May 10, 2021
“You nations come here and listen; you peoples, pay attention! Let all the earth hear, and all that fills it, the World and all that comes from it."
“You nations come here and listen; you peoples, pay attention! Let all the earth hear, and all that fills it, the World and all that comes from it. The Lord is angry with all the nations – furious with all their armies. He will set them apart for destruction, giving them over to slaughter. Their slain will be thrown out and the stench of their corpses will rise; the mountains flow with their blood. All the heavenly bodies will dissolve. The skies will roll up like a scroll, and their stars will all wither as leaves wither on the vine, and foliage on the fig tree.” Isaiah 34:1–5
Isaiah once more turns matters far removed from the events of the seventh century B.C. Chapter 33 closed with a glimpse of the new heavens and the new earth. Chapters 34–35 concentrate on the universal judgment of the wicked surrounding the “Day of the Lord” and the endless joy of the redeemed portrayed in terms of the “flowering of the desert.”
The portrayal of the “Day of the Lord” focuses (initially at least) on the negative side: it is “…a day of vengeance, a year of retribution…” God is angry with the nations whom He has called before Him. He threatens their total destruction and the language is apocalyptic.
The apostle John confirms that the Day of the Lord is upon us.
“Then I saw him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb because the great day of their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?’” Revelation 6:12–16
Israel had comfortably forgotten the “vengeance of the covenant”, the jealousy of God at work within the confines of His chosen people to punish transgression, to discipline them unto greater holiness, and to purge the evil from His people.
The broad truth is that God’s saving work, the bringing of His people into a covenant of grace, is not intended to induce a spirit of moral complacency. Rather, we should enter into a spirit of determined ambition to be holy, to obey God’s Word. Disobedience must expect rebuke and punishment if the disobedience hard-heartedly continues. God loves His people and will never forsake them, but He will chastise us when we fall into sinful ways. Today’s passage is a strong reminder of the predictable end of those who “receive the Lord’s Name” in vain. If He is truly our Bridegroom, shouldn’t we be faithful brides?
God keeps His Word: He is both faithful to judge and faithful to save. How would you choose He be faithful toward you?