Prev Next

"The Curse Has Devoured the Earth" (Isaiah 24) April 8

Isaiah 24-27 is often referred to as the "little Apocalypse" or the "Isaiah Apocalypse." That's because it describes, in broad, general terms, the great cosmic events that will mark the end of the age—as described in the book of Revelation.

Verse 5 of chapter 24 mentions the breaking of the "everlasting covenant." And the implication is that all the earth's inhabitants are part of this covenant arrangement. Yet when did God make a covenant with all humanity? Says The Bible Reader's Companion: "Many see this as a reference to God's covenant with Noah, never again to destroy the Earth by a flood (cf. Gen. 9:11-17). That covenant also implies human moral responsibility, for it makes man responsible to God to account for shed blood (9:4-6). Thus the laws and statutes here are not those of the O[ld] T[estament] law [that is, the totality of specific obligations given to Israel under the Sinai Covenant]. They are natural moral laws, expressed in human conscience, which God has imbedded in human nature, to which Paul refers in Rom. 2:12-16)" (note on verse 5).

The Nelson Study Bible comments: "The usual language concerning a breach of the covenant is applied more generally to the wicked nations. Perhaps these words speak of that innate sense of right and wrong—the conscience—that God has given to all humankind, but which everyone violates (Rom. 1:18-32; compare Acts 24:16)" (verse 5).

Actually, God did give laws at the time of Adam, but man rejected them—and, as a consequence, God destroyed mankind except for Noah and his family. Noah understood God's laws and passed them on. But man has transgressed them and changed them to suit himself. And, as mentioned, man as a whole has violated the wonderful gift of conscience that God has given to every person. The earth is defiled by all of this—especially, as stated, by the innocent blood shed on it. So it lies under a curse. And God will bring great havoc on the world.

Some, we should note, misquote this section of the Bible, using it to "prove" that the returning Christ totally destroys the earth and all life on it—and that His thousand-year reign that follows is then over a desolate, uninhabited earth. In support of this wrong teaching, they cite the first half of verse 6, which speaks of the scorching of the earth's inhabitants. But they leave out the end of the verse—"and few men are left." Here is a classic illustration of using the Bible to prove an already preconceived idea instead of allowing Scripture to interpret itself. For reading all of verse 6 shows that mankind, though greatly diminished by end-time plague and war, isn't totally destroyed. Clearly, there will still be people left alive.

Verse 16 gives the impression of people rejoicing in song, while the prophet is bemoaning the "treacherous dealers," perhaps referring to false messiahs or the False Prophet (see Matthew 24:24; Revelation 16:13).

Then a mighty earthquake is described. Cataclysmic events befall the planet, and the "windows from on high are open" (Isaiah 24:18-20)—apparently picturing the great upheaval and hail to come at the end (compare Revelation 8:8-11; 11:19; 16:18-21). Then there is mention of the "host of exalted ones," in addition to the kings of the earth, being punished and imprisoned for many days, which could include the human armies that assail Christ at His return as well as Satan and His demons (verses 21-22; compare Revelation 19:20-20:3).

The chapter concludes with the reign of the Lord in Zion (verse 23; compare Revelation 21:22-25).

Prev Next