Note: Isaiah chapters 24-27 are distinctive in that they deal with the end of the world. They are appropriately set at the end of the prophecies about foreign nations (Isaiah 13-23).
A Corrupt Earth Made Desolate
What will characterize God’s judgment on the whole earth?
Isaiah 24:1-3 speaks of worldwide devastation that will touch the physical order (24:1) as well as every facet of society (24:2). The reliability of this prophetic word is stressed by the statement, “for the Lord has spoken this word” (24:3).
The earth itself mourns (24:4) and suffers because of what its inhabitants have done (24:4). Mankind “transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant” (24:5).
The “everlasting covenant” is a reference to the Noachic Covenant of Genesis 8:20-9:17 which deals with our care of the earth and our treatment of others. As a consequence, the judgment of God will be so severe that few men will remain (24:6,13) and those who remain will face a bleak future (24:7-13) as “all joy turns to gloom” (24:11).
Scholars hold differing views regarding the identity of “the city of chaos” (24:10). One scholar suggests (Page H. Kelley) that the reference “should perhaps be interpreted as signifying the certain destruction of all world powers who defy God and oppress His people.”
Isaiah 24:14-16 describes the premature rejoicing of the people of God. Isaiah however, continued to lament because treacherous men continued to deal treacherously (24:16).
Isaiah 24:17-20 vividly describes the judgment of God. It will be inescapable (24:18 and see also Amos 5:19) and will shake the earth (24:19) which will finally collapse under the weight of its sin (24:20).
Isaiah 24:21-23 look to the day when the host of heaven and the kings of the earth will be punished (24:21-22) and the glory of God will be revealed (24:23). The Lord will reign on Mount Zion (24:23).
Practical Consideration: All will be held accountable … now and later.
A day is coming when God will hold both nations and individuals accountable for their actions. Nations and men who sin against God and refuse to heed God’s warnings and fail to repent build a case against themselves. Those who refuse to acknowledge God will one day have to answer to God. Those who refuse to be held accountable today will be held accountable tomorrow.