Read Isaiah 24
The Lord’s Devastation of the Earth
24 See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth
and devastate it;
he will ruin its face
and scatter its inhabitants—
2 it will be the same
for priest as for people,
for the master as for his servant,
for the mistress as for her servant,
for seller as for buyer,
for borrower as for lender,
for debtor as for creditor.
3 The earth will be completely laid waste
and totally plundered.
The Lord has spoken this word.
4 The earth dries up and withers,
the world languishes and withers,
the heavens languish with the earth.
5 The earth is defiled by its people;
they have disobeyed the laws,
violated the statutes
and broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth;
its people must bear their guilt.
Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up,
and very few are left.
7 The new wine dries up and the vine withers;
all the merrymakers groan.
8 The joyful timbrels are stilled,
the noise of the revelers has stopped,
the joyful harp is silent.
9 No longer do they drink wine with a song;
the beer is bitter to its drinkers.
10 The ruined city lies desolate;
the entrance to every house is barred.
11 In the streets they cry out for wine;
all joy turns to gloom,
all joyful sounds are banished from the earth.
12 The city is left in ruins,
its gate is battered to pieces.
13 So will it be on the earth
and among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.
14 They raise their voices, they shout for joy;
from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty.
15 Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord;
exalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel,
in the islands of the sea.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear singing:
“Glory to the Righteous One.”
But I said, “I waste away, I waste away!
Woe to me!
The treacherous betray!
With treachery the treacherous betray!”
17 Terror and pit and snare await you,
people of the earth.
18 Whoever flees at the sound of terror
will fall into a pit;
whoever climbs out of the pit
will be caught in a snare.
The floodgates of the heavens are opened,
the foundations of the earth shake.
19 The earth is broken up,
the earth is split asunder,
the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth reels like a drunkard,
it sways like a hut in the wind;
so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion
that it falls—never to rise again.
21 In that day the Lord will punish
the powers in the heavens above
and the kings on the earth below.
22 They will be herded together
like prisoners bound in a dungeon;
they will be shut up in prison
and be punished after many days.
23 The moon will be dismayed,
the sun ashamed;
for the Lord Almighty will reign
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and before its elders—with great glory.
If you’ve ever driven on a dangerous, winding road you’ve likely seen the signs that say “Danger Ahead!” We see this traffic sign to warn us of falling rocks, sharp turns, or icy bridges. We would discover these dangers on our own soon enough, but the sign is there to alert us to the danger so we can adjust our actions to avoid fatal outcomes. The sign doesn’t cause or change the conditions, but it should change our behavior.
Isaiah 24 is a warning sign for the people of Israel and for us. In The Message translation of scripture, this chapter begins with “Danger ahead! God’s about to ravish the earth and leave it in ruins. . .” This chapter begins a section of apocalyptic literature that continues through Chapter 27, preparing people for the coming devastation. The Bible Project defines an apocalypse as a heavenly perspective on an earthly situation. The apocalypse described in Chapter 24 provides a heavenly perspective on earthly rebellion.
Isaiah defines the situation in verse 5: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant.” Let’s look at the four charges against humanity Isaiah outlines in this verse:
- The people defiled the earth, both literally and figuratively, damaging the beautiful environment and relationship God created for us.
- The people disobeyed [crossed over the line of] God’s laws, provided at creation and throughout history. This rebellion broke their relationship with Him.
- The people violated or changed the statutes, the boundaries God prescribed to keep them safe.
- The people broke the everlasting covenant. The “everlasting covenant” may refer to the covenant made when God created humans or to the promise made to Noah after the flood. In both of these, God provided life and earth to humanity, and humanity has taken that for granted.
While these charges were written for the people in the 700s B.C., they also were written for us today as we continue to struggle with this same rebellious behavior.
Isaiah describes the natural and supernatural consequences of this behavior as a warning. Watch out for dried up resources, wars, inescapable situations, and overwhelming guilt. God is warning us, along with Isaiah’s original audience. Remember: a sign doesn’t cause or change the conditions, but it should caution us to change our behavior. The time to repent is now.
- In what ways do you see the behavior outlined in Isaiah 24:5 in today’s world?
- What are some of the consequences of this behavior you see today?
- What does this warning tell you about God’s nature? Why would he warn the people and us?
Leave a Comment Below
Join the Team
Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email email@example.com.