Salvation in Isaiah 24
The last few sermons in Isaiah have been about burdens. They have been prophecies against the Gentile nations and how God would deal with them. These have nearly all been fulfilled in history.
But Chapter 24 brings us to a different set of predictions in a section of Isaiah that extends to chapter 27. In these 4 chapters there are prophecies concerning the end of the world. They have sometimes been called the LITTLE APOCALYPSE because of their similarity to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24 about the end times. APOCALYPSE as you may know mean REVELATION – an unveiling of what the Lord God wants the church to know.Indeed there are fearful things to come that will happen to this world at the end when God calls a halt to history and ushers in eternity! He intends that we know about these things – and so they are introduced to us gradually throughout the whole of the Bible, culminating in the last book – in word pictures and language that are quite dazzling and sometimes shocking.
So for us, in one sense, as we have read of God’s dealings with nations who opposed Him and His special people, we have been prepared for something even more serious – the destruction and end of everything at the end of time! Someone has said that the day of judgement is remote – but THY day of judgement is at hand. The Bible does have a lot to say about judgment – so we do well to be informed.
The first 13 verses of Chapter 24 speak of a universal desolation of the earth and what we can call the World City. All nations and peoples, tribes and tongues are embraced by Isaiah’s prophecy. The predictions of the end of the world include nations to come in the future, undreamed of by the prophet.
Verse 1 speaks of the wasting of the world – emptied as one would empty a vessel by turning it upside down.
Verse 2 – this wasting is universal in its scope – people and priest; servant and master; maid and mistress; buyer and seller; creditor and debtor; we could add church goer and non church goer; criminal and civil law keeper; king and subject. These are the signs of a breakdown in society and judgement coming ever nearer.
Verses 3 – 4. What strong and emphatic language this is – the result of the judgment – he is explicit – emptied and spoiled – no one is exempt – high and low in society – all affected.
Verse 5 – It is not just limited to Palestine where Isaiah lived and prophesied – it is universal – the inhabitable earth as a whole.
Sadly we have to realise that everything that man touches becomes polluted. From the beginning God had put man under law. God gave laws, statutes and a covenant called the everlasting covenant.
Why should this seemingly endless world and universe be judged at all? Why should there be an ending? Why has the Lord God put it into the heart and mind of his prophets that they should warn the peoples of the earth about destruction to come?
The answer is this. The whole world of mankind has transgressed God’s law. Beginning with Adam and Eve every human being except one has broken the law, not kept the law and transgressed the law.
Romans 3 v 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Universal transgression brings a universal curse. Notice verse 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.
Some people speak of a Golden Age or Golden Ages when they suggest things were far better in the world than they are now. My friends it is foolish to think that way. There never has been any Golden Age in the history of the world when goodness and righteousness prevailed. Some Jewish people would look back to the Kingdom of Israel and the rule and reigns of David and Solomon. Security, prosperity and expansion marked those days – but there were great flaws in both Kings and in their Kingdoms. David – an adulterer, murderer and weak parent – as well as a gifted King. Solomon a lustful polygamist, who though wise and an excellent organiser yet was imperfect and cursed for the kingdom was divided after he died – what a legacy that was!
Since the fall world history and Biblical History have recorded that people who have blatantly disregarded God’s Laws have contributed to their own destruction! Some people believe that God is some vindictive tyrant who takes pleasure in destroying and judgement.
But a sensible look at history, and indeed our present culture, shows that people are destroying themselves.
How are they doing this?
1. By neglect of their bodies, minds and souls.
Abuse of the body is common – over or under eating; drugs and drink taken to excess; illicit sex leading to all kinds of diseases.
Abuse of the mind is seen in foolish thinking; mindless entertainment; living for the weekend for more fun and sensual activity. There is a fascination with gossip and looking in on people engaged in sinful lifestyles – the media obsession with ungodly behaviour – reporting it and publishing it in so called entertaining ways numbs the mind. And modern men’s minds are filled with banal philosophies and pseudo science including evolution.
Abuse of the soul in which people have little or no regard for God their maker; no regard for Christ the Saviour of sinners; no desire in seeking the Lord and worshipping their creator.
2. But it is not only neglect that leads to this self destruction. There is an active self destroying process going on. Some are destroying their own human relatives – some before birth in abortions, and some afterwards at the other end of life in thinking that euthanasia is the way to die.
There is the self destruction through abuse of the environment – we hear a lot about this these days – pollution, acid rain, GM crops; and many more issues that are leading to possible disaster of man’s own making.
6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth,
Verse 7 – 9 What a shallow joy is the happiness that people, in the world think that they have today. It is the artificial joy that comes with drink – but sinks with hangover type downs the next morning. Verse 8 is right up to date – Isaiah arranges three things in order – and speaks to us of the modern society in which we live – we are constantly being bombarded with the senseless noise of hard rock music. And there are no songs in the judgement – for the sensuous pleasure will be brought to an end.
Verse 10 speaks of a broken down city – defeated and destroyed – the world and its lusts must eventually pass away.
What a black picture there is in verse 11 – 12 desolation and destruction. Verse 13 finishes this section with the declaration of the completeness of the destruction – every last olive and every last grape will be shaken off the boughs so that none of those who have rejected God’s laws and statutes and everlasting covenant will survive.
Reginald Heber a man who wrote several hymns also wrote this poem about the judgement –
The world is grown old, and her pleasures are past; The world is grown old, and her form may not last; The world is grown old and trembles for fear, For sorrows abound and judgement is near. The sun in the heaven is languid and pale; And feeble and few are the fruits of the vale; And the hearts of the nations fail them for fear, For the world is grown old and judgement is near. The King on the throne, the bride in her bower, The children of pleasure all feel the sad hour; The roses are faded, and tasteless the cheer, For the world is grown old and judgement is near. The world is grown old! But should we complain Who have tried her and know that her promise is vain? Our heart is in heaven; our home is not here, And we look for our crown when judgment is near.
Now there is a glimmer of hope in this chapter.
Verses 14 – 15 – although many people will be destroyed in the judgement by God’s grace SOME are spared! There is a remnant – who will survive the final judgement. They will be gathered from one end of the earth to the other and will be those who raise their voices and give glory to God. Who are these? How will they escape the desolation to come?
They are those who by grace recognise the Majesty of Jehovah. Their salvation from the judgement is an expression of His mercy and grace. He has shown His majestic greatness in many ways including the awesome power of His destruction of the earth. Mercy triumphs over judgement. And my friends we know from the rest of scripture that those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ escape from the wrath to come. They are as Pilgrim is in Pilgrim’s Progress – they escape from the city of destruction – the world and its ways. But it is only the remnant who will be able to offer praise – for the rest of the peoples of the world it will be too late!
Oh how there needs to be a turning to Jehovah God for salvation. He has made it so plain that the judgement is coming – and confirmed it elsewhere in His word –
Hebrews 9 v 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
What a verse this is – how terrifying if you were to find this verse on a piece of paper and that was all you had of the Word of God. It would speak to you of judgement – but no mercy. Oh my friend it is true that there is only one death to die and after that the judgment will be yours – but the next verse in Hebrews 9 says this –
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Yes – God Himself in the person of Christ offered Himself to bear the sins of that remnant who would escape the judgement. They will not be judged for their sins. Why? Because Jesus Christ has borne the judgement on their behalf. How wonderful that this should be so! O my friend – do you believe this? WILL you believe it? Jesus Christ offers you escape from the judgement to come – the judgement described in Isaiah 24 – the catastrophe of verse 16; the fear of verse 17; The earth broken up, split asunder and thoroughly shaken as described in verse 19; the earth swaying like a drunkard and collapsing like a shed never to rise again in verse 20 – you do not have to be subject to this – if you will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust Him with your future.
Imagine my friend what it is to be safe from a certain disaster.
Consider for a moment the terrible fires that swept Australia just a few months ago. Hundreds of acres of land were engulfed by fires that devoured dried pasture and people’s homes that were in its path.
Imagine that you were in the path of such a fire – what is your best means of safety? Many have found a way. They set fire to the long grass around their feet and burned a large circular space until everything burnable had been consumed. Then as the bush fire came nearer and nearer towards them they stepped into the circle by standing where the fire had already been. The fire cannot burn twice. They were saved from the devouring flames. It was a case of life or death.
My friends the fire of God’s wrath fell on Christ at Calvary. He was crucified as a public spectacle, offered as a sacrifice, gave Himself as a ransom. Already he has born judgment in Himself – but it was on behalf of his people – believers in him.
You need to step into the place where judgement has already fallen. If you are to survive the fire of judgement you must get to that place of safety that is only in the Lord Jesus Christ.Isaiah only mentions fires once in this chapter – in the 15th verse. But the Apostle Peter has something to say in 2 Peter 3 v 7
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
What a wonderful thing it is to know that we have a place of safety. I am in it – by grace and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ I do not need to fear the judgement of God – my saviour has paid my ransom and I have fled to Him for refuge.
Have you my friend? Are you trusting the Lord as your saviour tonight?
You need to come to that place of safety through repentance – so turn from your sin and plead with the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy and pardon and forgiveness – he always hears those who genuinely and earnestly and sincerely cry to Him for rescue.