Today: [Isaiah 34] Why the Shaking of God Comes. In this chapter Isaiah declares that one day the might of the threat of Assyria will be reduced to ashes. Isaiah goes further prophesying of the day that even the most basic components of creation and the elemental table itself will be completely dissolved with unquenchable fire in anticipation of a New Heavens and a New Earth. For those of us deeply invested in this present world this can be an intimidating thing to contemplate. Yet the promise of God is that the ultimate purpose of His shaking is to bring us into our inheritance and our destiny forever, from generation to generation.
[Isa 34:1-17 KJV] 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. 2 For the indignation of the LORD [is] upon all nations, and [his] fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. 3 Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree. 5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. 6 The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, [and] with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. 7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
The prophecies of Isaiah in chapter 34 apply specifically against the Assyrians who seem to be at the time all powerful and unstoppable. Isaiah is reminding the people that ultimately God is in control and even the might of Assyria will be destroyed under the hand of God’s sovereignty. In the broader sense Isaiah is speaking of all the nations of men throughout time that presume upon their own autonomy without regard for the fact that they rise and fall at the mercy of a living God who decides the fate of each. In the day that we live in there have been so many advances, technological changes and cultural transformations from ancient forms of government that it is easy to thing we are a power to ourselves and not answerable to any alleged archaic deity. We forget in the 24 hour new cycle just how young our governments are that provide us the peace and security of our times. The United States is only just over 200 years old. The current contiguous government of Britain only dates to 1707, not much old than the USA itself. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall but God maintains sovereignty over all.
Verse 2 of our chapter assures us that the governments of the nations are subject to the indignation of the Lord and their armies march forth at the mercy of His power to determine the outcome of any battle. We tend to think and have been taught to think that we decide our own fate – which is the common opinion of any people reared in a generational representative form of government. Representative government however is a fairly new convention in the context of the sweep of history. The ancient peoples of Isaiah’s time understood the power of absolute monarchy and accepted that their lives were lived out and subject to sovereigns over whom they had little or no influence.
Verse 4 expands the concept of God’s sovereignty to include His lordship over the unseen spiritual realm and all creation together. There will be a time that God will cause all the host of heaven, both visible and invisible to be dissolved and the heavens themselves rolled together as a scroll. This picture reminds us of the rolling clouds of nuclear holocaust, and many prophecy teachers have made that comparison. Let us remember however that God does not need man’s help to bring about His plans, purposes or pursuits. Suffice to say that after this parenthesis of time when man is free to choose his path there will be a time of accountability and even a 1000 year physical reign of Christ in the earth. Following that there will be a new heavens and a new earth constituted from the complete dissolving of the natural creation down to its tiniest constituent parts from which a the new creation will be constituted. As beings that are eternal in their existence we will be witnesses to this ourselves and in fact every man woman or child on the earth will at some level be in existence witness this broad, overarching demonstration of the total sovereignty of God in the earth.
8 For [it is] the day of the LORD’S vengeance, [and] the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. 9 And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. 10 It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. 11 But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. 12 They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none [shall be] there, and all her princes shall be nothing. 13 And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, [and] a court for owls. 14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. 15 There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. 16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them. 17 And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.
Why is all of this going to happen? Because it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance. In a day of grace there are many teachers who have instructed believers to marginalize such scriptures as not applying to us in anyway as though in fact Isaiah’s apocalyptic declarations are somehow outmoded in the context of a seeker sensitive religious climate that rejects any such ideas of the inscrutable purposes of God. However when we read these verses we can only conclude that for all the love wherewith God loves us there is also vengeance in God and a sense of justice that will one day bring recompense upon fallen creation to the point of total and complete annihilation for the purpose of reconstituting something new without any stain of sin or contamination of the rebellion brought upon the earth by Adam’s transgression. It would be easy to say and it is frequently suggested that all this is not to be taken literally but that Isaiah is just extrapolating an exaggerated idea of apocalypse that in no way will ever actually happen, however there is nothing in this language found here in the chapter that would suggest he is employing metaphor or literary artifice of any kind.
Though we may find such things difficult to hear and troubling to contemplate note that the end result is that God shall bring those who are amenable to His rule to into their possessions that they might possess it forever v. 17 says from generation to generation. This is helpful for us because we can see that as God acts relating to the broad expanse of the apocalyptic tableau so He in concert likewise conducts Himself in the context of our little lives. We often may see our own personal cataclysm shaking our lives in such a way that we wonder “Oh God what are you doing!!!???” To which the answer from v. 17 is that He is bringing us into our inheritance forever, that we might dwell in the sure place that He has provided even from generation to generation. The writer of Hebrews speaks of these attributes of God in ways that are applicable to our lives in very intimate ways:
[Heb 12:25-29 KJV] 25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.
To these things we can only say blessed be the name of the Lord. Whatever there is of that which does not originate of the kingdom in our own small existence is fated to be shaken. If there is a relationship, a transactional covenant, a pursuit in life that consumes our interests and energies – if it does not originate in the kingdom it will be shaken to non-existence. Not because God is mad at us or does not love us. He shakes our lives because that is who He is and what He does. He is a consuming fire that seeks out all that is combustible in our lives to destroy all that does not find its life spring in Him and to transform all that is in us of His Spirit to bring us ultimately into our blessing place and our eternal destiny.
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