A Great Leveling

Let's slow down and catch our breath: Isaiah 24.

Prophecy against the Earth: Isaiah 24 (1)

Pray Psalm 79.5, 8, 9.

How long, LORD?
Will You be angry forever?
Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us!
Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us,
For we have been brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of Your name;
And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
For Your name’s sake!

Read Isaiah 24.

Reflect.

1. This chapter is like a hand-held telescope: The more you pull it out, the further you can see. Meditate on verses 1-3. Notice the two verbs that have God as subject in verses 1 and 3. How do they go together?

2. What are the effects of God’s judgment against the people and land of Israel?

Meditate.
We have raced through Isaiah 1-23, gulping, like marathoners, at every intermittent cup of refreshment the prophet holds as we press on through the pain of God’s judgment. It’s time to slow down and catch our breath, which we will do by taking this whole week to consider the teaching of Isaiah 24.

The judgment of God, which is coming on Judah and Jerusalem, has a powerful leveling effect. All the distinctions that separated the people into various groups and classes – religious, economic, social status – will be wiped away, and every citizen of the nation will be reduced to one class: captive.

In a real sense, this reminds us what we all have in common as human beings. We are all sinners, rebels against God, and deserving of His wrath and judgment. It is only because of His patience and grace that we are not marched off into the eternal captivity of the grave and hell.

All the destruction that is coming upon Judah and Jerusalem is from one source: the Word of the Lord. We should pay more attention to this living and powerful Word, lest what happened to Judah and Jerusalem happen to us as well (Heb. 4.12; 2.1-3).

The judgment on the land of Israel is severe, and it serves as a judgment on the whole earth, which is yet to come.

Prepare.
1. Imagine yourself among the people of these verses, as you are being marched away to Babylon. What would you feel? What would you be thinking? Do you ever experience such thoughts and feelings? Are they related to sin in your life?

2. The Hebrew verb here translated plundered (v. 3, בּוּז) means despised.The particular construction in which it appears strengthens the sense so that something like utterly and completely despised is closer to the meaning. How did the people come to such a dreadful state? Many of our contemporaries regard Christians this way today. Does this suggest anything to you?

3. Two ideas bookend this passage: “the LORD makes” and “the LORD has spoken.” What does this suggest about the relationship between the Scriptures and the events they describe? The writer of the Didache, a first-century Christian discipleship manual, instructed his readers, “Thy speech shall not be false or vain, but completed in action.” How do God’s words and deeds serve as a guideline for our own discipleship?

We ought therefore not only to acknowledge the dreadful vengeance of God, but also to lay it to the blame of our own sins, whenever he breaks down order and takes away instruction and courts of law; for when these fall, civilisation itself falls along with them. It ought also to be considered that, when the Lord executes his judgments, he spares no rank, not even the most sacred. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Isaiah 24

Lord, let me never forget that a day of wrath is coming, and so I need to…

Pray Psalm 79.

In Asaph’s day, when this psalm was written, things in Jerusalem looked outwardly strong and happy. But Asaph saw into the souls of God’s people, that they had compromised with the world, left off full obedience to His Word, and were on their way to destruction. Pray this psalm for the Church today, when persecution is on the rise, the nations of the world mock our faith and deny our God, and we have not been faithful. Cry out to the Lord for revival!

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 79 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
O God the nations all Your inheritance have spoiled!
Your City have they ruined, Your temple they have soiled!
Your servants’ bodies all to the birds of heav’n are thrown;
The flesh of all Your faithful the jaws of beasts now own.

The blood of faithful servants like water flows around;
And none are there Your saints to commit into the ground.
Our neighbors mock and scorn us: How long, O Lord, how long?
How long will You be angry and scorn our mournful song?

Pour out, O Lord, Your wrath on all who deny Your Name;
Who trust You not nor seek You, bring down to deepest shame!
For they have with great rancor Your precious saints devoured;
Lay waste their habitation at this late dreadful hour.

Why should the nations mock and say, “Where now is their God?”
Let there be known among them harsh vengeance for our blood!
Hear, Lord, our groans and sighing; preserve us by Your pow’r.
For we are fairly dying each day and hour by hour.

Reproach those who reproach us with judgment sevenfold!
Let thanks and praise to You by Your precious flock be told.
We are Your sheep, O Savior, we thank You all our days.
Look on us with Your favor as we declare Your praise.

T. M. Moore

Where do the prophets fit with the rest of Scripture? How can I be a better student of God’s Word? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you gain a better approach to and understanding of the Scriptures. Watch this brief preview video, then register at The Ailbe Seminary and enroll in this free online course.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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