The Book of Isaiah
THE DAY OF THE LORD'S VENGEANCE
Text: ISAIAH 34:1-10
1. We have noted that one of the great themes of Isaiah is “the day of the LORD” (cf. Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9).
2. Sometimes the day of the LORD is referred to by other names, such as “the indignation of the LORD” (Isa. 34:2) and “the day of the LORD’s vengeance” (34:8).
3. The focus of the day of the LORD will be Israel. Jeremiah 30:7 says, “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”
4. It will be a “time of trouble” for Israel, “but he shall be saved out of it” when Christ returns.
5. But though the focus will be on Israel, the day of the LORD will affect the entire planet (cf. Isa. 34:1, 2).
6. Notice the word “all.”
· “all that is therein” (34:1).
· “all things that come forth of it” (34:1).
· “all nations” (34:2).
· “all the host of heaven shall be dissolved” (34:4).
7. Oftentimes the OT would write of a future event (such as the Battle of Armageddon) as if it had already happened (34:2).
8. This is called the “prophetic perfect” tense. This means the prophets refer to future events in the past tense. In doing this, they are guaranteeing that these future events will surely happen. In the mind of God, the event has already happened.
9. From now on as we continue on in our study of Isaiah, we will notice there are no more references to the Assyrians. Franz Delitzsch and CF Keil were 19th century German Bible teachers. They worked together on a commentary series, which covers the entire Old Testament and is still in print, having first appeared in 1861.
10. Regarding Isaiah 34, they wrote, “We feel that we are carried entirely away from the stage of history. There is no longer that foreshortening, by which the prophet’s perspective was characterized before the fall of Assyria…We are transported directly into the midst of the last things; and the eschatological vision is less restricted, has greater mystical depth, belongs more to another sphere, and has altogether more of a NT character.”
I. THINGS ARE NOT GETTING BETTER AND BETTER
1. Dr. Indur M. Goklany has worked with federal and state governments, think tanks, and the private sector in the United States for over 30 years. He has written extensively on globalization, economic development, environmental quality, and technological change.
2. He recently wrote an article entitled, “Now for the Good News: Mankind has never been healthier, wealthier or freer.”
4. You can tell by these titles that Dr. Goklany is very optimistic. He earnestly believes that things are getting better and better. He apparently follows the philosophy of Émile Coué (1857–1926), a French psychologist, famous for his slogan, “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.”
5. In Dr. Goklany’s article he gives many reasons for his optimism: life expectancy has increased; the onset of major disease such as cancer, heart, and respiratory disease has been postponed between eight and eleven years in the past century; heart disease and cancer rates have been in rapid decline over the last two decades; and total cancer deaths have actually declined the last two years, despite increases in population.
6. Infant mortality has declined from 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 1913 to just seven per 1,000 today. In the developing world, the proportion of the population suffering from chronic hunger declined from 37 percent to 17 percent between 1970 and 2001 despite an 83 percent increase in population.
7. Globally average annual incomes in real dollars have tripled since 1950. The world is more literate and better educated than ever. People are freer politically, economically, and socially to pursue their well-being as they see fit.
8. More people choose their own rulers, and have freedom of expression. They are more likely to live under the rule of law, and less likely to be arbitrarily deprived of life, limb, and property.
9. People today work fewer hours and have far more money and better health to enjoy their leisure time than their ancestors.
10. It is an interesting and informative article but there are certain words you will not see: God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Gospel, the Bible, church, sin, judgment, the devil, heaven, and hell are just a few that immediately come to mind.
11. In other words, Dr. Goklany has a humanistic, atheistic perspective. Apparently God is not important to him. He does not have a Christian worldview. This world is all that seems to matter.
12. The Bible does not teach that man is getting better and better. Whether we are looking at the OT (e.g., Isaiah 34) or the NT (e.g., Romans 1), we see man is getting further and further from God.
13. Regarding Isaiah 34, J. Vernon McGee wrote, “This chapter is in contradiction to the philosophy of the world. You see, man expects to so improve the world by his own efforts that he will build a Utopia…The basic philosophy of evolution is that there is improvement as we go along…Everything that man has built apart from God is coming under a frightful judgment. All of man’s work is contrary to God and must come into a final conflict. That conflict is set before us here as the Battle of Armageddon. The sin of man will finally be headed up in the Man of Sin, who will attempt to bring in a kingdom for himself, and that kingdom is the Great Tribulation period. It can only be ended with the coming of Christ to the earth to establish His kingdom.”
14. This is clearly brought out in the book of Revelation, which teaches that things are not going to get better and better until second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. THIS WORLD IS MOVING TOWARD THE JUDGMENT OF GOD (34:1-6).
1. “Indignation” (Isa. 34:2) is a strong word. So are “fury,” “utterly destroyed,” and “slaughter” (34:2).
2. These Scriptures should be compared with the Olivet Discourse. There our Lord said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:21, 22).
3. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matt. 24:29; cf. Isa. 34:4).
4. Our Lord said in Luke 21:26, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
5. Compare Isaiah 34:4 with Revelation 6:13, 14. “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
6. This old world is slowly but surely moving towards the Battle of Armageddon. Revelation 16:16 says, “And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
7. Isaiah calls it “the day of the LORD’s vengeance” (34:8). The book of Revelation confirms this – the catastrophic judgments – the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the vial judgments.
8. The apostle John wrote in Revelation 6:8, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”
9. Isaiah 34:3 indicates the number of the slain will be so great that they will be piled up in big smelly heaps. What a terrible picture of God’s wrath!
10. FC Jennings said these Scriptures are “evidently intended to impress the mind with the awful ‘severity of God,’ when He thus arises to judge the earth” (Studies in Isaiah).
11. They have certainly made an impression on my mind – and on my ministry, my preaching, my soulwinning, etc.
12. Revelation 9:6 says, “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”
13. Johnstown PA was founded in 1793 by Swiss immigrant named Joseph Johns. The town began to prosper with the building of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal in 1836 and the arrival of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Cambria Iron Works in the 1850’s. By 1889, Johnstown was a town of Welsh and German immigrants. With a population of 30,000, it was a growing industrial community known for the quality of its steel.
14. Over the years, there were rumors that the dam was eroding and a breach was imminent. When nothing happened, the people of Johnstown became complacent and greeted the warnings with skepticism and derision. The day the damn broke there were at least four warnings, but they were all ignored.
15. They should have listened to the warnings. At 3:37 PM on May 31, 1889, after a week of heavy rains, the dam burst. Twenty million tons of water crashed down the Conemaugh Valley through a half-dozen towns on its way to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It wiped out nearly everything in between, but Johnstown suffered the most gruesome and disturbing fate of all.
16. Over 2,200 people perished in the Johnstown flood.
17. More recently there was Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. In the end of August in 2005 it hit the Gulf Coast and over 2,000 people died.
18. I saw a reporter on TV say that he went into bars in New Orleans and warned people to get out of town before the storm hit. He said some of the people were too drunk to even get off their bar stool. Some even cursed him out and told him to mind his own business.
19. If sinners ignore warnings like that, we should not be surprised that they ignore warnings from the Bible (cf. II Peter 3:3-9).
III. GOD’S JUDGMENT UPON EDOM (34:5-7).
1. Idumea (34:5) is another name for Edom, the descendants of Esau. The Scofield Bible says, “Peopled by descendants of Esau, Edom has a remarkable prominence in the prophetic word as (together with Moab) the scene of the final destruction of Gentile world-power in the day of the Lord.”
2. Amalek was the grandson of Esau. Exodus 17:16 says, “For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
3. Edom is important in Scripture. They were Israel’s ancient enemies, and therefore they represent God’s enemies.
4. King Herod was an Edomite. Like most of the ancient enemies of Israel, the Edomites lost their identity and were gradually absorbed by the various Arab tribes. Today the territory of Edom is called Jordan, and the descendents of Esau are usually referred to as Palestinians (or Arabs). They remain Israel’s implacable enemies.
5. Esau and his descendants represent all those who oppose God. That is why the Bible says, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13).
6. We have noted in previous messages that in Scripture Edom represents the flesh. Just like always had trouble with Edom; we will always have problems with the flesh. represents the world.
7. The term “day of vengeance” is found two more times in the book of Isaiah (61:2; 63:4). Isaiah 63:1 says, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?” Bozrah was an important city in Edom.
8. Edom figures prominently in Bible prophecy (cf. Psalm 83:1-8; Obadiah 15-18).
9. Sometimes the police will leave a wrecked car on the side of the road as a warning and as a reminder to other drivers. During the millennial kingdom, the burning and smoking pitch of Edom will serve as a reminder of the fierce judgment of God.
10. But even with this and other warnings, foolish sinners will still rebel against God (cf. Rev. 20:7-9).
1. The burning pitch and brimstone (Isa. 34:9) look beyond the judgment of Edom to the sinner’s eternal punishment in hell.
2. Just as the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah was given as a warning of eternal punishment, so is the judgment of Edom (34:10).
3. Deuteronomy 29:23 says, “And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath.”
4. Jude 7 says, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
5. Let us conclude with our Lord’s warning in Luke 17. “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:28-32).