This chapter proclaims God’s judgment on the enemies of God and His people. The descriptions of consequence are figurative but the places and people to experience the consequences are real. Let’s look at some of the descriptions of what will happen to those that ignored God and abused the nation of Israel.
Verses 1-7: God’s anger is evident as He utterly destroys armies and obliterates nations. The description of God’s actions towards these nations is ill and dark. It should convince us of God’s intolerance for sin and of His power to punish as He sees fit.
God’s fury in action
– mountains melted by blood
– dissolving universe
– God’s bloody sword
Verses 8-17: Where the previous chapter dealt with the symbol of a protected city for salvation, this next section of text describes figurative effects on actual geography:
– streams turned into pitch/tar
– eternally burning and smoking land
– dust turned into brimstone
These consequences would occur in the land where the people who abused Israel dwelt, referred to as Zion in verse 8. We know this from the wording in verse 8: “For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”
Zion was the name of a particular hill in Jerusalem. When we see it mentioned in the Bible, it is typically as a synonym of Jerusalem. Indeed, it is often used to refer to the nation of Israel as a whole.
Edom is the specific land thought to be referenced as the target of the consequences listed. Most of the creatures identified as new Inhabitants of the land are considered unclean according to Leviticus 11. God’s lack of tolerance for sin and mistreating those He chose to bless had no chance of escaping God’s wrath. The once prosperous land of Edom would be laid waste and given back to the natural world:
New inhabitants of the land
– wild beast
– wild goat
– night creature
– arrow snake
New conditions of the land
– thorns growing in the palaces
– brambles in the fortresses
And we see the absolution of the takeover. All of the creatures would prosper as the former human citizens of Edom had. God has total control over the world and elements He created:
“. . .Not one of these shall fail; Not one shall lack her mate. For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them. He has cast the lot for them, And His hand has divided it among them with a measuring line. They shall possess it forever; From generation to generation they shall dwell in it.” Isaiah 34:16-17
Living in the midst of God’s grace under Jesus Christ, the saved can forget the absolute devastation that God’s wrath can bring. Let us leave tonight’s study impressed with the power and righteousness of Almighty God.