“On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth” (Isaiah 24:21).
Isaiah 24:1-27:13 is often called “the little apocalypse.” Apocalyptic literature is filled with symbolism and has as its theme cataclysmic judgment. Other examples of apocalyptic literature in the Scriptures include the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.
The Prophet Isaiah heralded to the people of God, along with pagans, that the Day of the LORD would bring judgment on the created world along with the fullness of salvation for the saints.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “God’s plan of redemption includes restoration from exile, the blessings of Christ in the church, and the establishment of God’s kingdom in all nations.”
Isaiah 24 focuses on God’s overthrow of the corrupted earth. While the immediate context here may refer to the devastation of Judah following the Babylonian captivity, it would seem to have its ultimate fulfillment during the Great Tribulation immediately prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
The language the prophet used is extensive and describes complete and utter devastation for the earth. God himself will lay waste to the entire earth (24:1): The earth will become a great wasteland, and the people will be scattered. All people and fallen angels will be judged (24:2–4, 21–22): No one will be spared from God’s wrath, and the fallen angels will be put in prison. Very few will survive (24:6): A curse will consume the earth and its people, who will be destroyed by fire. Happiness will no longer exist (24:7–13): All joy in life will be gone.
Additionally, evil and treachery will be everywhere (24:16b–18): People possessed by sheer terror will flee from one danger only to be confronted with something even more horrifying. The earth will stagger like a drunkard (24:19–20): It will fall and collapse like a tent, unable to rise again because of the weight of its sins.
Why does such devastating judgment occur (24:5)? It is because humanity has twisted the laws of God and has broken His holy commands (Romans 1:18-32). Thus, Isaiah 24 fits well with other portions of Scripture about the wars between human powers and between God and the nations that accompany the last days (Ezek. 38:1–39:20; Rev. 16:12–16).
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Human sin affects not only men and women but also the rest of creation itself, and it is groaning in longing for release from death and decay (Gen. 3:17–18; Rom. 8:20–23). Before this release occurs, however, the creation must be judged. The results of this judgment are likened to an olive tree and grapevines after the harvest (Isa. 24:13). Just as precious few olives and grapes are left on the plants at the end of the harvest, only a few parts of the earth will remain. This is likely a reference to the remnant that will survive judgment, a faithful people who will rejoice in the Lord’s verdict against unrighteousness (vv. 14–16). God’s final judgment will be for His people as much as it is against sin and death. The faithful remnant will be vindicated as our Creator judges thoroughly and righteously, even toppling those who hold the most power among creatures—the kings of the earth and the rebellious members of the heavenly host (vv. 21–23). God will set all things right for His children, which means bringing an end to Satan and his demonic horde (Rev. 20:7–10).”
We are closer to the Day of Judgment today then we were yesterday, and we will be even closer to it tomorrow. Are you ready to escape that great day by resting in Christ’s righteousness alone? The only hope anyone has to escape such judgment is to repent of sin and receive Jesus Christ as one’s Savior and Lord (Romans 3:21-26). Have you?
Soli deo Gloria!