Prophecy against the Earth: Isaiah 24 (5)
Pray Psalm 46.1-3.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Read Isaiah 24.17-20.
1. The scene seems to have become enlarged here. How can you see that?
2. There is also a kind of finality to the situation described in these verses. How does that show up?
Whereas at the beginning of the chapter Isaiah was using “the land” (Hebrew: אָ֖רֶץ, land) in a local sense – Judah and Jerusalem – as the chapter has unfolded, a kind of expanding outward is suggested. We see this, for example, in verse 4, where “the land” is coupled with “the inhabited world” (Hebrew: תֵּבֵ֑ל), and in the mention of the “ends of the earth” in verse 16. Isaiah is expanding the scope of his prophecy, but he is also stretching it out over a longer period of history (note the mention of “in that day” in v. 21).
The judgment of God in these verses seems total and final. No one can escape (vv. 17, 18), and the earth – אָ֖רֶץ, earth, in a now more universal sense – is collapsing under the weight of sin and wrath. The mention of “the windows from on high” being open and “the fountains of the earth” being shaken reminds us of the story of the flood, a universal disaster of judgment, and suggests the cosmic scope of the judgment which is in focus here. When God thus judges the earth, “it will fail, and not rise again” (v. 20). As we shall learn later, the collapse of the earth is simply to make way for a new one, which God will create once His wrath has been satisfied.
The judgment of God against Israel and Judah thus serves as a warning to all the nations and peoples of the world, from all times. God Who brought such wrath against His own people will do so again, and when He does, none shall escape His judgment.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is that there is therefore now no condemnation – no wrath or judgment – for those who are in Jesus (Rom. 8.1). This Good News only makes sense against the backdrop of the bad news of our sin, the weight of which will destroy us unless we repent and look to the Lord. We should not offer the Good News of Christ without also explaining that a day of judgment is coming, and Jesus is the only way to survive it (cf. Acts 17.30, 31).
1. The world under sin “groans” in our day (Rom. 19-21), and this itself a kind of judgment from God. Explain.
2. When Paul mentioned the coming judgment of God in Acts 17.30, 31, he received three kinds of responses (vv. 32-34). Describe each. Should we expect anything other than this when we explain the coming judgment of God? Are you prepared to deal with each of these responses?
3. Both sin and the glory of God are described as crushing weights (Is. 24.20, and cf. 2 Cor. 4.17). What’s the difference?
When he says that "the earth is laden with its iniquity," he has very appropriately assigned this reason, that we may understand that God is never angry with men without a cause; for we ourselves are the authors of all the evils which we suffer. God is by nature disposed to kindness, and regards us with a father's love; and therefore it is our own fault that we are treated with sharpness and severity, and we have no reason to blame him. John Calvin (1509-1564 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 24
Lord, shake me free of the snares of sin, that I may live for Your glory by…
Pray Psalm 46.
This psalm envisions world cataclysms – the shaking of the earth under God’s wrath. But in the midst, God’s people know peace and gladness as they take refuge in Him. Seek the Lord for each activity of the day ahead, that you might know His presence and rest in His peace.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 46 (St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God is our refuge and our strength; He is our help in times of need.
Thus though the earth beneath us should change, the sea consume the mountain range;
waters may roar with raging speed; yet God will rescue us at length.
God’s everlasting, joyous grace gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved; when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels for His beloved, chosen race.
Kingdoms arise and rage and roar, threat’ning the earth with sore distress;
nations may fall, earth melt away, His Word is yet our hope and stay.
God is among us, ever to bless; He is our stronghold evermore.
Come see the works of God’s Right Hand! He breaks the nations of the earth,
Shatters their foolish weapons and pride, sets all their sinful strength aside;
Them He will show His infinite worth as they before His judgment stand.
Rest in the Lord and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail:
Lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail; thus may our hope and joy increase!
T. M. Moore
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