The fiery day to come (Mal 4:1-4:1)

“‘See!

The day is coming,

Burning

Like an oven.

All the arrogant

Will be stubble.

All evildoers

Will be stubble.

The day that comes

Shall burn them up.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

Thus,

It will leave them

Neither root

Nor branch.”

The day of Yahweh would be a fiery hot day.  The wicked ones would burn up as if they were in an oven.  All the arrogant and evildoers would be like stubble for the fire that would burn all of them up.  Yahweh of hosts was going to leave these wicked people without roots or branches.  Thus, the idea that God will come with fire has its biblical origins here.

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The fire (Ob 1:18-1:18)

“‘The house of Jacob

Shall be a fire.

The house of Joseph

Shall be a flame.

The house of Esau

Shall be stubble.

They shall burn them.

They shall consume them.

There shall be

No survivor

Of the house of Esau.’

Yahweh has spoken.”

The house of Jacob and the house of Joseph would be like a fire or a flame.  They were going to turn Esau into a stubble, since these fiery flames would burn and consume them.  Thus, there would be no survivors in the house of Esau or Edom.  Yahweh, according to Obadiah, had spoken very clearly.

The end of Babylon (Isa 47:14-47:15)

“See!

They are like stubble.

The fire consumes them.

They cannot deliver themselves

From the power of the flame.

This is no coal for warming oneself!

This is no fire to sit before!

Such to you are

Those with whom you have labored.

You have trafficked with them

From your youth.

They all wander about

In their own paths.

There is no one to save you.”

Babylon will become like stubble that a fire consumes. They cannot save themselves from the powerful flames that are not like a warming fire or a fire to sit around and talk. They have worked with these people from their youth. They wander all around. No one is there to save them. Babylon is doomed.

Yahweh calls the victor from the east (Isa 41:2 -41:4)

“Who has roused a victor from the east?

Who summoned him to service?

He delivers up nations to him.

He tramples kings under foot.

He makes them

Like dust with his sword.

He makes them

Like driven stubble with his bow.

He pursues them.

He passes on safely,

Scarcely toughing the path

With his feet.

Who has performed this?

Who has done this?

He is calling the generations

From the beginning.

I!

Yahweh!

I am the first!

I will be with the last.”

Second Isaiah wants to know who has summoned the victor conquer from the east for service. This victor from the east was Cyrus, the King of Persia from 559-530 BCE, more than two centuries after the time of Isaiah. Cyrus the Great created the largest empire in the world with present day Iran the last vestige of that realm. Cyrus took over many countries, trampling kings. He made them like dust or stubble with his sword as well as his bow and arrows. He pursued many people, but he was always safe with his fast feet that barely touched the ground. Second Isaiah points out that Yahweh was behind Cyrus. Who allowed him to do all these things? Why it was Yahweh, who interjected himself in the first person singular, saying that he was eternally the first and the last.

The Creator (Isa 40:21-40:24)

“Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you

From the beginning?

Have you not understood

From the foundations of the earth?

It is he

Who sits above the circle of the earth.

Its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens

Like a curtain.

He spreads them

Like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught.

He makes the rulers of the earth

As nothing.

Scarcely are they planted,

Scarcely sown,

Scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

When he blows upon them,

They wither.

The tempest carries them off

Like stubble.”

Second Isaiah continues to use the questioning style to make his point. He seems to call attention to the ignorance of the people. Do they not understand that God created them? God sits on top of the dome over the earth in the heavens, As Second Isaiah was expressing the cosmology of his day. God has stretched out the heavens like a curtain or a tent. All humans are like grasshoppers since he has such a lofty view. He controls the earthly princes and rulers. As soon as someone plants something and it begins to take roots, he blows on it and it withers. Then he sends a tempest storm to carry it off as stubble. Clearly God is in control as the creator of this world and the things in it.

Yahweh is upset (Isa 33:10-33:12)

“‘Now I will arise.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Now I will lift myself up.

Now I will be exalted.

You conceive chaff!

You bring forth stubble!

Your breath is a fire

That will consume you.

The people will be

As if burned to lime,

Like thorns cut down,

That are burned in the fire.’”

Isaiah has Yahweh speak directly to everyone. Yahweh was going to rise up. He was going to lift himself up. He wanted to be exalted and acknowledged. He did not like what they were bringing to him, since he considered it only chaff and stubble, like useless left over things. Their breath was like a fire that would consume them. It would burn them as if they were lime. They would be like cut down like thorn bushes burning in a fire.

A reproach against bribery (Isa 5:23-5:24)

“Woe to you

Who acquit the guilty

For a bribe!

Woe to you

Who deprive the innocent

Of their rights!

Therefore,

As the tongue of fire

Devours the stubble,

So their roots will become rotten.

As dry grass sinks down

In the flame,

So their blossoms will go up

Like dust.

They have rejected

The instruction of Yahweh of hosts.

They have despised

The word of the Holy One of Israel.”

However, the real scolding comes when judges acquit a guilty person because of a bribe. They thus deprive the innocent ones of their rights. They are going to end up like stubble and dry grass devoured by a fire. Their roots will become rotten. Their blossoms will be blown off like dust. They have rejected Yahweh. They have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Injustice is a real big deal.