From Isaiah 13 to Isaiah 23, the prophecy of Isaiah proclaims nine burdens. Each burden is connected to a place and the burden has to do with the coming judgment on that country and/or place. Here are the nine burdens:
The burden of Babylon (Isaiah 13:1); notice that the first burden begins at chapter 13, a number often used to denote rebellion.
- The burden of Moab (Isaiah 15:1)
- The burden of Damascus (Isaiah 17:1)
- The burden of Egypt (Isaiah 19:1)
- The burden of the desert of the sea (Isaiah 21:1)
- The burden of Dumah (Isaiah 21:11)
- The burden upon Arabia (Isaiah 21:13)
- The burden of the valley of vision (Isaiah 22:1)
- The burden of Tyre (Isaiah 23:1)
In scripture, the number nine is related to fruit (as in the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of one's labors). The nine burdens of Isaiah 13-23 bring forth fruit in Isaiah 24. This chapter powerfully proclaims God's judgment on the earth. However, although the historical judgment of these nations may partially fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 24, the destruction described here is much too severe to have been totally fulfilled in the past. Consider the following statements taken out of the chapter:
"Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof" (Isaiah 24:1).
- "The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled" (Isaiah 24:3).
"Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left" (Isaiah 24:6).
- "for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake" (Isaiah 24:18).
"The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly" (Isaiah 24:19).
- "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard" (Isaiah 24:20).
These passages and others clearly point to the time of great tribulation.
This is a time in the future when the wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth. Revelation 6:17 states, "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" Revelation 16:1 adds, "And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth." The destruction of the earth as described in Isaiah 24 must either be the time of tribulation or the final destruction of the earth after the thousand year reign. However, a couple of details at the end of the chapter limit the events to the tribulation. Consider these verses:
- Isaiah 24:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
- Isaiah 24:22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
In that day, the Lord will gather the wicked together and shut them up in prison as prisoners. Then, "after many days shall they be visited." That is, they will be brought out to receive their judgment. The "many days" would be the thousand year reign of Christ. The visitation of the prisoners after those days would match the great white throne judgment (see Revelation 20:1-11). Notice also the last verse of Isaiah 24.
- Isaiah 24:23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
This time of judgment and destruction on the earth leads up to the time "when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem."
This happens during the kingdom age; that is, the thousand year reign of Christ. This pinpoints the events of Isaiah 24 as a description of events during the tribulation.