God’s Wrath against Nations
Looking at the context at present Isaiah is speaking of the coming judgment against the Assyrians. In the fuller context, Isaiah is giving the announcement of the judgment against the nations during the Great Tribulation. Many of the Old Testament prophets and Jesus told of the coming of what is called the Great Tribulation. (Matthew 24:21) This will be a time when conditions on the earth will be the worst in human history because of the judgment of God. Revelation chapter six gives a description of this horrific time. It will be a time of ecological, economic, cosmic, and human catastrophe. This chapter as a reference to the end times goes back to the early Christian teachers. “Eusebius, with many other ancients, will have this chapter to be understood of the end of the world and the last judgment.” (Trapp)
We hear a plea from Isaiah to the nations. This is a time of horror beyond any that has ever been experienced. When we as a people have seen the prophecies of the prophets come into being it should set the stage to take heed to the prophecy that Isaiah is speaking of the Great Tribulation.
The stage is set for a rebuilt temple that will come in the last days, necessary to fulfill the prophecies of the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). The stage is set for the sort of world-dominating confederation of nations, heir to the Roman Empire to arise (Daniel 2:36-45; Revelation 13:1-8; 17:10-14). The stage is set for a political and economic “Superman” to arise, the sort of single political leader who will lead this world-dominating confederation of nations (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13:4-7). The stage is set for the kind of false religion the Bible says will characterize the very last days (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 9-12; Revelation 13:11-15; 17:1-6). The stage is set for the kind of economic system predicted for the very last days (Revelation 13:15-17). The stage is set for the end-times scenario the Bible says will happen between Russia and Israel in Ezekiel 38-39.
This prophecy is not directed towards the people of God but to the nations. The people of God will escape the terrors of the Great Tribulation but will face the hardships leading up to the tribulation. Jesus said that we should be in prayer to be worthy of our escape from the time of these terrors. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
Near neighbors of Israel was the Edomites and they were often bitter rivals. The Edomites would often rejoice when hard times came upon the land of Israel and Judah. Isaiah now focuses on the judgment that will come upon them. Edom becomes the example that Isaiah uses as the judgment that will come upon all the nations. “Edom was a sister nation to Israel, but it hated Israel more than any other nation. Throughout all of history we see a burning hatred of Edom against Israel. It is for this reason that Edom is frequently presented as a representative of all the nations that hated the Jews.” (Bultema) The fulfillment of the Lord’s indignation will be in the battle of Armageddon.
This judgment is associated with the image of sacrifice. In this association, Isaiah is telling us that this judgment is payment for sin. As the sacrificial victim paid the sin debt of the one bringing the sacrifice the judgment of Armageddon will be the payment for the penalty of sin.
During this time of the Lord’s vengeance, the will be ecological disasters as never before seen. In Revelation we learn before the return of Jesus at the end of the Great Tribulation one-third of the earth’s vegetation, the oceans, and the fresh waters will be destroyed. (Revelation 8 and 16)
With the destruction of so much of the earth, many places will be inhabited by the wild animals.
Though Isaiah wrote poetically the words of his prophecy they should be taken in a literal sense. The writings of Isaiah is a challenge to the doubters to look it up once the prophecy has been fulfilled. “After Edom has become a wasteland, men will take out the scroll and verify that Isaiah’s predictions came true.” (Wolf)
The Great Tribulation is coming and there should be no doubt. It is not to us to help it or to prevent it but simply be ready and to pray always that we may be worthy to escape the things to come and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)