The Little *Apocalypse
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Isaiah chapters 24 to 27
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
The words in brackets, [ … ], are not in the *Hebrew Bible. They make the book easier to understand in English. Isaiah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language.
Many Bible students agree that we should read Isaiah chapters 24 to 27 together. They form a unit. These chapters are about how ‘the country’ will end. They also contain songs to praise God.
We may wonder what Isaiah means by ‘the country’. That word ‘country’ appears many times in these chapters. It meant something for the people that listened to Isaiah. But there are different ideas about what it meant for them. Some Bible students think that it probably meant this. It was ‘the country’ that God gave to Abraham. When Isaiah wrote his book, ‘the country’ had belonged to various different nations. Parts of it had belonged to Judah, Israel, Philistia, Egypt, Edom, Moab and other nations. And between 750 and 550 B.C., God used Assyria and Babylon to destroy ‘the country’. ‘B.C.’ means ‘years Before Christ came to the Earth’. Isaiah 24:1-13 describes the future state of ‘the country’ after Assyria and Babylon have destroyed it. In verses 14-23, the people that remain praise God. Those verses make a psalm, which is a special song to praise God.
However, other Bible students think that ‘the country’ also meant places like Assyria and Babylon. Babylon destroyed ‘the country’ called Assyria. And then God would use other armies to destroy ‘the country’ called Babylon. The people that remain may be the people in Assyria and Babylon. They may also be foreign people that lived in those places.
Some Bible students call Isaiah chapters 24 to 27 ‘the little apocalypse’. ‘Apocalypse’ is the *Greek name of the last book in the Bible. Most English translations call it Revelation. ‘Revelation’ means ‘the truth that somebody shows to us’. Here, it is the truth about the end of the present world. Therefore, some Bible students say that Isaiah chapters 24 to 27 also describe the end of the world. They are called the ‘little apocalypse’ because they are shorter than Revelation. But they contain a description of the future. In chapters 24 to 27, we read what happened to ‘the country’. But that will also happen to the whole Earth.
So, for the *Jews, ‘the country’ meant their country. It was the country that consisted of Judah and Israel. It was where the *Jews lived. But it may also mean the countries called Assyria and Babylon. For us, it may mean the whole Earth. One important thing that Isaiah tells us is this. When ‘the country’ ends, there will still be people to praise God. That is a good reason for us to praise God, too!
Verse 1 ‘LORD’ is a name for God. He used that name for himself in his *covenant. A ‘covenant’ is a special serious agreement. In God’s covenant with his people, his people agreed to love him. They also agreed to obey him. God agreed to be their God and he agreed to help them. There is another note about ‘LORD’ after Isaiah 1:1.
Verse 2 Here Isaiah mentioned 6 groups of people in society. He did that to tell us that he really meant ‘everybody’! The priests were the leaders of religion. The masters were the servants’ male bosses. And the mistresses were the maids’ female bosses. The buyer bought things from the seller. ‘Borrow’ means the opposite of ‘lend’. The lender lent things to the borrower. People that lent money charged for it. Therefore, the person who owed money had to pay even more money back. Here Isaiah was writing about both rich and poor people.
Verse 3 Isaiah does not say who the enemies are.
Verse 4 In verses 1-3 God says what will happen. Now Isaiah describes it as if it has happened. The words ‘land’ and ‘world’ here mean the plants and animals in that country.
Verse 5 Today, we know that many things make our world dirty. When we use petrol in our cars, it makes the air dirty. When we throw our rubbish away, it spoils the land with bad substances. When we empty our toilets into the rivers, it makes the sea dirty. But when we do not obey God, that also spoils our country with bad things. The laws, rules and *covenant are God’s. That is why we have added the word ‘God’ in square brackets, [ … ]. In the *Hebrew text, the country is ‘under the people’. That means that it is under their rule. What the people have decided to do has spoiled the country. They have decided these things:
· The people do not obey God’s laws. ‘Laws’ here means the things that God has taught to the people. He has taught those things in the Bible and he has taught them in other ways.
· The people have changed God’s rules. That means that people have their own moral ideas. They do not follow God’s ideas.
· The people have decided to forget the *covenant. In other words, they refuse to obey God.
Verse 6 A ‘curse’ is something bad that happens to people. They cannot stop it. This curse means bad things that God allows to happen. Here are some verses from Deuteronomy chapter 11.
There we read about the *curse that God mentioned in his *covenant. The *curse will happen if people refuse to obey God. A ‘blessing’ is a good thing that happens. It happens when people obey God.
In the *Hebrew Bible, Isaiah says that the *curse is ‘eating the country’. That is a *Hebrew way to say that it is ‘destroying the country’. Isaiah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language. Here the people are suffering from the bad things that the curse causes to happen. Isaiah does not say what burns the people. It may be fire or it may be heat from the sun. Some Bible students think that the *Hebrew word does not mean ‘burn’. They think that it means ‘become less’. So, the people that live in the country become less.
Verse 7 Here is another special description. In it, Isaiah uses two words, ‘dries’ and ‘dies’, which are also in verse 4. The *vine is a plant. The fruit from which people make wine grows on *vines. The poetry here means this. There is not much wine, because the *vines are dying. That makes the people that want to drink wine unhappy! Alcohol causes many troubles in our world. But here, Isaiah is not saying that it is wrong to drink alcohol. He is saying that we should depend on God. We should not depend on the things that we make.
Verse 8 People use the ‘tambourine’ and ‘harp’ to make music. They make rhythm with the tambourine. They can hit it or they can shake it. The harp has strings, which people pull slightly to make a sound. The *Hebrew word for ‘stops’ here is the same as the *Hebrew word for *Sabbath. The ‘Sabbath’ was the day when the *Jews stopped their work. It was the 7th day in their week. In this verse, there is no music and there are no parties. That is because there is no wine.
Verse 9 The *Hebrew word for ‘beer’ here may be another *Hebrew word that means ‘wine’. The wine tastes bad! It does not satisfy the people any longer. Isaiah spoke the *Hebrew language and he wrote in that language.
Verses 10-12 These verses are not about the country. They are about a city in that country. The people had built a wonderful city. But the enemy destroyed it. Isaiah does not say who the enemy was. Nor does he say the name of the city. The city became ‘without structure’. That is the same *Hebrew word that the writer in Genesis 1:2 uses. There it describes the state of the world before God made anything in it. At that time, the world had no structure and it had no shape. The people here that lived in the city had locked themselves into their houses. They locked their houses in order to try to keep the enemy out. Perhaps those people were the few people that remained (verse 6). And maybe they were also like the few *grapes that people had not picked (verse 13).
Verse 11 There is no wine. (Look at the notes about verses 7 and 9.) And so people are unhappy. The things on which they depend are not available. Here we read ‘turns into darkness’. The *Hebrew words for that phrase mean ‘like evening comes’. The people used to feel joy. But now they feel as if it will soon be night.
Verse 12 Again, Isaiah does not say who the enemy was. There was no wine (verse 7), so people would not have any satisfaction from that. And now, without gates, the city would not be safe. So probably it would not even be possible for its people to live!
Verse 13 This is what the description of the ‘olive’ and ‘grape’ trees means. Olives and grapes are fruits. People used olives to make oil, and they used grapes to make wine. To pick the olives, they hit the trees. Most of the olives fell off, but a few olives remained. When people picked grapes, they left a few grapes on the plant. That was a rule for them. It was among God’s rules in the Book of Leviticus (Leviticus 19:9-10). Then the poorer people could ‘*glean’ (collect) what the richer people left. But even farmers who did not obey God’s law left a few grapes. They left the grapes that were too small to be useful. So the word ‘empty’ here means ‘nearly empty’. A few people remain (verse 6).
Verse 14 The people here are probably the few people that remained (verse 6). They are probably the ones like the few *grapes that people had not picked (verse 13). ‘Shout aloud’ may mean ‘sing because [they are] so happy’. The *Hebrew word for ‘the west’ means ‘the sea’. That is the Mediterranean Sea, which is west from Judah.
Verse 15 The *Hebrew word for ‘the east’ means ‘in fires’. That probably means where the sun rises, in the east. It can look like a ball of fire. In verse 23, the sun is called ‘the hot thing’ in *Hebrew. The ‘islands in the sea’ means those in the Mediterranean Sea. They were a long way from Judah.
Verse 16 The word ‘country’ here may not mean just Judah. (Look at the note before chapter 24.) It probably means ‘every part of the Earth’. Therefore it means the west, the east and the islands in the sea (verses 14 and 15). The ‘One that is Completely Good’ is a name for God. Here he is called completely good because he has done the right things. He has punished people because they have done wrong things (verse 5). There is a sudden change in the middle of verse 16. People have praised God, but Isaiah feels very, very sad. He is so sad because he has seen the results of the things in verse 5. He has seen how they will affect the people in that country. God has done what was right. But for many people, it means that something awful has happened. Some people are ‘not loyal’. Isaiah does not say who those people are. He probably means the people in verse 5. That is, everybody that is not loyal to God. They are the ‘people in this country’ (verse 17).
Verse 17 This is the language of people that are hunting. People hunted wild animals. The animals became very afraid. Some animals fell into deep holes in the ground. Other animals ran into traps, which people had hidden there to catch them. The ‘people in this country’ were like wild animals. God was like the hunter; and that filled them with terror. It made Isaiah very sad (verse 16).
Verse 18 There is a sound that fills the person with terror. But if he runs away from that, he falls into a deep hole. If he climbs out of the deep hole, a trap will catch him. There is no escape from God’s punishments. They seem to come from above the Earth. And they shake the country. ‘The country’ may mean the whole Earth. ‘Foundations’ are the firm bases that people build houses on. Similarly, the foundations of the Earth are what God built the Earth on. At that time, people still thought that the Earth was flat. This verse describes a great storm and a bad earthquake. An ‘earthquake’ means that the earth shakes. And also many buildings may fall down. In many places in the Bible, those things are special evidence. They show that God is near. He is doing something special. Examples of that are in 2 Samuel 22:8, Judges 5:4 and Psalm 68:8.
Verse 19 ‘The country’ appears three times in this verse. Today, we could say ‘the Earth’. That is, the whole Earth. The country (or Earth) is becoming ‘without structure or shape’, as in verse 10 and Genesis 1:2.
Verse 20 A drunk walks as if he might soon fall over. A hut is a building that might easily swing about. Then it may fall over. These are two special descriptions of a world ‘without structure or shape’. Verse 5 has a list of wrong things that the people have done. They are guilty because of those wrong things. And that responsibility for their wrong deeds is like a heavy load. It is so heavy that the country (in other words, the people in it) falls down. The people will never get up again. Again, for Isaiah ‘the country’ was the country called Judah. However, for us, it can be the whole world. In this chapter, there are many links to Genesis chapters 1 to 11. One such link is here. The *Hebrew word for ‘swings about’ sounds like the name ‘Noah’. And Noah saw the windows of the sky open. Then the floods came. But once, later, he became a drunk!
Verse 21 ‘That day’ means the day when God is near. It means the day when he will do something special. It is the day when the things in verse 18 will happen. However, there is another meaning for the future. It means the day when God will be the judge over the world’s people. That will happen when the present world ends. The ‘powerful [spirits] in the skies’ are the powerful bad spirits. At the time when the world ends, ‘the country’ will probably mean the whole Earth.
Verse 22 Isaiah does not say who will do this. But only the *LORD is strong enough to do it. In this verse and verse 21, the *Hebrew word for ‘punish’ means ‘visit’. When God ‘visits’ people, he does something. When people are loyal to him, he acts to help them. But when people are against him, he acts against them. So, ‘punish’ is a good translation.
Verse 23 ‘*Glory’ is more than honour. *Glory means something that is beautiful and magnificent. God’s *glory shines so brightly that he makes the sun and moon seem pale. When God has punished his enemies, his leaders will see that *glory. Zion is a hill in Jerusalem.
Verse 1 This chapter is like a psalm. A ‘psalm’ is a song that people sing to praise God. ‘Praise your name’ really means ‘praise you, God’. God did not change the plans that he had made a long time ago. He did what he had promised to do. That is what ‘loyal and true’ means.
Verse 2 Isaiah did not name the city. There were many cities that various enemies destroyed. That was part of God’s plan to punish people. Isaiah used the past tense. He was very sure that God would act!
Verse 3 Again, Isaiah did not name the city. It was an important city in a foreign country. The people in that country were very cruel. But they would have to agree that God ruined their city (verse 2). Also, they would have to give honour to him (verse 3). The city is probably Babylon.
Verse 4 In this passage, Isaiah gives these three reasons to praise God:
· God did what he promised to do (verse 2).
· Foreign people were afraid of God and they gave honour to him (verse 3).
· God protected the poor people that needed help (verses 4-5).
Here in verse 4, God gives the third reason.
Verses 4-5 Isaiah gives two descriptions of the foreign army that attacked Judah. They were like a great storm and they were like a fierce heat. But God was like a cloud that hid the poor people from the heat. The ‘victors’ were the army that won the war. They probably sang happy songs after they had won. But now they had no songs to sing!
Verse 6 The mountain is probably the one called Zion, which is in Jerusalem. The special splendid meal would be like a big party. The meat would be the best meat, with plenty of fat and marrow (soft stuff from inside the bones). Also the wine would be the very best wine. It would be really mature.
Verse 7 In verse 8, we can see that the cover and shroud mean death. A ‘shroud’ is a cloth that people use to cover a dead body. Here and in verse 8, the *Hebrew word for ‘destroy’ really means ‘swallow’. So in 1 Corinthians 15:54, Paul says, ‘Victory will swallow death’! When you swallow something, you cannot see it any more. ‘Victory’ is another word for success, for example, when you win a war. Paul means God’s victory (success) when he defeats his last enemy, death.
Verse 8 John, too, uses Isaiah’s words. In Revelation 7:17, John writes, ‘God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ The same *Hebrew word means ‘faces’ here and it means ‘cover’ in verse 7. The ‘cover’ refers to death. So if there is no cover, there will be no tears. That is because there will be no more death! The people that felt shame are God’s people. If we want God to wipe away our tears, we must love him. And we must obey him. We must be part of his people.
Verse 9 ‘That day’ means the day when God does something special. Everybody will see it. Here, ‘Look!’ does not mean ‘See!’ It means ‘Hey!’, which is a happy shout to get people’s attention. Here the people who are speaking are again God’s people. ‘Save’ in this verse means ‘rescue from our enemies’.
Verse 10 Bible students do not know why Isaiah mentions Moab here. Moab was a country that was east from Judah. Sometimes Moab’s people were enemies of Judah’s people. Here, Moab’s people were God’s enemies; they were fighting against God. We know that because he punished them. ‘Dung’ here is the dirt that an animal leaves behind it.
Verse 11 From this verse, we learn this. The heap of dung (solid waste material from an animal) has much liquid in it! It is a very nasty place. ‘Spread the hands’ probably means ‘lift up the hands’. People did that when they prayed. But this time God would not answer. The *Hebrew words for ‘they will sink’ mean ‘their proud attitude will go down’. This translation keeps the special description of someone that is trying to swim. But that person fails.
Verse 12 The towns in Moab had strong walls. The towns were on high hills. They made the people safe. But God would destroy the walls so that they would become dust on the ground. Isaiah did not say whom God would use to do that. Isaiah used several different words to describe what God would do.
Verse 1 ‘That day’ means when an enemy will defeat the people in Moab. Read Isaiah 25:10-12 again. Isaiah does not say which enemy God will use to defeat Moab. Moab’s defeat is also a description of how God will defeat all his enemies. That will happen when the present world will end. Read the note before chapter 24 again. The strong city is Jerusalem. At the end of the world, it will be the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). In *Hebrew, the last sentence of this verse includes the word ‘jeshuah’. The word means ‘rescue’. It means when something or someone makes people safe. So here our translation has ‘make safe’ for ‘jeshuah’. But what it really means is this. ‘He makes Jeshuah the inner and outer walls.’ Jeshuah is the *Hebrew name for Jesus! It is he who can make his people safe!
Verse 2 In the song, the people ask God to open the gates of the city (Jerusalem). Then, God’s people can enter the city. Perhaps the people are coming home from where their enemy kept them. Isaiah calls them ‘good people’. Only God is really good. He is very, very good. But God calls the people that trust in him good also.
Verse 3 A steady mind here means one that does not change all the time. It is a mind that always trusts God (verse 2). In this verse, the *Hebrew word for *peace (shalom) appears twice together (shalom shalom). We could translate the verse like this. ‘You will keep the steady mind in great *peace. That is because he or she trusts in you.’ When a word appears twice together in *Hebrew, that means ‘very’ or ‘great’. It shows us that the word is important.
Verse 4 Here again, some *Hebrew words appear twice. They are ‘always’ and ‘*LORD’. Those are important words in this verse, as *peace was in verse 3. When a word appears twice in *Hebrew, the purpose is to emphasise that word. The ‘Rock’ is a word picture. It means that the *LORD defends his people. He provides their security.
Verse 5 Look again at Isaiah 25:12. There Isaiah refers to cities in Moab. Those cities were on hills. He also says what God will do to those cities. It is the same in this verse here. ‘He makes it low’ and ‘he makes it level’. Those two things (‘low’ and ‘level’) are the same word in the *Hebrew Bible. It is another example of a word that appears twice together to make it important. The people are humble because God will destroy their city.
Verse 6 The people in the city were cruel to the poor people. And [they were cruel] to the weak people. Perhaps the feet belonged to the poor people that were going home to Jerusalem.
Verse 7 ‘Honourable One’ is another name for God. In other words, he does everything rightly and fairly. ‘Level’ and ‘smooth’ do not mean ‘easy’. They mean that God leads his people. He does that even when there is much trouble. He gives help to his people. Here and in verse 8, ‘the path’ probably means the road home. It would be the road from the place where the enemy kept the people. For us, it means the way that we live during our lives.
Verse 8 We read about the path ‘that your laws [direct us to]’. Bible students are not sure which among these two things it means:
· We obey the *LORD.
· We wait for him to punish us.
It means the first of these if we are loyal to God. But it must mean the second answer if we refuse to obey him.
‘Our hearts’ means ‘what we really are inside ourselves’. It is a translation of the *Hebrew word ‘nephesh’, which means ‘spirit’ or ‘the real person’. Sometimes today we talk about ‘the real me’. We want people to know these things:
· God’s name, that is, who he really is.
· God’s fame, that is, what he has done in the world.
Verse 9 ‘My heart wants you’ and ‘my spirit desires you’. Those statements probably mean this. ‘I want to see that you are doing something’. Bible students are not sure whether ‘in the morning’ is the right translation. It may mean ‘inside me’. ‘The country’ may mean Judah, or it may mean other countries. Read the note before chapter 24 again.
Verse 10 The *Hebrew words for ‘do not obey the *LORD’s laws’ mean ‘will not see the *LORD’s majesty’. ‘Majesty’ is the quality that a king has. It describes his greatness and his honour as well as his laws.
Verse 11 ‘Lifted up your hand’ probably means that God intends to punish the wicked people.
Verse 12 This is the *peace that Isaiah mentions in verse 3. It is really God who has done everything. The people themselves have not really done it. God has defeated their enemy. God has brought them home to Jerusalem. We do not know which enemy that was. Perhaps it had been Egypt or Philistia in the past. Perhaps it was Assyria in the period when Isaiah was alive.
Verse 13 ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God, and ‘lord’ means master or ruler. They are not the same word in the *Hebrew language. Isaiah does not say who the other lords were. God’s name means everything that he is. It means his power and authority. Not all the *Jews gave honour to God, but a few *Jews always did. The *Jews were God’s people, who lived in Israel and Judah.
Verse 14 ‘Rise up [again]’ here means ‘come back [again]’. The *Hebrew word for ‘punished’ means ‘visited’. When God visits people, he always does something to them. He may do something good for them. That is, he blesses them. But if people are wicked, God visits them in order to stop their evil behaviour. That is, he punishes them. Here God came to act against bad people. Nobody remembers them now. When the *Jews left Egypt, Egypt had a king. But we do not even know his name!
Verse 15 ‘The nation’ probably means the country called Assyria. That is for these reasons:
· Isaiah usually called Israel and Judah ‘the country’.
· Assyria did get bigger, but Judah and Israel did not.
Because he made Assyria more important, God gained *glory for himself! He made the country called Assyria bigger. The statement ‘you have made the nation larger’ is two words in *Hebrew. And that statement appears twice together. Look at the note about verse 3. It explains about when *Hebrew words appear twice in a verse.
But perhaps this passage really is about Israel and Judah. The Book of Isaiah describes many events that are still in the future. And it contains many passages to comfort the *Jews. God still cares about his own people. And when God makes their country larger, he will gain *glory for himself!
Verse 16 ‘They’ here probably means ‘the *Jews’. In some Bible students’ opinion, perhaps it means the time when the Judges ruled Israel and Judah. When God’s people prayed to him, he sent leaders called ‘judges’ to help them. (See the Book of Judges.) But other Bible students are not sure what this verse refers to.
Verses 17-18 Here is a description of a woman that was pregnant. ‘Pregnant’ means that she was expecting a baby. She was feeling a lot of pain. The people in Israel and Judah (the *Jews) were like that. But when the baby came, it was only wind! The note about verse 14 explains how God visited his people. When he visited them, they realised two things:
· They had not given help to the people in the world.
· They had not given birth to new people of God there.
New people of God may mean people that love God. Because they love him, they also serve him. The last sentence of verse 18 may mean that the *Jews did not teach those other people to love God. And they did not teach them to serve God. Many Bible students are not sure what these verses really mean.
Verse 19 Here Isaiah encourages his people, the *Jews. Perhaps they did fail. Perhaps they did not help the people in the world. And perhaps they did not lead those people to the one real God. However, there is a future for God’s people. But this verse has these two possible meanings. Bible students are not sure which one is correct:
· Each person will rise from death.
· The country that consists of Israel and Judah will ‘rise from death’. Here, that means ‘come back from *exile’.
The exile was when the *Jews were in Assyria and Babylon. But also, each person will rise from death when Jesus returns to the Earth. That is the future meaning, which is part of the *apocalypse. There is a note about ‘apocalypse’ before the start of chapter 24. ‘Dew’ is water that comes from the air. It comes onto the ground at night. It is not the same as rain.
Verses 20-21 The words ‘go’ and ‘shut’ remind us of Noah. He went into the ark (huge ship) and God shut its door (Genesis 7:1 and 7:16). Noah was safe in the ark when God punished the Earth’s people with the great flood. Also, these verses here in Isaiah remind us of God’s people. They were safe when God punished Egypt’s people (Exodus 12:22‑23). Isaiah tells God’s people to hide while God punishes their enemies (probably the armies of Assyria and Babylon).
Verse 1 ‘Leviathan’ is a *Hebrew name that means a very large animal. Isaiah mentions three kinds of animals, which are special descriptions of enemies. Read Isaiah 24:21 again. There, God will punish his enemies in the air and he will punish them on the land. But here, Isaiah adds enemies in the sea also. Notice that Isaiah says three things about God’s sword. It is great. It is powerful, and it is fierce. It is enough to punish his three enemies. Some Bible students say that the enemies are Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. Other Bible students say this:
· The ‘snake that moves quickly’ flies in the air.
· The ‘snake that winds round things’ is on the ground.
· The ‘huge animal in the sea’ swims in the water.
In other words, God will punish his enemies everywhere! These two groups of Bible students have these two different opinions:
· Isaiah wrote about what was happening in his world. That is, the events when Isaiah was alive.
· Isaiah wrote about what would happen in the future. That is, the events when the present world will end.
Probably both meanings are true.
Verse 2 ‘Those days’ are the days that Isaiah mentions in verse 1. It will be when God defeats the enemies of Israel’s and Judah’s people. Also, it will be when the present world ends. Then, he will defeat all his enemies. A vineyard is a place where plants called vines grow. On the vines, fruits called grapes grow. People make wine from the grapes. The *vineyard here is a special description of God’s people. In Isaiah 5:1-7 the *vineyard produces bad *grapes. The wine that people make from them is poor. But here, the opposite is true.
Verse 3 The *LORD says that he will guard his *vineyard. His ‘*vineyard’ means his people. So, he will guard his people all through every night. And he will guard them all through every day.
Verse 4 Here we read ‘I am not angry’. The *Hebrew words for it mean ‘there is no anger in me’. ‘Thorn bushes’ and ‘briers’ are bushes with sharp points (thorns) that grow out of their branches. They are weeds. If God found a weed in his *vineyard, he would destroy it. But there is no weed.
Verse 5 ‘It’ is the weed that the writer mentions in verse 4. That is, the ‘brier’ or the ‘thorn bush’ (bushes with sharp points). (Look at the note about verse 4.) God need not destroy the weed. It could come to God for safety instead! That is a special description. It shows this to us. Anybody can come to God for safety. The *Hebrew word here for ‘safety’ means ‘strong city’. But it does not mean Jerusalem. It means God himself, as in Psalm 27:1, Jeremiah 16:19 and Nahum 1:7. Our translation changes the word ‘it’ to ‘him’ for the last two sentences. That is because God is really talking to people. Isaiah used the same *Hebrew words in the last two sentences, but in the second sentence he changed their order. In the first sentence, God was emphasising the word ‘him’. In the second sentence, he was emphasising ‘peace’. Read Isaiah 26:3 again. There Isaiah used that same word for ‘peace’ twice together, to show that God was emphasising it.
Verse 6 The days that ‘will come’ probably mean this. They probably mean ‘those days’ that Isaiah mentions in verses 1 and 2. After a plant has grown roots, it grows upwards. And then it produces flowers and fruit. That is a special description of what will happen to Jacob’s family. Jacob’s family is just called ‘Jacob’ here. ‘Jacob’ often means the nation called Israel, the large northern part of that family. But here we think that it may mean the nation called Judah, the smaller part in the south. So here Isaiah is talking about all God’s people, from both Judah and Israel. God’s people will not only fill the country, but they will fill the whole world! This is God’s great plan! His people will fill the whole world!
Verse 7 Verses 2-6 show to us God’s plan for his people. Verses 7-11 show to us how God will carry it out. The word ‘struck’ appears three times at the start of verse 7. The *Hebrew words mean this. ‘As he struck he who struck him did he strike him?’ We must add extra words to make it mean something! Here Isaiah asks a question, to which the answer is ‘No!’ The *LORD did not strike his people as hard as he struck those enemies. They were the enemies that had struck Israel. Then a similar question appears again, with ‘killed’ instead of ‘struck’. Again, the answer is ‘No!’ God did not punish Israel’s people as much as he punished their enemies. Say the verse without the words in square brackets, [ … ]. Then you will know the effect of the *Hebrew poetry!
Here is a simpler translation of verse 7 that may help. ‘The *LORD has struck the enemies that struck his people. But he did not strike his own people so hard. The *LORD has killed the enemies that killed his people. But he has not killed so many among his own people.’ However, remember that the words ‘*LORD’, ‘enemies’ and ‘people’ are not in the *Hebrew verse! We have to supply them to make Isaiah’s poem mean something for us.
Verse 8 Here Isaiah changes from ‘you’ to ‘he’. But both those words refer to the *LORD. Isaiah also uses that special technique in some other places in his book. The *Hebrew word for ‘sent’ probably means ‘shout at an animal to frighten it away’. The *LORD did something like that to his people. He sent them into exile. ‘Exile’ means this. People are away from their home, because an enemy has taken them away. First God sent his people to Egypt. Then he sent some people to Assyria. And then he sent some people to Babylon. The ‘fierce wind’ was like God when he sent the people into exile. It was like a strong east wind. It was unpleasant, but it did not always blow. Later, the people came home from exile. Instead of ‘he sent them’, the *Greek Bible has this. ‘He made war against them.’
Verse 9 Here are two important words for Christians.
· ‘Sin’ is ‘when people do not obey God’s laws’.
· ‘Atone’ means ‘put right the results of sin’.
We call the first 39 books in the Bible ‘the Old Testament’. In the Old Testament, God’s people (here called ‘Jacob’s family’) suffered for their sin. They did that by means of their *exile. Christians believe that Jesus atoned for all sin. He suffered the punishment for the sin of everybody who trusts him. He did that by means of his death. Isaiah does not say that here, but he does know it (Isaiah chapter 53). We must read all Isaiah’s book to learn his complete message. For Jacob’s family, the ‘complete result’ was that they returned from *exile. For those that trust in Jesus, the ‘complete result’ is this. It is life without an end!
An ‘altar’ is where people worship their god. When people ‘worship’ God (or a false god), it means this. They tell him that they love him. Also, they will serve him and they will obey him. Stones that consist of chalk are soft. So they are easy to break. Asherah was a female god. ‘Incense’ is what people burn to make a nice smell for their god. The *Jews worshipped false gods like that, but after the last *exile they did not do it again.
Verses 10-11 The ‘strong city’ here means the capital of any country whose people God punishes. At the time when Isaiah lived, examples of such countries were Israel, Assyria and Babylon. God destroys the ‘strong city’, with these results:
· Nobody lives there.
· Animals eat the grass and they even eat the leaves on the trees.
· The branches of the trees become dry and then they die.
· People come and they take the dead branches for their fires.
At the time when the world ends, ‘the strong city’ will be any city on Earth! ‘Maker’ and ‘Creator’ are names for God. They show to us that he made everything. He created everything. The word for ‘understand things’ in the *Hebrew Bible is a plural word, ‘understandings’ (knowledge that causes them to understand things). So the *Hebrew words mean ‘people with no understandings’ (people with no knowledge that causes them to understand things). So God did not pity them and he did not give any kindness to them. He punished them.
Verse 12 Here the ‘River that Flows’ is a name for the Euphrates river. The ‘Wadi of Egypt’ is a stream that was on the border between Judah and Egypt. Those two rivers are the boundaries of the country that God promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18).
‘Thresh’ is a word that may mean two things:
· either, ‘beat the wheat plants or corn plants so that the grain falls out’
· or, ‘hit the *olive trees or *grape trees so that the fruit falls off’.
This is a special description. God will gather his people, as a farmer harvests his crops. ‘One at a time’ seems to show that the second meaning for ‘thresh’ is more likely. ‘Sons of Israel’ means all God’s people. This verse could also describe events at Jesus’ return to the Earth. It could mean this. God will gather together everybody that believes in him. He will not forget anybody. There is a note about such future meanings before chapter 24 begins. This verse continues the special description about the harvest. That description started in verses 2-6.
Verse 13 A *trumpet is a musical instrument. People blow into it to make a very loud sound. Other verses in the Bible tell us about the ‘great trumpet’. Zechariah 9:14 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 seem to show that God himself makes it sound! This verse shows two things:
· It links back to verse 9. This is because a trumpet sounds on the Day of *Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). The Day of *Atonement was a special day when the *Jews *atoned for their *sins. ‘Atone’ means ‘put right the results of *sin’. They did this by means of special sacrifices. A sacrifice is an animal that people give to God.
· Verse 12 stated boundaries of an area where God will act. But he will also include people that live outside those limits. As well as the *Jews, that may mean also people that are not *Jews.
‘On the holy mountain’ probably means ‘in the temple (God’s house in Jerusalem)’. The temple was on a mountain. All these people will *worship the *LORD in Jerusalem. When people ‘*worship’ God, they tell him these things. They tell him that they love him. They love him enough to obey him and they love him enough to serve him. Notice that ‘the country’ now includes Assyria and Egypt! People have come from these distant places to *worship the *LORD in Jerusalem.
altar ~ a special table where people burn animals for their gods.
Apocalypse ~ another name for the last book in the Bible, called Revelation. The Little Apocalypse (Isaiah chapters 24 to 27) is like Revelation. It is about the end of time.
atone ~ to put right the results of *sin.
atonement ~ another word for what happens when God forgives us. After God forgives us, we are ‘at one’ with him. In other words, we are united as friends (or have friendly relations) with him.
blessing ~ something good that God does for you.
briers ~ bushes with sharp points on their branches.
covenant ~ people make a covenant when they agree together. God agreed to protect his people called the *Jews. They agreed to be his servants.
curse ~ words that ask for something bad to happen to somebody.
dew ~ water that comes onto the ground at night. It is not the same as rain.
exile ~ a place away from home.
foundations ~ the ground on which people build houses.
glean ~ when poor people pick a little bit of fruit that the farmer has not picked.
glory ~ great honour and magnificent beauty.
grape ~ a fruit that grows on a *vine. People use grapes to make wine.
Greek ~ the language that people spoke in Greece.
Heaven ~ the home of God.
Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke when Isaiah wrote his book.
incense ~ something that burns with a special smell.
Jews ~ God’s people that lived in Judah and Israel.
lord ~ someone with authority. With a capital L, it can be a name for God.
LORD ~ the *covenant name for God. It probably means ‘always alive’.
olive ~ a fruit.
peace ~ success; the defeat of enemies; freedom from war; a calm and content attitude.
pregnant ~ a woman who is going to have a baby.
Sabbath ~ the 7th day of the week. This day was a special day for rest and *worship, for the *Jews.
sin ~ the wrong things that we do.
thorn ~ a bush with sharp points on its branches. The sharp points are called thorns.
thresh ~ to beat corn to separate the useful parts (the grains) of the plant from the other parts. Then people can throw the other parts away.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument.
vine ~ a plant on which *grapes grow.
vineyard ~ a field where *vines grow.
worship ~ to tell God (or a false god) that he is wonderful; and also, to tell him that you love him.
© 2011, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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