THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
Lesson 9: Chapters 22-25
Part One: Prophecies of Condemnation
Proclamations Concerning the Nations Continued (22:1-23:18)
Apocalypse of Isaiah Part I (24:1-25:12)

Most Holy and Righteous Lord,
You have given us Your moral laws to guide our lives on the path of righteousness. When Your moral laws are written into the fabric of our civil laws, providing guidelines and boundaries, the result is a society that benefits by protecting both the common citizen and the most vulnerable in society while at the same time prosecuting the wicked. But when civil leaders are out for their own gains and enact laws or demonstrate behavior that ignores or violates Your moral laws, as in the leaders of Isaiah's day, the result is a society that reaps injustice and descends into a spiritual malaise that spirals into chaos with each person doing what is "right" or "just" in his or her own eyes. It is our prayer, O Lord, that You will call forward men and women of integrity and morality to serve our community and our nation. We pray that you will give us the wisdom to discern the inner qualities or defects of each candidate for elected office. Help us, Lord, to elect committed men and women who acknowledge Your sovereignty over their lives and who are filled with a healthy fear of offending You. Help us to see beyond their rhetoric and to discern their value based upon their behavior that is the mirror of their true image. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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And so Yahweh was with him [King Hezekiah of Judah], and he was successful in all that he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to serve him. He beat the Philistines back to Gaza, laying their territory waste from watchtower to fortified town.
2 Kings 18:7-8

Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed and cried out to Heaven about this, and Yahweh sent an angel who destroyed every warrior, commander and officer in the king of Assyria's camp. So he had to retire shamefacedly to his own country and when he went into the temple of his god, some of his own sons there struck him down with the sword. So Yahweh saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the clutches of Sennacherib king of Assyria and of everyone else, and gave them peace on every side.
2 Chronicles 32:20-22

Isaiah's prophecies against the nations who were Judah's neighbors announce the fact that Yahweh, God of Israel and Judah is God of all the nations of the earth. Nations might or might not acknowledge His sovereignity, but whether they did or did not recognize Him did not matter then, nor does it matter today. The exercise of free-will allows men and women to move forward the course of human history for evil or for good, but ultimately the fate of every nation rests in the hands of Yahweh-God of the universe.

Chapter 22 ~ Oracles against Jerusalem and the Davidic Steward

In the preceding chapter, Isaiah gave three oracles against Babylon (21:1-10), Edom (21:11-12), and Arabia (21:13-17). Now he pronounces an oracle against His own people and the capital city of the Southern Kingdom of Judah "the holy city of Jerusalem. Yahweh will deal with sin wherever He finds it and no one is exempt from His judgment.

Isaiah 22:1-14 ~ Oracle predicting the Siege of and Salvation of Jerusalem
1 Prophecy on the Valley of Vision: Now what is the matter with you for you all to be up on the housetops, 2 full of excitement, boisterous town, joyful city? Your slain have not fallen to the sword nor died in battle. 3 Your leaders have all fled together, captured without a bow between them, all who could be found have been captured at a blow, far though they had fled. 4 That is why I said, "Turn your eyes away from me, let me weep bitterly; do not try to comfort me over the ruin of the daughter of my people." 5 For this is a day of rout, panic and confusion, the work of the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth in the Valley of Vision. The wall is sapped, cries for help ring out to the mountains. 6 Elam has picked up his quiver, with manned chariots and horsemen, and Kir has bared his shield. 7 Your fairest valleys are full of chariots and the horsemen take up positions at the gates; 8 thus falls the defense of Judah. That day you turned your gaze to the weapons in the House of the Forest. 9 You saw how many breaches there were in the City of David. You collected the waters of the lower pool. 10 You surveyed the houses in Jerusalem and pulled houses down to strengthen the wall. 11 Between the two walls you made a reservoir for the waters of the old pool. But you did not look to the Creator of these things, you did not look to the One who fashioned them long ago. 12 That day the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth called on you to weep and mourn, to shave your heads, to put on sackcloth. 13 But instead there is joy and merriment, killing of oxen, slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat, drinking of wine, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall be dead." 14 Then Yahweh Sabaoth revealed this to my ears. "This guilt will never be forgiven you, until you are dead," says the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth.

This prophecy dates to the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian army that was besieging the city in 701 BC. King Hezekiah openly broke with Assyria in 705 BC. The death of King Sargon II of Assyria became a signal for open rebellion throughout the Assyrian Empire, and Hezekiah was the force behind a military coalition to resist the Assyrians and to test the new king. He took his army into the coastal plain and ousted the rulers who were hostile to his policies (2 Kng 18:7-8). In 701 King Sennacherib brought his armies into the west. The Phoenician and Philistine allies were overwhelmed by the Assyrians, and then Sennacherib began his march through Judah, taking 46 fortified cities before besieging Jerusalem (2 Kng 18:13-17; 2 Chr 32:1). Hezekiah and the people repented their sins and prayed for deliverance. As Isaiah prophesied, God delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians the same night (2 Kng 19:35-36; 2 Chr 32:20-23).

Isaiah had prophesied the city's deliverance and now he warns the city in advance against the exaggerated joy expressed by Jerusalem's citizens who do not seem to realize or want to acknowledge that this was a work of God.(2)

1 Prophecy on the Valley of Vision: The "Valley of vision is mentioned in verses 1 and 5. Jerusalem was built in between two high valleys in the Judean Mountains. The Mount of Olives to the east was higher than Mount Moriah and one could look down on Jerusalem from Mount of Olives, as Jesus did when He pronounced His judgment over Jerusalem in Matthew 24:3-25. It was also a place of visions that moved forward God's plan in salvation history:

6 Elam has picked up his quiver, with manned chariots and horsemen, and Kir has bared his shield.
The Elamites and Aramaeans from Kir were allies or mercenaries of King Sennacherib of Assyria who were the vanguard of the attacking army.

8 thus falls the defense of Judah. That day you turned your gaze to the weapons in the House of the Forest. The House of the Forest of Lebanon was the royal palace built by King Solomon with huge cedar pillars to hold up the roof and decorated with shields on its walls (1 Kng 7:2-6; 10:16-17; 14:25-29; 2 Chr 9:16; 12:2, 9-11).
Question: In what ways did the people recognize how desperate their situation was?
Answer:

  1. The situation was so desperate some of their leaders fled the city.
  2. The people considered taking down the ornamental shields displayed in the palace of the king, either to use in self-defense or to pay as tribute to the Assyrians.
  3. Houses that were built against the wall were destroyed so the enemy could not make use of them.
  4. They saw the breaches made in the wall where the Assyrian sappers had tunneled beneath the wall and set logs on fire to cause the wall to collapse.

11 Between the two walls you made a reservoir for the waters of the old pool. But you did not look to the Creator of these things, you did not look to the One who fashioned them long ago.
Jerusalem was a double walled city. To secure Jerusalem's water supply, King Hezekiah had his engineers cut a tunnel out of the rock from the city's only water supply, the Gihon Spring, to bring the water into the reservoir of the Siloam Pool within the city. Hezekiah's tunnel was a marvel of ancient engineering (2 Kng 20:20; 2 Chr 32:3-4; Sir 48:17/19).3

Question: Instead of jubilation and feasting, what is it that God wanted from Jerusalem's citizens?
Answer: It is Isaiah's warning that when their deliverance comes instead of joyous celebration they should show their gratitude to God by offering Him their genuine repentance for their sins by wearing sackcloth, weeping, and shaving their heads.

Question: What will be their punishment for their failure to recognize God as their deliverer and their failure to repent the sins and purify their lives?
Answer: The verdict is divine judgment and the future destruction of the city.

Isaiah 22:15-25 ~ The Davidic Chief Stewards Shebna and Eliakim
15 The Lord Yahweh Sabaoth says this: Go and find that steward, Shebna, the master of the palace: 16 "What do you own here, who gave you the right for you to hew yourself a tomb here?" He is hewing himself a tomb, is digging a resting-place for himself in the rock. 17 But Yahweh will throw you away, strong as you are, will grasp you in his grip, 18 will screw you up into a ball, a ball thrown into a vast space. There you will die, with your splendid chariots, disgrace to your master's palace! 19 I shall hound you from your office, I shall snatch you from your post 20 and, when that day comes, I shall summon my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21 I shall dress him in your tunic, I shall put your sash round his waist, I shall invest him with your authority; and he will be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the House of Judah. 22 I shall place the key of David palace on his shoulder; when he opens, no one will close, when he closes, no one will open. 23 I shall drive him like a nail into a firm place; and he will become a throne of glory for his family. 24 On him will depend all the glory of his family, the descendants and offspring, all the vessels of small capacity too, from cups to pitchers. 25 That day declares Yahweh Sabaoth, the nail driven into a firm place will give way, will be torn out and all. And the whole load hanging on it will be lost. For Yahweh has spoken."

God finds fault with the Davidic chief steward Shebna whose focus is advancing himself instead of service to his king and the people.
Question: What example is given of his self-serving agenda?
Answer: He has built an expensive tomb for himself to reflect his status and is more concerned with material wealth that with his eternal future.

God will bring about the loss of Shebna's position as chief steward/Vicar of the palace and will appoint another to take his place, a righteous man named Eliakim, whose name means "God will establish". The signs of Eliakim's office and the extent of his authority are listed in verses 21-24. To "open and shut" refers to making binding decisions for the good of the kingdom of Judah as the king's chief minister, the symbolic images of the "nail into a firm place" depicts the security of his office, and "the vessels" both small and large, "from cups to pitchers" refers to all the members of the kingdom from the common people to the more influential. To "open and shut" (also translated as to "bind and loose") refers to the authority to make binding decisions.

Question: How is the office of the Davidic Vicar/Prime Minister Eliakim described in Isaiah 22:21-25?
Answer:

  1. He wore a garment that identified his high office (verse 21).
  2. He was a "father" to the people of the kingdom (verse 21).
  3. As the Vicar of the King, the Davidic chief minister kept the "key of the house of David", referring to the palace and its administration (verse 22).
  4. The key (singular) was his sign of authority and gave him the power to "open and shut" or "bind and loose" "make binding decisions for the good of the palace and the kingdom (verse 22).
  5. His position will be secure and he is responsible for the glory of his family "from the least to the greatest member "all the "vessels", "from cups to pitchers" (verse 24).

Question: Who in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus is given the same responsibilities in the New Testament and who carries on that same office in the Church today? See Mt 16:16-20.
Answer: Simon-Peter, like Eliakim, was chosen for his office by God Himself as the new Davidic King's chief steward or Vicar of the New Covenant Kingdom. His successors are the Popes "the "fathers" to the people of the new Jerusalem that is the Kingdom of the Church who continue to serve today. They have the same authority as the other Davidic Vicars:

  1. The Pope wears a special garment identifying his high office.
  2. He is a "father" to the people of Christ's kingdom of the Church.
  3. He symbolically carries the "keys" (plural) of Heaven that is his sign of authority over the "house" of Jesus (the eternal Davidic king) that is the Kingdom of the Church.
  4. He has the power to make binding decisions for the Church and his pronouncements are infallible on issues of faith and morals.
  5. He is responsible for the spiritual well-being of all members of the family of the Church from the least to the greatest members.

The power to "bind and loose" sins and govern the Church that Jesus gave to Peter, who served as His chief minister/vicar, Jesus also gave to the other Apostles who were the first members of the Magisterium who governing Jesus' Kingdom of the Church with His chief minister/Vicar (see Mt 18:18 and Jn 20:22-23).

Question: But what warning is given in Isaiah 22:25?
Answer: While the people of the Davidic kingdom and their descendants depend on the Vicar/chief minister, he will only remain in his office so long as he remains faithful. If he fails, he too will be torn out like a defective nail and his failure will be a threat to the kingdom which will fail.

Question: Why does this threat of the loss of the kingdom not apply to Christ's Vicar and the Kingdom of the Church? What promise did Jesus make in Matthew 16:17-19? How is Jesus' kingdom unlike earthly kingdoms?
Answer: Jesus promised that, through divine intervention, His Kingdom would remain secure and did not depend on the faithfulness of any one vicar: "And the gates of the underworld [death and Hades] can never overpower it" (Mt 16:18). Jesus' kingdom is eternal.

It is uncertain if verse 25 refers to Eliakim himself (see 2 Kng 18:18, 26, 37; 19:2; Is 36:3, 11; 37:2) or to his successors. Since Eliakim is never accused of the same failing as Shebna, it is likely the warning is for future chief ministers. The Davadic kingdom did fall in 587/6 BC.

Chapter 23 ~ Oracle against the Phoenician Cities of Tyre and Sidon

It is, after all, the practice of the prophets and the just to grieve not only for themselves but also for the rest of humankind.
St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis, 29.7

Isaiah 23:1-7 ~ A Call to Lament
1 Howl, ships of Tarshish, for all has been destroyed "no more houses, no way of getting in: the news has reached them from Kittim. 2 Be struck dumb, inhabitants of the coast, you merchants of Sidon, whose messengers cross the sea 3 to the wide ocean. The grain of the Canal, the harvest of the Nile, formed her revenue. 4 She was the market for the nations. Blush, Sidon (citadel of the seas), for this is what he sea has said, "I have felt no birth-pangs, never given birth, never reared boys nor brought up girls." 5 When the news reaches Egypt, they will tremble to hear Tyre's fate. 6 Cross to Tarshish, howl, inhabitants of the coast. 7 Is this your proud city founded far back in the past, whose steps led her far afield to found her colonies?

The Phoenician trading centers of Tyre and Sidon were famous across the Mediterranean. People came by land and by sea to trade with these cities. They sent ships as far away as the Iberian Peninsula (Tarshish; 1 Kng 10:22) and Kittim probably refers to the Phoenician colonies on the island of Cyprus. Nevertheless, Yahweh is also lord of Tyre, and his prophet has announced Tyre's inevitable destruction.(1)

Question: Prophetic oracles of judgment usually called on the nation, city, or its people under divine judgment to mourn and wail. But in this case, who does Yahweh's prophet call upon to lament the fate of Tyre?
Answer: Isaiah calls on the great trading vessels that sailed to Tarshish (23:1), her friends like the sister city of Sidon and colonies on Cyprus (23:1-2) and Tyre's major trading partners, including Egypt (23:3-7) to lament the fate of Tyre.

Isaiah 23:8-18 ~ Tyre's Judgment and Future
8 Who took this decision against Tyre, who used to hand out crowns, whose traders were princes, whose merchants, men honored in the city? 9 Yahweh Sabaoth took this decision to wither the pride of all beauty and humiliate those honored in the city. 10 Cultivate your country like the Delta, daughter of Tarshish, for your marine docks are no more. 11 He has raised his hand against the sea, he has shaken kingdoms, Yahweh has ordained the destruction of the fortresses of Canaan. 12 He has said, "Exult no more, ill-treated virgin daughter of Sidon! Get up, cross to Kittim, no respite for you there, either." 13 Look at the land of the Chaldaeans, a people who used not to exist! Assyria assigned it to the creatures of the wilds; they raised their siege-towers against it, demolished its bastions, reduced it to ruin. 14 Howl, ships of Tarshish, for your fortress has been destroyed. 15 When that day comes, Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the length of one king's life. But when the seventy years are over, Tyre will become like the whore in the song: 16 "Take you harp, walk the town, whore whom men have forgotten! Play sweetly, song after song, to make them remember you." 17 At the end of the seventy years Yahweh will visit Tyre. She will receive her pay again and play the whore with all the kingdoms of the world on the surface of the earth. 18 But her profits and wages will be dedicated to Yahweh. They will not be stored or hoarded, but her profits will go to those who lie in Yahweh's presence, for them to have as much food as they want and splendid clothes.

Verses 8-9 clarify the situation.
Question: Will the future humiliation and destruction of Type happen by chance/fate?
Answer: No. It is the work of Yahweh Sabaoth.

The fall of Tyre was to have implications for Canaan and the entire Mediterranean coastal region. The ships that travel to Tarshish will mourn because of its economic losses as will the other coastal cities of Canaan including Sidon. Refugees from Sidon will flee the coast and seek asylum on Cyprus (verse 12).

13 Look at the land of the Chaldaeans, a people who used not to exist! Assyria assigned it to the creatures of the wilds; they raised their siege-towers against it, demolished its bastions, reduced it to ruin.
Chaldaeans is the ancient name for the original people who became the Babylonians. Babylon was conquered by the Assyrians in 729 BC but Babylon will rise again to conquer the Assyrians in 605 BC at the Battle of Carchemish.

15 When that day comes, Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the length of one king's life.
Verses 15-20 offer a prophecy of restoration after a period of subjugation. After a period of seventy years, Tyre will be both religiously purified and politically restored only to fall back into her old sins, using the ironic image of an elderly prostitute who is too old to learn another kind of living. Another irony is that the wages of the harlot city will not support Tyre but those who dwell in God's presence. This is odd since a harlot's earnings could not be given to the support of the Jerusalem Temple. Prostitution was forbidden under the laws of the covenant (Lev 18:22/19; Dt 23:18-19/17-18).

This future prophecy resembles that of Egypt and Assyria in Isaiah 19:18-25. God will punish the Gentiles as He punishes the Israelites, and after they are severely punished, then they will be saved. Seventy years is the length of Jerusalem's punishment in Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10. Both the Assyrians and Babylonians fought and then received tribute from Tyre at various times. The city survived until the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 BC when Alexander destroyed it. It was later rebuilt and in Jesus' time was again a major trading center under the rule of the Roman Empire. St. Paul came into the port at Tyre on his last journey to Jerusalem and spent a week with the Christian community there (Acts 21:3-6).

The question that scholars have disputed is when was the part of the oracle about Tyre sending funds to Jerusalem in verse 18 fulfilled? After the Roman Emperor Constantine I had his conversion experience (312 AD), he sent his mother, St. Helena, who was a Christian convert to Judah and Jerusalem in 326-28 AD to identify the holy sites associated with Jesus. After Christian Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem pointed out the site of Jesus' crucifixion and entombment in Jerusalem, St. Helena built two churches on the site. These two churches were later combined into the one Church of the Holy Specular. She also arranged for the building of the Church of the Nativity and other churches on holy sites. The Romans proved funds to build the churches from Roman tax revenues, some of which probably came from the wealthy trade center of Tyre.

Isaiah chapters 13-23 and Isaiah's oracles against the nations of the ancient Near East declare the fact that Yahweh is the God of all the nations of the world. Even if they did not recognize Him, He has divine authority over them and will judge them for their sins. However, Isaiah's oracles also demonstrate the extent of God's grace in reaching out even to those who reject Him. Therefore, Isaiah's oracles to the nations set the stage for the fullness of Yahweh's grace in the revelation of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and the call for all nations of the world to come to salvation through God the Son. The subtheme of God's sovereignty over the universe will continue to be developed in chapters 24-27.

Chapters 24:1-27:13 ~ Isaiah's Apocalypse:
Vison of the Great Tribulation and the Cosmic Chaos

As great as his mercy, so is his severity; he judges each person as his deeds deserve: the sinner will not escape with his ill-gotten gains nor the patience of the devout go for nothing. He takes note of every charitable action, and everyone is treated as he deserves.
Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 16:12/13-14/15

After he rebukes those of the circumcision who have trespassed the law of the covenant of God and warns them with what he has written, he prophesies that only a small number of them will be saved. These few are those whom the apostle calls "the remnant according to the election of grace" [referring to St Paul in Romans 11:5].
St. Eusebius of Caesarea, Proof of the Gospel 2.3

In Chapters 24-27, Isaiah ends his condemnation of individual nations. He looks beyond the events of his time and introduces a more general, cosmic description of judgment and gives a poetic description of God's Final Judgment at the end of the age of man. The basic themes of this section are:

  1. The centrality of the "holy mountain of Zion" that is the Church
  2. A reliance on symbolic imagery to express the hopes and fears of the future
  3. A desire for universal peace that involves not only Israel but the just ordering of all the nations of the earth

Isaiah 24:1-6 ~ Yahweh's Judgment
1 See how Yahweh lays the earth waste, makes it a desert, buckles its surface, scatters its inhabitants, 2 priest and people alike, master and slave, mistress and maid, seller and buyer, lender and borrower, creditor and debtor. 3 Ravaged, ravaged the earth will be, despoiled, despoiled, for Yahweh has uttered this word. 4 The earth is mourning, pining away, the pick of earth's people are withering away. 5 The earth is defiled by the feet of its inhabitants, for they have transgressed the laws, violated the decree, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 That is why the curse has consumed the earth and its inhabitants pay the penalty, that is why the inhabitants of the earth has been burnt up and few people are left.

The first part of the general judgment reads like a ritual mourning for the land and its people. Twelve different groups of people are named in verses 1-2. Twelve is one of the so-called "perfect numbers" and usually is symbolic of governmental order. The earth and all members of the world's communities will be caught up in Yahweh' judgment.
Question: What three reasons are given for God's divine judgment in verses 5-6?
Answer:

  1. The people have defiled the earth with their sins.
  2. They have transgressed laws of God.
  3. They have broken the everlasting covenant.

The "everlasting covenant" in verse 5 does not refer to the covenant with Abraham that promised land, many descendants and a world-wide blessing (Gen 12:1-3), nor can it be the covenant with the children of Israel at Sinai which was not an everlasting covenant but a covenant based on obedience and loyalty (Ex 24:3, 7; Lev 26:3-5, 14-45). It therefore, must refer to the eternal covenant with Noah after the Flood Judgment in Genesis 9:9-17; see 9:16 for the words "eternal covenant" and the chart on Yahweh's Eight Covenants.

Question: What was unique about the Noahide covenant as opposed to the covenants with Abraham and Israel? See Gen 6:5-7; 9:8-11.
Answer: The Noachide covenant concerned mankind and the entire earth. The violation of this covenant causes judgment to overtake the entire world (verse 6), and the judgment that will fall upon all people of the earth because of their wickedness also recalls the reason for the Flood judgment in Genesis 6:5.

Question: But even when men and nations violate God's covenants, what promise did God make in Leviticus 26:44-45 and Deuteronomy 4:29-31; Hosea 5:15-6:3?
Answer: When His people repent He will always restore them and He will always preserve a faithful remnant.

Isaiah 24:7-16a ~ Song about the Ruined City
7 The new wine is mourning, the vine is withering away, the once merry-hearted are sighing. 8 The cheerful sound of tambourines is silent, the sound of reveling is over, the cheerful sound of the harp is silent. 9 No more will they sing over their wine, liquor will taste bitter to the drinker. 10 The city of nothingness is in ruins, every house is shut, no one can enter. 11 People shout in the streets to try to get wine; all joy has vanished, happiness has been banished from the country. 12 Nothing but rubble in the city, the gate has collapsed in ruins. 13 For at the heart of earth's life, among the peoples, is as at the beating of the olive trees, as at the gleaning of the grapes when the grape harvest is over. 14 They raise their voices, shouting for joy, in Yahweh's honor they shout from the west. 15 "Yes, in the east, give glory to Yahweh, in the islands of the sea, to the name of Yahweh, God of Israel!" 16a We have heard psalms from the remotest parts of earth. "Glory to the Upright One!"

Wine is a symbol of joy and covenant union with Yahweh, but in Isaiah's vision there will be no more joy in the coming judgment and no sanctuary because "every house is shut, no one can enter" (verse 10).
Question: Once again what kind of imagery does Isaiah use to describe the utter devastation?
Answer: He uses the imagery of the harvest.

The "city of nothingness" in verse 10 may not be a particular city. Just as the whole land is in crisis, so are its cities reduced to chaos.
Question: The imagery of a remnant being saved in the midst of an angry and chaotic sea is reminiscing of what previous judgment?
Answer: It is reminiscent of the Flood judgment in which a remnant of humanity is saved from Noah's family.

14 They raise their voices, shouting for joy, in Yahweh's honor they shout from the west. 15 "Yes, in the east, give glory to Yahweh, in the islands of the sea, to the name of Yahweh, God of Israel!" 16a We have heard psalms from the remotest parts of earth. "Glory to the Upright One!"
The faithful remnant that has survived now sings a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God. Many of the Fathers of the Church saw the "islands of the sea" in verse 15 as the Church surviving in an ocean of sin in the world, and through which a remnant has been saved. St. Jerome wrote: "Therefore, the glory of the Lord is in the islands of the sea'. That pertains obviously to the Church, which is located in the midst of the godless nations as if an island in the sea. It is in that island that the glory of the Lord shines" (Commentary on Isaiah, 7.19).

Question: What is the reason they sing God's praises?
Answer: It is because remnants of the faithful have been preserved across remote parts of the earth.

This song of praise and thanksgiving will be continued in 25:1-12.

Isaiah 24:16b-23 ~ The Last Battle
16b But I thought, "What an ordeal, what an ordeal! What misery for me!" The traitors have betrayed, the traitors have acted most treacherously. 17 Fear, the pit and the snare for you, inhabitants of the city! 18 And whoever flees from the cry of fear will fall into the pit, and whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare. Yes, the sluice-gates above are open, the foundations of the earth are quaking. 19 A cracking, the earth cracks open, a jolting, the earth gives a jolt, a lurching, the earth lurches backwards and forwards. 20 The earth will reel to and fro like a drunkard, it will be shaken like a shanty; so heavy will be its sin on it, it will fall, never to rise again. 21 When that day comes, Yahweh will punish the armies of the sky above and on earth the kings of the earth; 22 they will be herded together, herded together like prisoners in a dungeon and shut up in gaol, and, after long years, punished. 23 The moon will be confused and the sun ashamed, for Yahweh Sabaoth is king on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and the Glory will radiate on their elders.

Question: Who are the traitors in verse 16c?
Answer: The traitors are all those who have apostatized from their covenant with Yahweh.

18 And whoever flees from the cry of fear will fall into the pit, and whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare. Yes, the sluice-gates above are open, the foundations of the earth are quaking. 19 A cracking, the earth cracks open, a jolting, the earth gives a jolt, a lurching, the earth lurches backwards and forwards. 20 The earth will reel to and fro like a drunkard, it will be shaken like a shanty; so heavy will be its sin on it, it will fall, never to rise again.
There is no escape for the wicked. Yes, the sluice-gates above are open would have reminded those hearing Isaiah's prophecy of Genesis 7:11 where is similar expression is used to describe the beginning of the great Flood.

the foundations of the earth are quaking.
The earth will respond to God's judgment in a series of shattering earthquakes, and even the sun and moon will be affected. In our modern age, with more and more unstable nations securing the technology to create a nuclear bomb, the event might even be described as the devastation caused by nuclear explosions. Notice the similarity to Jesus' description of the last days and His Second Coming in Matthew 24:29-31: Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven; then, too, all the peoples of the earth will beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet to gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. The description in Isaiah is also similar to the day of judgment in Revelation 6:12, In my vision, when he broke the sixth seal, there was a violent earthquake and the sun went as black as coarse sackcloth; the moon turned red as blood all over, and the stars of the sky fell onto the earth like figs dropping from a fig tree when a high wind shakes it...

21 When that day comes, Yahweh will punish the armies of the sky above and on earth the kings of the earth; 22 they will be herded together, herded together like prisoners in a dungeon and shut up in gaol, and, after long years, punished.
In the Final Judgment, the evil spirits (angels) who fell with Satan (Rev 12:7-9) who influenced evil in the kings of the earth in this final conflict will face divine judgment together and will be shut up in the prison/pit and will be visited by God Himself for their Last Judgment and consigned to a place from which there is no release, the hell of the damned. This is the hell of the damned to which the fallen angels were condemned and about which both Sts. Peter and Jude wrote:

These are the kings of the earth in the last days who have waged war against God and His plan for humanity (Acts 4:26-27) and against the Lamb: They are all of one mind in putting their strength and their powers at the beast's disposal, and they will go to war against the Lamb, but because the Lamb is Lord of lords and King of kings, he will defeat them, he and his followers, the called, the chosen, the trustworthy. (Rev 17:13-14).

St. Paul wrote about these other worldly evil influences in Ephesians 6:12, For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens. And Jesus spoke of this judgment in John 12:31 when He said, "Now sentence is being passed on this world: now the prince of this world is to be driven out." Paul also wrote of this same judgment in Colossians 2:15, ... and he has stripped the sovereignties and ruling forces, and paraded them in public, behind him in his triumphal procession.

23 The moon will be confused and the sun ashamed, for Yahweh Sabaoth is king on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and the Glory will radiate on their elders.
Isaiah concludes this section on the last battle with end result of the judgment: all worldly powers will be destroyed and the eternal kingdom of God will be established in the new Jerusalem: Then I say a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband (Rev 21:1-2). The moon will be "confused" and the sun "ashamed" because there is no longer any need for their light: ...and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God, and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it (Rev 21:23). The day of salvation renders the sun and moon unnecessary because of God's dazzling glory.

The elders upon whom God's glory will radiate must be the elders of St. John's vision in Revelation 4:4 and 10-12: Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white roes with golden crowns on their heads ... and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the world. In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the living creatures and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, loudly changing: Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing.

Chapter 25: The Faithful Remnant's Hymn of Thanksgiving and Praise

The sea gave up all the dead who were in it; Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and everyone was judged as his deeds deserved. Then death and Hades were hurled into the burning lake. This burning lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the book of life was hurled into the burning lake.
Revelation 20:13-15

Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them [Immanuel].
Revelation 21:3-4

Just as a song of praise and thanksgiving followed the description of the fall of the world powers and the establishment of God's kingdom in chapters 10 and 11, so too, after the prophecy of God's great judgment in chapter 24, Isaiah has another vision of the faithful singing of songs of praise and thanksgiving.

Isaiah 25:1-5 ~ A Hymn of Thanksgiving
1 Yahweh, you are my God, I shall praise you to the heights, I shall praise your name; for you have accomplished marvels, plans long-conceived, faithfully, firmly. 2 For you have made the town a heap of stones, the fortified city a ruin. The foreigners' citadel is a city no longer, it will never be rebuilt. 3 Hence mighty peoples will honor you, the city of pitiless nations hold you in awe. 4 For you have been a refuge for the weak, a refuge for the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm, shade from the heat; for the breath of the pitiless is like a winter storm. 5 Like heat in a dry land you calm the foreigners' tumult; as heat under the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the pitiless dies away.

Question: Why do they sing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving?
Answer: The faithful remnant sings a hymn of praise and thanksgiving because God has triumphed over His enemies in His divine plan, and He now reigns eternally.

Isaiah 25:6-12 ~ The Divine Banquet
6 On this mountain, for all peoples, Yahweh Sabaoth is preparing a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of succulent food, of well-strained wines. 7 On this mountain, he has destroyed the veil which used to veil all peoples, the pall enveloping all nations; 8 he has destroyed death for ever. Lord Yahweh has wiped away the tears from every cheek; he has taken his people's shame away everywhere on earth, for Yahweh has spoken. 9 And on that day, it will be said, "Look, this is our God, in him we put our hope that he should save us, this is Yahweh, we put our hope in him. Let us exult and rejoice since he has saved us." 10 For Yahweh's hand will rest on their mountain, and Moab will be trodden under his feet as straw is trodden into the dung-heap. 11 He may stretch his hands wide on the mountain like a swimmer stretching out his hands to swim. But he will humble his pride despite what his hands may attempt. 12 And the impregnable fortress of your walls, he has overthrown, laid low, flung to the ground, in the dust.

The "mountain" of the Lord is where divine revelation of God is given to His people. Isaiah receives a vision of the Messianic Banquet at the end of time "it is the hymn of praise St. John heard and the vision of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb that St. John saw in Revelation 19:1-10!
Question: In the reoccurring symbolic images of the Old Testament prophets, what does drinking fine wine at a banquet represent and what is this banquet? See the chart below and also Revelation 19:7-9.(2)

Drinking Wine Covenant unity:
Joy of drinking good wine
Rebellion:
Becoming drunk
Judgment:
Loss of wine; drinking the "cup of God's wrath"
Restoration:
Rejoicing in the best "new wine" at the Master's table
Examples in Scripture Isaiah25:6-8; 62:8-9; 65:13; Jeremiah 31:12; 40:12 Isaiah 5:11-12; 28:1; Jeremiah 8:13; 48:26; 51:7; Joel 1:5 Psalm 75:9; Isaiah 51:17-23; ; Joel 4:13; Jeremiah 13:12-14; 25:15-31; 49:12; 51:6-7; 48:26; Ezekiel 23:31-34; Habakkuk 2:16 Promise: Zech.9:15-16
Filled: Luke 22:19-20;
1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Revelation 19:7-9

Answer: Drinking the best wine represents restoration in covenant unity with God. This vision is of the restoration of covenant unity at the Messianic banquet in the New Jerusalem at the end of time.

7 On this mountain, he has destroyed the veil which used to veil all peoples, the pall enveloping all nations; 8 he has destroyed death for ever. Lord Yahweh has wiped away the tears from every cheek; he has taken his people's shame away everywhere on earth, for Yahweh has spoken.
The veil/curtain that separated the Holy Place of the Temple from the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt in the midst of His people came to represent the separation of God from His covenant people after the sin of the Golden Calf (Ex 32). It was this veil that was torn asunder upon the moment Jesus offered up His life on the altar of the Cross for the sins of humanity, signifying that the barrier of sin had been conquered by Jesus' prefect sacrifice (Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Lk 23:45). Sin was the veil that separated mankind from perfect covenant unity with God, but Jesus removed that barrier. And, Jesus has conquered death, the physical result of the infection of sin, freeing mankind from the curse of eternal death (2 Tim 1:10; CCC 1021).

8 he has destroyed death for ever. Lord Yahweh has wiped away the tears from every cheek [face]; he has taken his people's shame away everywhere on earth, for Yahweh has spoken.
Question: According to Isaiah, God will comfort His people in what three ways?
Answer:

  1. He will destroy death, the agent of sorrow and grief, forever.
  2. He will comfort His people and wipe away their tears.
  3. He will take away His people's shame because they were right to believe in Him and follow Him no matter what the cost.

St. John will quote from Isaiah 24:8 from the Greek translation in Revelation 7:17 and 21:4 (underlining added):

Question: Until Christ's return, physical death is still part of the human condition, but for the righteous it is now a gateway to eternal life. However, in His Second Advent and the Last Judgment, what will happen to both death and Hades? See Rev 20:13-15; 21:4b.
Answer: Both death and Hades will be destroyed because there is no longer any need for them in God's plan for mankind's salvation.

10 For Yahweh's hand will rest on their mountain, and Moab will be trodden under his feet as straw is trodden into the dung-heap. 11 He may stretch his hands wide on the mountain like a swimmer stretching out his hands to swim. But he will humble his pride despite what his hands may attempt. 12 And the impregnable fortress of your walls, he has overthrown, laid low, flung to the ground, in the dust.
Moab, the people descended from Abraham's nephew Lot who abandoned worship of the One True God, becomes a symbol of all men and women who turned away from God. The intimate presence of God is the mark of God's covenant with his people (Ex 25:8; Jn 1:14). It will reach its consummation at the end of time (Is 12:6; Joel 4:17, 21; Zep 3:15-17; Zec 2:14).

The image in verse 11 is of a swimmer doing what we would call a breast stroke by pushing his hands through the water in front of him and then pushing the water by moving his arms out to his sides at the top of the water so his arms are opened wide and extend out from his shoulders. The "He" who is stretching out of His hands wide on the mountain is God and recalls the image of Jesus on the Cross, on the hill of Golgotha just below the summit of Mt. Moriah, with His arms outstretched as the victim of sacrifice upon the Cross, but also with arms stretched wide to embrace all of mankind with His gift of the forgiveness of sins that leads to eternal life. In accepting human flesh, God humbled Himself for our sake, and by accepting death on the Cross, He swallowed up death in victory to conquer the fearful and impregnable fortress of human death: He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel ... (2 Tim 1:9-10).

Question for reflection or group discussion:
Compare Isaiah's vision of the Messianic Banquet with St. John's vision in chapter 19. What are the similarities and what are the differences? What is the present and future fulfillment of the Messianic banquet?

Endnotes:
1. The city of Tyre was built on an island close to the Mediterranean coast and was attacked or besieged unsuccessfully by the regional powers of the Assyrians (Shalmaneser and Sennacherib) and the Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city for 13 years). The city was finally destroyed by the Greek army of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, but it was later rebuilt. Today Tyre is the fourth largest city in Lebanon and is about 50 miles south of Beirut.
2. See the complete chart on the Symbolic Images of the O.T. Prophets in handout 3 from Lesson #1 or see the online chart: Symbolic Images of the Old Testament Prophets

Catechism references: Isaiah 25:6-12,
the Divine Banquet (CCC 1027, 1036, 1642, 1682, 2618, 2770, 2837, 2861)
marriage feast of the Lamb (CCC 546, 1244, 1335)

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