The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. — Isaiah 24:3
Just a few weeks after the end of World War II, my father, as a soldier in the army of occupation, had the opportunity to visit the city of Hiroshima, Japan. On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima had been destroyed by the first atomic bomb used in warfare. In a split second of time, some 70,000 to 80,000 people stepped into eternity. By December of 1945, thousands more had died from their injuries and radiation poisoning, bringing the total killed in Hiroshima to perhaps 140,000. Many more died in later months and years.
As my father walked through the deserted streets of that terribly ravaged city, he saw that only the shells of a few reinforced concrete buildings were left standing. The wooden houses and places of business that had once made up the city were gone, incinerated in a flash. The streets were eerily quiet. “It was an unforgettable sight,” he wrote home. “I thought, This is hallowed ground. What right do I have to stand here?” Today, more than sixty years after that tragic day, my 87-year-old father’s voice still shows emotion when he speaks of the impression that scene left on him.
In reading this chapter of Isaiah, we realize that the devastation of Hiroshima, horrific as it was, is just a shadow of the terrible destruction that will encompass the whole world in the time of the Great Tribulation. The prophet predicted a universal judgment — the earth will be judged because the people created by God have rebelled against Him and violated His laws. However, by interweaving his descriptions of impending judgment with glimpses of the Kingdom that will follow the devastation, Isaiah revealed that God the Judge is also a God of mercy and righteousness.
Those who submit their lives to God in this life will live and reign with Him throughout eternity. What a hope we have as we focus our thoughts on the glorious time that will follow earth’s destruction!
This section of the Book of Isaiah (chapters 24-27) is often called “Isaiah’s Apocalypse” because it looks beyond the immediate judgment of Israel’s Gentile neighbors to the final judgments of the Great Tribulation period. Chapter 24 begins Isaiah’s prophecy of a coming universal judgment upon all the earth, which is to be followed by the universal blessing of the Messianic Kingdom.
Looking down through time, Isaiah saw an era when the entire world will come under the judgment and retribution of a righteous God. The Hebrew word erets, used nine times in the first thirteen verses of the chapter, has a meaning of “earth,” though it is also translated as “land” in some of the verses. It refers to the whole inhabited world, and does not restrict the judgment merely to Judah or Israel. The result of God’s judgment will be a world that is empty, laid waste, and destroyed. It will be left so devastated and distorted that it is unrecognizable.
Every class of society will be affected: priest, servant, master, farmer, etc. Mankind will be almost totally obliterated from the face of the earth. The inhabitants of the world are pictured as being desolate and burned (haru, meaning “charred”). In light of today’s sophisticated weaponry, this could be an allusion to the potential of nuclear warfare.
The city of confusion (verse 10) could be translated “city of chaos” or “emptiness.” This does not refer to Jerusalem or Babylon; it is used to describe desolation of cities in general. The cities of the earth will be wasted and empty as a result of this universal destruction.
Verses 6-13 vividly picture what it will be like on the Day of the Lord. There will be no joy at harvest, because there will be no harvest. The judgment of God will destroy the crops as well as those who till the soil. The only singing done during this time will be done by the remnant who will sing in recognition of God’s divine deliverance of them from this time of Great Tribulation.
Verses 19 and 20 foretell an earthquake-like disaster that will shake the entire earth, not just a localized earthquake in the land of Israel. The judgment of God upon the earth possibly throws it off its axis, as described by the phrase, “the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard.” The Day of the Lord will affect not only the earth and its people but also Satan and his hosts. God will judge the evil powers of the spirit world as well as the kings on earth.
The chapter concludes with a ray of hope. In spite of all the judgments, the King, the Lord Himself, shall reign someday in Mount Zion.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
D. Prophecies related to the world
1. The prediction of universal judgment (24:1-23)
a. The declaration of judgment (24:1-3)
b. The reasons for judgment (24:4-5)
c. The description of the judgment (24:6-13)
d. The preserved from judgment (24:14-15)
e. The universality of judgment (24:16-22)
f. The reign of the Lord (24:23)
The terrible judgment that will be poured out upon the world during the Great Tribulation is almost beyond comprehension. Let us determine to be among those who escape this time, and look forward with anticipation to the day when the “Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion” (Isaiah 24:23).