How many years of existence does the Lord ordain for any of the nations of this world? Even if a country with the same name continues on for centuries, is it really still the same place?
One day all the nations of the world will face the judgment of God. The destruction that was described in Isaiah 34 was massive and vivid. But it was not enough to speak of the destiny of human beings. In the day of God’s anger the very heavens will be rolled up like a scroll, and the stars will seem to fall from the sky as the order of normal life gives way to a new day at the coming of the Lord’s mighty vengeance.
Isaiah wrote about distant events that would one day be the culmination of human history. He addressed these ultimate matters in the light of the more immediate wrath of God against contemporary nations that were significant in the centuries before the coming of Christ. Why was God angry with these historic people groups? Why had He reached the point where it would seem that nothing could turn away His fury? Edom was singled out here as a representative of all the nations who would one day face “the sword of the Lord” in a coming day of vengeance. Why Edom? She had rejoiced at the discipline of God against His covenant people, and since the beginning she had hated the chosen status of Israel.
The way that anyone treated the special people of God was a most significant issue in both testaments. Saul of Tarsus would one day be confronted by the risen Christ because of his persecution of the church. He would then be redirected to bring the message of the gospel to the nations of the Lord. Some from the Gentiles would be brought into the new Israel of God, not through circumcision, but through faith in Christ. Others would be left as the rejected “Edom.” The Lord Jesus in His warning concerning the coming Day of Judgment told His disciples that it would not go well for those nations who had persecuted the church (Matthew 24 and 25). Paul made the same point in 2 Thessalonians 1 concerning those who hated the Lord’s people.
God has a jealous love for His people. He may discipline them and even use any nation as an agent of His wrath, but that nation must not dare to celebrate the shame of the Lord’s chosen people. Assyria had her part to play in God’s work of correction, but the Almighty would not stand for their pride, their boasting in their idols, and their unbelief and immorality.
Edom, Assyria, and the other nations of the world would soon be as nothing. God had reserved their lands as a place for wild animals. None of this should have been a surprise to anyone in Isaiah’s day. They could have learned the truth of His coming judgments in the earlier Scriptures. Certainly we who have the Old and New Testaments have no excuse for ignorance.
The reigning Messiah King, Jesus Christ, will one day be a Defender against those who would treat His weak ones as their prey. The Lord will rescue His church from the clutches of her enemies. The only pathway of wisdom is for people everywhere to come to Him and find their place in the New Covenant assembly of the Almighty. Jesus Christ, the living head of God’s people, is the only Redeemer of God’s elect.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Perfect Lord, You are wonderful in Your mercy and glorious in Your justice. Your day is coming. You will not be stopped. You have a sword. You will bring this age to an end in the day of Your vengeance. You have not forgotten the church for whom Your Son gave His obedience and blood. The power and fear of the world will suddenly be nothing in that day. There will be a wonderful peace for Your servants. We read about this in Your Word and we believe. There is a place for Your people that can never be taken away. From generation to generation we will dwell in Immanuel’s land.