So tell me, exactly what is going to happen when You get tired of people getting right with You? When Jesus was here, didn’t He explain what was going to happen to evil people?
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at:
Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt 7:13-14).
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt 7:21-23).
1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
24:1-27:13 – chapters 24-27 deal with apocalyptic judgment and blessing in the last days, the time of God’s final victory over the forces of evil. These chapters form a conclusion to chapters 13-23 just as chapters 34-35 form a conclusion to chapters 28-33.
“Maketh the earth empty: – cf 2:10, 19, 21; see also note 13:13 and note.
“Scattereth abroad the inhabitants” – see Gen 11:9.
2 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.
Social distinctions will provide no escape from the judgment (cf 3:1-3).
3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.
4 The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
“Broken the everlasting covenant” – reference is pro to the covenant of Gen 9:8-17 (see Gen 9:11). See also v 18. This same covenant appears to serve as the basis of the judgment of the nation’s surrounding Israel in Amos 12 (cf 1:9-10). Although everlasting from the divine viewpoint, God’s covenants can be broken by sinful mankind.
6 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.
“Curse” – because of the intensification of evil in the world, God’s devastating curse will burn up the earth’s inhabitants (cf Gen 8:21-22; cf also the covenant of Gen 9:8-17).
7 The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merry hearted do sigh.
“Vine languisheth” – see v 4 and note.
8 The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.
“Mirth…ceaseth” – cf 22:2, 13, 23:7.
9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
“Wine with a song” – characteristic of Judah in 5:11-13 (see note there).
10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
“City of confusion” – the same idea appears in 25:2, 26:5 (cf 17:1, 19:18). It’s probably a composite of all the cities opposed to God, such as Babylon, Tyre, Jerusalem and Rome.
11 There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.
12 In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction.
13 When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.
Only a few olives and grapes will be left (see v 6, 17:6, 11).
14 They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.
“They” – the godly remnant that survives the judgment.
15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
“In the fires” – to the “east” (the land of light).
“Isles of the sea” – see note on 11:11.
16 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.
”Uttermost part of the earth” – see note on 11:12.
“I” – probably collective for the godly community that wastes away because of the villainy of the treacherous nations that seek to crush the people of God.
“My leanness…dealt treacherously” – the prophet expresses deep grief over the devastation that will befall the world as God judges the wicked. In the Hebrew text these four lines of the verse “Razi li, razi li! Oy Li! Bogedim bagadu! Ubeged bogged-im bagadu!) contain a powerful example of alliteration and assonance.
“Woe unto me!” – Isaiah had the same reaction in 6:5 (“Woe unto me!”).
“The treacherous” – the enemies of God’s people.
17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.
24:17-18 – cf Amos 5:19.
“Fear, and the pit, and the snare” – another example (see note on v 16) of alliteration, and and assonance. The Hebrew words are pahad, pahat, and pah.
18 And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.
“Windows from on high” – an echo of Noah’s flood (Gen 7:11, 8:12).
“Foundations…shake” – earthquakes and thunder (see note on 13:13; cf Joel 3:16).
19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
“Like a drunkard” – cf 19:14.
“Like a cottage” – see 1:8 and note.
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.
“In that day” – the day of the Lord (see notes on 2:11, 17, 20, 10:20, 27; cf 25:9, 26:1, 27:1-2, 12-13).
“Host of the high ones” – Satan and the fallen angels (see Eph 6:11-12).
22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
“Shut up in prison” – cf Rev 20:2.
“Visited” – sentenced or punished; cf Rev 20:7-10.
23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
“Moon…confounded, and the sun ashamed” – the sun and moon do not shine during judgment (see note on 13:10) or when the Lord is the “everlasting light” (60:19-20; cf Rev 21:23, 22:5).
“Reign in mount Zion” – see 2:2-4 and note.
Edom, a nation consisting of the descendants of Esau, twin brother of Jacob (Gen 25:24-26) and son of Isaac and Rebekah, was located to the southeast of Judah, in a rugged, mountainous region which is now the southwestern part of the kingdom of Jordan.
Edom is sometimes referred to as Esau (Mal 1:3), Idumea (Isa 34:5) and Mount Seir (Eze 35:3). All of these names are interchangeable, referring to the same nation, Edom.
Genesis 36 describes the rapid growth of Edom. Deuteronomy 2:5 informs us that Edom’s territory was not part of the land promised to Israel and never would be:
Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession (Deut 2:5).
Ezekiel condemned the nation of Edom, saying,
Thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity . . . Ezekiel 35:5.
Throughout ancient history, the Edomites manifested their hatred against the Hebrews, as shown by their refusing Moses and his people permission to pass through Edomite territory (Num 20:14-22).
However, in the time of Elisha, the Edomites joined in a military alliance with Israel and Judah (2 Kgs 3:9).
Later, Judah defeated Edom in war (2 Chr 25:5-12).
The major prophecies against Edom are found in Isaiah 34, Jeremiah 49:7-22, Ezekiel 25:12-14 and 35:1-15, and the book of Obadiah.
Isaiah prophesied of God’s judgment against Edom about 700 B.C., while Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Obadiah all delivered their prophecies of impending doom upon Edom around the year 600 B.C.
It would make sense to look for the fulfillment of these prophecies against Edom in that general time period of history. However, some have proposed that these prophecies against Edom are still unfulfilled, and that their fulfillment will take place in our generation, in the early 21st century A.D.
There are two big problems with this theory:
1. The Edomites no longer exist. It is impossible to punish a people who have already disappeared from the face of the earth many centuries ago.
2. The prophet Malachi, writing about 400 B.C., speaks of God’s judgment of Edom as having already taken place:
“And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness” (Mal 1:3).
History records that the Edomites were ravaged by the Babylonian armies in the early 6th century B.C., and that near the end of the 6th century B.C., the Nabateans attacked the Edomites, driving them from their mountain fortresses of Mount Seir, into the Negev Desert to the west.
Some will say, “Are not the Arabs Edomites, and does not the ‘Curse of Esau’ rest upon modern Arabs?” Though the identification of Edom with the Arabs is a common traditional belief, there is absolutely no Scriptural or historical basis for this notion.
The Arabians are often mentioned in the Old Testament, as a nation totally distinct from the Edomites. For instance, the Chronicler mentions Edom in 2 Chr 8:17 and Arabia in 2 Chr 9:14. The Edomites were not Arabs – they were Edomites.
Obadiah prophesied that the house of Esau would be completely wiped out (v 18). If he was talking about the Arabs, then Obadiah’s prophecy was false, since the Arabs are very much with us today. If Obadiah was talking about Edom, like he said that he was (v 8), then his prophecy has been fulfilled, since Edom has longed since disappeared as a nation.
An examination of the standard reference works yields neither hint nor evidence of any connection between Edomites and Arabs.
If the Edomites are not Arabs, then what did happen to them? We find the answer to that in the “Antiquities of the Jews” by the reliable ancient Jewish historian Josephus, writing of Jewish conquests in the 2nd century B.C.
Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews. Chapter IX, (2).
William Whiston, translator of Josephus, adds this note:
This account of the Idumeans admitting circumcision, and the entire Jewish law, from this time, or from the days of Hyrcanus, is confirmed by their entire history afterwards. This, in the opinion of Josephus, made them proselytes of justice, or entire Jews.” Since that time, the Edomites have been part of the Jewish nation. Some believe that the Edomites are still identifiable today as Sephardic Jews, but this is speculation.
Some have thought that there will never be peace between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine:
Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity.. . . (Eze 35:5).
However, we have seen that this passage concerning Edom has nothing whatsoever to do with the Arabs, ancient or modern. Scripture and secular history reveal no information about an inevitable hatred between Arabs and Jews over the centuries.
Over the centuries, Jews and Arabs have lived in harmony in the Middle East. On various occasions, Jews have fled to Arab and Muslim lands to escape persecution by the supposedly more enlightened European “Christians.”
The current strife between Jews and Arabs in Palestine did not begin until the early 20th century, with the rise of the modern Zionist movement.
We have no way of knowing whether there will soon be peace between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine, but there is nothing in the Word of God to indicate that such a peace cannot take place.
The prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Obadiah against Edom should not be wrenched out of their proper historical context, and made to apply to modern peoples who have no connection with Edom.
The purpose of these prophecies was to assure the Hebrews, at the time that they were taken captive to Babylon in 586 B.C., that Jehovah would not allow the covetous Edomites to occupy their land. God promised that the land of Judah would remain vacant, and that the nation of Israel would be restored on that land after 70 years (Jer 25:11, 29:10; Dan 9:2).
The application of those prophecies for today is that we should not be prideful as the Edomites, believed that they were safe from God’s wrath and could never be overthrown in their mountain fortresses. Also, we should not be covetous as Edom was, nor rejoice when judgment and suffering comes upon others.
The fate of Edom, and its complete disappearance from the family of nations, constitutes a powerful reminder of God’s justice, His judgment, and the sure fulfillment of all that He has promised in His inspired Word.