, Joe"]Of particular interest to me recently (because of its relevance to Universalism), is the way that Isaiah 34 to 35 relates so directly to Isaiah’s concluding vision in chapter 66, in which he ends the book with a final sentence that leaves us fixed on an awesome picture of those who are permanently redeemed starring with abhorrence upon those rebels, having been slain by the sword of the LORD, whose destruction follows by means of a fire that continues without end: “For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many… And [the survivors] shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be abhorrence to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:16, 24).I’m glad you’re still interested in Universalism, even if it’s just to try to disprove it We’ve debated Isaiah 66:16, 24 a lot without getting anywhere so I won’t comment on it here.
, Joe"]This vision has its introduction in Isaiah 34, including the metaphors of death by sword followed by destruction without end by fire. This chapter may perhaps be the hardest passage of Scripture to read in the whole Bible? Certainly some of the horrible imagery in the Book of Revelation, about the eternal torment of those who suffer everlasting destruction in the lake of fire, borrows directly from this passage. But here (and what makes it even harder to read?) the details are more slowly, carefully and clearly defined and elaborated upon with the un-escaping focus of a magnifying glass.In 34:10a the smoke rises for the age (owlam) not forever (the author could have easily used “netsach” as in 34:10b) and even if you translate it that way, it could be the same as the “eternal” fire that consumed Sodom, see Talbott on Matthew 25:41, 46? . Furthermore, in the New Creation will there be this patch of land that we won’t be able to reinhabit because it’s still under God’s judgment?
Which bit of Revelation borrows directly from this passage?
, Joe"]Here we have an entire chapter within the Prophets dedicated to explaining and clarifying the definition and nature of the place of hell and the permanent situation of those who go there: “Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever… He has cast the lot for them; his hand has portioned it out to them with the line; they shall possess it forever; from generation to generation they shall dwell in it” (Isaiah 34:10, 17).The place “Night and day it shall not be quenched” will only be inhabited by animals so isn’t a good description of hell or ECT… Although given v12 “there is no one there to call it a kingdom” maybe it is
, Joe"]What is more, this terrifying vision is contrasted immediately with the comparison of the everlasting joy of the redeemed, and also accompanied by an emphatic denial that all without exception shall enter upon that way or dwell there among them, though at the same time maintaining without contradiction the very gladness of those ransomed whose sorrow has ended permanently: “No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:9-10). Humanity is intrinsically connected both in Adam and even more so now in Christ, therefore you can’t torture one person without it effecting the rest. Therefore the fact that the redeemed are rejoicing should be a hint that the destruction of their enemies is more akin to someone witnessing a childbirth or surgery, than a massacre.
, Joe"]But you need to read it all together as a whole to let its entirety, and its own internal consistency, interpret itself. In fact, to the modern mind (if you’re a reader anything like me) you’ll probably need several goes to get into the rhythm and paradigm of Isaiah’s genre.Like the Cross, we have a picture of grotesque death but a much greater resurrection/restoration following.
, Joe"]Isaiah 34:1-35:10 is perhaps the most staggering view from the entire Old Testament for its grandness, scope, and its clarity. It is also perhaps the most frightful and, at the same time, wonderful picture from the Prophets (In my limited estimation anyway).It’s certainly a full on passage.
, Joe"]I dare you to read it all together as one passage. I dare you to read it several times, and then re-read it again. After all, Isaiah dedicated himself to here give significant treatment to this subject for good reason: we need to hear this for our good. So here it is: Isaiah 34 and 35 together…But we are hearing too different messages. You’re hearing it as hopelessness for most people, I’m hearing it as a excruciating but eventual restoration for most people