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CHAPTER 34 Jun. 10 
God's Punishment on the Nations
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. 2For Yahweh is enraged against all the nations and angry with all their armies. He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over for slaughter. 3Their slain will also be cast out, and the stench of their dead bodies will come up; and the mountains will melt in their blood. 4All of the army of the sky will be dissolved, the sky will be rolled up like a scroll, and all its armies will fade away, as a leaf fades from off a vine or a fig tree. 5For 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. 6Yahweh’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. 7The 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. 8For Yahweh has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. 9Her streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into sulphur, and her land will become burning pitch; 10it 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; 11but 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. 12They shall call its nobles to the kingdom, but none shall be there; and all its princes shall be nothing. 13Thorns will come up in its palaces, nettles and thistles in its fortresses; and it will be a habitation of jackals, a court for ostriches. 14The 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. 15The 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. 16Search 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. 17He 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.


34:8 In human terms, this seems rather unjust. God had called the nations to attack and destroy Judah because of her sins, and yet now He takes vengeance for Zion (as in 35:4) as if she has been unfairly treated, and those nations require punishment for what they did. The final algorithm of God’s justice is far beyond our total comprehension, but perhaps we are to perceive in this the passionate love God has for His sinful people- in that He so loved them that even when they were justly punished, He punished those by whom they were punished with great fury. This was in a sense just because they were also sinners. But whoever touches God’s people, even when they are in rebellion against Him, has touched Him at a highly sensitive spot. In these things we see the depth of God’s love for us, and how He counts us as His very own, and feels to us that way, even when we are in rebellion against Him.
34:10 Smoke will go up forever; from generation to generation, it will lie waste- Eternal fire and smoke is again used figuratively, as a symbol of total, permanent destruction. It can’t be literal, for the ‘eternal’ smoke is paralleled with laying calm and desolate for ever. We need to remember this in considering Christ’s use of the image of ‘eternal fire’ as a symbol for complete destruction, rather than forcing his words into any literal interpretation.