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Isaiah 34:1 Come near, you nations, to hear! Listen, you peoples. Let the earth and all it contains hear; the world, and everything that comes from it- The idea is, all the people born in the world, which is parallel with the earth / land of Israel. The envisaged destruction of the Assyrians in Is. 33 was potentially to be part of the destruction of all enemies of God's people in the entire eretz promised to Abraham. But this didn't happen at the time because Hezekiah and his sons befriended the nations and followed their ways, rather than separating from them spiritually and leading them to Yahweh worship. And the people of Judah continued to act as the Gentiles.     

Isaiah 34:2 For Yahweh is enraged against all the nations and angry with all their armies. He has utterly destroyed them-
We have a return here to the scene in the 'little apocalypse' in Is.24. The destruction of the earth / land along with many of God's people leads to the repentance of a remnant of both Jews, Israelites and Gentiles who form a new multiethnic people of God under a Messiah figure in a reestablished Kingdom of God on earth. That is the scene in Is. 34 too, although the Gentiles are personified as Idumea / Edom, the nation against whom all the prophets record God's particular wrath. God's being "enraged" was because He had sent "all nations" to punish Judah but they had fallen into bloodlust and pride (Zech. 1:15 s.w.). The 'utter destruction' of the "all nations" supposes that this prophecy speaks of a final destruction; this could have happened in Isaiah's time, but has been deferred to the last days. But the same word for "utter destruction" is translated 'consecrate' or 'devote [unto Yahweh]'. It is used in Mic. 4:13, which states that a repentant Judah will be the means by which this happens: "Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion; for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs brass; and you will beat in pieces many peoples: and I will devote their gain [s.w. "utterly destroy"] to Yahweh, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth". This never really happened in previous judgments upon the "all nations" around Jerusalem. Always something positive is envisaged as coming out of Divine judgment.

He has given them over for slaughter- God states His intentions, and in the gap between statement and fulfilment there is the opportunity for repentance in order to change the stated outcome (Jer. 18:8-10). The implication is therefore that this scenario need not happen if the nations repented. We too live in that gap.

Isaiah 34:3 Their slain will also be cast out, and the stench of their dead bodies will come up; and the mountains will melt in their blood-
This suggests a massive scale of destruction, unknown in previous judgments upon the "all nations" of the land promised to Abraham. The bodies would not be buried, and the smell of the bodies would be terrible. This is the scene presented in the prophecy of the destruction of Gog and his armies, the latter day Assyrian, in Ez. 39. It's not simply that both prophecies have the same event in view. The prophecy wasn't fulfilled as it might have been in the time of Isaiah, so it was been transferred, rescheduled and reapplied to the last day scene of Ez. 39.

Isaiah 34:4 All of the army of the sky will be dissolved, the sky will be rolled up like a scroll-
Here we have a clear parallel between the armies and controlling powers of the earth, and the stars of the heavens. "Heavens" are indeed used in the Bible symbolically, referring to the leading or controlling powers in a situation. The armies of the sky refer to how the armies of soldiers on earth had their heavenly representation before the throne of God in the heavenly courtroom. The Angels there represented situations upon earth. "Dissolved" is s.w. "consume away"; on earth, this will amount to the scene in Zech. 14:12, where the same word is thrice used: "This will be the plague with which Yahweh will strike all the peoples who have warred against Jerusalem: their flesh will consume away while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will consume away in their sockets, and their tongue will consume away in their mouth". Rolling up like a scroll could speak of how the entire prophetic word is to come to its climactic fulfilment.

And all its armies will fade away, as a leaf fades from off a vine or a fig tree-  The fading leaf has been used of the judgment of God's people for their lack of spiritual fruit (s.w. Is. 1:30;  24:4; 28:1,4; 40:7; 64:6; Jer. 8:13). That catena of passages impressively applies this to Israel and Judah. The idea is that the armies of the nations will be judged at the same time as the "sinners in Zion", as in Is. 33:14. Their judgment will be in that they partake in the judgments of the world which they loved, having failed to come out of Babylon they share in her judgments. And this will be true of the unfaithful within spiritual Israel (1 Cor. 11:32).  

Isaiah 34:5 For My sword has drunk its fill in the sky. Behold, it will come down on Edom and on the people of My curse for judgement-
I suggested on :1 that the judgments here are upon all the nations of the eretz promised to Abraham, but they are personified as Edom as the epitome of them all. Edom is Esau, and God's especial wrath was against them because they were the brother of Jacob / Israel who couldn't and wouldn't forgive him, and who joined in with the nations in destroying Zion right down to the foundation (Ps. 137:7). They judged their brother far too harshly for his wrongdoing (see on Jer. 49:9). Jer. 49:11 is a clear invitation to Edom to repent, which they refused. Edom or Esau was singled out for such special condemnation because he was Jacob's brother (Obad. 10). This was not the case for the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Philistines etc. Jacob and Esau were admittedly somewhat separated, and Jacob hadn't been the best brother to Esau. But they were still brothers, and God expected much better of Esau / Edom than He did of the others. And here we find a penetrating challenge. Our brethren whom we may view askance, from whom we may be separated by the way life has gone for us, are still our brothers. And we are judged very sensitively according to our attitudes toward them, especially in the time of their distress, however justified we may feel that distress to be.    

Isaiah 34:6 Yahweh’s sword is filled with blood, it is covered with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for Yahweh has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom-
The allusion is how the blood, fat and kidneys were separated in the sacrifices to Yahweh. Lambs, goats and rams were all sacrificial animals. The implication could be that through their heavy judgment, they would become an acceptable sacrifice to Him, just as the idea of "utter destruction" also applies to being consecrated to Yahweh; see on :2.

Isaiah 34:7 The wild oxen will come down with them and the young bulls with the mighty bulls; and their land will be drunken with blood and their dust made greasy with fat-
The huge amount of blood shedding (in :3 also) is not because God revels in it, but because as noted on :6, this is all the imagery of sacrifice. And the blood was to be poured out to Yahweh and the fat given to Him. Oxen and bulls were also sacrificial animals; in fact they along with the lambs, goats and rams of :6 comprise all the sacrificial animals. Hence GNB "The people will fall like wild oxen and young bulls". So as it were silhouetted over this scene of bloodshed is the impression of a huge sacrifice to God, and from this we may be justified in thinking that ultimately good comes out of the scene, and possibly the people of Esau / Edom do turn to Yahweh the God of their difficult brother Jacob.      

Isaiah 34:8 For Yahweh has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion-
The "cause" of Zion can be read as the judicial pleading, the pleading for legal justice made in a law case, and the Hebrew word is elsewhere translated like that. The repentant Zion will plead for justice and her prayers will be heard by God as a plea for legal action against her abusers; and so the day of recompense upon her enemies will come, but it is predicated upon her cry of repentance. 

Isaiah 34:9 Her streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into sulphur, and her land will become burning pitch-
The allusion is clearly to the destruction of Sodom with fire and sulphur; which was likewise threatened upon Judah and Jerusalem at multiple points in the prophetic condemnation of them. Esau is not therefore being singled out for some special punishment, as if God is taking Jacob's side; the wicked amongst Jacob / Israel are to be punished along with the impenitent amongst Esau. There may be a literal element to all this if oil reserves or the oil beneath the deserts ignites.

Isaiah 34:10 it won’t be quenched night nor day, the smoke will go up forever; from generation to generation, it will lie waste. Nobody will pass through it forever and ever-
God punished the land of Idumea with fire that would “not be quenched night nor day; its smoke shall ascend for ever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste... the owl and the raven shall dwell in it... thorns shall come up in its palaces” (Is. 34:9-15). Seeing that animals and plants were to exist in the ruined land of Idumea, the language of eternal fire must refer to God’s anger and His total destruction of the place, rather than being taken literally. I suggest that this was the potential judgment which could have come upon Edom, and did to some extent. In its latter day application we are left wondering how there could remain some parts of the earth which will be eternally desolate and empty (:11), covered in "nettles and thistles" (13) which means that the curse of Genesis is still to be seen there-  and eternally possessed by wild animals (:16). This doesn't sound like the scene in the kingdom of God on earth, anywhere on the planet. For the mountain of God's Kingdom is to spread to fill the whole earth, and the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea. So I conclude that this was a scenario which didn't fully come upon Eden and will not be literally fulfilled in the last day either; just as the temple system of Ez. 40-48 was never literally built at the time as it could have been, and by its nature will not be totally realized in the last day either.

Isaiah 34:11 but the pelican and the porcupine will possess it, the owl and the raven will dwell in it. He will stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness-
"Confusion" is s.w. "thing of nothing" (Is. 29:21). The measuring line would build nothingness, "emptiness". LXX "satyrs shall dwell in it". The animals in view are all unclean. The idea is that ritually unclean animals will be there; it is a picture of condemnation of the unclean to nothingness.

Isaiah 34:12 They shall call its nobles to the kingdom, but none shall be there; and all its princes shall be nothing-
The idea may be that this kingdom, unlike Judah's kingdom, shall never be revived: and there is no kingdom there which they may proclaim". "Nothing" continues the theme of :11; see note there. The emptiness of condemnation, the nothingness when life could otherwise be so "full", is a major theme. We in this life can waste our lives on things of nothing, and by doing so we are living out our condemnation.

Isaiah 34:13 Thorns will come up in its palaces, nettles and thistles in its fortresses; and it will be a habitation of jackals, a court for ostriches-
"Jackals" is LXX "monsters", as "satyrs" in :11. These mythical beings were what they believed were the ultimate signs of condemnation. Their wrong concepts are used without correction, as is the language of demons in the New Testament, in order to speak to them in their own terms. But realizing this, we are not to look for literal fulfillments of these words.

But note Is. 35:7, which speaks of this 'eternal' desolation being revived: "The burning sand will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. Grass with reeds and rushes will be in the habitation of jackals, where they used to lay". These "jackals" are those here envisaged living for 'ever', for generation after generation, in the judged cities of Edom. But it seems those areas will be revived. Areas so heavily condemned and judged will in due course be brought under God's glory. The water source in Is. 35:7 is the stream envisaged as flowing from Zion in Ezekiel and Revelation. This could have happened literally had Judah built the temple system as commanded in Ez. 40-48. Hence LXX "a fountain of water shall be poured into the thirsty land; there shall there be a joy of birds, ready habitations and marshes". See on :15.

Isaiah 34:14 The wild animals of the desert will meet with the wolves, and the wild goat will cry to his fellow. Yes, the night creature shall settle there and shall find herself a place of rest-
LXX "And devils shall meet with satyrs, and they shall cry one to the other: there shall satyrs rest, having found for themselves a place of rest"; GNB "The night monster will come there looking for a place to rest". These mythical beings were what they believed were the ultimate signs of condemnation. Their wrong concepts are used without correction, as is the language of demons in the New Testament, in order to speak to them in their own terms. But realizing this, we are not to look for literal fulfillments of these words.


Isaiah 34:15 The arrow snake will make her nest there, and lay, hatch, and gather under her shade. Yes, the kites will be gathered there, every one with her mate-
I noted on :13 that the "jackals" also feature in Kingdom prophecies. And here too, the nesting of snakes is encountered in Is. 11:8, where the child shall safely play around the snake's nest. The overall impression, putting the scriptures together, is that the historical judgments and condemnation of Edom will be somehow incorporated into the scene of God's Kingdom. The terrible judgments upon Edom described earlier are to prepare her for a place in God's Kingdom. Never do we find God's judgments as only punitive; there is always the creative element in them, forging a better future.    

Isaiah 34:16 Search in the book of Yahweh, and read: not one of these will be missing; none will lack her mate. For My mouth has commanded, and His Spirit has gathered them-
GNB "Search in the LORD's book of living creatures and read what it says. Not one of these creatures will be missing, and not one will be without its mate. The LORD has commanded it to be so; he himself will bring them together". We note the role of God's Spirit in gathering together the animals, and the parallel between God's book / words, His mouth and His Spirit. What He has stated will come about, and it did happen to Edom for a period. But it is not simply a case of Him stating things and they happen; His Spirit is reflected in His purpose and in its fulfilment.

Isaiah 34:17 He has cast the lot for them, and His hand has divided it to them with a measuring line. They shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation they will dwell in it-
I have suggested in the above verses that the places where the jackals lay and the snakes nest (:13,15) are to be revived and brought into God's Kingdom. So this "from generation to generation" doesn't mean an infinite period of eternal condemnation. There is the continual hope of revival ultimately; perhaps in that Edom does finally respond to the invitation to repent which will be given her in the last days (Jer. 49: 11). See on Is. 35:1.