Israel’s Story in Isaiah 33, 34 and 35, by Annie Nissim
The book of the prophet Isaiah is one of the finest, deepest and most stirring books ever to be written by man. God, through the pen of this poetic linguist, has given insights to men that have inspired hearts and stricken us with longing for more than 2.5 millennia. How the Deceiver has bewitched the blind to believe that the prophetic revelations painted in these pages are ‘boring’ and ‘musty’, I can’t quite understand. And the time of their complete fulfillment is close.
Isaiah 33 - The Remnant Preserved During the Second Half of Daniel’s 70th Week
The Breaking of the Covenant
As I read Isaiah 33, 34 and 35, a beautiful sequence of events leapt out at me from the pages. Firstly, in chapter 33, I saw the breaking of Antichrist’s Covenant with Israel. We learn about this covenant in the book of Daniel chapter 9. It is a seven year covenant made by the Antichrist; the making of it marks the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week (see Daniel 9:27).
We understand from Isaiah 28:14,15, that the leaders of Israel made this covenant with the Antichrist believing that it would protect them from military invasion.
Daniel 9:27 suggests that the covenant is broken in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week in several ways – abrupt cessation of sacrifices in the Temple, the ‘Abomination’ (the Lord Jesus tells us that it will be set up in the Holy Place) and the military invasion of Israel by the Antichrist causing the desolation of the land. “In the middle of the week he will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…”
The Faithful and the Unfaithful
We read in Isaiah 33:8, “The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he has broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man”. It is the unfaithful Jews in Israel who welcomed this covenant in Isaiah 28:14,15: “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.”
The faithful remnant of Israel, by contrast, will “not be in haste” concerning this covenant. Isaiah 28:17 says that God makes “justice the line and righteousness the plummet”.
The righteous will be preserved. In Isaiah 33, we understand that it is the “sinners in Zion” who are filled with fear because of the Antichrist’s invasion (v.14). If in Isaiah 28 justice and righteousness are the line determining who will survive, in Isaiah 33 the one who is able to endure the “devouring fire” is he that “walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.”
Of course this strongly echoes the words of David’s Psalm (24) in which he asks, “Who will ascend into the hill of Jehovah? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart…” This is God’s description of the faithful remnant of Israel. They will be preserved alive when the Antichrist breaks the covenant at the mid-point of the 70th week of Daniel. They will be preserved until the end of the 70th week, when they will ascend into the hill of Jehovah.
The Flight of the Faithful Judeans
Jesus talks about this mid-point event and this Jewish remnant. Addressing them, He says, “When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15,16). Revelation 12 talks about this event, the flight of the faithful remnant of Israel at the mid-point of the 70th week.
“And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” (Revelation 12:14). From the instruction of the Lord Jesus, we know that this remnant will flee from Judea to “the mountains”.
Revelation tells us that the remnant will be protected in “her place” in the wilderness and provided there with food for 3.5 years. This fits like a glove with Isaiah 33. While the sinners of Zion are in fear because of the devestation following the breaking of the covenant, the faithful remnant, characterised by righteousness, is described thus: “He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” (Isaiah 33.16). They will “flee to the mountains”.
Not only will their food and water be supernaturally provided, the Scriptures seem to indicate that there will be a supernatural shade given to protect them from the tribulational sun and moon.
Isaiah tells us that during this period “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” (Isaiah 30.26). This is why God Himself is to the remnant “a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat” (Isaiah 25.4). We know of such things from the account of the Exodus, for instance.
The Poor and Needy
Here I would note an excellent tip I received from Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, who taught that when the Scriptures mention the “poor and needy” they are referring to this remnant of Israel during the second half of Daniel’s 70th week. The poor and needy are mentioned in Isaiah 25:4 but also in very many other verses throughout the Psalms and Isaiah and I have yet to find a reference that does not fit this context.
I am convinced that Psalm 121 refers to this same special protection of the Jewish remnant, “The Lord is thy shade on thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.” (Psalm 121 5,6). Perhaps Isaiah 32:2 refers to this also, “A Man shall be as an hiding place from the wind; a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
In short, the remnant of Israel have a very secure protection and sure provision for 3.5 years, in a very special place to which they flee from Judea when they see the Abomination of Desolation.
Isaiah 34 - The Day of Vengeance, the Lord Mighty in Battle!
We have seen in Isaiah 33 the breaking of the covenant and the hiding of the faithful remnant of Israel for the duration of the second half of Daniel’s 70th week. Isaiah 34 deals with the great Day of slaughter that occurs at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. The Day of the Lord’s vengeance.
The invitation is issued to all the vultures of the earth to take their feast on the corpses of the wicked. This occurs in a specific location. Verses 5, 6: “My sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold it shall come down upon Idumea [Edom]…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 [Bozrah is in Edom], and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea [Edom].” The chapter goes on to describe how the place will be turned into burning pitch and will be given to birds of prey to inhabit thereafter.
Slaughter in Edom – Isaiah 63
We read more details about this event in Isaiah 63. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in rightouesness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winevat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”
The day of the LORD’s vengeance is just what the event is called in Isaiah 34:8. And the location is the same – Edom. The slayer is the LORD Himself and the victims are “all nations” and “all their armies” (Isaiah 34:2). Interestingly, the Lord Jesus, when asked where His return would occur, answered, “withersoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (Luke 17:37). I believe He was referring to this momentous day in which the invitation is issued to all the vultures of the earth to feed on the slain, the dead bodies of the armies of the nations gathered together in Bozrah.
It is for this reason that some scholars believe the remnant of Israel will be hidden in Bozrah and that this is where the armies of the world will gather at the end of Daniel’s 70th week
- and that this is the location to which the Lord will return to deliver the remnant of Israel. The stars of heaven are described falling “as the leaf falleth from off the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree” in Isaiah 34:4. This fits at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, with the physical return of the Lord Jesus, at the end of the 3.5 year period of protection of the remnant of Israel.
So Isaiah 34 describes the Day of vengeance when the Lord slaughters the armies of the nations gathered in Edom at the end of Daniel’s 70th week.
Isaiah 35 - The Redeemed of the Lord Return to Zion
Isaiah 35 is outstanding in beauty. It follows chapter 33 describing the protection of the remnant of Israel and chapter 34 describing the slaughter of enemy armies in Edom by the Lord Himself.
Returning through a Flourishing Negev
Isaiah 35 describes the sudden flourishing of the Negev and the procession of the righteous Jewish remnant, now delivered, through the Negev to Jerusalem. This dry and barren land is suddenly filled with springs of water, streams, and abundant overgrowth of greenery: “And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” (verse 7). It is through this regenerated land, lately desert, that the remnant of Israel travels on their way to Jerusalem, on a new highway that is called the “Way of Holiness”:
“The unclean shall not pass over it… but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35:8-10). How our hearts long for this day!
The Worldwide Regathering of Israel
This specific scene forms a part of the worldwide regathering of the Jewish people from the whole earth to the Land of Israel, which is the high point of prophetic Scriptures, starting from Deuteronomy 30:2-5. Here, Moses told the people of Israel that when they would repent and return to the Lord, the Lord would “return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee, And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed…”.
Isaiah 27 vv. 12-13 mentions that Jewish survivors who have fled to various countries (presumably following Antichrist’s invasion of Israel) will be regathered to Israel with the sound of a trumpet: “ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come that were ready to perish in the land of Assyria and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”
Jesus said likewise, “He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt 24:31). Another reference from Isaiah confirms the meaning of the term “from one end of heaven to the other” – Isaiah 13.5: “They come from a far country, from the end of heaven…” So, from all nations the Jewish survivors at the end of Daniel’s 70th week will be gathered to the Land of Israel.
The Ascent to Jerusalem
Concerning the remnant who fled from Judea and were preserved in Bozrah, the Lord Himself will go on before them and lead them on their journey. The eyes of the blind will be opened, the lame will leap like a deer - just as when He was among His nation in His humility, so He will do for them when He is with them in His glory, only it will be completed to the uttermost.
On the procession through the Negev to Jerusalem, the righteous will “ascend into the hill of the LORD” in Jerusalem. The gates of Jerusalem will be commanded to lift up their heads for the King of Glory to enter His city. Psalm 24:7-10: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.”