Major Prophets – Isaiah 34-35

Come near, you nations, and listen;
    pay attention, you peoples!
Let the earth hear, and all that is in it,
    the world, and all that comes out of it!
The Lord is angry with all nations;
    his wrath is on all their armies.
He will totally destroy them,
    he will give them over to slaughter.
Their slain will be thrown out,
    their dead bodies will stink;
    the mountains will be soaked with their blood.
All the stars in the sky will be dissolved
    and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall
    like withered leaves from the vine,
    like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
    see, it descends in judgment on Edom,
    the people I have totally destroyed.
The sword of the Lord is bathed in blood,
    it is covered with fat—
the blood of lambs and goats,
    fat from the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah
    and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
And the wild oxen will fall with them,
    the bull calves and the great bulls.
Their land will be drenched with blood,
    and the dust will be soaked with fat.
For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
    a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.
Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,
    her dust into burning sulfur;
    her land will become blazing pitch!
It will not be quenched night or day;
    its smoke will rise forever.
From generation to generation it will lie desolate;
    no one will ever pass through it again.
The desert owl and screech owl will possess it;
    the great owl and the raven will nest there.
God will stretch out over Edom
    the measuring line of chaos
    and the plumb line of desolation.
Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom,
    all her princes will vanish away.
Thorns will overrun her citadels,
    nettles and brambles her strongholds.
She will become a haunt for jackals,
    a home for owls.
Desert creatures will meet with hyenas,
    and wild goats will bleat to each other;
there the night creatures will also lie down
    and find for themselves places of rest.
The owl will nest there and lay eggs,
    she will hatch them, and care for her young
    under the shadow of her wings;
there also the falcons will gather,
    each with its mate.
Look in the scroll of the Lord and read:
None of these will be missing,
    not one will lack her mate.
For it is his mouth that has given the order,
    and his Spirit will gather them together.
He allots their portions;
    his hand distributes them by measure.
They will possess it forever
    and dwell there from generation to generation.

  • Isaiah 34:1-17

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
    and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

  • Isaiah 35:1-10

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Isaiah 34 ‘God’s Wrath against All the Nations’: “Isaiah issues a call and says that ‘the Lord’s indignation is against all the nations’ and against their armies in particular. They are destined to be slaughtered with the sword of the Lord (verses 1-3). Not only will there be convulsions in the earth at this time, but there will be shaking in the heavens as well (verse 4). The location of this judgment against the armies of all the nations is identified as theland of Edom (verse 5)—or more specifically, the city of Bozrah in the land of Edom, which is now southern Jordan (verses 6-7).
“Edom will become a perpetual desolation because of its sins against Israel (verse 8). Like Babylon, it will become a place of continual burning and smoke (verses 9-10) inhabited by various foul birds and animals and characterized by desolation (verse 11). It will no longer be inhabited by men (verse 12), and only animals will live there (verses 13-15). Yet real animals cannot live in a place of burning pitch and brimstone, and two clues in this text reveal that these are not literal birds and animals. The word translated ‘hairy goat’ actually means ‘demons in goat form,’ and the word translated ‘night-monster’ means ‘night demons.’ Like Babylon, Edom will also be an abode of demons.
“This segment closes in verses 16-17 with a divine affirmation that every prophecy must have its fulfillment, and prophecies that have not been fulfilled yet must be fulfilled in the future. God views every unfulfilled prophecy like a single person who has not found his or her mate, and once the prophecy is fulfilled. the mate has been found. The point is that unfulfilled prophecy should not simply be allegorized away as if it will not be fulfilled in a literal sense. Every prophecy must be viewed as needing to be fulfilled in the future if it has not yet been fulfilled. Whatever God has commanded, the Holy Spirit will certainly carry out.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 34:4 ‘heavens … scrolls’: “Not even the heavens are to escape the effects of God’s wrath.  Revelation 6:14 affirms the future fulfillment of this prophecy during Daniel’s seventieth week (see 2:19; 13:10).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 34:5 ‘Edom’: “The prophet selects Edom as a representative of the rest of the nations (cf. 63:1; Gen. 25:23; Num. 20:14-21; Ezek. 35:1-15; Obad. 1-14; Mal. 1:2, 3; cf 25:10). people of My curse. Lit. ‘devoted people.’ The expression’s negative connotation stems from their involuntary devotion to God.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 34:11, 13  ‘pelican … owl … raven … ostriches’: “The presence of unclean birds was a sign of desolation and wilderness. Similar symbolism portrays the final state of Babylon in the future (Rev. 18:2; cf. 13:21; Jer. 50:39; Zeph. 2:13, 14).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 34:17 ‘divided it … with a measuring line’: “God had partitioned off Edom, just as He once did Canaan (Num. 26:55, 56; Josh. 18:4-6), and allotted it to the wild animals listed in verses 11-15.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 35 ‘The Restoration of Israel’: “Isaiah now describes the restoration of Israel in the messianic kingdom, and he points out there will be a transformation of the land (verses 1-2). Even the Negev Desert and the Rift Valley will blossom and become productive. The second coming of Jesus Christ will bring about these changes (verses 3-4). Other changes include the healing of all of the infirmities of the people and an abundance of water even in the desert (verses 5-7). The kingdom will also include “the Highway of Holiness” (verses 8-10), a road on which only the righteous will walk.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 35:1-6 ‘restoration of desert lands’: The desert of ch. 34 will be transformed into a place of beauty (vv.1-2). Those who are weak will be saved/strengthened (vv.3-4). Miraculous healings will occur (vv.5-6), the blind will see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the mute speak. It will be a sign that the new age has dawned, the Messiah has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand (see Mt 11:1-6 where Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s question as to whether Jesus is the Messiah includes these signs).

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Isaiah 35:3 ‘weak hands … feeble knees’: “. The future change in Israel’s international role is designed to encourage the discouraged among the people. The writer of Hebrews gave an additional application of this verse to strengthen endurance among Christians suffering persecution for their faith (Heb. 12:12).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 35:8 ‘A Third Return to the Promised Land’: “Israel has come back from captivity on two occasions: first, when the tribes came out of Egypt and the Lord led them through the wilderness; second, when they returned from captivity in Babylon and the Lord restored them to their land. Some of us believe a third return still awaits the chosen people. In the day when the grace of God will change the heart of Israel, the seed of Abraham will again return into the land that God gave to their fathers by a covenant. I think our text looks forward to a future age when the reproach will be rolled away from the promised land and her deserts will be made to blossom as the rose. This prophecy is sufficiently clear to make us expect the Lord will make a way for the return of his ancient people and will restore to them the joy of his salvation. But this is not just for the Jewish people. This way, being made by divine power, is appointed by divine authority to be the King’s highway for all.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 35:8 ‘holiness’: “What does this word holiness really mean? ls it a negative kind of piety from which so many people have shied away? No, of course not!
“Holiness in the Bible means moral wholeness—a positive quality which actually includes kindness, mercy, purity, moral blamelessness, and godliness. It is always to be thought of in a positive, white intensity of degree. Whenever it is written that God is holy it means that God is kind, merciful, pure, and blameless in a white, holy intensity of degree.
“When used of men, it does not mean absolute holiness as it does of God, but it is still the positive intensity of the degree of holiness—and not negative.
“This is why true Bible holiness is positive—a holy man can be trusted. A holy man can be tested.”

  • A. W. Tozer, I Call it Heresy!

Isaiah 35:9 ‘lion … ravenous beast’: “No ferocious beasts are to threaten the safety of those traveling the Highway of Holiness. the redeemed. This theme is mentioned only rarely in chapters 1-39 (1:27; 29:22), whose theme is judgment; terms for redemption occur frequently in chapters 40-66.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)


My Thoughts

It starts off with all nations, especially their armies.  There is no equivocation for ‘armies of that day’ or armies who have killed Jews.’  No, all armies.

Recently, our Sunday school class has taken five weeks to go through one lesson (Jeremiah, chapter 1).  The study questions, and the questions from the class that followed, revolved more about our present world than the world of Judah in Jeremiah’s time.  We have few governments, if any, that look toward God.  And the governments seem hell-bent to never repent.  Anyone willing and daring enough to speak is ignored or punished for speaking out.  There are many parallels.

That leads to the End Times and the prophecies about nations from one direction or another.  Will any of the present nations exist in the End Times.  The present Age may not be the End Times, but it may be the End Times for the super powers of today.

Will Rev. LaHaye or Rev. MacArthur be more accurate regarding the beasts.  Will they be demons or literal wild beasts?  The point is that no one would live there.

Yet in Isaiah 35, we see the desert turn into a fertile land.  Everything in Isaiah 34 was desolation, but then one chapter later, there is grass growing.

And there is the Way of Holiness.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  And those who are redeemed will walk on the Way of Holiness with no fear from lion or ravenous beast.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“Isaiah 34: 1. How do you feel about God after reading this passage? How might you feel if you read it from the viewpoint of an oppressed person reflecting on the fact that justice would one day overtake your oppressor?
“2. What do you think it would mean to have the ‘measuring line of chaos’ and the ‘plumb line of desolation’ stretched out over your country?
“3. How would you explain God’s justice to someone if there was no prospect of judgment? How is his wrath related to his love? What does it mean to you that God will fight this hard in order to save you?
35: 1. What pressures are ‘causing your hands and knees to tremble’ now? How might the message of verse 4 bring strength to you? When you have given up trying to reach God, how has he come to you?
“2. ls the water of God’s Spirit more like a flooded spring or a plugged faucet in your life now? Why? What will it take to release all the joy of the redeemed in your life?
“3. Jesus claims to be ‘the Way’ (Jn 14:6). What insight does that give you into the meaning of verse 8? How are you doing on this ‘Highway to Holiness’: (a) Cruising on auto-pilot? (b) Running out of gas? (c) Stuck in the breakdown lane? (d) Still trying to find the entrance ramp? How can others in the group help you get on and stay on that Way?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for each chapter.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: