Isaiah 24:20 MEANING

Isaiah 24:20
(20) The earth shall reel to and fro . . .--The point of the first comparison is obvious. (Comp. the like illustration of a ship tossed by the waves in Psalm 107:27.) The second becomes clearer if we render hammock instead of cottage, a hanging mat, suspended from a tree, in which the keeper of the vineyard slept, moving with every breath of wind; the very type of instability. In the words that follow the prophet traces the destruction to its source. The physical catastrophe is not the result of merely physical causes. The earth totters under the weight of its iniquity, and falls (we must remember the Hebrew idea of the world as resting upon pillars, 1 Samuel 2:8), never to rise again. In its vision of the last things the picture finds a parallel, though under different imagery, in 2 Peter 3:10-13.

Verse 20. - The earth... shall be removed like a cottage; rather, sways to and fro like a hammock, Rosenmüller observes, "Alludit ad pensiles lectos, quos, metu ferrarum, in arboribus sibi parare solent, istis in terris, non custodes solum hortorum camporumve, sed et iter facientes." The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; i.e. the earth perishes on account of men's sins. It shall fall, and not rise again. The present earth is to disappear altogether, and to be superseded by "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1).

24:16-23 Believers may be driven into the uttermost parts of the earth; but they are singing, not sighing. Here is terror to sinners; the prophet laments the miseries he saw breaking in like a torrent; and the small number of believers. He foresees that sin would abound. The meaning is plain, that evil pursues sinners. Unsteady, uncertain are all these things. Worldly men think to dwell in the earth as in a palace, as in a castle; but it shall be removed like a cottage, like a lodge put up for the night. It shall fall and not rise again; but there shall be new heavens and a new earth, in which shall dwell nothing but righteousness. Sin is a burden to the whole creation; it is a heavy burden, under which it groans now, and will sink at last. The high ones, that are puffed up with their grandeur, that think themselves out of the reach of danger, God will visit for their pride and cruelty. Let us judge nothing before the time, though some shall be visited. None in this world should be secure, though their condition be ever so prosperous; nor need any despair, though their condition be ever so deplorable. God will be glorified in all this. But the mystery of Providence is not yet finished. The ruin of the Redeemer's enemies must make way for his kingdom, and then the Sun of Righteousness will appear in full glory. Happy are those who take warning by the sentence against others; every impenitent sinner will sink under his transgression, and rise no more, while believers enjoy everlasting bliss.The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,.... When it shall be moved and agitated to and fro, and dissolved; or this may be meant of the inhabitants, who shall be at their wits' end, and in the utmost confusion, not knowing what to do, nor where to go, having no more thought, nor sense, nor command of themselves, than a drunken man; and this is in just retaliation, that as they have been drunk with sin, having drank up iniquity like water, they shall now be drunk with punishment, which being heavy upon them, will make them stagger like a drunken man:

and shall be removed like a cottage; or, "a tent" (x); either of soldiers or shepherds, which are easily taken down and moved; or like "a lodge" (y), as the word is rendered Isaiah 1:8. The Septuagint render it a "fruit watch"; and, according to the Jewish writers, it signifies a booth or tent, in which the keepers of gardens or vineyards watched in the night; which Jarchi says was built on the top of a tree, and Kimchi on a hill; and, being made of light wood, was easily moved to and fro with the wind. The Targum is,

"and it goes and comes as a bed;''

that is, rocks as a cradle:

and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; that is, the punishment of transgression, which, like a talent of lead, in Zechariah 5:8 shall crush it, and the inhabitants of it, to pieces:

and it shall fall, and not rise again; in the form it now is; for there will be new heavens and a new earth, in which the righteous, who will share the first resurrection, will dwell; for as for the first earth, or present one, it shall pass away, and no place be found for it, Revelation 20:11.

(x) "quasi tabernaculum", V. L. (y) "Ut diversoriolum", Piscator.

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