The prophet Isaiah warns us that in the last days God is going to “turn the world upside down.” He declares, “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down” (Isaiah 24:1).
According to this prophecy, sudden judgment is coming upon the earth, and it will change everything in a single hour. Within that short span, the whole world will witness fast-falling destruction upon a city and a nation, and the world will never be the same.
If you are attached to material things — if you love this world and the things of it — you won’t want to hear what Isaiah has prophesied. In fact, even to the most righteous of God’s people, what Isaiah says might seem unthinkable. Many would surely ask, “How can an entire world be stricken in one hour?”
If we didn’t believe the Bible is God’s pure Word, few of us would take Isaiah’s prophecy seriously. But Scripture makes it clear: in a single hour, the world is going to change. The church is going to change. And every individual on earth is going to change.
The apostle John gives a similar warning in Revelation. He speaks of destructive judgment coming upon a city and nation: “In one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her…. For in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (Revelation 18:8, 17).
In Isaiah’s prophecy, the city under judgment is cast into confusion. Every house is shut up, with no one coming or going. “The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in” (Isaiah 24:10). The entire city is left desolate: “In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction” (24:12). All entrances and exits to the city are gone. The passage indicates that a fire has come, a blast that has shaken the very foundations of the earth (see 24:6).
We who live in New York City know something about this kind of scene. When the Twin Towers were attacked, the ominous fires and smoke could be seen ascending to heaven for miles. Recently, New Yorkers panicked as a mass of steam erupted from below a city street. People ran in all directions screaming, “Is this it? Is this the end-all attack?”
Today, multitudes of secular prophets are saying a nuclear attack is inevitable. The target they mention most often is New York, but it could happen in any major city: London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Washington. Neither Isaiah nor John names the city upon which destructive judgment falls.
Let me make clear at this point: I don’t intend this message to frighten anyone. Paul tells us that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we have already passed from death into life. We who call on Jesus as Lord should be confident that no matter what happens in this world, his shed blood saves and redeems us.
Therefore, we are not to fear any newscast, but rather to be attentive to what the Lord is doing in the world. Like many people, I hear grievous reports that make me want to tune everything out. But the truth is, God moves in the midst of such times, and through them he speaks warnings to all who would hear his voice.
I believe, along with many eminent Bible scholars, that Isaiah’s prophecy points to the last days. By that, I mean our present time. In short, sudden judgment is coming, and Scripture strongly indicates it is now at the door.
At this point you may be wondering: “How can we be sure we’re the generation this prophecy points to?” We can know by two reasons that such judgments are imminent:
1. A growing number of prophets warn of an apocalyptic disaster at the door. When I use the word “prophets,” I speak not just of those in the church. I’m talking also about “secular prophets.”
There are several precedents for secular prophets in Scripture. God used Assyria as his rod of correction with Israel. And he appointed King Cyrus as his servant to assist Israel: “(The Lord) saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure” (Isaiah 44:28).
Likewise today, God uses secular prophets to send warnings. These become “his prophets” for a season. And their prophecies can be harder than those delivered by believers. The message I’m writing here is mild compared to the prophecies being delivered by all manner of secular voices. Just check your newspaper or radio reports.
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
2. Sudden destruction comes when the cup of violence overflows. Sensuality, perversion and greed are running rampant throughout our society. Yet, when God sent the Flood upon the earth, it was because of a worldwide eruption of violence: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).
Right now, there are numerous wars and bloody uprisings taking place around the globe. Yet foremost in my mind is the violence being waged against children worldwide:
I tell you, there is no worse violence than the brutalizing of children. Heaven is crying out, “Woe, woe! Your judgments have no cure.”
A sudden cataclysmic event will strike, the first of the final judgments of God. This great event will cause the earth to reel. And Isaiah says that when it hits, there will be no place to escape: “The lofty [proud] city, he layeth it low…even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust” (Isaiah 26:5). “The inhabitants of the earth are burned” (24:6).
Once this happens, utter chaos will erupt. All civic activities will stop, and society will descend into massive disorder. Government agencies will be helpless to restore any kind of sanity. No state troopers, no national guard, no army will be able to bring order to the upheaval.
You well remember that when the Twin Towers were destroyed, help poured into New York from all over the world. An army of people came to assist in whatever way they could. But the scene in Isaiah’s prophecy is different: this calamity is clearly beyond humankind’s capacity to respond.
Once this judgment strikes, it will devastate the economy. Rich merchants will stand by watching in torment, weeping and mourning, as they face bankruptcy. In an instant, all the wealth they amassed will be reduced to nothing. John describes the scene: “The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city… For in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (Revelation 18:15–17).
Overnight, all buying and selling will cease. Every restaurant and bar will be shut down, and all drinking and music making will end. Indeed, every trace of mirth and delight, joy and gladness, will vanish: “All the merryhearted do sigh. The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth. They shall not drink wine with a song…. The mirth of the land is gone” (Isaiah 24:7–9, 11).
Yes, this is a picture of gloom and doom. But it is not my prophecy. This word was given by the Holy Spirit of Almighty God, to be delivered by his righteous prophet Isaiah. Even the secular world is preparing for it to happen. Billions are being spent on homeland security in the U.S., England, Europe and Israel. Why? Military experts warn that a world-impacting terrorist attack is sure to come.
You may ask: “Why would the whole world change, if a nuclear attack occurs in just one city?” It will happen because of the fear of retaliation. If a rogue nation sends such an attack, you can be sure that within hours that nation will be wiped out. Consider the plan Israel has in place, known as the Samson Option. The moment a nuclear warhead is launched against them, within moments Israel will unleash nuclear missiles to devastate the capital cities of all enemy states.
The world has become a ticking bomb, and time is quickly running out.
This hour of devastation will suddenly change churches, whether they are alive or dead. Isaiah writes, “There shall be the shaking as of an olive tree” (Isaiah 24:13). The image is of God shaking an olive tree after it has been picked of fruit. In short, he’s going to shake everything that can be shaken, sparing nothing. It will be a time of cataclysmic destruction and overwhelming darkness.
So, you ask, “What about God’s people in the midst of all this? What will happen to the church?” Isaiah gives us an incredible word about what will happen with believers.
In the midst of the terrible shaking, a song will be heard, and its sound will grow steadily stronger. Suddenly, in that darkest of hours, a worldwide chorus of voices will sing praises to the majesty of God: “They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea” (24:14).
Do you get the picture? There will be panic everywhere. Men’s hearts will fail them for fear, as fires belch smoke seen for hundreds of miles. Disorder and chaos will reign on all sides. Yet amid the devastating fires and calamity, the world will hear a glorious song being sung: “Glorify ye the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel… From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous [One]” (Isaiah 24:15–16).
A holy remnant is going to awaken, and a song will be born in the fire. Instead of panicking, the people of God will be praising his awesome majesty. Imagine it: in the darkest hour of all time, a collective voice will rise by the millions out of every nation, not in fear or agony, but in joyful praise to the Lord.
How will this happen, you ask? In one hour, God is going to regenerate and restore his church. Dry bones will shake and rattle, and the righteous will be awakened, as the Holy Spirit calls multitudes of lukewarm believers back to their first love. In his mercy, he’s going to rouse those who have neglected him, ignoring his Word, avoiding prayer, perhaps even contemplating divorce. Suddenly, their souls will be flooded with pangs of remorse and godly sorrow. And many will fall on their knees, crying out in repentance.
There will be a revival of glorifying God’s majesty. And the song of this revival will be heard from the uttermost parts of the earth. East, west, north and south — from Arab lands to China, Indonesia, Africa and all parts of the earth — a glorious song will rise up from the midst of the fires. In one day’s time, those who survived the fires are going to be singing a new song throughout the world.
All around the world, the Lord’s people are going to “feast” on his Word: “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined” (Isaiah 25:6).
“And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations” (25:7). Right now, in this time of prosperity, the world’s masses seem to be covered with a veil, unable to see the truth of Jesus Christ. But when God rises up to shake the world through judgment, the shrouds covering the minds of billions will be cast aside. The veil of darkness will be removed, and many will see the Lord in his glory. The Holy Spirit won’t force Christ upon these opened eyes and hearts; rather, a remnant is going to rise up from among them.
I believe the darkest shroud-coverings today are over the eyes and hearts of youth worldwide. This is especially true of college-age students, whose faith has been bombarded for up to four years. Over that time their minds have been indoctrinated by godless professors in classrooms where belief is attacked, mocked and scorned. Now these young men’s and women’s faith has been shipwrecked. They leave college convinced God is dead.
But in one hour of devastation — nuclear, economic and social — all such hypocritical veils are going to fall away. Those same professors who mocked them will realize, as they face the possibility of death, a choice must be made: “What about eternity? Is there life after death?” They’re going to look for someone to explain to them all that’s happening.
When the song is sung, it’s going to be heard by young people from every walk of life, from every nation under the sun. Many will harden their hearts and curse God at the sound of this song, but multitudes of others will join in singing of his majesty.
In a single hour, the focus of our lives will be changed. We’ll no longer obsess about our own adversities and troubles. Suddenly, so many things that we held dear will no longer be of any value to us. Why? In that hour, everyone will be in the same boat:
“It shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him” (Isaiah 24:2).
The sudden judgment that comes will not be a respecter of anyone. Rather, it is going to touch all who are within the realm of its fury. Presidents, kings, the world’s richest and most famous — all will tremble just like the poorest of the earth. And this cataclysmic event will bring to naught every idol, purging iniquity and tearing down all false altars:
“By this [the calamity] therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up [be left standing]” (Isaiah 27:9).
The world’s most prominent idol is money, and right now America is facing a monstrous financial disaster. Investors are scrambling to move their money out of high-risk funds, and mortgage companies are going bankrupt. One recent financial headline read, “Abandon Ship!” Everyone is selling and nobody is buying. Many households are in a panic, as overnight their lives are changing. I think of the president of a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund, who recently put up for sale his 142-foot yacht and his sixteen-bedroom mansion in Aspen, Colorado. His fund had dried up virtually overnight.
The day is coming when sports will be the last thing on people’s minds. I have nothing against sports, but soon there will be no more 250-million-dollar deals for athletes, when so much of the world is starving. All idols will come crashing down, crushed to dust, and the playing field will be leveled. The richest and the poorest alike will face the same conditions.
It will all happen within a day. “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
You may wonder: what good can come of these prophetic messages? Why should anyone have to live under such anxiety?
I remind you, Jesus warned Jerusalem of sudden devastation to come upon that city. It was going to be burned to the ground, with over a million people murdered. Christ explained his warning: “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29). He was saying, in essence, “When it happens, you’ll know there is a God who loves you and forewarned you.”
Paul calls such warnings “light,” insights that expel darkness. He says, in short: “You are children of light, because you know what’s coming in the future. So, when destruction comes, and there’s panic all around, you will have the calm of the Holy Spirit. Something will quicken inside you, and you’ll remember, ‘God warned me.’ This prophecy isn’t a message of wrath to God’s people, but a wakeup call to begin preparing.”
“God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10). Paul is speaking here of a time of possible destruction. Therefore, he says, “Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (5:11).
In this day of prosperity, nobody wants to hear a message like Isaiah’s. I certainly don’t want to hear it. But we cannot ignore it, because it is here at our door. In such times, Paul says, when we have knowledge that sudden destruction is coming, we are not to tremble or sorrow as the world does. Instead, we are to comfort one another in faith, knowing that God rules over every aspect of our lives.
“Be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (5:8). Paul instructs, “Arm yourself with faith. Build up your belief now, before the day comes. Learn your song, and you’ll be able to sing it in your fire.” “Glorify ye the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel” (Isaiah 24:15).
This is the hope of our most holy faith: our Lord causes a song to come out of the darkest of times. Start now to build up your holy faith in him, and learn to praise his majesty quietly in your heart. When you sing your song, it will strengthen and encourage your brothers and sisters. And it will testify to the world: “Our Lord reigns over the Flood!” ■