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WHAT DO THE BIRDS OF ISAIAH 34:10-17 REPRESENT?

Updated - 9/17/09

 

 

We read in Isaiah 34:10-17:

 

10  It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

11  But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.

12  They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.

13  And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.

14  The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

15  There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.

16  Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

17  And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.

 

In verses 11 to 15, we read about a number of unclean animals that dwell in some place. There are other passages with similar language. We will look at some of these passages later in this study. Isaiah 34:10-17 has the most extensive amount of this kind of language so we will begin with that passage.

 

In examining Isaiah 34 we must ask a very important question:

 

 

Do the unclean birds and animals in Isaiah 34:10-17 and in similar passages have to represent the unsaved, or is it possible that they might represent literal animals?

 

 

Does the Bible provide any definite answer to this question?

 

In examining this question, we want to remember the principle that Christ spoke in parables and without a parable He did not speak. This principle is given in Mark 4:34 and in other verses.

 

Therefore, we expect to find parables throughout the whole Bible.

 

Also, another Biblical rule is that we are to compare Scripture with Scripture to learn what God means by words and phrases. This principle is given in 1 Corinthians 2:13.

 

 

First of all, many of the animals found in Isaiah 34:10-17 were classified as unclean animals in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. The Old Testament Jews could not eat those animals.

 

Here are some examples:

 

1. The Hebrew word translated “cormorant” in verse 11 is also found in Leviticus 11:18 and in Deuteronomy 14:17 as an animal that is unclean and may not be eaten. In those two verses it is translated “pelican” even though it is the same Hebrew word.

 

2. The Hebrew word translated “owl” in verse 11 is also found in Leviticus 11:17 and Deuteronomy 14:16 as an unclean animal. In those two verses it is translated “great owl” even though it is the same Hebrew word.

 

3. The “raven” in verse 11 is also found in Leviticus 11:15 and in Deuteronomy 14:14 as an unclean animal.

 

4. The “vulture” in verse 15 is also found in Deuteronomy 14:13 as an unclean animal.

 

 

So, we can see that God has used unclean animals in Isaiah 34:10-16 several times.

 

Now, we want to explore the significance of the unclean animals in passages likes Isaiah 34:10-16.

 

 

Acts 10 shows that God uses unclean animals to represent the unsaved.

 

 

Next, we learn more about why God talks about clean and unclean animals by examining Acts 10. For those not familiar with Acts 10, it would be helpful to read the whole chapter to understand more about what God means by clean and unclean animals.

 

In Acts 10, God plans for the Apostle Peter to visit the Roman Centurion Cornelius to bring the Gospel. We learn that Cornelius and some of his family became saved. Cornelius was a gentile. The Old Testament Jews were not to associate with the gentiles.

 

We read in Acts 10:10-16:

 

10  And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

11  And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12  Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

13  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15  And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

16  This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

 

 

In verses 10 to 13, we read about a dream that the Apostle Peter had. This dream was from God. In those days, the Bible was not yet completed, so it was still possible for people to receive messages from God in the form of a dream.

 

In the dream, God is showing Peter many unclean animals and instructing Peter to kill and eat them.

 

But, Peter gives the correct, Old Testament Biblical answer in verse 13. We read there:

 

But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

 

In the Old Testament, the believers were instructed not to eat unclean animals.

 

Then, God gives the answer back in verse 14. We read there:

 

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

 

Verse 14 indicates that God is finished with the Old Testament ceremonial law of clean and unclean animals.

 

Verse 15 it says that this dream was repeated three times. Three times emphasizes that this was God’s purpose.

 

Notice how Peter describes the animals in verse 13. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter says that those animals were “common or unclean”.

 

 

After this dream, the Apostle Peter meets with the servants of the Roman Centurion Cornelius and goes with them to meet Cornelius.

 

Just in case Peter has any doubts about going with these gentiles, God tells Peter in verses 19 & 20:

 

19 Ά While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

20  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

 

 

Then, after Peter arrives to the home of Cornelius, God puts these words in his mouth in verse 28:

 

And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

 

In verse 28, Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is saying that we are not to call any man “common or unclean”.

 

Notice how the Holy Spirit has guided the Apostle Peter to use the same language of “common or unclean” to describe the unclean animals in verse 13 as he uses to describe the gentiles in verse 28.

 

 

Through Acts 10, God is defining what He meant by the unclean animals in the Old Testament. The unclean animals represent the gentiles or the unsaved of the world.

 

 

Even though most of Old Testament Israel never became saved; nevertheless, God used them to represent the people of God, to represent the saved. Likewise, God used the nations, the gentiles, to represent the unsaved.

 

We see from Acts 10 that the gentiles were represented by the unclean animals in the Old Testament.

 

 

God picks up on the theme of representing the unsaved as unclean animals in Revelation 18:2.

 

 

We read in Revelation 18:1-4:

 

1 Ά And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

2  And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

3  For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

4  And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

 

 

Verse 2 declares that Babylon is now a habitation of “devils”, “foul spirits” and “unclean and hateful birds”.

 

We have learned that Babylon represents the churches and congregations during the Great Tribulation, the last 23 years before Judgment Day.

 

 

Babylon refers to the church people themselves and not a piece of land or region of the world or a church building.

 

 

When God declares that “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”, God is talking about people, His corporate people during the Great Tribulation. God is not talking about a piece of land, region of the world or a church building.

 

Therefore, when God says in verse 2 that Babylon is now a habitation of “devils”, “foul spirits” and “unclean birds”, God is talking about His corporate people as “devils”, “foul spirits” and “unclean and hateful birds”.

 

In John 6:70, Judas is called a “devil”. The unsaved are called “devils” because they are under the authority of satan.

 

The words “foul” and “unclean” are the same Greek word. This same Greek word is translated “unclean person” in Ephesians 5:5 to refer to the unsaved. Unsaved man has a “spirit”, so he can be called a “foul spirit” or “unclean spirit”. Also, frequently the devils were called “unclean spirits”. The devil has authority over the unsaved and rules in the local congregations today, so the devils also fit for the phrase “foul spirits”.

 

For the phrase “unclean bird” in Revelation 18:2, God is tying back to the unclean animals of the Old Testament to represent the unsaved.

 

 

Regarding the birds in Revelation 18:2, God says “every unclean and hateful bird”.

 

Notice that God talks about a “hateful bird”.

 

The hatred of God does not come upon animals. But, because of man’s sin, the hatred of God falls upon unsaved man as we read in Romans 9:13:

 

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated <3404>.

 

 

The phrase “hateful bird” in Revelation 18:2, shows that these “birds” must represent the unsaved and not literal birds. The hatred of God comes upon man because of his sin and not upon literal birds.

 

 

Let us consider another point about Revelation 18.

 

 

If we read Revelation 18 carefully, we can see that this chapter describes a time when man is still present in the world, supporting the argument that the “unclean animals” or “unclean birds” represent the unsaved and not literal animals.

 

 

One point is that verse 4 gives the command for the true believers to leave Babylon. This command was first given in 1988 at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. The year 1988 was when the Great Tribulation began and God’s judgment came upon his corporate people and they became Babylon.

 

It took a few years before many true believers understood this command, however, the command took effect at the beginning of the Great Tribulation in 1988.

 

 

Let’s look at evidence that Revelation 18 is talking a time when mankind is still present in this world.

 

 

We read in verse 9:

 

And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

 

Notice the reference to “kings of the earth”. These are people that are weeping. There are still people there.

 

 

We read in verse 11:

 

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

 

The “merchants” are people. There are still people there.

 

We read again about merchants in verses 15-16:

 

15  The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16  And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

 

Those “merchants” represent people.

 


We read in verse 17:

 

For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

 

The “shipmaster” refers to people.

 

 

We see a number of verses in Revelation 18 that indicate that mankind is still present in the world. Revelation 18 is not talking about a world void of people with only animals remaining.

 

The unsaved are represented by the “unclean and hateful birds” in verse 2. Christ spoke in parables. God’s hatred comes upon unsaved man because of his sin, but not upon birds.

 

 

Let us summarize a point here:

 

 

We have seen passages in which God represents the unsaved by unclean and hateful birds or animals. Other passages could be offered. The question is:

 

Can we determine if God has the unsaved in view in Isaiah 34:10-16 or is it possible that God is speaking about literal animals?

 

 

In order to answer this question, we must examine Isaiah 34:10-16 carefully.

 

Here are several points to consider:

 

 

1. The focus of the Bible is upon mankind and not upon animals.

 

In Isaiah 34:11-16, God uses 6 verses to talk about unclean animals. Given that the focus of the Bible is upon mankind and that Christ spoke in parables, we are directed to see the unclean animals as representing the unsaved.

 

Let’s consider another verse that illustrates this.

 

We read in Matthew 7:6:

 

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

 

In Matthew 7:6, God talks about “dogs” and “swine”.

 

 

Is God talking about animals or the unsaved?

 

 

There is no doubt that God is talking about the unsaved in Matthew 7:6.

 

 

However, someone could insist that God is talking about literal animals and could ask for proof that literal animals are not in view.

 

 

It might be difficult to prove that God is not talking about literal “dogs” and “swine” in Matthew 7:6. However, when we know that Christ spoke in parables and that the Bible is focused upon mankind, we know that God is talking about the unsaved in Matthew 7:6.

 

 

We read in Proverbs 27:23:

 

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.

 

Proverbs 27:23 talks about “flocks” and “herds”.

 

 

Someone could insist that God is only speaking of caring for animals in Proverbs 27:23. However, when we know that Christ spoke in parables and that the Bible is focused upon mankind, then we know God is speaking about the mankind.

 

This is also true of Isaiah 34:10-16.

 

 

If we examine Isaiah 34:10-16 carefully, we will see that God has put additional clues in this passage to indicate that God cannot be talking about literal animals in this passage.

 

 

Isaiah 34 is examined in greater detail in the study of the proofs of the eternal suffering of the unsaved. Please see that study for a more detailed explanation of Isaiah 34.

 

 

Please see the study oF THE Biblical PROOFS OF THE ETERNAL SUFFERING OF THE UNSAVED

 

 

We will now examine Isaiah 34:10-16 to see clues that God has put in these verses to show us that this passage cannot be talking about literal animals, but must be talking about unsaved man.

 

 

We read in verses 11-12:

 

11  But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.

12  They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.

 

In verse 11 God is talking about unclean animals.

 

Then in verse 12, God says “They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there”.

 

The Hebrew word translated “nobles” is used 13 times in the Bible, and is always translated as “nobles” and always refers to people, or to God Himself. It is never used to refer to animals or anything other than people or God.

 

Here are some example verses with this Hebrew word:

 

1 Kings 21:8  So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles <02715> that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

 

Nehemiah 2:16  And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles <02715>, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

 

Ecclesiastes 10:17  Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles <02715>, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

 

This Hebrew word translated “nobles” in Isaiah 34:12 is always used to speak about people or God. It is never used to speak about animals or anything else.

 

Therefore, by following the Biblical rule of 1 Corinthians 2:13 to compare Scripture with Scriptures, we know that the “nobles” in Isaiah 34:12 must be referring to people. Or, it could refer to God, who is also a “man” and is the most “noble”.

 

 

The “they” that are calling are the “cormorant”, “bittern”, “owl” and “raven”.

 

 

Isaiah 34:11-12 is teaching that these unclean birds will call upon the “nobles”, who are man or God. However, literal animals do not call upon people or God. Only man calls upon his fellow man or God. The use of the word “nobles” shows that these animals cannot be literal animals.

 

 

They will call, but “but none shall be there”. They will receive no help.

 

As explained in the detailed study of Isaiah 34, this verse is parallel to Luke 16:24-25 in which the rich man in hell is asking for help, but the “nobles”, God, represented by Abraham, and the true believers are not able to help.

 

Animals do not call to nobles, to people or God. Only mankind calls out to “nobles”, which is God and the true believers. Therefore, this word “nobles” is only used to refer to mankind.

 

 

2. The unclean animals in Isaiah 34:11-12 cannot be literal animals. Animals do not call to people. But, the unsaved in hell will be calling to God for help, the highest “nobles”, as indicated in Luke 16:24-25.

 

 

We also read in Isaiah 34:12, “all her princes shall be nothing”.

 

The “her” would have to refer to the unclean animals.

 

When God talks about “princes”, he is talking about mankind or God Himself. The “princes” can be secular princes or they can be religious princes. In any case, “princes” are people and not animals.

 

We don’t see this Hebrew word translated “princes” used to speak of animals.

 

 

3. By using the word “princes” in verse 12, God is directing that the unclean animals in Isaiah 34:11-16 represent people, the unsaved. They cannot represent literal animals. Animals are not “princes”. This word “princes” is always used to refer to people or God Himself. 

 

 

We read the word “nothing” and wonder if that teaches that the unsaved will be annihilated.

 

We answer this question by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

 

We find this same Hebrew word in these verses:

 

Isaiah 40:17  All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing <0657>, and vanity.

 

Isaiah 41:29  Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing <0657>: their molten images are wind and confusion.

 

This same Hebrew word translated “nothing” in Isaiah 34:12 is found in Isaiah 40:17 and 41:29. These verses help provide a definition for this Hebrew word.

 

In Isaiah 40:17, God says that all of the nations of the world are counted to him “less than nothing”. This does not mean that these nations do not exist. Rather, it means that in comparison to the greatness of God, the nations of the world are “nothing”.

 

In the same way, the unsaved in the lake of fire, including their “princes”, will be “nothing” in the sight of God. They will exist, but they will be like the nations. They will be “nothing” in comparison to God. They will be vanity.

 

Isaiah 41:29 speaks of the idols that unsaved man makes. To God, their works are “nothing”. Their works exist, but God values them as “nothing”. According to Isaiah 34:12, God will value the unsaved in the lake of fire the same way.

 

 

God has provided even stronger proofs in verse 14 that the unclean animals must represent the unsaved.

 

 

We read in Isaiah 34:14:

 

The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

 

 

The phrase “wild beasts of the desert” is actually only one word in the Hebrew language.

 

This word is only used a few times. We find it in the following other verses:

 

Psalms 72:9  They that dwell in the wilderness <06728> shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.

 

Psalms 74:14  Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness <06728>.

 

Isaiah 13:21  But wild beasts of the desert <06728> shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

 

Isaiah 23:13  Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness <06728>: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.

 

Jeremiah 50:39  Therefore the wild beasts of the desert <06728> with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.

 

Isaiah 23:13 and Jeremiah 50:39 are similar to Isaiah 34:14. These two verses do not provide a definition for this Hebrew word.

 

However, in the other 3 verses, Psalm 72:9, Psalm 74:14 and Isaiah 23:13, God uses this same Hebrew word in a way that cannot speak about animals.

 

In Psalm 74:14, we might wonder what it means that leviathan was given to be “meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness”.

 

The word “leviathan” points to satan.

 

We see a similar idea in Psalm 79:2 speaking about the believers during the first part of the Great Tribulation.

 

We read there:

 

The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat <03978> unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

 

Psalm 79:2 talks about the victory of the unsaved over the true believers during the first part of the Great Tribulation, the first 2,300 days. The unsaved had the victory in the sense that they were able to take over in all of the churches when the Holy Spirit left.

 

We see the same Hebrew word translated “meat”. The true believers are “meat” for the fowls of the heaven indicating the defeat of the true believers during the first part of the Great Tribulation.

 

We see from Psalm 79:2 that God can use the idea of being given as “meat” to teach the defeat of someone.

 

This is the idea of Psalm 74:14. We read there again:

 

Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness <06728>.

 

Here we read about the defeat of satan, called “leviathan” in this verse. He and his whole kingdom will be defeated. The fact that he is given to be “meat” ties into Psalm 79:2 to indicate satan’s defeat. The victory will be given to the true believers.

 

 

Let’s go back to Isaiah 34:14 and review what we can learn there. We read there:

 

The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

 

 

The underlined phrase, “wild beasts of the desert”, is one Hebrew word.

 

To understand what God means by this Hebrew word, we have to look at every place this word is used and ask the question:

 

 

Does this Hebrew word refer to mankind or animals or could it be either?

 

 

We saw this same Hebrew word in Isaiah 13:21 and Jeremiah 50:39 used in a similar way. However, those verses do not answer the question if this Hebrew word must signify mankind or animals or if it could be either one.

 

We also saw that this same Hebrew word is in the following verses:

 

Psalms 72:9  They that dwell in the wilderness <06728> shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.

 

Psalms 74:14  Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness <06728>.

 

Isaiah 23:13  Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness <06728>: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.

 

When we examine these 3 verses, we find that each of them can only be speaking about people. It is mankind that bows before God as in Psalm 72:9. It is mankind that receives the victory of salvation when Christ defeats satan as in Psalm 74:14. It is mankind that dwells in the land of the Chaldeans as indicated in Isaiah 23:13.

 

 

It is not possible that animals could fit for any of these verses.

 

 

The problem is that in Isaiah 13:21, 34:14 and Jeremiah 50:39, the translators were thinking about animals because of the context, so they added the words “wild beasts” which do not belong.

 

 

When we check how the Hebrew word translated “wild beasts of the desert” in Isaiah 34:14 is used in other places of the Bible, we find that it is used in verses in which it can only refer to mankind. God is defining this Hebrew word as referring to mankind. In Isaiah 34:14 it refers to unsaved man. The translators added the word “beast” which does not belong and causes confusion.

 

 

 

God has given another word in Isaiah 34:14 that also refers only to mankind. We read:

 

The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

 

 

The underlined phrase, “wild beasts of the island”, is one Hebrew word.

 

This Hebrew word is actually used fairly frequently in the Bible, more than 30 times. It is most commonly translated “isles” or “islands”. This Hebrew word is used in many verses that can only refer to mankind. Sometimes it can refer to continents where mankind lives.

 

 

This Hebrew word is never used to speak of animals.

 

 

Here are some example verses with this same Hebrew word:

 

Psalms 97:1  The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles <0339> be glad thereof.

 

Isaiah 41:1  Keep silence before me, O islands <0339>; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

 

Isaiah 41:5  The isles <0339> saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.

 

Isaiah 42:4  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles <0339> shall wait for his law.

 

Isaiah 42:10  Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles <0339>, and the inhabitants thereof.

 

Isaiah 49:1  Listen, O isles <0339>, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

 

Isaiah 51:5  My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles <0339> shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

 

Isaiah 59:18  According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands <0339> he will repay recompence.

 

Isaiah 60:9  Surely the isles <0339> shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.

 

Ezekiel 26:18  Now shall the isles <0339> tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles <0339> that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure.

 

Ezekiel 27:15  The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles <0339> were the merchandise of thine hand: they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony.

 

 

In each of the above verses, God is speaking about people. He is not speaking about animals.

 

Sometimes God uses this Hebrew word in a way that can refer to the continents or the nations of the world where man dwells. However, it is never used to refer to literal animals.

 

 

We remember that God defines words by how He uses them in the Bible.

 

 

God defines words by how He uses them in the Bible. In the case of this Hebrew word translated “wild beasts of the island” in Isaiah 34:14, God never uses it to refer to literal animals. However, many times God uses this Hebrew word to refer to mankind.

 

The translators added the word “beasts” which causes confusion. It does not belong in the translation.

 

Because many of the words in Isaiah 34:11-16 refer to animals, the translators were encouraged to add the word “beasts” in the translation of these two words. That was improper.

 

The translators did not understand that God put these two Hebrew words in Isaiah 34:11-16 so that we could know that God is not talking about literal animals. Rather, God is talking about unsaved man.

 

 

In Isaiah 34:14, God has put two Hebrew words that cannot signify literal animals. Rather, they are used to signify mankind. By this, God is indicating that Isaiah 34:11-16 must be talking about mankind. The confusion comes because the translators added the word “beasts” which does not belong.

 

 

We have these same two Hebrew words in Isaiah 13:19-22 and Jeremiah 50:39-40. We read there:

 

Isaiah 13:19-22:

19 Ά And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20  It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

21  But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

22  And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

 

Jeremiah 50:39-40:

39  Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.

40  As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.

 

 

Both passages have the same two Hebrew words that we studied above. The underlined phrases are those two Hebrew words.

 

Both of those Hebrew words are never used to indicate literal animals. They are used to indicate mankind.

 

The translators have added the word “beast” in the translation, but this has served to confuse. These two Hebrew words are never used to refer to literal animals.

 

 

The presence of these two Hebrew words shows that Isaiah 13:19-22 and Jeremiah 50:39-40 are not speaking of literal animals. Rather, they are speaking about mankind, specifically unsaved mankind.

 

 

 

Isaiah 13:19-22 and Jeremiah 50:39-40 contain language that has been used as a proof text for annihilation. This has happened due to a lack of comparing Scripture with Scripture, remembering that Christ spoke in parables.

 

We read language like “It shall never be inhabited”.

 

Some argue that this is describing a world with just animals that is void of mankind because all of the unsaved have been annihilated.

 

However, when we follow the Biblical rules in our study, we find that God is talking about the unsaved people themselves. Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah represent the unsaved people themselves and that they, the unsaved themselves, shall never be inhabited by God Himself. That is, God will completely abandon the unsaved at Judgment Day.

 

To help with understanding the phrases “no man shall abide there” or “it shall never be inhabited”, we have prepared a study that examines many verses that define what God means by these phrases.

 

Please see the study: Do phrases like “no man shall abide there” or “it shall never be inhabited” teach annihilation?

 

 

DO PHRASES LIKE “NO MAN SHALL ABIDE THERE” OR “IT SHALL NEVER BE INHABITED” TEACH ANNIHILATION?

 

 

We see the reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in these passages. Jude 7 has been used as a proof text of annihilation. However, a wrong translation of two words in that verses has resulted in a big misunderstanding of it. Please see the study on Jude 7 for a Biblical understanding of that verse and an important related verse, 2 Peter 2:6.

 

 

PLEASE SEE THE STUDY ON JUDE 7

 

 

A careful examination of Isaiah 13:19-22, 34:10-16 and Jeremiah 50:39-40 shows those animals must refer to unsaved mankind. They cannot refer to literal animals. God has put sufficient clues in these passages so that we can know that they are speaking of the unsaved, and not literal animals.

 

 

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