The Condemnation of Man’s Kingdoms Isaiah 1-39, cont’d.
Isaiah 34-35 The Establishment of God’s Kingdom
Isaiah 34:1-5-These verses speak of the future judgment of all nations. In verse 1, God calls all of the nations to come hear what He has to say. Then He declares His judgment on them all.
34:1 This chapter has apocalyptic overtones…Edom, because of her relentless hatred toward Israel, is singled out from the nations as the object of God’s fury. She was to suffer a fate like that of Babylon. Twenty-six centuries of desolation bear witness to the truth of this prophecy.
The Criswell Study Bible, footnote Isaiah 34:1, p. 810
Isaiah 34:5-"Edom" was the brother of Israel and represents all unbelievers (Heb. 12:16). Isaiah uses Edom as an example of God's judgment.
Question: "Who/what is Edom (Obadiah 1:1, 8)?" Answer: References to Edom occur more than 120 times in the Old Testament. The prophet Obadiah specifically mentions Edom as a people to be judged for their pride in rejoicing over the destruction of Jerusalem.
Edom was an ancient people group that inhabited the land south of Judah and the Dead Sea. The Edomites, also called Idumeans, descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Genesis 36:1). They were of great historical importance as descendants of both Isaac and Abraham. The word Edom in Hebrew means “red,” a reference to Esau’s reddish look at birth (Genesis 25:25). Yet, despite their shared ancestry, the Edomites and Israelites lived in almost perpetual conflict. Edom refused to allow the Israelites to pass through their territory en route to the Promised Land (Numbers 11:14-17). They fought with King Solomon (1 Kings 11:14-25), opposed King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:22), and rebelled against King Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:8).
This kingdom had developed a government led by kings long before the monarchy arose in Israel. Genesis 36:31-39 lists the eight Edomite kings up to that time, delineating a long line of political leaders during the years in which Israel lived in slavery in Egypt.
A prominent city in Edom was Petra. This city, accessible only through a narrow canyon within cavernous mountain walls, was featured in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In the fifth century B.C., a people called the Nabateans defeated the Edomites and removed them from Petra. The Edomites were forced to move south of Israel in an area that would become known as Idumea. In the New Testament, Herod the Great, who commanded the murder of all boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem (Matthew 2), was an Idumean.
In Obadiah, Edom is mentioned twice by name (1:1, 8). Yet the focus of the entire book is on Edom’s destruction as God meted out His judgment on a historically rebellious people.
Obadiah prophesies that Edom would be “small among the nations . . . utterly despised” (Obadiah 1:2); that Edom’s best-laid plans would come to naught (verse 8); and that Edom would be completely destroyed: “‘The house of Esau will be stubble, and [the house of Jacob] will set it on fire and consume it. There will be no survivors from the house of Esau.’ The LORD has spoken” (verse 18).
Obadiah’s prediction came true in the fifth century B.C. when Edom was removed from Petra. The Edomites would later disappear from history completely, marking the total destruction of one of Israel’s enemies. In His dealings with Edom, God kept His promise to His people, “Whoever curses you I will curse” (Genesis 12:3).
Isaiah 34:6-17-These verses depict the total destruction of the nations of the world by God. This will take place during the days of the Great Tribulation…the last 3½ years of the 7 years of the Tribulation period…ending with the Battle of Armageddon…and immediately followed by the Millennial period (1,000 year reign of Christ on earth) which is pictured in the next chapter.
- Jesus, and many Old Testament prophets, plainly told us of a coming time He called great tribulation (Matthew 24:21), when because of the judgment of God, conditions on earth would be the worst human history had ever seen. Revelation chapters 6, 8-9, and 16-18 describe this horrific time, when there will be widespread ecological, economic, cosmic, and human catastrophe on a level never before known in history.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 34,
Isaiah 34:7-The NASV, NIV, and NLT all translate the Hebrew word “reham” as “wild oxen”. The interesting exception is the KJV which translates it as “unicorn” (it also does so in the 8 other places that the word appears). So, what was this animal?
- probably the great aurochs or wild bulls which are now extinct. The exact meaning is not known
For an interesting explanation of the original identification of this animal see the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon at the following website…
Blue Letter Bible,
Isaiah 35-Here is a very picturesque description of Israel in the future Millennial Kingdom.
Isaiah 36-39 The Condemnation of Assyria’s Kingdom
Isaiah 36-39-These chapters contain a review of the events that took place in 701 B.C., when Assyria tried to conquer Judah...and failed.
Isaiah 36:1-3-Hezekiah was king of Judah. Sennacherib was king of Assyria. Rabshakeh was the leader of the Assyrian army. Hezekiah sent a delegation to meet with Rabshakeh. Rabshakeh told them that Sennacherib claimed that the LORD had told him to conquer Judah (:10).
- Rabshakeh speaks to leaders in King Hezekiah's government.
- (Isa 36:1-3) Officials from King Hezekiah's government meet Rabshakeh, general of the armies of Assyria…
- In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah: This is about the years 700 B.C., during the reign of the godly King Hezekiah of Judah. The events of this chapter are also recorded in 2 Kings 18:13-27 and 2 Chronicles 32:1-19.
- This begins a four-chapter section different than the prophecies recorded before or after. Isaiah 36 and 37 describe the LORD's work against the Assyrian threat. Isaiah 38 and 39 describe the response to the Babylonian threat.
- "This is history at its best, not dull recital of statistics and dates but an account which enables us to sense the haughty arrogance of the Assyrian and the chilling clutch of despair at the hearts of the Israelites." (Cundall, cited in Grogan)
- Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them: This Assyrian invasion has been the broad background for much of the Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah chapters 1 through 35. Now, Isaiah gives us a historical record of what happened during the time he prophesied about.
- The Assyrian army swept down from the north, conquering Syria and Israel, as Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 8:3-4 and many other passages. The Assyrian army then came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them, as Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:16-17 and many other passages.
- Then the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem: At the time of Isaiah 36:1-3, the Assyrian army has conquered the both Syria and northern kingdom of Israel, and has devastated the countryside and fortified cities of Judah. All that remains is Jerusalem, and if the Assyrians conquer her, then Judah is destroyed as a nation just as Syria and Israel were. These were the desperate times of King Hezekiah!
- Who was the Rabshakeh? Actually, it is a title, not a name. It describes the "field commander" for the Assyrian army, who represented the Assyrian King Sennacherib. "Rab-shakeh, an Assyrian title, possibly originally 'chief cup-bearer' but by this time some high officer of state." (Motyer)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 36,
Isaiah 36:4-20-Rabshakeh meets the delegation inside of the city walls of Jerusalem and tells them to not trust in an alliance with Egypt (:5-6). Then he tells them to not trust in the LORD to protect them (:7)…saying that it was the LORD who told Sennacherib to invade Judah (:10). He even accused Hezekiah of being part of their problem since he had destroyed the places where people had worshipped the LORD privately and demanded that they worship at the Temple, only (:7). The delegation asked that he speak to them in Syrian (the language of the Assyrians) and not Aramaic (the common language of that day and the ancient language from which Hebrew is derived) so that the people who were on the wall and were listening would not be frightened by what they heard. But instead, Rabshakeh (as if to add insult to insult) shouted to the people on the wall in Aramaic and told them to not trust in the LORD. Rabshakeh told them that other nations had trusted in their gods and had been destroyed (:19-20). And now, the same thing would happen to them.
Isaiah 36:21-22-The delegation did not respond to this obvious insult. King Hezekiah had told them to meet with Rabshakeh, but to make no remarks or commitments. They then went back to the King and told him what had taken place.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes I can feel overwhelmed by the difficulties that I face. And if I am not careful I begin to focus so much on the issues that I lose sight of You. And to be honest, I can even begin to wonder, “If God let me get into this fix, will He do anything to get me out?” At such times it can be easy to look for help from other sources…instead of turning to You. Please help to keep my faith in You…and You alone. Don’t let me turn to other people, or resources, or even my own abilities. Help me to keep my faith in You…and You alone.