There is in these modern times

a sickly sentimentality prevalent, which protests against the employment by

preachers of arguments that address themselves to the fears of their

hearers. Delicate nerves are not to be hurt by disagreeable images, or

highly wrought descriptions of sufferings. Ears accustomed to flatteries are

not to be shocked by suggestions that make the listeners uncomfortable.

“Speak unto us smooth things” – (ch. 30:10) is the universal demand, or, at

any rate, the universal desire. There is considerable danger of preachers yielding

to the wishes of their hearers in this respect; since it is always pleasant to be

popular, and disagreeable to be thought to take a pleasure in hurting

people’s feelings. But the preacher of God’s Word should be actuated by

higher considerations. He must shape his conduct by:

 

  • the example of great preachers in the past, as Isaiah, St. Paul, St. John,

      Christ himself;

 

  • the real needs and true interest of those whom he addresses; and

 

  • the declarations of Holy Scripture concerning the duty of a preacher.

 

(May we follow the example of the Apostle Paul who said “I take you to

record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.  For I have

not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God……I kept back

nothing” – Acts 20:26-27,20a – CY – 2009)

 

I. THE EXAMPLE OF GREAT PREACHERS IN THE PAST. It is clear

that Isaiah did not hold back the terrors of the Lord. Almost one-half of his

prophecy is denunciatory; and the denunciations uttered are of a truly

fearful character. All the great powers of the earth, and many minor

powers, are threatened with the Divine vengeance, and that vengeance is

depicted in very terrible language. Babylon is to be “brought down to hell,

to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15); Assyria is to be burnt up; his

glory is to be consumed; he is to be “as when a standard-bearer fainteth

(Isaiah 10:17, 18); Edom is to become “burning pitch” (Isaiah 34:9), which

shall not be quenched night nor day” (Isaiah 34:10); God’s enemies generally

are to be “slain” and “consumed,” and set in a place where “their worm shall

not die, neither shall their fire be quenched” (Isaiah 66:24). St. Paul persuaded

men by “the terror of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11). He warned them to “look

for judgment and a fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”

(Hebrews 10:27). He reminded them that “our God is a consuming Fire’

(Hebrews 12:29), and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands

(Hebrews 10:31). St. John, the apostle of love, spoke of those who should

drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without

mixture into the cup of His indignation,” and who should be “tormented

with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and of the

Lamb,” and said that “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever

and ever,” and that they “have no rest day nor night” (Revelation 14:10, 11).

It is to our blessed Lord himself that we owe the picture of the rich man

tormented in the flame, and praying Abraham to send Lazarus, that he might

dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue” (Luke 16:24). Our

Lord, moreover, adopts the dreadful imagery of Isaiah with respect to the

undying worm and the fire that is never quenched (Mark 9:44, 46, 48), and

points His teaching by revealing to us the awful words of the final sentence of

reprobation, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared

for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

 

II. THE REAL NEEDS OF THOSE TO WHOM PREACHING IS

ADDRESSED. It cannot be denied that fear is a strong constraining

motive. Human laws are enforced, by penalties, the object of which is to

put men in fear.” (Psalm 9:20) - Punishment holds its place in every system

of moral training, and punishment is an appeal to fear. Whatever may be the

case with a chosen few, the bulk of mankind will always be more readily

influenced by fear than by hope, by punishments than by rewards, by

threats than by promises. The preacher cannot afford to lose the moral

force which is thus put within his reach. It is hard enough to restrain men

from evil courses, and induce them to lead a godly life, by freely using all

the means of persuasion that are in our power. To refrain from using one

of the most potent would be to fight Satan with one hand instead of two.

 

III. THE TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE CONCERNING THE DUTY

OF A PREACHER. Preachers are directed to open to their disciples “the

whole counsel of God.” They are not to pick and choose what doctrines of

Christianity they will teach. They are to deliver to others “the gospel,”

that which they also received” (1 Corinthians 15:3) — not “another

gospel(Galatians 1:6). Now, it cannot be pretended that “the terrors

of the Lord” — His wrath against sin, and its dreadful final punishment, are

not as much portions of the teaching of Christ as any other. Not to preach

them is to keep back a part of the message which Christ brought us from

the Father. No preacher is entitled so to act, whatever the disinclination of

his congregation to hear the plain teaching of Scripture on these points

plainly declared. The disinclination is itself an indication of a need. Those

who most dislike the doctrine of final punishment are probably those who

most require to have the doctrine pressed upon them.