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Go to Bible: Isaiah 24
“will make the earth empty.” The Great Tribulation and Battle of Armageddon will kill most of the people on earth and destroy much of the earth itself. See commentary on Isaiah 13:9 and Daniel 12:1. The Hebrew text is written as if these things were happening now, but the prophecy is of the future.(top)
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“the everlasting covenant.” What this covenant is, is not stated in the text and is debated. Some scholars favor the covenant God made with Noah because that covenant is associated with the shedding of blood, but it is unclear how people could “break” that covenant, which was unilateral. Some scholars favor the Mosaic Covenant because that clearly could be broken, except that covenant was not as universal as Isaiah 24:5 seems to be. Scholars counter that by saying that the Mosaic Covenant had universal application even if it was made with Israel and not all humanity. Some scholars say Isaiah is generalizing information from several covenants and making the point that God’s intention was to rule the world justly and have people be obedient to Him—something that people should have understood—but they transgressed God’s rules, polluted the earth by sin, and have thus broken the covenant. Given the fact that Isaiah does not specifically state which covenant is broken and no single covenant exactly fits the criteria in the verse, this last option seems the best.(top)
“burned up,” The judgment of God is often referred to as a fire; so this may not be a literal fire, but instead by referring to the judgment of God.
“few people are left.” Isaiah 24 is about the Tribulation period that is described in the Book of Revelation. According to Daniel 9:27, the Tribulation will last a “week,” which refers to a week of years, or 7 years. Between the troubles on earth during that time, which will include both natural disasters and wars, the vast majority of people and animals on earth will be killed, which is why “few people are left” alive on earth. It is sometimes taught that no one survives the Tribulation and Armageddon, but that is not true; there will be survivors on earth, and they will be judged in the “Sheep and Goat Judgment” of Matthew 25:31-46 (see commentary on Matthew 25:32).
God says in a few different ways that not many people will survive the Tribulation. Here in Isaiah 24:6 He says it very literally. However, in Isaiah 24:13 He makes the point by comparing the few people who are left on earth with the few olives that are left in the tree after the olive tree is beaten, and also with the few stalks of grain that are left in a field for the gleaners after the grain crop is harvested. Also, in Isaiah 13:12, God says the people on earth will be scarcer than pure gold, and in Jeremiah 25:33, God says the bodies of the people who are killed will be all over the face of the earth. Jesus taught that if the Tribulation was not a short period then no one would be left alive (Matt. 24:22).
To best understand Isaiah, however, we have to take the statement that “very few are left” in comparison to how many there were alive when the trouble started. Matthew 25:31-32 says that after the Battle of Armageddon, when Jesus has conquered the earth and is sitting on his throne, “all the nations will be gathered before him.” Since there are more than seven billion people on earth now, “very few” left could easily be several million people or more.
[For more on the Great Tribulation and the destruction during that time, see commentary on Dan. 12:1].(top)
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|Isa 24:8||- (top)|
|Isa 24:9||- (top)|
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“the beating of an olive tree.” This refers to the biblical custom of beating the olive tree to get the olives off of it (Deut. 24:20). The beating got most of the olives but left some of them, and that is why this comparison is being used here in Isaiah 24:13. Isaiah 24 is about the Tribulation period that is described in the Book of Revelation, with its seal, trumpet, thunder, and vial judgments and the devastation of most of human and animal kind. Between the Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon, “very few” people are left alive on earth. God is trying to make that point, so He says it plainly in Isaiah 24:6 (“very few are left”), and says it again in a pictorial way by comparing the people who are left on earth to the few olives that are left after the olive tree is beaten and also to the very little grain that is left (the gleanings) after the field is harvested.
Isaiah 24:13 is just one of the many places that the Bible says that very few people survive the Tribulation and Armageddon. Isaiah 13:12 says people will be scarcer than pure gold. Jeremiah 25:33 says the slain will be all over the earth. Jesus said that unless the days of the Tribulation and Armageddon were very short, “no flesh would have been saved” (Matt. 24:22). If you calculate the number of people who will be killed in the various judgments in Revelation, you get the same picture. But although there will be worldwide devastation, there is also hope, because the relatively small number of people who are left will praise Yahweh and sing songs to Him from all over the world (Isa. 24:14-16). In the Millennial Kingdom, people all over the world will worship Yahweh.
[For more on very few people being left alive on earth, see commentary on Isaiah 24:6. For more on the custom of beating the olive trees, see commentary on Deut. 24:20. For more on the worldwide devastation of the earth that will occur during the Great Tribulation, see commentary on Dan. 12:1. For more on people all over the world worshiping Yahweh in the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Zeph. 2:11. For more on the kingdom of Christ on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)
“These will lift up their voice.” This verse has engendered much scholarly discussion but little certainty, especially since the unspecified “they” is emphasized in the Hebrew text. From the general scope of Scripture, it seems the ones who are shouting for joy are those who have escaped destruction, and/or are peoples that live far away from the destruction. In any case, the ones who suffer destruction are not the ones shouting for joy. This is one of the many verses of Scripture in which the subject of the context abruptly changes, and in this case those who experience God’s deliverance are joyful.
“west.” The Hebrew is literally, the “sea,” that is, the “Western Sea,” the Mediterranean Sea.(top)
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“will fall into a pit.” The prophecy that during the Great Tribulation people will flee one disaster only to have a different disaster happen to them is also graphically portrayed in Amos 5:19. For more on the Day of Yahweh (the Great Tribulation), see commentary on Isaiah 13:9.(top)
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“the army of the heavens in the heavens, and the kings of the earth on the earth.” When Jesus comes and fights the Battle of Armageddon the human armies of the earth will be killed (Rev. 19:19-21) but the demonic army that has served Satan for millennia and wreaked havoc on the earth will be captured and thrown into Tartarus, the “god-prison,” where they will be imprisoned for the 1,000 year duration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan and his demons will be loosed and they will gather people together to fight against God’s people. But they will be defeated in battle and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:7-10).
There are already demons in Tartarus for their sin against God (1 Pet. 3:18-20; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), and the demons of the “army of the heavens” of Isaiah 24:21 and who exercise control on the earth will be put there too. God has a prison for the Devil and demons, and it is called by different names in the Bible: the “pit” in Isaiah 24:22, “Tartarus” in 2 Pet. 2:4, the “Abyss” in Revelation 20:1, and “prison” in 1 Pet. 3:19. Isaiah 24:21-22 helps clarify Revelation 20:1, which only mentions Satan being chained in the Abyss for 1,000 years but says nothing about Satan’s demons. We know by logical deduction that not just Satan, but Satan and his demons, will be imprisoned at the end of the Battle of Armageddon because Christ’s 1,000-year kingdom on earth could not be “Paradise” (2 Cor. 12:4) if people were constantly being afflicted by demons like they are now. Verses such as Isaiah 24:21-22 and Daniel 7:12 are scriptural support that the demons are also imprisoned during the Millennial Kingdom, and furthermore, it is common in the Bible to mention something happening to a king or ruler when it will happen to his followers as well. For example, when the Bible makes a statement such as, “David went out and fought with the Philistines” (1 Sam. 19:8), the text only mentions David but it means David and his army. Similarly, when “Satan” is thrown in the Abyss (Rev. 20:1), or “the Devil” is thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10), it means Satan and his demon army.
In the Battle of Armageddon, both human kings and also demon spirits who are called “kings of the earth” will be punished. The human kings will be killed and the demon “kings” will be imprisoned. Here in Isaiah 24:21-22 however, the primary meaning of “the kings of the earth” is the demon “kings” that rule the earth behind the scenes, for example, the powerful demon in Daniel who is called the “prince” of Persia (Dan. 10:13, 20). After Armageddon, the demonic heavenly army and the demonic “kings” who influence what happens on earth will be rounded up and punished by being put into the “pit,” just as Isaiah 24:22 says. Furthermore, they will be “visited” after many days. The word “visited” can mean either visited for good or visited for evil, and here it primarily and ultimately means “visited for evil”—they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:7-10). Actually, from the whole scope of Scripture we know that Satan and his demons will be “visited” in the sense that they will be let loose out of their prison at which point they will return to earth and deceive the people into going to war against God’s people (Rev. 20:7-8) but then God “visits” them by a war from heaven and they are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:9-10).
[For more on the use of the word “Paradise” to describe the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on 2 Cor. 12:4. For more on Christ’s future kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)
“visited.” In this context, we know that the demons who will be in prison after the Battle of Armageddon will be there until the end of the 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom. At that time they will be “visited,” (released) and will go out and deceive the nations of the earth and precipitate a war that will result in them being thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:7-10).(top)
“for Yahweh of Armies will reign.” Yahweh will reign through the vice-regency of His Son, the Messiah (Ps. 2:6). In his future kingdom on earth, Jesus Christ will carry out the will of God just like he always has. [For more on Christ’s future kingdom being on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)