Isaiah 34

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

34:1.  “Come near, ye nations to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.”


This is a command, not just an invitation, and it relates, not just to this section of Scripture, but to all the Word of God.  It is to be to our souls what food and drink are to our bodies, and it is to be absorbed (read and meditated upon) with the same regularity.


The world however, flagrantly disobeys God’s command, and busies itself with the pursuit of wealth and pleasure, the people being heedless of the fact that their disobedience will result in their forfeiture of heaven, and inheritance of eternal torment in the lake of fire.


What God was going to do to Edom is a preview of what He will do to the whole world in the Great Tribulation.


34:2.  “For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.”


“indignation” means wrath, vengeance, and its being spoken of as a fact already accomplished, declares the certainty of the execution of His threat.  The reference is generally understood to refer to the battle of Armageddon.


His casting of every unbeliever into the lake of fire is equally sure.


34:3.  “Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.”


The casting out of the slain signifies that the bodies would be flung into the streets, and be left there to rot unburied; and while the melting of the mountains with their blood, may indicate that the hills would stream with the blood of the slain, it is understood by others to refer to the great geographic changes that will occur during the Great Tribulation.


34:4.  “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”


This leaps over the centuries to the end of the Millennium when the present heavens and earth will be replaced with new ones, as declared in 2 Peter 3:10-13, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (devout, dedicated lives) and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  (“The day of God” is the continuation of the eternal state after the destruction of the present heavens and earth mentioned here).


The ease with which God will accomplish that great work of destruction is indicated in its being likened to the falling of a leaf or the dropping of a ripe fig.


34:5.  “For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea (Edom), and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.”


Taylor translates this verse, “And when My sword has finished its work in the heavens ....”


The bathing of God’s sword in heaven is generally recognized as being His expulsion from heaven of Satan and his fellow rebel angels referred to in Isaiah 24:21 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high; and the kings of the earth upon the earth.”  See also Revelation 12:12, “... Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time,” the “short time” being the last three-and-a-half years of the seven-year Tribulation era.


34:6.  “The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah (capital of Edom), and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea (Edom).”


34:7.  “And the unicorns (wild bulls) shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”


Relative to unicorns, the JFB Commentary makes the following instructive comment, “... it was the oryx (the leucoryx, antelope, bold and pugnacious); but when accident or artifice deprived it of one horn, the notion of the unicorn arose.”


Most commentators take these smaller animals to represent the common people; and the larger ones, the rulers, “unicorn” being another name for a wild bull or powerful human leader.  What is described here is God’s slaughter of multitudes of rebels during the Great Tribulation.  The dust “made fat with fatness” means that the soil will be saturated with the blood of the slain.


Edom, lying directly south of the Dead Sea, means red, and is similar to Adam which means man, red earth, and to whom God said, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” Genesis 3:19.


34:8.  “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.”


“controversy” means to grapple or wrangle with: chide: contend with: rebuke.


The day described is the Battle of Armageddon.  “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.”


34:9.  “And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.”


“Brimstone” is believed to be the same as sulphur which is flammable, so that the description is of the land of Edom transformed into the equivalent of a bed of sulphur, and therefore incapable of producing even a blade of grass.


34:10.  “It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.”


The desolation of Edom would be permanent.


34:11.  “But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.”


The cormorant is considered to be the equivalent of the vomiting pelican, hawk, jackdaw, desert owl, or horned owl, all creatures of solitary waste places; and the bittern is another name for the hedgehog or porcupine.  “...confusion” is also translated desolation, chaos, empty void.


“... line ... stones” are generally understood to mean the architect’s measuring instruments, line and plummet-stone


34:12.  “They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.”


The once great men of Edom will die and be forgotten as though they had never been; and so will it be with earth’s famous men.  Their brief day of earthly glory is fleeting, and will be followed by obscurity as though they had never existed.


34:13.  “And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.”


Her magnificent buildings will become deserted ruins overgrown with nettles, thistles, and briars.


“... dragons” is also translated wild dogs, jackals, wolves, while owls is rendered ostriches, desert-owls.


A scene of greater desolation is difficult to imagine.


34:14.  “The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.”


“Island” means habitable spot; and “satyr,” which is translated shaggy creature: he-goat, devil, was one of a class of ancient Greek woodland gods, part man and part horse or goat, notorious for their riotousness and lasciviousness.


34:15.  “There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.”


This emphasizes the proliferation of these evil creatures, which are themselves types of the evil spirits which obey Satan.


“every one with her mate” is explained by JFB as “No prediction shall want a fulfilment as its companion.”  Every word of God will be fulfilled.


34:16.  “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.”


Another translation of this verse reads, “Turn back, when the time comes, to this record of divine prophecy, and read it afresh; you shall learn, then, that none of these signs are lacking, none waited for the coming of the next .... The Lord it was entrusted me with the prophecies I utter; by his Spirit that strange company was called together,” Knox.


34:17.  “And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.”


The Amplified Bible renders this verse, “And he has cast the lot for them, and His hand has portioned Edom to the wild beasts by measuring line ....” and Taylor translates it, “He has surveyed and subdivided the land and deeded it to those doleful creatures.”

[Isaiah 35]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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