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‘Delivered to the Slaughter’

 

All references are to the King James (Authorised) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

Q Isa. 34:1, 2:

 

1. Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. 2. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.

 

Does this passage teach the mass extermination of the nations?

 

A Its context puts it in the world-wide trouble which has its roots in the First World War (1914-18) and its aftermath. The harsh language used here reflects the graphic flavour of the original Hebrew text, though its meaning is not that of obliteration, but of condign punishment for sin and eventual recovery.

 

Rotherham’s translation renders ‘he hath utterly destroyed them’ (past, accomplished), as ‘devoted them to destruction’ (future). It is a prediction, and informs us that the fate of the nations as presently constituted has already been decided in God’s foreknowledge. However, the method of its outworking will be in keeping with an age very different from the one in which Isaiah made his declaration. Indeed, this prophecy can apply only to an age of global interconnectedness, such as our own, unique in history.

 

That extermination of peoples is not meant by this passage can be demonstrated by the terms of the chapter which follows. Isa. 35 holds a promise of comfort, reconciliation, and recovery from death for all peoples – ransomed by Christ’s sacrifice – in His earthly kingdom to come. God's plan is for the redemption of the human family, not its demise (v. 10; emphasis added):

 

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.

 

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Jan. 2018. No copyright.