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Isaiah Chapter Thirty-four                            


Isaiah 34

Chapter Contents

God's vengeance against the enemies of his church. (1-8) Their desolation. (9-17)

Commentary on Isaiah 34:1-8

(Read Isaiah 34:1-8)

Here is a prophecy of the wars of the Lord, all which are both righteous and successful. All nations are concerned. And as they have all had the benefit of his patience, so all must expect to feel his resentment. The description of bloodshed suggests tremendous ideas of the Divine judgments. Idumea here denotes the nations at enmity with the church; also the kingdom of antichrist. Our thoughts cannot reach the horrors of that awful season, to those found opposing the church of Christ. There is a time fixed in the Divine counsels for the deliverance of the church, and the destruction of her enemies. We must patiently wait till then, and judge nothing before the time. Through Christ, mercy is exercised to every believer, consistently with justice, and his name is glorified.

Commentary on Isaiah 34:9-17

(Read Isaiah 34:9-17)

Those who aim to ruin the church, can never do that, but will ruin themselves. What dismal changes sin can make! It turns a fruitful land into barrenness, a crowded city into a wilderness. Let us compare all we discover in the book of the Lord, with the dealings of providence around us, that we may be more diligent in seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. What the mouth of the Lord has commanded, his Spirit will perform. And let us observe how the evidences of the truth continually increase, as one prophecy after another is fulfilled, until these awful scenes bring in more happy days. As Israel was a figure of the Christian church, so the Edomites, their bitter enemies, represent the enemies of the kingdom of Christ. God's Jerusalem may be laid in ruins for a time, but the enemies of the church shall be desolate for ever.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Isaiah


Isaiah 34

Verse 2

[2] For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.

All nations — Not only upon the Assyrians, but on all enemies of my people.

Verse 3

[3] Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.

Cast out — Into the fields.

Verse 4

[4] And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

Dissolved — The sun, moon, and stars. So great shall be the confusion and consternation of mankind, as if all the frame of the creation were broken into pieces. It is usual for prophetic writers, both in the Old and New Testament, to represent great and general calamities, in such words and phrases, as properly agree to the day of judgment; as on the contrary, the glorious deliverances of God's people, in such expressions, as properly agree to the resurrection from the dead.

Verse 5

[5] For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

Bathed — In the blood of these people.

Heaven — Where God dwells; in which this is said to be done, because it was there decreed and appointed.

Idumea — Upon the Edomites, who, tho' they were nearly related to the Israelites, yet were their implacable enemies. But these are named for all the enemies of God's church, of whom they were an eminent type.

The people — Whom I have cursed, and devoted to utter destruction, as the word properly signifies.

Verse 6

[6] The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.

The sword — The metaphor is taken from a great glutton, who is almost insatiable.

Rams — By lambs, and goats, and rams, he means people of all ranks and conditions, high and low, rich and poor.

Bozrah — A chief city of Edom, and a type of those cities which should be most opposite to God's people.

Verse 7

[7] And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

The unicorns — It is confessed, this was a beast of great strength and fierceness; and it is used in this place to signify their princes and potentates, who shall be humbled and cast down.

Them — With the lambs, and goats, and rams.

Fatness — With the fat of the slain sacrifices, mingled with it.

Verse 8

[8] For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.

For — This is the time which God hath fixed, to avenge the cause of his persecuted people.

Verse 9

[9] And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.

The land — Idumea shall be dealt with, as Sodom and Gomorrah were.

Verse 10

[10] It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

For ever — It shall remain as a spectacle of God's vengeance to all succeeding ages.

Verse 11

[11] But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.

Dwell — It shall be entirely possessed by those creatures which delight in deserts and waste places.

Stretch — He shall use the line, or the stone or plummet joined to it, not to build them, but to mark them out to destruction, as workmen commonly use them to mark what they are to pull down.

Verse 12

[12] They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.

None — They shall not find any willing to undertake the government.

Nothing — Shall have no courage or strength left in them.

Verse 16

[16] Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

Seek — When this judgment is executed, if you pursue this prophecy, you will find, that all things exactly come to pass, as I have told you.

His — My spirit, (such sudden changes of persons being frequent here) hath brought all these creatures together, as he formerly brought the creatures to Adam, and to Noah, by an instinct which he put into them.

Verse 17

[17] And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.

Divided — He hath divided the land to them, as it were by lot and line, as Canaan was divided among the Israelites.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Isaiah


34 Chapter 34


Verses 1-17

Isaiah 34:1-17

Come near, ye nations, to hear.
--The subject is, as in chap.

13., the Lord’s judgment upon all the nations; and as chap 13. singled out

Babylon for special doom, so chap. 34, singles out Edom. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D,D.)


Edom represents here all the powers hostile to the Church of God as such, and is thus an idea of the profoundest and widest cosmical significance. (F. Delitzsch.)

Edom’s punishment

The eternal punishment falling on the Edomites is depicted (Isaiah 34:8-10) in figures and colours suggested by the nearness of Edom to the Dead Sea, and the volcanic character of this mountain-land; it suffers the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jeremiah 49:18). (F. Delitzsch.)

Isaiah 34:1-17; Isaiah 35:1-10

These are two wonderful chapters, and great use is made of them by Jeremiah and by Zephaniah. This use of the Bible by the Bible is of great consequence; not only is it interesting as a literary incident, but it is full of suggestion as to the range and certainty and usefulness of inspiration. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Verse 5

Isaiah 34:5

My sword shall be bathed in heaven

The sword bathed in heaven

The text draws back the curtain which separates the visible world from the invisible.
It reveals celestial regions, in which there are also great struggles going on. It lifts up our eyes to the grander movements of the world of spirits; and then it declares that the sword which is to be used in fighting what seem to be the petty wars of the Hebrews and the Edomites, is the same sword which has been used in these celestial conflicts; that the means and instruments of righteousness upon the earth must be the same with the means and instruments of righteousness in the heavens.

I. ALL GOOD STRUGGLE IN THE WORLD IS REALLY GOD’S BATTLE, and ought to recognise itself as such. Every special victory of human progress--the victory over slavery, superstition, social wrong, nay, even thevictory over tough matter, the subduing of the hard stuff of nature to spiritual uses,--each of these is but a step in the great onward march of God taking possession of His own. Fight your battle with the sword bathed in heaven; so you shall make it victorious, and grow strong and great yourself in fighting it.

II. One of the most marvellous things about Jesus is the UNION OF FIRE AND PATIENCE. He saw His Father’s house turned into a place of merchandise, and instantly the whip of small cords was in His hands, and He was cleansing the sacred place with His impassioned indignation. And yet He walked day after day through the streets of Jerusalem, and saw the sin, and let the sinners sin on with only the remonstrance of His pure presence and His pitying gaze. Only in God’s own time and in God’s own way can the battles of the Lord be fought. There is no self-will in Jesus. He is one with His Father, and lives by His Father’s will. His sword was always bathed in heaven.

III. THE BATTLE WHICH GOES ON WITHIN OURSELVES IS GOD’S BATTLE, and is of supreme importance. If the battle be God’s, it must be fought only with God’s weapons. You want to get rid of your selfishness. You must not kill it with the sword of another selfishness, which thenceforth shall rule in its place. Selfishness can only be cast out by self-forget-fulness and consecration. To count sin God’s enemy, and to fight it with all His purity and strength, that is what it means for us that our sword should be bathed m heaven. (Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

Verse 16

Isaiah 34:16

Seek ye out of the Book of the Lord

The Scriptures the Book of the Lord, to be diligently studied


II. THE SCRIPTURE IS A BOOK TO BE READ carefully and diligently searched, consulted and sought unto. (T. Watson, D. D.)

The Holy Scripture is the Book of the Lord

1. This Book discovers what no mortal could ever have done, and nowise could be had but by Divine revelation.

2. The perfect holiness of the doctrine.

3. The efficacy of the doctrine in its searching and convincing the conscience (Hebrews 4:12); converting souls from their most beloved lusts, even when nothing can be expected from the world for such a change Psalms 19:7); rejoicing the heart under the deepest distresses (verse 8). This is not from any virtue in the letters or syllables, but from the Spirit, whose instrument it is.

4. The miracles wherewith it has been confirmed.

5. There is an inward sensation of this in the spirits of those that have their senses exercised. (T. Watson, D. D.)

Seeking out of the Book of the Lord

What is presupposed in this seeking out of the Book of the Lord?

1. That man has lost his way, and needs direction to find it.

2. That man is in hazard of being led further and further wrong.

3. That men are slow of heart to understand the mind of God in His Word.

4. That the Book of the Lord has its difficulties which are not to be easily solved.

5. That we need highly to understand it; otherwise we would not be bidden search into it.

6. That we may gain from it by diligent inquiry. (T. Watson, D. D.)

Reasons for searching the Book of the Lord

1. Because the way of salvation is to be found only therein (John 5:39).

2. It is the only rule of our faith and lives (Isaiah 8:20). The lawyer studies his law books, the physician his medical books; and shall not a Christian study the Book of the Lord?

3. The Lord Himself dictated it and gave it us for that very end (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 15:4).

4. We must be judged by the Scriptures at the great day (John 12:48). (T. Watson, D. D.)

The systematic investigation of Christianity

I. UNLESS THE GOSPEL BE MADE THE SUBJECT OF MUCH REFLECTION AND EARNEST INVESTIGATION IT CANNOT BE RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD. Are those truths which have a reference to the grandest objects in existence so very easily to be comprehended as to require less attention than the ordinary facts and principles which are connected with business or literature?


Reading the Scriptures

I. The Scriptures should be read with A SERIOUS MIND. The argument by which Moses urged the Jews to attend to the laws of God may be applied to Scripture at large--“It is not a vain thing: it is your life.” When we read our Bible we stand in the presence of God: we are receiving His communications.

II. The Scriptures should be read with EARNEST PRAYER. Divine influence is needful to impress them upon our understandings and hearts.

III. Scripture should be read with PURE INTENTIONS. “If any man will do His will,” &c. Nothing resists the evidence or dislikes the principles of the Bible but sin.

IV. The Bible should be read with EXPECTATIONS AND DESIRES. We cannot place too much confidence in its authority, or anticipate too much comfort from its influence. All that may be expected from God may be expected from His Word. There He opens His resources and declares His will; there we read what He is, and what He can do, and what He intends to do. To read the Bible and expect nothing from its influence is to reflect dishonour upon it.

V. The Bible should be read with RETENTIVE MEMORIES. It is intended not so much for present entertainment, as for future wisdom and holiness: its contents, therefore, should be stored and classed in the memory, to be drawn forth and applied as the different circumstances of life require. This study of the Scriptures produces incalculable advantages; it will afford--

1. The most valuable instruction.

2. The best impressions. There is an energy in the Bible which no man of feeling can withstand. The words which it contains are “spirit and life.” Under Divine influence it has counteracted carnal affections and vicious propensities; it has raised men’s minds to God: it has filled them with love to mankind. So as Scripture makes men holy it makes them happy. In the midst of trouble they have an unfailing refuge. (Homilist.)

The recurrence of the figures of Isaiah 35:1-10.

Many of the figures in this beautiful prophecy of Israel’s restoration recur in the course of chaps, 40-66.,-- Isaiah 35:10, for instance, is repeated verbatim in Isaiah 51:11.(Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

The manifold application of Isaiah 35:1-10.

Without any change of its essential meaning it may be applied to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, to the vocation of the Gentiles, to the whole Christian dispensation, to the course of every individual believer, and to the whole blessedness of heaven. The ground of this manifold application is not that the language of the passage is unmeaning or indefinite, but that there is a real and designed analogy between the various changes mentioned which brings them all within the natural scope of the same inspired description. (J. A. Alexander.)

A joyous chapter

This chapter contains thirty-five distinct promises, among them twenty-two “shalls”--nine “shalls” of blessing and comfort; eight “shalls” of deliverance; five “shahs” of joy. It begins and ends with “joy.” (E. J. Banks.)

──The Biblical Illustrator