Today: [Isaiah 24] The Emptying Out of the Land. In chapter 24 of Isaiah the prophet predicts the complete and total removal of the people from both the southern and northern kingdoms. He prophesies this at a time of prosperity and relative safety. It was not a message that anyone wanted to hear either in the king’s palace or the common man in the street. When we read such things even relating to our day we wonder why would God allow such things to happen? Yet we see that once the decimation of these nations takes place that once again the people return to the Lord and serve Him as He deserves to be served and honored. The chapter ends with an apocalyptic insight of the day when Jesus returns physically to the earth to rule the nations with an iron rod. This is a teaching that is little emphasized today but is strongly present in the prophesying of Isaiah.
[Isa 24:1-23 KJV] 1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. 2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; 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, so with the giver of usury to him. 3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word. 4 The earth mourneth [and] fadeth away, the world languisheth [and] fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. 5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. 7 The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merryhearted do sigh. 8 The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth. 9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. 10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
In this chapter Isaiah declares that the whole land will be made desolate by the invading armies that will come to empty the cities and carry the peoples of all these nations into captivity. Why would He allow this to happen? Does God hate these people? Quite the contrary. When He brought the children of Israel into the land He gave them ordinances that would cause them to displace the idolatrous peoples and step into a place of blessing far above that which other nations had enjoyed. The problem was as verse 5 tells us the people transgressed God’s laws, changed His ordinances and had broken the everlasting covenant. This is a threefold transgression that lingered in the land from the time of Joshua undealt with until God says “enough is enough”! What were some of the areas of disobedience?
1. They never allowed the land to enjoy its Sabbath. Every seven years the people were to refrain from planting and growing crops to allow the land to rest. This was done to show the people that their trust was not in their farming ability but in the grace of God to provide for them whether they planted or not. There is not one record of the people from Joshua in the beginning to the final king of Judah by the name of Zedekiah that this was observed even once.
2. The jubilee was never observed. When the land was divided among the 12 tribes each family receive a specific inheritance. It was their privilege and right to sell their lands among themselves and even to sell themselves into indentured servitude if they wished. At the end of every 50 year cycle a Jubilee would be declared and every man would go free and all ancestral lands would return to their original inheritors. There is not one record of the people of Joshua down to Zedediah that the Jubilee was ever celebrated as it was intended. They took it as a feast but they never relinquished the lands according to God’s command back to their inheritors.
3. The high places were never eliminated. Throughout David’s reign, and Solomon’s and every successive king in Israel the children of God continued to come to the temple, but they also maintain pagan altars and groves in the high places the entire time they were in the promised land.
There were these and many other ordinances, laws and observances that were given by God supernaturally written by His own hand on tablets of stone but never observed by the people. Yet God tolerated them and blessed them and defended them all the while they, as a nation played the hypocrite until they passed a time of the forbearance of the Father when He said that will be enough of that and as Isaiah says the land would be emptied out of inhabitant. This thoroughly came to pass in the northern kingdom and in Judea and in the nations around them. This was not because God detested them but because He loved them and cared for their future. He would not leave Adam and Eve in a state of transgression in Eden and He will not leave His people in transgression as a nation.
11 [There is] a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. 12 In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction. 13 When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, [there shall be] as the shaking of an olive tree, [and] as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done. 14 They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea. 15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, [even] the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea. 16 From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, [even] glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously. 17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, [are] upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. 18 And it shall come to pass, [that] he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. 19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. 20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones [that are] on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. 22 And they shall be gathered together, [as] prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. 23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
Verse 11 speaks of crying in the streets and joy departing from the land. This is in stark contrast to the previous chapter where the people are celebrating and Isaiah is mourning. Verse 13 goes on to say that in spite of the emptying of the land even at this time there shall still be a shaking of the remnant out of the area as one would shaking an olive tree to get the last few berries out of. Then in verse 14 Isaiah declares that standing in this desolate landscape he hears the sound of those lifting upon their voice from the sea and glorifying (verse 15) the Lord in the midst of the fire. This speaks of the people praising God from the place of captivity where they have been carried. Verse 16 tells us that though the people of God were carried to the uttermost parts of the earth they would from those places of scattering begin finally to sing and worship and serve the Lord with right heart.
Isaiah is relieved to see there is a remnant that will serve the Lord but the prophet is still troubled for he sees down through the millennia that the whole earth will one day reel to a fro like a drunkard. The treacherous dealers who have dealt treacherously will flee and fall into the pit and the snares that they have set for others. The windows of heaven will be open and the foundations of the earth will be dissolved in the day (v. 21) that the Lord will punish the host of the high ones and the kings of the earth that have gathered themselves together against the Lord and against His people. From that judgment the chapter concludes (v. 23) that the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem accompanied by the resurrected ancients who served Him so faithfully in centuries passed. This is an apocalyptic description that sounds very familiar to the writings of John the Revelator speaking of the end of days. It refers to a literal return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up physically in the earth the kingdom that all truly born again people are a part of spiritually.
There is a great move in the culture of the church to marginalize the teachings of eternity and the return of Christ. To the pseudo-sophisticated teachers of the day this seems only a quaint, antiquated idea arising from an ancient uninformed prophet. To be sure however as the angels said at the ascension of Christ that this same Jesus shall so return in like manner as you have seen Him go. It is a cardinal doctrine in the church that Jesus will one day physically return to earth and bring the nations to heel, ruling from a renewed throne on mount Zion. To that end we pray and to that end we declare even so come quickly Lord Jesus.
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