“The earth is broken asunder,
The earth is split through,
The earth is shaken violently.
The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard
And it totters like a shack,
For its transgression is heavy upon it,
And it will fall, never to rise again.” -Is. 24.19-20
Isaiah 24-27, known by OT scholars as “The Little Apocalypse of Isaiah,” is so chock-full of remarkable pictures and implications that one could spend months in the text and barely touch the depths of it. Verses 19-20 of chapter 24 provide a staggering thought regarding the weight of iniquity upon the earth itself. Here we see the climax to come, that moment in history where the earth will be physically incapable of bearing the heaviness of transgression any longer. When the accumulation of greed, lust, hatred, pride, murder, rage, immorality, self-righteousness, abuse, and all manners of boasting in the flesh has come to the point where it meets with God’s final judgment, the earth will be tottering “like a shack” underneath its weight. OT scholar Otto Kaiser translates part of v. 20 in this way:
It’s criminality lies heavy upon it.
The prophet gives us a glimpse into the heavenly view of things. Can we fathom that the mounds of atheistic literature, the voluminous amount of pornographic paraphernalia, the multitude of hypocritical religious services, and all sins great and small are building up until the day when the cosmos itself can no longer endure the weight of it? It’s staggering to me that even after the advent of the cross, and the substitutionary death of the Son of God, the earth will still “fall, never to rise again.”
The sins of men have so polluted and burdened the universe that it must be purged with heavenly fire until the first heaven and the first earth have literally “passed away.” (Rev. 21.1) But how glorious it will be when the “new Jerusalem” descends from heaven, and God Himself takes residence among men!
Our lives as believers are each a picture of the great day to come. The load of our sin has weighed us down, and we have realized our utter depravity before the holiness of God. The “old man” has been “broken asunder,” “split through,” and “shaken violently” because of our own transgression, and we have cried out for mercy from the only One who can give it. Salvation has broken in, and He has made all things new. Now we have died to sin, and the new life of Jesus Himself is bursting within, just as the New Jerusalem will one day break into the newly created order.
The old man has fallen, “never to rise again.” The new man lives through the Blood of Jesus Christ and the fire of His Spirit, and we will never be the same. Hallelujah! Let us throw off sin in every way, and the weight that comes with it. New life has come, and the cross has given us the wonderful liberty of righteousness and peace in real experience.
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” -Rom. 6.4