Thursday, June 02, 2005

'All the host of heaven shall rot away'

I read Isaiah 34 today which contained the following which I do not remember reading before.

Isaiah 34-2-5 For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction.

There are a number of notable things about this passage:

  1. The jump from the judgment of the nations to judgment in heaven, and then back again (namely to Edom). Walter Wink and Tom Wright amongst other may have something to say here about territorial spirits and the like. This passage though is a bit obtuse and a simple one-to-one relationship of nations to spirits/angels I do not think can be found here. They are clearly separate (cf. v.5 especially) but must be linked in some way in the thought of the writer.
  2. The first thing that happened when I read this passage was an alarm going off, saying didn't Jesus say he saw something like this thing being predicted. I looked it up and he did - in Luke 10:17-20.
    The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
    I think this means that Jesus saw the judgment of Satan's host in the (evangelistic/proclamatory) ministry of the seventy-two. So, according to Isaiah 34, following this event that evangelism effects(I presume that it is unlikely to accompany on the seventy-two's work) is the judgment of Edom (or more broadly the nations, or as we Christians understand it now non-Christians). This fits in well with my understanding of God's plan for the world which is encouraging. Another thing I notice in the saying of Jesus is his warning to the seventy-two not to value their new found authority more than their salvation. As our role as Christians in judging the world (cf. 1 Cor 6:2) is in my view one of the most unjustly ignored doctrines of the bible, I should be careful too not to value it too highly.
  3. The third notable thing is that there is so much of the bible I overlook. I never expected to find something in Isaiah 34 today of such significance to my life, but was also not something I had been over a thousand times before. I must mull over Isaiah 34 some more

Some of that was the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God!!

[apologies to Thomas Cranmer]

P.S. although MS Word does not recognise it, 'proclamatory' is a real word according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and a great one at that.


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