Isaiah Chapter 24: Darkness of the Great Time of Trouble

Dec 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Isaiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Isaiah Chapter 24: Darkness of the Great Time of Trouble

Isa. 24:1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.

Isa. 24:2 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.

Isa. 24:3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.

Isa. 24:4 The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.

All strata of society—the whole earth—will be affected by this calamity (the great Time of Trouble). Activity will cease in the commercial as well as in the religious realm. The various goods and artifacts will lose their charm and appeal because everyone will be brought to a common level of distress.

The “earth mourneth and fadeth away” and the “world languisheth and fadeth away.” Both nature and society will be affected. For instance, the singing of birds will cease. There will be a mournful atmosphere in nature.

Verse 4 reads as follows in the RSV: “The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth.” The “heavens” would be religious and civil leaders. Nature, the common people, and the leaders will all be affected.

Isa. 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

The earth is “polluted” (RSV) in every sphere—naturally (air, water, food, etc.) and spiritually and figuratively.

“They have … broken the everlasting [Adamic] covenant.” When Adam disobeyed, the death penalty came on the human race through him. However, if individually tested, no one (except Jesus) could have kept the covenant perfectly. All would have come short. “Everlasting” means “age-lasting” here.

Isa. 24:6 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.

Without a general knowledge of Scripture, this verse would seem to be literal, but it is not, as other Scriptures help us to know (for example, Zeph. 3:8,9). Nevertheless, there will be universal suffering and distress of the inhabitants. All will be “burned” figuratively.

“Few men [are] left” is like saying, “Though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee” (Jer. 30:11). In spite of the horror of Jacob’s Trouble, and in spite of the fact the Holy Remnant will be both “holy” and a “remnant,” the number of Jews who survive the trouble, proportionately speaking, may be higher than the number of survivors in the other nations. We are told that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22). Therefore, while the “burning” is figurative and not a literal scorching of the surface of the earth, many deaths and calamities will occur. The majority will probably die. The advice to the world is, “Hide yourself. Do not get involved in the pillaging. In quietness and meekness, you may live through the trouble.”

Zechariah 13:8,9 reads, “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts [Little Flock and Great Company] therein shall be cut off and die; but the third [Holy Remnant of Israel—and indirectly the world of mankind] shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”

Ezekiel 39:1,2 says, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel.” When Gog and Magog come down against the Holy Land in Jacob’s Trouble, only a sixth part of these Gentiles will survive to go home as eyewitnesses of God’s miraculous deliverance of the Holy Remnant. That means five sixths of Gog will perish. What the percentage is of Gentiles who will die worldwide the Scriptures do not say, but it could well be over 50 percent because of the anarchy.

Isa. 24:7 The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merryhearted do sigh.

Isa. 24:8 The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.

Isa. 24:9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.

Wine and song will cease. Merriment and frivolity will stop. Even the musical instruments will be silent.

“Strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.” Some people can drink strong liquor with pleasure. But at that time, such people will find they can no longer consume strong drink.

Isa. 24:10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.

The “city of confusion” is mystic Babylon. Thus verses 7-10 can be spiritualized. The “strong drink” would be false doctrine. There are two possible interpretations for the “new wine” of verse 7. (1) The “new wine” would be the false doctrines promulgated by the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet. “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). Their false doctrines will not bring happiness and safety but will be “strong” and “bitter” to those who drink them. (2) The true “new wine” would be the doctrine of the Kingdom, which is not yet here at the time setting of these verses. The vine will languish because of the lack of this doctrine. Later in the Book of Isaiah, this interpretation would fit.

Isa. 24:11 There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.

When all else fails, the people will cry out for the true new “wine”; they will ask for help. “They shall pass through it [the land], hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward” (Isa. 8:21).

Isa. 24:12 In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction.

“In the city” (Babylon, Christendom), “the gates are battered into ruins” (RSV). Verse 12 is a reminder of the invasion of Babylon by Cyrus, who went under the gates of the city.

Isa. 24:13 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.

The Roman Catholic Church is “in the midst of the land among the people [nations—RSV]”; that is, it is international.

“As when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the vintage is done” (RSV). The true vintage, the wheat harvest, is over; the Little Flock is gone. When the salt of the earth is removed, the destruction will come quickly. Once the true Church is gone and Protestantism and Catholicism, the two pillars, are torn down by the antitypical Samson, the whole fabric of society will tumble.

Isa. 24:14 They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.

Verses 1-13 were all woe and trouble. Verse 14 gives a ray of hope—hope and rejoicing as the people lift their voices to God.

Isa. 24:15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.

Verses 14-16a describe jubilation and rejoicing (see RSV). “They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.

From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.” Isaiah was standing in the middle, occupying center stage in the Holy Land. Prophetically he heard jubilation from the eastern and western extremities of the earth; hence there will be universal joy and understanding because of the miraculous deliverance of Israel from Jacob’s Trouble. “Glory to the Righteous” God!

Isa. 24:16 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.

The pronoun “I” refers to Isaiah. The prophet said, “My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! … the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.” This portion of verse 16 is a flashback in time, prior to the trouble. For “My leanness,” the KJV margin has “My secret to me”; Isaiah (like the Church) had advance prophetic knowledge of the coming trouble.

Isa. 24:17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.

Isa. 24:18 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.

Isa. 24:19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.

Isa. 24:20 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.

A person hears a report of coming trouble. He is running to escape the terror, but in his blind haste, he falls into a pit. He climbs out of the pit only to get caught by a snare (a tree bent over with a loop that hangs an animal when triggered).

One lesson is that those in the world who flee in terror and fear will not escape the trouble in the Day of the Lord’s wrath. Those who flee from the country to the city will not escape, and vice versa. The best advice to the unconsecrated is, “Hide yourself meekly and righteously wherever you are and in whatever situation—and PRAY! There will be greater safety in contrition than in panic.”

“The earth shall reel to and fro [stagger] like a drunkard.” The whole foundation of society is intoxicated. (Reasoning is illogical in the courts, for example.) Finally all institutions will crumble. The people will act for self or family.

“The earth … shall be removed like a cottage.” In the vineyards during the heat of harvest, a cottage sheltered the workers from the sun at lunchtime and in times of rest. The cottages were thatched temporary huts. Hence the present arrangement of society with the permission of evil and Satan usurping power is likened to a temporary cottage; it will be “removed.” In the future, when society is built upon the proper foundation, it will last.

“The windows from on high” will be open. This same expression was used at the time of the Flood, when the “world that then was” ended (Gen. 7:11; 2 Pet. 3:6). Now the expression was used in regard to the end of the present evil world. When the sluice gates from heaven are opened and the fallen angels inundate the earth, the great Time of Trouble will be precipitated. A similar expression about opening the windows of heaven is used in Malachi 3:10 in reference to receiving abundant blessings. In other words, when the windows of heaven are opened, there is always a flood—either of judgment or of blessing.

Isa. 24:21 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.

The Lord will punish all segments of society but, as shown here, especially the leadership (religious and civil).

Isa. 24:22 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.

Isa. 24:23 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.

The “high ones … and the kings of the earth … shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall … be visited.” The picture changes here. Earlier verses show how the Time of Trouble will affect all society with disarray and harsh experiences. The condemnation will be particularly on the “high ones” of the earth. When earth is viewed throughout its history, there have been cycles of conditions leading up to a climax requiring judgment: guilt and sin, then judgment; guilt and sin, then judgment; etc. But many have died without receiving judgment, punishment, or retribution. Now the wicked flourish “like a green bay tree” (Psa. 37:35), and those who tempt God seem to prosper. Verses 21 and 22 are summarizing that down through history, those who have failed in their stewardship of responsibility will not escape retribution.

Those who have gone quietly down into the grave await a future verdict and punitive judgment when they are resuscitated in the Kingdom. In other words, the sins of the present life will not all be forgiven by any means. The opportunity for escape will be offered, and leniency and mercy will be extended, but for specific willful acts of injustice, there must be retribution in the future. “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men[‘s sins] they follow after” (1 Tim. 5:24).

“Then the moon [papal canon law] shall be confounded, and the sun [Papacy] ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion [through The Christ], and in Jerusalem [the earthly phase of the Kingdom], and before his ancients [the Ancient Worthies] gloriously.”

Those who have exercised stewardship in the religious world in the present life will come forth from the tomb shamefacedly.

Verse 23 suggests that the Ancient Worthies will be the first ones to have a resurrection here on earth and to have a role to play. Just as Jesus and the Church are the firstfruits on the spiritual plane, so the Ancient Worthies will be raised before the world of mankind.

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