Isaiah 34

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 31, 1999


Isaiah 34 begins a prophecy that spans two chapters (34 & 35), and deals with things of the end. Isaiah 34 deals with the judgment of God during the Great Tribulation period, while Isaiah 35 will talk about the blessings that will come to the world when Jesus returns.

:1 Come near, ye nations, to hear

God has called out a warning to the nations. He’s going to warn them of the judgment that is coming. Judgment doesn’t come without a warning. The question isn’t really whether you’ve been warned or not, the question is whether you will pay attention to it or not.

:2 For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations … armies

all nations – This is the time period we refer to as The Great Tribulation. It is the time of God’s wrath being poured out on the whole earth.

all their armies – what we are seeing here is a picture of the final moments of the Battle of Armageddon. At Armageddon, all the armies of the world will be destroyed.

We are living in a time when many are beginning to wonder if we’re close to the "end of the world".

The cover of this week’s Newsweek magazine had the words "Prophecy" across the front, with the feature article entitled, "The Way The World Ends" (11/1/99). In it, Kenneth Woodward tries to sum up what people believe about the end of the world. Some of the statistics are interesting. The article states,

"Some 40% of U.S. adults believe the world will end as foretold in a Battle of Armageddon between Jesus and the Antichrist".

"When asked if they think Jesus will return to the earth during their lifetimes, 18% of American adults answer yes".

Rev 16:12-16 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. {13} And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. {14} For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. {15} Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. {16} And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

"Armageddon" means "Hill of Megiddo", a city in the northern part of Israel, a place that is famous for being an ancient battle ground. Jesus told us to be ready.

Rev 19:11-21 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. {12} His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. {13} And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. {14} And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. {15} And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. {16} And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. {17} And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; {18} That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. {19} And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. {20} And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. {21} And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

:3 the mountains shall be melted with their blood

The idea is that the mountains will be dissolved like a giant river washed over them, but it’s a river of blood.

(Rev 14:20 KJV) And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

The blood is six feet deep, for 200 miles, the length of Israel.

:4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll

host of heaven – probably a reference to the stars in space.

heavens shall be rolled together – very similar to a description of a nuclear explosion. The same thing is described in Rev. 6:12-14.

:5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven

bathed – (NIV) "My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens". The idea is that while God is watching the earth from His throne in heaven, He’s had it "up to here" with our rebellion. It’s time for judgment. God said before the flood of Noah,

(Gen 6:3 KJV) …My spirit shall not always strive with man…

There would be a day when God’s patience would run out. It did and there was a flood.

Peter writes,

(2 Pet 3:9-11 NLT) The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. {10} But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and everything in them will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be exposed to judgment. {11} Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living!

God is being patient now. But there’s an end to His patience. Are you ready?

Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church:

(1 Th 1:8-10 NLT) And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Greece, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don't need to tell them about it, {9} for they themselves keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God. {10} And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven--Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.

The one who rescues us from the coming wrath is Jesus. Are you serving Him?

:5 it shall come down upon Idumea

Idumea – Edom, the land where the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, settled. It is in the southern part of modern Jordan.

Edom becomes a picture of God’s judgment on all nations (vs. 2), those who don’t trust in the Lord.

Heb 12:14-17 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: {15} Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; {16} Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. {17} For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

There are two Greek words that are often translated "repentance". One carries the idea of sorrow (metamellomai), and means that you’re just bummed out about being bad. The other means a change of purpose, a change of mind (metanoia), a change of course. This is the kind of repentance that God desires of us. But this was also the kind of repentance (metanoia) found in the text that Esau couldn’t find. Instead, he just got all tearful about his situation.


Tears or change?

Are you a person whose life is centered on the physical things around you? Is your life like Esau’s, focused on the "material world"? When you think about your sin, does it just cause you to get sad, or does it cause you to want to change? Sadness can be okay, as long as it eventually results in a real change in your life.

God isn’t looking for people who only get teary-eyed. He’s looking for people who are ready to have their lives turned around.

:6 the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah

blood, fat, kidneys – all elements of proper sacrifice.

Bozrah – one of the ancient capitals of Edom. It was a sheep herding center about 25 miles (40 km) SE of the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Edom will also be involved as one of the places of action when Jesus returns. Look at the parallels between Revelation 19 (which we just looked at) and Isaiah 63.

Isa 63:1-6 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. {2} Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? {3} I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. {4} For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. {5} And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. {6} And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

I think the place Jesus may first arrive at on planet earth is in Edom (modern Jordan), where He will rescue the Jews who have fled there to escape the persecution of the antichrist (Rev. 12; Isa. 16).

sacrifice – This picture of the slaughter in Edom, the slaughter of the ungodly, is called a "sacrifice". These people are paying for their sins. They are paying for their sins with the exact dollar amount required, their own lives.

Though some have taken this to be that the Edomites will be the "sacrifice", I think it’s possible that this is all talking about the end of Armageddon, and the sacrifice includes all the armies of the world.


Who will pay for your sins?

The concept of a sin sacrifice is that your sin must be paid for. An animal would give up its life to pay the consequence for your sin. But there will be a day when there will be no more substitutional sacrifices. There will be a day when your sins must be paid for. If you have not allowed someone else to pay for them, then you will pay for them.

Jesus took on the form of a man for the very purpose of dying on the cross, to pay for our sins. He offers to you complete forgiveness, but it only comes when you are willing to ask Him to pay for your sins, and you trust Him to do it.

:7 And the unicorns shall come down with them

(Isa 34:7 NASB) Wild oxen shall also fall with them …

:8 For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance

This is God’s payback time for all that has happened to Jerusalem.

:11 and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.

confusiontohuw – formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness

emptinessbohuw – emptiness, void, waste

The "measuring line" and "plumb line" (stones) are building terms. It’s a picture of what God is going to build for these people. He’s going to build confusion and emptiness for them.


A purpose for life.

Those who choose to reject the Lord also reject God’s purpose and plan for their lives. Instead, they end up with confusion and emptiness.

Jesus is the one who gives us purpose and meaning in life.


In 1983, attempting to recruit John Sculley, the 38-year-old President of Pepsi-Cola, Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computer, issued a famous challenge to Sculley. He asked: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"

-- Odyssey, John Sculley, p.90

Jesus has a purpose for you. You don’t have to be stuck in the rut the rest of the world is in, living a life without purpose or meaning, just "selling sugared water".

(Jer 29:11 NLT) For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

There is no one who knows you better than the One who designed you. He alone knows exactly what you are capable of. He is the One who designed you for a purpose. If you want to know His specific purpose for your life, it starts by not walking away from Him. It starts by getting closer to the Designer.

:13 it shall be an habitation of dragons

dragonstanniyn – dragon, serpent, sea monster (or, whale); dinosaur; serpent, venomous snake.

:14 the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also

satyrsa`iyr – he-goat, buck, hairy goat (NAS); satyr, may refer to a demon possessed goat like the swine of Gadara (Mt 8:30-32) .

screech owlliyliyth – "Lilith". In Jewish superstition, this was the name of a female night demon with wings and who was dressed in elegant clothes, but who came and carried off children at night. Only place the word is found in Scripture.

Sounds a little like Halloween, huh? Fearful is the place of the unbeliever.

:16 none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded

Even though we may not know what some of these animals are, God knows. They will be there. He’s even going to supply mates for them.

:17 And he hath cast the lot for them

(Isa 34:17 NIV) He allots their portions; his hand distributes them by measure. They will possess it forever and dwell there from generation to generation.

:16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail,


Read your Bible!

Everything written in it is true. It will all come to pass.

A week ago, in U.S. News and World Report (dated 10-27-99), there was an article called, "Is the Bible True?" Here’s Chuck Colson’s comments about the article …

BreakPoint Commentary #91027 - 10/27/1999 Written In Stone: Archeology & The Bible by Charles Colson

"Walking past a newsstand this week, your eye may be caught by a dramatic painting of Adam and Eve on the cover of U.S. News and World Report (10/27/99). Alongside the two figures, the title of the cover story asks, "Is the Bible True?"

Flip open the magazine and you’ll find that the answer is a confident "yes!" U.S. News has summarized exciting new archeological evidence that confirms the historicity of the Bible.

For example, a few years ago, a group of archeologists found an Assyrian stone tablet in Northern Israel dating from the ninth century B.C. The Aramaic inscription listed Assyria’s foes. Included in the list were the words "king of Israel" and "house of David."

The significance of these findings is that they toppled years of archeological skepticism. Many archeologists have long questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible, maintaining that there was no such person as King David. They pointed to the lack of any reference outside the Bible to David in the archeological remains from Assyria, Egypt, or Babylon. They argued that David’s name, a Semitic word meaning "beloved," was evidence that biblical writers created a legendary king
to create a glorious past for Israel. But now archeology has given proof that King David was an historical figure after all—exactly as the Bible teaches…"

Mr. Colson then goes on to talk about other archaeological discoveries, then concludes with …

"…Why are secular scholars constantly being refuted? The answer is that they approach scripture from a naturalistic perspective that discounts any document that speaks of the SUPERnatural. Since the Bible records miracles as though they really happened, the Bible is simply discounted out of hand. Scripture is reduced to stories that merely illustrate theological points, while containing little that is historically accurate.

But, as the U.S. News article illustrates, this distinction is crumbling under the weight of empirical evidence.

The latest archeological news is an exciting reminder that Christians have nothing to fear from scientific inquiry. In fact, we welcome it.

The next time you hear Christianity characterized as an ancient legend, be prepared to describe the exciting evidence unearthed by archaeology. To answer the question on the cover of U.S. News—yes, the Bible is really true.

Copyright (c) 1999 Prison Fellowship Ministries

If you want to know more about God’s purpose for your life, it’s a good idea to read the "Owner’s Manual", the Bible.

Isa 55:10-13 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: {11} So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. {12} For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. {13} Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

God uses His word to water our thirsty souls. He can take dry ground and bring forth fruit. He can take the thorns in your life and turn them into something useful.