The preceding chapters of Isaiah (24-33) are focused primarily upon Israel and God’s intention to chastise, correct and ultimately save his wayward people. However, in the 34th chapter of Isaiah Jehovah turns his attention to all the nations, inviting them to consider the awful judgment he has in store for them. This particular ordering of events is in keeping with the biblical precept that judgment begins first with the house of God.
For example, this principle is expressed in the 9th chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel, where the symbolic destroyers are told to wield their weapons for smashing, beginning in the Jehovah’s sanctuary.
But as regards Isaiah, after the judgment of Israel God turns to the nations, saying to them: “Come close to hear, you nations, and pay attention, you peoples. Let the earth and that which fills it listen, the land and all its produce. For Jehovah’s indignation is against all the nations, and his wrath is against all their army. He will devote them to destruction; He will give them to the slaughter.”
The subsequent description of the stinking carcasses of the slain is evidently a preview of the corpse-strewn battlefield of Armageddon – no more need be said here.
However, the judgment then focuses on one nation in particular – Edom. Why? Astoundingly, the Watchtower’s commentary on the 34th chapter of Isaiah needs little revision. The Society identifies Edom with modern Christendom. (Edom, Moab and Ammon well picture the three main branches of Christendom; namely, Catholicism, Protestant and Orthodox including the hundreds of sects, sub-sects and cults that have sprung from them. Since Edom was the most dominate of the three – like Catholicism today – it may represent all in this prophecy. See Amos and Obadiah.)
But with that a discrepancy becomes immediately apparent, considering that the Society also identifies typical Israel with Christendom. In fact, virtually all of the denunciation of Israel contained in Isaiah is interpreted by the Watchtower so as to apply to Christendom. Yet, the prophecy indicates that the reason God judges Edom is, as stated in verse eight: “For Jehovah has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution for the legal case over Zion.”
It should be evident to an honest-reasoning person that Israel and Edom cannot both typify Christendom. Or should we suppose that God is going to avenge himself against Christendom for the injustices Christendom has perpetrated against itself? Perhaps the drunkards of Ephraim imagine that is the case, but let us be more sober-minded.
The legal case over Zion must be in connection with the heavenly Zion, represented upon the earth by those who belong to Christ – pictured in Revelation as the 144,000 standing upon Mount Zion alongside the Lamb. But why a day of vengeance and a year of retribution? Because, ultimately, God will hold Christendom responsible for the killing of the sons of God in the future.
Just as the Jews bore responsibility for fomenting persecution against the original Christians, the clergy bear the same responsibility now, and will fill up the measure of their sins in the future – when, according to the opening of the fifth seal, those who are about to be killed are killed. Did not Jesus forewarn that the day would come when those who kill the sons of God will imagine that they have rendered a sacred service to God?