Isaiah 24:1-23 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does Isaiah describe his emotional state and why does he feel this way? See Isaiah 24:16b-18a (printed below)

But I said, I pine away! I pine away! Woe to me! The treacherous have dealt treacherously! Indeed, the treacherous have dealt very treacherously! (17) Terror and the pit and the snare confront you, O inhabitant of the earth! (18) Whoever flees at the report of the terror will fall into the pit; and whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare (Isaiah 24:16b-18a)

In verse 16b Isaiah describes himself as “pining away;” to “pine away” means to lose vigor and health because of grief. Why does Isaiah pine away? because “the treacherous have dealt treacherously! Indeed, the treacherous have dealt very treacherously!” (verse 16b) What is described here is a complete breakdown of integrity and commitment, there is the abandonment of moral obligations—the Hebrew word translated “to deal treacherously,” means “to deal falsely,” “to act unfaithfully.” Verses 17-18a are describing a society in which treachery reigns, in which the most fundamental moral obligations are abandoned and human bonds have been forsaken. It is a society in which no one is safe; a society in which no one can be trusted; a society in which no one is dependable.

2. According to Isaiah 24:1-4 (printed below), what is the Lord going to do to the earth and its inhabitants?

Listen! Jehovah is going to empty the earth and devastate it; he is going to turn it upside down and scatter its inhabitants. (2) The same fate is in store for the common people and the priest, for the servant and the master, for the maid and her mistress, for the buyer and the seller, for the lender and the borrower, for the creditor and the debtor. (3) The earth will be totally emptied and utterly devastated, for Jehovah has spoken this word. (4) The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted people of the earth languish. (Isaiah 24:1-4)

By His wisdom and power the Lord created the world, and by His righteousness He shall judge the world. Verses 2-3a speak of the thoroughness of the Lord’s judgment: it shall encompass all of mankind, every rank of society without exception. The judgment is a divinely ordained event that cannot be annulled by man or by any other creature, “because Jehovah has spoken this word.”

3. Why will the Lord carry out His act of judgment against the world? See Isaiah 24:5-6 (printed below)

The earth has become defiled by its inhabitants; because they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. (6) Therefore, the curse will devour the earth, and those who dwell upon it will bear their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth will be burned up, and few will be left. (Isaiah 24:5-6)

Verses 5-6 declare that the reason for the judgment is the fact that the world has become spiritually polluted. Originally the world was created by a holy God, declared by Him to be good, and deemed worthy of His presence (cp. Genesis 3:8). But now the world has become polluted—morally, spiritually, physically—by its inhabitants who are guilty of transgressing God’s law and thereby breaking “the everlasting covenant.” “The everlasting covenant” indicates the covenant of God that continues to be in effect for blessing or for curse. Therefore, because of the violation of the covenant requirement to obey the commandments of the Lord our God, “the curse will devour the earth.” The word first spoken to Adam following his disobedience (Genesis 3:17) shall finally be fulfilled in full and universal measure (note 2 Peter 3:7,10).

4. What is the extent of the final judgment when it comes? Will it be limited to the earth and mankind? See Isaiah 24:21-22 (printed below)

On that day Jehovah will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. (22) They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and after many days they will be punished. (Isaiah 24:21-22)

According to verses 21-22, the Lord’s judgment shall not be limited to the earth alone. Both the spiritual powers in the heavenly places—the devil himself and all the host of wickedness—as well as the rulers of the earth, shall succumb to the judgment of the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords. The powers, both spiritual and temporal, are portrayed as being shut up in prison, and after many days visited with punishment: here is a figurative way of depicting both the guilt and the humiliation of those who once occupied such high and lofty positions but, having been found guilty by Almighty God Himself, are now subjected to His righteous indignation and judgment.

5. When the Lord carries out His final judgment, what will be the response of the redeemed? See Isaiah 24:16a (printed below)

From the ends of the earth we hear songs that proclaim, Glory to the Righteous One! (Isaiah 24:16a)

From the uttermost parts of the earth—from all over the world—will the redeemed raise their song of praise: “Glory to the Righteous One!” (verse 16a) The Lord is especially praised for His righteousness, displayed in the judgment of this present sinful world and the redemption of His people. Note Revelation 16:5,7, depicting the response of the angels and the redeemed to God’s act of final judgment, “Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, ‘You are righteous, you who are and who were, you who are the Holy One, because you have by these means executed judgment.’ …(7) And I heard the altar respond, saying, ‘Yes, indeed, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and righteous!’”