Isaiah 24 contains one of Isaiah’s most dramatic end-time visions. He describes a dark day when sin and brokenness reaches its climax. He describes a day when “few men are left” because of the intensity of the crisis that hits the earth. It affects both the people and the earth.
4The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. 5The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. 6Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. (Isaiah 24:4–6 ESV)
Reading Isaiah’s prophecy, you can hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:
22And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:22 ESV)
The crisis that Isaiah sees is so severe that people are unable to enjoy the normal pleasures of life. Even the pleasures associated with wine vanish. All songs and celebration cease. Joy is no more and the “gladness of the earth is banished.”
7The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. 8The mirth of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. 9No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. 10The wasted city is broken down; every house is shut up so that none can enter. 11There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished. (Isaiah 24:7–11 ESV)
As the chapter continues Isaiah describes the strength of this evil assault on the earth. It will cause the earth to stagger under the weight of transgression.
19The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. 20The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. (Isaiah 24:19–20 ESV)
Isaiah describes a dark day where there is no more celebration, no more songs, and even the existence of humanity is threatened. When we read the language of Isaiah 24 slowly it can almost seem overwhelming. Thankfully, God gave Isaiah a summary of His response to this crisis at the end of the prophecy in order to give us courage that though the events Isaiah predicts are incredibly severe, they are not the final end of the story. This does not remove the intensity of the prophecy, but it does give us hope that the events predicted in this chapter are not the end of the story. Verses 21-23 are intended to give us courage to face the reality of the rest of the prophecy.
21On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. 22They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished. 23Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders. (Isaiah 24:21–23 ESV)
In the middle of the prophecy, Isaiah also gives us another fascinating statement in verses 14-16. When we look at his prophecy in context it is especially staggering.
13For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done. 14They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. 15Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” (Isaiah 24:13–16 ESV)
In verse 13 Isaiah summaries the magnitude of the situation. The situation he is seeing on the earth is compared to the harvest and subsequent crushing of olives and grapes. However, suddenly, Isaiah shifts into another prediction of singing and shouting in the nations. This is a staggering prediction because just a few verses before Isaiah said the songs and celebration on the earth have ceased. Isaiah does not introduce this change in thought; he just suddenly includes the new prediction as part of his prophecy.
Just as soon as he gives the prophecy, he quickly shifts back in verse 16 to describing the terror of the situation. These verses seem completely out of place in a prophecy that otherwise describes the terror of a dark day in the future.
Isaiah’s prophecy of great trouble punctuated by singing in the nation is quite unusual in the way it is given and that means we should study it carefully to see what it means and what Isaiah intends to communicate. Within this prophecy are some key phrases that tell us ahead of time what God is going to do in the earth. What is especially interesting about this prophecy is that when we look around the nations we can already see the stage being set for the fulfillment of this prophecy.
The Center of the Crisis
The first thing to recognize is that the prophecy is ultimately centered on the city of Jerusalem. This does not mean that the prophecy only applies to Jerusalem and the surrounding region. The crisis in Isaiah 24 clearly has global implications so when we recognize that Isaiah 24 is centered on Jerusalem and the surrounding area, we are not ignoring the fact that there is a global crisis, but it is important to see that Isaiah’s prophecy is Jerusalem centric.
Isaiah’s prophecy is not just a prediction it is a kind of prophetic experience. Isaiah does not just predict what will happen in this chapter, he describes it in great intensity as if he is experiencing it first hand. The intensity that Isaiah describes and feels will extend to the ends of the earth, something that is emphasized in other passages that describe this same period of time. The nations must understand that this controversy is Jerusalem centric in order to understand how to prepare for it and how to cooperate with God’s plan to ultimately bring salvation in the midst of the crisis.
All of this is why Isaiah says, “thus it shall be in the midst of the earth” in verse 13. The Jews thought of Jerusalem as the center of the earth. There are several reasons we know that Isaiah is prophesying and experiencing the crisis from the perspective of Jerusalem. First, is Isaiah’s use of the word “earth” in this chapter. The word Isaiah uses is אֶ֔רֶץ or “eres.” This is word that can be translated interchangeably either as “earth” or as “land.” It can be used in a broad and general way or it can be used to specifically refer to a piece of earth or land. When it is used to refer to a single piece of land in the Old Testament, it is most commonly used to refer to the land of Israel.
Most English translations use “earth” instead of “land” in this chapter, but as we look through the details of Isaiah 24, we can see that Isaiah’s prophecy is focused on the “land” or “earth” of Israel rather than the entire earth. Again, this does not mean this is a crisis that only affects the land of Israel, it simply means that Isaiah is prophesying from the center of the crisis. This crisis will begin and end in the land and more specifically around the city of Jerusalem.
There are several indicators in the chapter that Isaiah is focusing specifically on the land rather than on the entire earth. Isaiah begins his prophecy by emphasizing the land and using covenantal language. He tells us that the crisis is related to breaking the covenant. Even the words Isaiah uses to describe what happens as the covenant is broken, words such as “desolation” are all covenant words that relate to Israel’s unique covenant with God.
5The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5 ESV)
Isaiah is telling us that this is final assault on the covenant. The breaking of covenant is what creates the context for this great crisis. Isaiah’s emphasis on the covenant puts Israel front and center in the prophecy because no other people were given a specific covenant related to their land.
In verses 14-16, specifically verse 16, Isaiah describes a difference in the “ends of the earth” and the focus of the prophecy. Isaiah has a clear sense of difference between what he is prophesying and experiencing and then what he prophecies related to other regions in the earth. This reveals that, although Isaiah’s prophecy has global implications, he is directly prophesying to the conflict around Jerusalem.
16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” (Isaiah 24:16 ESV)
In Isaiah 24:21, Isaiah predicts God’s judgment of the kings of the earth related to their participation in the crisis of Isaiah 24. Isaiah describes God’s judgment both in heaven and on the earth. The fact that he judges both the heavens and the earth indicates the severity of this crisis. Something so unusual has happened that it justifies God’s judgment being released in the heavens and on the earth. There is some sort of evil agreement with the host of heaven and the kings of the earth and God will respond to it. This evil agreement is what unleashes the incredible catastrophe that Isaiah describes.
21On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. (Isaiah 24:21 ESV)
It is important to notice Isaiah’s language in this verse. Isaiah describes the “kings of the earth” who will be punished “on the earth” but it is important to notice that Isaiah uses a different word for “earth” in this verse from the word he used earlier in the chapter that is usually translated earth. In verse 21, he uses the word אֲדָמָֽה׃ or “adama” This word is much more generic than the word he uses in the rest of the chapter to describe the land.
Because both words are typically translated earth in the English, it is easy to miss this shift in language, but Isaiah intentionally shifts his language so that we will understand that a great crisis is coming that will center its intensity on the “earth” (land) of Israel, however that crisis will effect the “earth” (the entire world) and therefore God is going to judge the kings of the “earth” (of the entire world) related to this conflict. God’s judgment helps make the difference between the land and the earth clear. God judges the kings of the earth because they have joined a wicked scheme of the powers to bring destruction to the land. Isaiah 24 predicts the same moment of judgment as other passages such as Joel 3 and Zechariah 14.
Isaiah not only focuses on the land, he focuses on the city of Jerusalem:
10The wasted city is broken down; every house is shut up so that none can enter. 11There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished. 12Desolation is left in the city; the gates are battered into ruins. (Isaiah 24:10–12 ESV)
Isaiah does not refer to the cities of the earth he refers specifically to “the city” and he uses this phrase because his prophecy is ultimately focused on Jerusalem. Isaiah is predicting a great controversy over the city of Jerusalem – exactly what other prophets predict in passages such as Joel 3, Zechariah 12, Zechariah 14, and others. We have to recognize that the prophecy is Jerusalem centric in order to understand all that the prophecy communicates.
It is also important to look at how Isaiah arranged his prophecies. Isaiah 24 gives a prophecy of great trouble, but is followed by several prophecies about God’s redemption of Jerusalem and the glory that will rest on that city. These prophecies are the answer to the crisis of Isaiah 24 and each of the prophetic answers are centered on the city of Jerusalem bringing great glory to Israel and the earth. The subsequent chapters of Israel’s deliverance and glory are centered on Jerusalem and the land because the crisis, which is described in Isaiah 24, is centered in the same location.
Songs from the Ends of the Earth
Understanding the centrality of Jerusalem and the surrounding land in the prophecy helps us to better understand Isaiah’s unusual prophecy in verses 14-16. Isaiah is not predicting that the rest of the earth is exempt from this crisis, but in his prophetic experience he is experiencing the intensity of the crisis from the vantage of the land because that is where the crisis will begin, where the enemy’s rage will be focused, and where the crisis will be resolved.
In the middle of his prophecy of Jerusalem’s final trouble, Isaiah suddenly shifts and gives another very unusual prophecy:
14They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. 15Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” (Isaiah 24:14–16 ESV)
In order to understand what this prophecy means, we have to remember the Jerusalem centered nature of the prophecy. Isaiah has already described the feeling of hopelessness in the situation, and now he is describing one of the ways in which God will give hope to Jerusalem and its inhabitants. In his prophetic experience Isaiah experienced the crisis as though he was in the midst of the land. As he encountered the terror of these days, he suddenly heard songs of joy and shouts of the majesty of the Lord coming from the surrounding region.
These songs and shouts are in stark contrast to the crisis and are intended to give hope and courage to those who, like Isaiah, will find themselves in the very center of the crisis. Note that Isaiah says, “we hear songs of praise” and not “I hear songs of praise.” These songs are for an entire nation – they are songs for Israel. Prophetic songs are God’s method of releasing hope at the end of the age. Singers will release their songs like arrows and they will bring hope. These songs of the Lord’s glory are not just good songs, they are songs that will come at a specific moment in history and give strength and courage in the middle of an unparalleled crisis.
These songs are directly connected to the crisis. They are like the artillery and air strikes in a war. When you have a group of soldiers in trouble, you send in air strikes and artillery to overcome the enemy so that soldiers can do their job. These weapons are aimed at a distant target and when they land they release courage to the soldiers embedded in that location. The songs Isaiah describes are like air strikes from the nations that push back the enemy and give Israel courage at the end of the age.
Isaiah is predicting a powerful role here for end-time prophetic singers. A global crisis is coming on the earth that is going to require prophetic singing to release courage into the hearts of the church. Right now the songs of the Lord are contending with other songs, however a day is coming when God will silence false songs that offer false comfort to create a stage for prophetic songs that offer real hope. When the most wicked man in history emerges, a holy hush will come over the nations so that the song of the Lord can be heard.
They will sing for the majesty of the Lord. This means they will experience the power and the glory of the Lord in their midst and this is what will cause them to sing. This is a powerful prediction of the glory of the Lord resting on the church in this generation. In the darkest hour of human history, the Lord is going to release incredible power on His people. God always releases a greater manifestation of His glory in the midst of greater pressure. If you speak to someone who has been imprisoned for their faith they will always describe a greater manifestation of God’s presence in the midst of their trial. It will be the same way at the end of the age. a. The fact that the end time church will be singing in the midst of this kind of pressure tells us quite a bit about the maturity of the end time church. This is also a summary of the priestly call. The calling to the priesthood is ultimately to behold the majesty of the Lord and then to declare that majesty. These singers are functioning in their priestly identity.
This not only tells us about the condition of these singers, it also reveals the content of their songs. They are not only going to experience the majesty of the Lord, they are going to sing about it. This prediction by Isaiah must influence and direct our songwriting. If singers are going to sing of the majesty of the Lord at the end of the age it means we should write songs about the majesty of the Lord. God has decreed it will happen and our part is to cooperate with Him by responding to what Isaiah prophesied.
If we are going to write songs about the majesty of the Lord, then it means the majesty of the Lord must also be the focus of our meditation. We must meditate on the majesty of God to write songs of the majesty of God. This means we must give ourselves to the Word so that the Holy Spirit can reveal the majesty of the Lord. It must become a primary part of what we give ourselves to in the Scripture. We sing about what we love, what we treasure and what fascinates us. If we are going to write songs about the majesty of the Lord it means we must love, treasure, and be fascinated by the majesty of God. The revelation of the majesty of the Lord is one of God’s primary agendas at the end of the age. The darkness that will come on the earth with the Antichrist is going to set the stage for the revelation of the majesty of God.
The prediction of these songs would have been especially unusual to Isaiah because during his life there was a functioning temple with singers who had been put in place according to the instructions of David (1 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 35:15; Nehemiah 12:45). Isaiah 24 is predicting that the singing ministry around the temple in Jerusalem must extend to the nations. Before the end comes, there must be a company singing in all the nations. Isaiah is also being given a shocking prediction that a day will come when even the songs in Jerusalem fail and Jerusalem will need to hear the songs coming from the nations. God will prepare the nations so that their songs release strength and revelation in the earth during the final conflict over the purposes of Jerusalem.
Isaiah is hearing part of the fulfillment of Malachi 1:11.
11For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:11 ESV)
In Malachi 1, God addresses the failure of Israel’s priesthood and tells Malachi that priests in the nations will be one of His answers to Israel’s crisis. Isaiah hears these priests in the nations ministering to Israel in a critical hour and experiences the priests in the nations giving strength to Israel.
Singers from the Ends of the Earth
Interestingly Isaiah never introduces the singers of these songs. He simply refers to the singers as “they.” This “they” is never introduced in the passage but suddenly “they” sing for joy and shout of the majesty of the Lord. We are not told great detail about these singers, but they are obviously prepared by the Lord for this crisis moment.
It is almost as though they are nameless and faceless. They are not a specific people group or Isaiah would have identified them as such. They are simply a company of people who suddenly take the stage to release songs and courage in an hour when human songs and human joy has all failed.
These singers are like Elijah. No one knows where Elijah came from. He suddenly took the stage in a crisis moment when he was needed. Elijah was needed when Israel was under the power of false priests leading false worship to false gods. Messengers like Elijah exist in order to confront the darkness. The Lord prepared him so that, at the proper time, he could emerge to contend with the powers of darkness in his generation. The most powerful thing about Elijah was that he stood before the Lord. Like Elijah, these singers will stand before the Lord in the place of intercession and minister to Him first and from that place release their songs on the earth.
1Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (1 Kings 17:1 ESV)
In the same way these singers are unknown. Isaiah simply predicts that they will be prepared by the Lord and, at the right moment, they will cry out and their songs will be heard in the moment and give incredible courage and strength to those who actually experience what Isaiah is prophesying.
In the same way that Elijah emerged when Israel was under the rule of the wicked king and queen Ahab and Jezebel, these singers will emerge when the earth is under the rule of the most wicked king in history. Elijah confronted a false worship movement on Mount Carmel. He challenged false priests to call on their god and He called on His. On Mount Carmel only one man’s intercession produced genuine fire and at the end of the age only these songs will produce genuine fire. The cries of the priests of Baal failed in Elijah’s day and the songs of men will fail at the end of the age. This is why the earth will become quiet setting the stage for the song of the Lord.
God released His fire in response to Elijah’s intercession. Elijah knew God and he was confident in who he was before the Lord (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah’s voice was familiar to the Lord and He responded to it. In the same way that Elijah’s ministry of power suddenly gave hope again to the people of God who had been intimidated and oppressed, these songs will suddenly release hope and courage in the earth. When no one is singing – they are. When no one has joy – they have joy. When the earth is silent – they are not and they have been prepared by the Lord for this hour of human history.
Faith in the Word of God
The Lord’s methods of preparation frequently do not make sense until the time is right. For example, Noah’s preaching did not make sense until it began raining. In the same way Elijah’s preparation by the Lord did not make sense until he had to confront the prophets of Baal. There is a massive crisis coming to the earth, but right now preparation for that crisis does not make sense to most of the church. However, the Lord is beginning to prepare singers for that crisis. In the same way that Noah’s preparation did not make sense until it began raining, there is an aspect of the house of prayer that will not make sense until the earth begins to face the end time crisis.
Faith in the Word of God enables the things of the word of God to become real to us even though they are unseen:
1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
The word “assurance” is also translated “substance.” In other words, faith in the Word of God makes unseen things tangible and real. It makes things you cannot see as real as what you can see. For example, faith is what enables Jesus to be as real to us as any other human being though He is unseen to the world. Faith in the Word of God makes what the Word of God says about the future tangible to us now. When we approach the word of God with faith, then God’s end time activity becomes real even before it happens. We begin to connect our labors in the present to God’s future end time deliverance of the nations. We see the continuity between what we do now and what is coming.
This is what enables us to live with sobriety. While the world lives as though nothing will ever change (Matthew 24:38-39; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Peter 3:4), we are called to live in light of what the Word of God tells us is coming.
10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:10–12 ESV)
Abraham and Moses labored for what they did not see in their lifetime. Their faith made the future a reality for them. They looked for a city they never saw and a deliverance that did not happen in their lifetime.
9By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God…13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…24By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:9-10; 13; 24–26 ESV)
We are called to live the same way. Regardless of whether the Lord comes in our generation or not we are called to live according to what the Word of God says about the return of Jesus. Faith in the Word of God makes what the Word says about the future tangible and real to us now. The coming storm and the coming deliverance become real to us to the point that it affects how we live. This kind of faith enables us to see the connection between our labor now and the return of Jesus. Whether Jesus returns in our generation or not our labor is valuable. Abraham and Moses both did not see what they lived for. However, their faith enabled them to live in light of a day that was thousands of years away. It is the same for us.
Faith understands what the Bible says about the end time crisis and gives us courage to search out passages like Isaiah 24 and ask how these passages affect the mission of the church. In the case of Isaiah 24, it means we begin to put singers in place to sing of the majesty of the Lord before the day of His coming.
The Command to Sing
It is important that we view these verses in context to fully understand the purpose for these songs and these shouts. Isaiah continues in verse 15 to gives more detail.
14They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. 15Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. (Isaiah 24:14–15 ESV)
Isaiah now shifts his language from a prophecy to a command. Having given the prophecy of verse 14 that singers will emerge, he now commands those in the east and in the coastlands to give glory to the name of the Lord. Isaiah recognizes how desperately the songs and shouts of verse 14 will be needed, so he commands the east to give glory to the Lord. He is instructing the east and the coastlands to prepare for the fulfillment of verse 14 by giving glory to the Lord.
This is an aspect of prophecy that we sometimes overlook. Prophecy gives us the prediction of God’s activity in the earth, but many prophecies contain something more than that. They contain an instruction – we could say an invitation – to fulfill the prophecy. That is the case in verse 15. Isaiah instructs the east to sing in order to prepare for the fulfillment of the prophecy of verse 14. We are called to recognize these kinds of instructions in prophecy both so we can respond to the prophet’s instructions and so that we can recognize when God begins moving to fulfill His word.
God Himself is the one who fulfills prophecy, so we are not able to bring these prophecies to their ultimate fulfillment, but we are called to partner and labor with God in His plan and part of that is recognizing these prophetic instructions that give us understanding of where things are going and the role the church will play in God’s end time purposes.
After the instruction of verse 15, Isaiah gives another prediction in verse 16 that reveals key details about God’s global purposes.
16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” (Isaiah 24:16 ESV)
In verse 15, Isaiah gave the command to the east to sing, but that command raises a question – where in the east is Isaiah referring? Is he referring to the immediate east, which would be the region of modern day Jordan? Is he referring a bit further east for example to the region of modern Iran? Or is he referring to a location even further east?
In verse 16, Isaiah answers that question. Verse 15 contained Isaiah’s prophetic command to the east to sing, and verse 16 gives the fulfillment of that command and identifies where these songs in the east will come from. Isaiah predicts that the songs of east will come “from the ends of the earth.” No doubt there will be songs in Jordan, Iran, and other locations to the east, but the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy will be songs coming from the very ends of the earth.
From Isaiah’s perspective in the prophecy, the ends of the earth and the coastlands would describe what we now refer to as Asia. Isaiah’s prophecy of songs and shouts of praise from the east is a prediction of the songs of Asia releasing power and strength to God’s people in an time of unparalleled crisis. While Isaiah did not know the modern nations that make up Asia, the coastlands, and the ends of the earth he predicted that their songs, their shouts of praise, would be heard across the world and give strength to Jerusalem in the darkest hour of human history.
Isaiah finishes verse 16 with a cry, contrasting the assault on his people in the land with the sounds coming from the ends of the earth. This seems to be an unusual response to the songs of praise, but Isaiah is reminding these singers in Asia of just how critical their songs are. The feeling of hopelessness that will come in that dark hour will be so overwhelming that these shouts of God’s majesty must come to give God’s people strength that God’s judgment and deliverance is coming.
This will be the final, most glorious assignment of the prayer and worship movement that emerges from Asia. Right now night and day worship and prayer is growing in intensity all across Asia but this is only the beginning of God’s plan to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy.
When the most wicked man in human history is in the earth and brings unprecedented destruction, the songs of men will fail, but God is going to raise up global singing as a testimony of the worth of His Son and certainty of His plan. While there will be a global movement of singing, we want to also recognize specific details the prophets give us. Isaiah 24 emphasizes the role of Asia in God’s end time plan and therefore we want to recognize that and labor to see the church in Asia come fulfill her calling in any way that we can. Isaiah 24 is certainly not limited to Asia, but it is important that we do not overlook the fact that God chose to emphasize Asia in this passage.
It is simply astounding that Isaiah heard songs more than 2,500 years before those songs will be sung. God enabled Isaiah to prophetically stand in the middle of history before it had unfolded and he heard songs that have not yet been released. Suddenly in a moment he was allowed to race forward centuries in history. These songs are so important to God He gave Isaiah a chance to hear them long before the singers would even be born. What should cause us to tremble is that these songs are now being heard in our generation. We are beginning to hear what Isaiah heard centuries ago.
Putting Singers in Place as Part of a Global Missions Strategy
Isaiah 24 must be a part of our missions strategy. We are called to put singers in place because the day of Isaiah 24 is coming. We must respond to Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah is giving us part of God’s missions strategy giving in the Bible. God’s response to the terror of the Antichrist is to release songs in the nations. This is a statement of how critical singers are. The church, and humans in general, are a singing people. We naturally sing about what moves our heart. However, Isaiah predicts a song in the hour when all other songs fail. There is no need for a prophetic command for what we already naturally do. Therefore Isaiah’s command must speak of extravagant singing in the nations. It is something beyond what is “normal.”
Isaiah’s prophecy is a stunning connection between the global church and Israel. God is preparing songs in the nations to give courage to Israel in the moments just before her great salvation and deliverance. In Isaiah 40, God gives the command to “comfort” His people in the midst of their end time crisis. The songs of Isaiah 24 are part of that end time comfort.
1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1–2 ESV)
Our call is to labor to put these singers in place now so they will be ready for the hour when they will be needed. Asia and the ends of the earth are especially critical for this hour of history. Part of Asia’s destiny and calling is putting these singers into their place. This is one of the reasons that Islam and other false religions have been used by the enemy in an attempt to stop Asia’s destiny. The enemy desperately wants to silence the songs of Asia, but the Lord is going to release a breakthrough.
Powers and principalities build fortresses of darkness to keep people from their prophetic destinies. However, Isaiah’s prophecy tells us the fortresses of darkness in the nations will be broken and the prophetic songs will be released. These songs will be one of the Lord’s means of breaking the grip of Islam over nations. Islam has filled nations hoping to prevent these redemptive songs, but the Lord is going to release a breakthrough. The Lord is going to use singers as one of His methods of releasing deliverance from Islam. In the coming days songs of the glory of the Lord are going to penetrate the hearts of Muslims and serve as a profound witness of the gospel.
God is going to raise up singers who will labor for the destinies of other people groups. The singers in Isaiah 24 do not just strengthen their own nation, they release courage across the nations. Our songs are not just for our own people, they are for other people and nations. The Lord is going to bring the nations together as nations call each other into their destinies and then the nations will release songs to call Israel into her destiny. These songs are ultimately to bring Israel into her destiny.
The last time Israel came under incredible pressure was World War II. It was a catastrophe without salvation. However, Isaiah predicts when the final day of trouble comes the church will release songs to strengthen Israel unto her salvation. The coming day of trouble will end in Israel’s salvation and the songs of the nations will play a part in that salvation.
In the last few decades, we have seen an amazing move of God across Asia. Korea has set the standard for night and day prayer in the earth for half a century. A vibrant church in China has emerged and overcome incredible persecution. Nations in Southeast Asia has experienced moves of God. God is beginning to move in an amazing way in Japan. In many ways, the center of global Christianity has shifted from the west to the east, and it is important to recognize all that this means. Asia is suddenly rising as a region leading the way in global Christianity and we want to understand all that the Bible says about Asia’s role in finishing the mission of God.
Whether it is the rapid growth of night and day prayer across the region or the increasing desire to take the gospel “back to Jerusalem” we need eyes to see what God is doing in Asia and where it is going. Understanding what the Bible says about specific regions and their redemptive role in the end of the age will help us to better recognize his activity in the nations.
Right now the Lord is beginning to move in Asia to set the context for the fulfillment of Isaiah 24. God is moving on young believers in Asia to build houses of prayer because He intends to fulfill Isaiah 24. The Holy Spirit is moving sovereignly across Asia and the nations to set the stage for the fulfillment of what Isaiah saw.
Of course this prophecy is in no way limited to Asia. The nations must sing and Isaiah predicts that these songs will be in the earth during the end-times before the return of Jesus (Isaiah 24:21-23). This means these songs must emerge before the end will come, and therefore raising up these singers in the nations must become a missional objective for the church. In the same way that we labor for a witness in every tribe and tongue because the Bible tells us it must happen before Jesus returns, so also we should read the prophecies of these singers and labor to put them in place because the end will not come until they are in place. Our calling is to partner with God by reading the Scriptures and laboring for the things that He has said must come. These prophetic singers are one of those things we must labor for in the earth.
Isaiah gave the prophecy of Isaiah 24 under the unction of the Lord thousands of years ago. If Isaiah could speak today, he would likely urge us with even greater intensity to put these singers back in place. When Isaiah first prophesied there was not a storm gathering in Jerusalem, nor had he seen the majesty of Jesus as the risen and exalted Son of God. In light of the coming storm and the greater revelation of the majesty of Jesus, now is the time to put singers in place to sing of the glory of the Lord.
Related notes on Isaiah 42 and why God uses extravagant singing are available at: https://samuelwhitefield.com/1986/the-role-of-prophetic-singers-in-gods-plan-to-redeem-the-nations.