Isaiah 24-27: The Little Apocalypse

Hope is a necessary part to being human. We all have seen — or perhaps experienced — the paralyzing nature of hopelessness. One of the great lies of secularism is that being free from Christianity will lead to genuine freedom. The two great wars of the previous century made the truth clear for a time, but the further that time removes our society from those wars, the more we forget that only God can overcome the limitless human capacity for evil.

Against the hopelessness of a secular age, Isaiah 24-27 shines like the morning sun. As we saw last month, Isaiah has just completed surveying the Lord’s words to the powers of the day. In these chapters, the Lord gives Isaiah a prediction for the whole world.

We see first in chapter 24 that just as a farmer needs to clear a field before he plants it, the Lord will clear the earth of those who persist in their rebellion against Him. God will rid the earth of those who have transgressed His law (Isaiah 24:7). As we think about this chapter through Christ, we know that we all deserve to be cleared (Romans 3:23); however, through the forgiveness comes because of Jesus’ death, we need not fear this judgment.

In every generation, some of God’s people suffer while the unrepentant revel in their wickedness. In Isaiah’s day, the terrorist army of the Assyrians plundered nation after nation. A few generations later, the pagan Babylonians would triumphantly bring the Lord’s vessels to their own pagan land. Later, Roman soldiers played games while their Creator was crucified. Isaiah 24 lets us know that the sand in the hourglass will eventually run out for the celebration of the wicked. On that day, God’s persecuted remnant will cheer and praise the just judge (24:14-15).

Isaiah 25 begins with praise from an unnamed member of this remnant. In the middle of the chapter, we see the reason for praise: God Himself will host the greatest feast imaginable (Isaiah 25:6). At this time, He will take away death itself and wipe the faces of His people. The crucifixion of Jesus later informs us how the Lord “swallowed” death, and the resurrection confirms Christ’s success (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Isaiah 26 is a meditation on the two truths that the previous two chapters have elucidated. God’s people hold on to these truths because God is an “eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:4). Through holding on to these truths, God’s children experience peace. As the King James Version memorably puts it, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee” (26:2).

Isaiah gives some of the most beautiful images in the entire Old Testament in these chapters. Death will reign over God’s enemies in the end. As Revelation makes clear, this will be the second death (Isaiah 26:14, Revelation 20:14-15). As for God’s people, however, although they may writhe like a woman in labor and feel like one who has gone through labor without giving birth (Isaiah 26:18), this state will not last forever:

“Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!” (Isaiah 26:19, ESV).

The section ends in Isaiah 27:1 with a final reason for hope. The Lord crushes Leviathan with His sharp sword. The Greek translation of this verse says that “God will bring down His holy, great, and strong sword upon the dragon, the fleeing serpent.” This passage reminds Christians that God will defeat Satan himself once and for all. How can we not rejoice in hope?

This entry was posted in .