Isaiah 24 Link to LXE Modernized
Second Messianic Passage (Give Allegiance to the King: Part 2)
RECAP: Isaiah 24 is an amazing chapter. He summarizes his entire message to this point. This chapter especially summarizes his judgments against the nations from chapter 13 forward. It also serves as an introduction to the more detailed messianic portions later in the book. The vista of Isaiah 24 is enormous. His vision stretches to the end of time. This is the first lengthy eschatological (end times) passage in the book. He also zooms in on the “church age.” The chapter is a call for all peoples to give their allegiance to the King who wins. Find the link to the first messianic passage HERE. This post covers the second messianic passage.
Second Messianic Passage: Verses 21-23
There is a very large break following verse 20 that is important not to miss. Verse 20 strikes the final hammer blow to the earth.
Isaiah 24:20 The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. (ESV)
Following this phrase, “The earth… shall not be able to rise,” (Septuagint) Isaiah writes:
Isaiah 24:21 And God shall bring His hand upon the host of heaven, and upon the kings of the earth. 22 And they shall gather the multitude thereof into prisons, and they shall shut them into a stronghold; after many generations they shall be visited. 23 And the brick shall decay, and the wall shall fall; for the Lord shall reign from out of Zion, and out of Jerusalem, and shall be glorified before His elders. (CAB, LXE)
This is the second messianic passage in Isaiah 24.
How Is This Verse Messianic?
At first glance, verse 21 may appear to belong with the previous judgment section. How can this be the first verse of a second messianic passage? Yes, it can seem like more of the same that went before. However, there are indicators that a new section has begun.
Isaiah writes abruptly
Isaiah’s main characters are: the rebellious and the submissive, the loyal and the disloyal, the people and the Lord. Just as in a movie or in the book of Revelation, Isaiah’s “camera” switches back and forth between his main characters.
- In the Masoretic text tradition (nearly all of our major translations) the signal phrase is, “On [or in] that day…” (ESV). This phrase often refers to an event in a messianic timeframe. See Isaiah 2:11, 17; 11:10; Hosea 2:16; Amos 9:11; Micah 4:6; Zechariah 2:11; John 14:20 and 16:26.
- In the Septuagint, which I follow in this blog, the signal word is a simple, “And.” There are two “ands” in Greek–a hard “and” and a soft “and.” The soft “and” is a transition word that has multiple uses. The hard “and” (καὶ) often signals a major section break. See, for example, Isaiah 24:12. For several prior verses in this example, Isaiah had been talking about people. In verse 12, he switches to speaking about cities.
- In verse 24:21, Isaiah signals a change of topic with the introductory word, “And.”
Strong New Testament Parallels
Verses 21 and 22
Isaiah 24:21 And God shall bring His hand upon the host of heaven, and upon the kings of the earth. 22 And they shall gather the multitude thereof into prisons, and they shall shut them into a stronghold; after many generations they shall be visited.
Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (ESV)
Luke 10:18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (ESV)
We live in the missionary era. The Gospel goes forth largely unimpeded (yet often not without great sacrifice and suffering). People from many nations hear God’s Word. Lives are changed. Neither Satan, nor the kings of the earth, have power to prevent the Word of Jesus Christ from going forth. All three of the above passages describe this messianic period of time. We are currently living “in that day.” This is the day when we show our allegiance to Christ our King.
Isaiah describes different events
Notice the finality of Isaiah 24:20, “It [the earth] shall fall, and shall not be able to rise.” (LXE) The ESV reads, “It falls, and will not rise again.” Yet, this second messianic passage, verses 21-22, speaks of period of time when the host of heaven and kings are to be shut up in prison, only to be visited, or punished, “after many generations.” But, this would not be possible if the earth had already fallen, never to rise again. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that by using the word “And… “, Isaiah has changed subjects. He presents, as it were, certain material from a different camera angle. The entire chapter is eschatological, and there are different sections in it. The judgment sections refer to the very end, while the messianic passages refer to a time period the Masoretic texts describe as, “in that day.”
Similarity with Ephesians
Septuagint verse 23 meshes extremely well with the proposition that the passage from verse 21 forward is messianic. The time period is the Christian era following the resurrection of Christ, as presented above.
Isaiah 24:23. And the brick shall decay, and the wall shall fall; for the Lord shall reign from out of Zion, and out of Jerusalem, and shall be glorified before His elders.
Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (ESV)
The Masoretic textual tradition differs greatly in the first portion of this verse. “Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed,… ” (Isaiah 24:23 ESV). Both traditions agree on the second portion of the verse.
The Main Point
Commentators present differing views in how they interpret the details of Isaiah 24. Translations do indeed make a difference. However, the main point is clear. Isaiah presents a vision far in the future from his point in time. The whole earth will go the way of the nations he presented in chapters 13-23. There is no hope apart from God, the Lord. There will be a remnant, a small number “left over.” These will not be judged, or condemned. For those who place their trust in the Lord who reigns out of Zion, Christ, there is hope. These will see his glory on full display.