Judgment on Mother Earth
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 04, Dec 2019
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 24:1-12; 15-16
Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merry hearted do sigh. The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth. They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in. There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened; the mirth of the land is gone. In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction. Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea. From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
This picture painted here is eschatological; points to a future event and it refers to the judgment on Mother Earth. No social or economic class is exempted from this destruction because the whole earth stands guilty before God. The prophetic landscape given more than 2600 years ago, explodes like a string of firecrackers. The loud sounds and the brilliant light of these explosions, is deafening, frightening and mindboggling. When all the sounds recedes, what is left of the scene of Mother Earth is frightening to say the least. This inspiration Isaiah receives is a difficult concept to describe. How did Isaiah receive this picturesque vision?
a. A Vision
b. A dream
c. A verbal statement. A message
d. A translation
e. A symbolic act
I believe the bible is a unique book. A book of divine revelation. In this few verses, the message is a specific verbal statement from YHWH. The eternal God has revealed Himself to His highest creation, mankind.
What can we learn from this portion of scripture?
1. The Description
Isaiah 24:1 says, “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.”
Isaiah 24 speaks of God’s universal judgment on Mother earth. Isaiah chapters 13-23 speaks of God’s judgment on the nations surrounding Israel which affected the people of God. Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and the Palestinians living in Gaza, West Bank; these nations surrounding Israel will be judged by God for their evil plot to prevent the existence of Israel. But chapter 24 takes on a totally different tune. It is a cosmic (planetary) judgment against the inhabitants of earth. It is a world judgment. It is YHWH who comes and make desolate the earth. The word used is ‘make the earth empty’. Today there are 7.7 billion people. We are told in the book of Revelation that at least one-third of mankind will disappear. That is 2.5 billion people. But honestly if you study the book of Revelation it seems more than one third will disappear. It is very difficult to fathom 2.5 billion people wiped out on the face of Mother Earth. Yet YHWH says he will make the earth empty. The phrase ‘make it waste’ means he will twist or distorts earth’s surface. It is to mar the surface of earth. To twist and distorts the earth sounds like earthquakes. The bible says the foundation of the earth is the mountains. We see mountains but we don’t see the foundations. We see a gigantic Redwood tree but we don’t see the root. The foundation of the mountains goes deep down into the oceans or sea. They hold earth together. The mountains hold the earth together. So when YHWH twist and distorts the earth, it is to shake the mountains, the foundation of the earth. Another word used in verse one is ‘to turn it upside down’. To turn something upside down is to put in disorder, mix or mess up, as a person turned the whole house upside down looking for his checkbook. The metaphoric phrase means literally inverting something so that the upper part becomes the lower or vice versa, to throwing into disorder or confusion. When YHWH says, he will scatter abroad the inhabitants, we are reminded of the Tower of Babel where God used languages to scatter the inhabitants of the earth. Humans will be scattered all over the earth, from the metro cities, the municipalities, to the provinces, to the suburban places, to the mountains and caves and villages. Here it denotes exile. Verse 1 and verse 3 use a series of strong verbs to describe judgment on Mother Earth. The word ‘earth’ is not ‘land’ here. A more parallel word is ‘world’. This Hebrew term ‘earth’ is often used in conjunction with ‘World.’ Here are the descriptions.
A. He lays waste
B. He devastates
C. He distorts (literally twists). This could either be a metaphor of God’s judgment on the earth in physical terms or it may be a metaphor of God’s emptying earth’s inhabitants as someone would clean dirty kitchen pans.
D. He scatters
E. Earth is completely laid waste
F. Earth is completely despoiled. This denotes an intensity of the destruction but a faithful remnant will survive.
We must understand Isaiah 24 reminds us of God’s judgment in Noah’s day. Actually God refereed to Noah’s day when he mentioned the everlasting covenant in verse 5. So the scope of the judgment on Mother Earth will be equivalent to that of Noah’s day. There will be a worldwide emptying, making it a vast wasteland of destruction. It is exactly the opposite of creation’s purpose.
2. Those Affected
Isaiah 24: 2 says, ‘And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.”
We are told in no uncertain term that all levels of society; the weak to the powerful, the rich to the poor will be affected by this judgment. All social distinction is removed and everyone is judged. In this judgment it is the upper class that has the most to lose. It is said the during this recent Hong Kong protest that has gone on for almost 6 months, there is a great exodus of money being channeled out of Hong Kong to Malaysia and Singapore who benefitted greatly from this present Hong Kong protest. Market watchers said the during this short period, $4 billion was deposited into Singapore banks. Price of Private properties accelerated in Singapore. The actor on the move IP man, Donnie Yen was spotted looking for property in Singapore. In this judgment on Mother Earth, the rich couldn’t do that because the judgment is on all the earth. For the average person or the poor, they will survive better because they have been used to a hard life. Not the rich. In 2007 when Paris Hilton was sentenced to jail for DUI for just 45 days, she was seen screaming in court while being escorted to jail. It was traumatic and she was claustrophobic in that tiny little cell she was put in. After just 3 days, Paris wriggled out of her isolated cell for a number of nebulous (unclear) ‘psychological’ reasons; her sentence transferred to house arrest. She became mental just for that 3 days in jail. I think the rich will really suffer when YHWH judged Mother Earth. . In some translation it says, ‘the exalted of the people of the earth fade away.’ The elite (those in height) people of the earth will be no more. But this judgment shows that all social distinctions are removed. Everyone is judged. Isaiah shows that those in high station in life; priest, master, mistress, seller, will not be protected from the judgments of the LORD. Of course those in low station of life; the borrower, debtor, will not be protected either
Now how does this apply to us the church who serves God. Some bible commentator believe that the church will be left on the earth to endure the Great Destruction on Mother Earth and God will miraculously protect them during that time, so that, they face none of the judgments of the LORD, only perhaps persecution from the Anti-Christ. I think otherwise. This passage of scripture reinforces the idea that the judgments of the LORD during this time will be universal in their scope, and that no class of people will be immune from the general judgment of the LORD. Isaiah 34:6 reinforces this scenario. It says, ‘The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness , and with the blood of lambs and goats.’ The lambs has always been portrayed as the people of God and the goat as the people not of God. Here the lambs and the goats were both slayed with the sword of the LORD.’ When there is a judgment of earthquake or flood in a city, the good as well as the bad suffers. So it makes sense for YHWH to remove His redeemed before this period of God’s Judgement on Mother earth. So that only those who returns to the LORD during the destruction will have to trust him for protection but still have to suffer under these judgments.
Note Isaiah 24:3 says, ‘The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.’ This shows the certainty of this event because YHWH has said it. When God speaks, it can be counted on. It is a completed statement. What is said will be done. Note the intended contrast: the spoken word of creation is now the spoken word of judgment. Once YHWH said, ‘Let there be light’. Now he says, ‘Let there be destruction.’ Earth will be utterly emptied. Earth will be utterly spoiled.
Isaiah 24:4 says, “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.” Note the description of Mother Earth. I know that there is a global movement undertaken by environmentalist. They coined it GAIA; which means Mother Earth. Saving GAIA is a global initiative actively inspiring individuals to work together to help raise awareness and take action towards protecting Mother Earth, the oceans and the environment. When I was preparing this sermon, I came across the meaning of GAIA that frightens me. According to Wikipedia, GAIA is the personification of the Earth and it is one of the Greek primordial deities. GAIA is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess. She is the immediate parent of Uranus (the sky) from whose sexual union she bore the Titans (themselves parents of many of the Olympian gods) and the Giants. It reminds of me Genesis 6 which the angels (from the sky) came down and slept with the women and produces giants and men of renown during Noah’s time. Now they want to save Mother Earth.
And they want to protect GAIA: Mother Earth. GAIA won’t be protected. What happens:
a. Earth mourns – the personification of earth mourning
b. Earth dry up
c. Earth withers
d. Earth fades
e. Earth is polluted
All these descriptions denote a settled action, a completed action! It is settled. It is completed. The God of creation is acting as sovereign in His creation. It was made to be a stage for Him and mankind to interact, but His creatures have polluted and defiled it by their action. Man has defiled the earth with his sin and great wickedness. It was created for abundance, but now it lies judged and unproductive.
3. Causes of Judgment on Mother Earth
Isaiah 24:5 says, ‘The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”
Earth is polluted by its inhabitants. Nature (mountains, trees, seas, animals, birds) suffers because of mankind’s sin. The cause of Mother Earth destruction is very clear.
a. They have transgressed the laws and changed the ordinance. I look at the numerous agenda of the nations of this world to change the law. The Spirit of Anti-Christ today has been to change the law of God. The more they changed the laws, the quicker the destruction of Mother Earth. The Hebrew word for ordinance here is Torah, which often means the law of God and the Word of God. Mankind is ripe for judgment because we changed God’s word into something ‘lighter’, into something ‘more acceptable’. No death penalty but a lighter sentence. Marijuana is a medicinal drug; good for health. The bible says ,’It is not good for a man to be alone, let him find a helpmate.’ Why can’t it be man to man or woman to woman. Mankind has changed the word of God by replacing it with substitutes, or by fashioning it into something more suitable to his liking. Today anything that is upholding the law of God is considered Human Right Violations.
b. They violated statutes
c. They broke the everlasting covenant
The everlasting covenant does not refer to the Mosaic Law but the universal law or the natural revelation found in Psalms 19:1-6. Here, Mother Earth is reminded of the everlasting covenant given in Noah’s day. The rainbow is the seal of this everlasting covenant. The everlasting covenant appears in Genesis 9:16. This everlasting covenant relate to human life. YHWH wants mankind to be fruitful and fill the earth, not kill each other. Murder has consequences. Life belongs to God. He wants mankind to be fruitful and fill the earth, not kill each other. Look at the nuclear weapons that is produced by USA and Russia. These two countries combined can destroy the earth multiple times with their present nuclear weapons. Every year 50 million children are aborted. Abortion is not just murder but going against the Universal Covenant of ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ Today all the first world countries doesn’t want to have children; they don’t want to be fruitful and multiply. Today many countries are experiencing negative population growth; Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Hungary, Japan, Italy and Greece.
Isaiah 24:6 says, ‘Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”
We must understand that we cannot continually break the everlasting covenant. Formal covenants in Ancient Near Eastern history were solemnized by a list of the curses that fell on whichever party broken the agreements. The people of earth had broken the everlasting covenant with God; the rainbow covenant. We cannot continue breaking covenant because a long list of the curses have started to fall upon Earth.
Because they have transgressed the laws. The idea of transgression is to step over the line that God has established. God has set boundaries for us, but many of us don’t want to see or respect God’s boundaries. Transgression is the spirit of this age. Notice the slogan from recent national advertising campaign: ‘Nothing is taboo. Break all the rules. To know no boundaries. Relax: no rules here. Peel off inhibitions Find your own road. We are all hedonists and want to do what feels good. That’s what makes us human. Living without boundaries. Just do it. The idea is constant: you don’t have to respect God’s boundaries, because you can make your own and live by them. Let’s just look at this acronym. First it was LGBT; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender. Then they are not satisfied. They add a Q. Q stands for Queer. The Q has come into the mainstream in the past few years. It means they are no straight but strange and odd people with strange behavior. Some say sex with animal is included in the word Queer. They further add an ‘I.’ ‘I’ stands for Intersex. Intersex means having sexual characteristics of both male and female. We have the metrosexual today. A common facial feature of most Korean Actors is that they don’t look like man or they don’t really look like girl. Still not satisfied. They add A. ‘A’ stands for asexual. Asexual means having no sex organ. They go into sex with animals. LGBT has grown into LGBTQIA and the furthest I heard is LGBTQIA plus. Just 30 years ago, the people that are gay, hide their identity because they feel that it is something that is wrong. Today it is open, approved and celebrated. There is a defiance against the world condemning their sins and they are publicly displaying their sins.
The people of Mother Earth does not know that the faster they break the everlasting covenant the sooner the destruction on Mother Earth. I just want to say that God will not compromise with evil. He will not compromise with evil in your life, nor in my life. YHWH says that He hates sin and He intends to destroy it and remove it from the universe. Today God is moving forth uncompromisingly, unhesitantly, and undeviatingly against sin. He does not intend to accept the white flag of surrender from it. He intends to drive sin from His universe. He will not apologize for it. God is angry against sin and He will punish those who engage in it. He says he will. YHWH is very angry with nations. He says in Isaiah 34:1-2 ‘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. 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.’ The word ‘angry’ is translated as ‘fury’ and ‘rage’. Fury and rage has a connotation of heat and fire. It is hinting at fiery destruction. Mother Earth will not be destroyed by flood again but this time by fire.
I read something concerning the wicked in my devotion recently that caught my attention. Isaiah 26:10 says, ‘Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.’ I said that the redeemed of the LORD will not face the destruction on Mother Earth. But this verse I just read is very revolutionary. YHWH is saying He showed favor to the wicked; through YHWH’s revelatory intent and action to reach the wicked as so to convert them. How?
a. He shows them favor (graciousness, mercy)
b. They are allowed to live in the land of uprightness. This has reference to the wicked in the church. They are allowed to mingle in the church. There are people in this church that are wicked and YHWH has showed favor or has been gracious. They are allowed to be found in church, seemingly as part of the body of Christ; the land of uprightness. They lived among righteous people. Yet they are wicked. Isaiah 33:14 repeated this truth. It says, ‘The sinners in Zion (always represents the people of Israel and the church) are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? This is where the distinction comes in. The sinners are in the church. The sinners in Zion (the church) are afraid. They are hypocrites and are filled with fearfulness when the judgment on Mother Earth happens. They will not be redeemed out of Mother Earth. How are they going to face the fire judgment on Mother Earth?
c. He clearly signals (lifts his hands) them. YHWH has pointed them out for judgment. He has shown favor in spite of their wickedness. People in the church. You cannot continue to live the wicked life. You cannot take for granted the graciousness and favor of YHWH on you. Coming to church will not save you. What you need is changed lifestyle characteristics, a genuine relationship with YHWH.
Observe the wicked’s response to YHWH’s revelation of himself?
a. He does not learn righteousness. He is in church but he never did learn righteousness.
b. He does not deal justly
c. He does not perceive the majesty of the LORD
d. He does not see His zeal for His people, and are put to shame.
Isaiah 26:10 speaks of the wicked who misunderstand God’s patience and take advantage of His kindness: God’s law (judgment) was meant to help the nations know him but Israel’s and even the church’s disobedience clouded the revelation. Even Israelites and the church people themselves took advantage of their covenant relationship.
4. The Catastrophe
The bible is so clear. There will be few men left. It is impossible to fathom and believe such a scenario will exist. But we must be reminded that when God destroyed the first world by a flood only 8 people survived. Hebrew 12:26-27 says, ‘Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of thing that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.’ We always read this phrase on the ‘shaking the heaven’ as God sending meteorites, asteroids from outer space into Mother Earth. Actually the heaven includes the heavenly host; the angels.
The shaking of heaven refers to angelic beings being judged and also meteorite and asteroid hitting earth. The Judgment of Mother Earth includes the judgment not only of humankind but also the angelic beings.
The phrase ‘few men left’ is basically the Old Testament idea of a faithful remnant that God will spare a few of the people of the earth. Isaiah 34:4 talks about the host of heaven being dissolved. They implied angelic army being affected and thrown in disarray by YHWH.
Isaiah 24:8 says, ‘The mirth of Tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth’. The Entertainment world, Hollywood, the Bar club, the Karaoke, the gigantic sports stadium, the Broadway shows, the Woodstock, the movie industry, the partying all will come to a standstill. There is no more partying as usual. The noise of jubilant ends, and joy of the harp (music) ceases.
Isaiah 24:10 says, ‘The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in. The phrase ‘city of confusion’ is translated ‘the city of chaos’ is broken down. That city is not specifically identified and therefore it seems to be a symbol of all cities of the world which is functioning today apart from God. The word ‘city’ also refers to the world ‘cities’ today. All the cities of the world will be in chaos. New York City, Singapore City, Hong Kong City, London city, Paris. These are the cities formed by fallen human children of Cain, who try to meet their needs completely in their own resources. Cities also represents people group and nations. They will be in chaos. Literally the term ‘chaos’ means ‘emptiness’ ‘vanity.’ ‘formlessness’, ‘confusion’ or unreality.’ It is used to described the earth in Genesis 1:2 as formless. Before God form the earth, the bible says, earth was empty and void. Both descriptions underscore the truth that earth was a chaotic mass. This will happen to Mother Earth when YHWH judged her. God is started over with His creation again as in the beginning of creation and as in the creation of Noah. Now He will do it again. Isaiah 17:9 says, ‘in that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.’ The judgment will be so complete that the cities looks totally forgotten, forsaken, left to the jackals and hyenas.
What is our reaction?
Isaiah 24:15-16 says, ‘Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea. “From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.”
In the Jewish Study Bible, it asserts that some group (the Judeans as well as the Gentiles who have trusted YHWH begins to thank God in praise that this judgment is over, but they suddenly realize it is not. Recognizing the majesty and glory of YHWH is obviously the first sign of a new relationship with Him. A few humans (Jew and Gentiles), the faithful remnant will be found faithful even amidst judgment. These believing remnant will be saved out of Israel and the peoples of the Earth. This remnant will lift up their voice and they shall sing. Even in the midst of the great Judgment on Mother Earth, God has His own that praise Him. God will remove all people, but many will come to trust Jesus and these will praise him in the midst of Judgment. Why do they praise him? Because even in YHWH’s judgments, the LROD showed His majesty. He showed His glory. The godly can see the goodness, the greatness and the glory of God even in judgment, even when the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously. I think the phrase ‘My leanness, my leanness, woe is me!’ means I am ruined, I am ruined. It talks about the remnant that have leanness of soul and in ruin because of the treachery of continual wicked people towards them. Also it could mean when they thought that it is over, it was not because the Judgement has not ended yet.
The City of Zion, where God dwells will rejoice and glorifying God in this midst of all this destruction because a new day has dawned. The remnant people will glorify God and will worship him.