The devastation of the earth (24:16b to 20)
Returning to the subject of the trial, Isaiah expresses his grief that although God is being praised by crowds from the ends of the earth, the judgment of the world will continue to run: "I am ruined, ruined! Woe to me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously. "
Isaiah emphasizes the impossibility of escape from the trials in the next two verses.
In verse 17, he introduces three elements of which the earth's inhabitants can not escape: the fear, the pit, and the snare. Those who escape the terror will fall into the pit, and those who try to escape from the pit will be caught in the snare. Indeed, the trials of the Great Tribulation are inescapable.
In verse 18 there is a reference to the flood, "the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth are shaken. " They are similar to assertions that have been made about the flood of Noah's time in Genesis 7:11 and 8:2. As with the flood, the judgments will fall upon all the earth and its inhabitants, destroying much of humanity, leaving only a small remnant. The book of Revelation tells us that at the end of the Great Tribulation, between two-thirds and three-quarters of Earth's surface and its population will have been destroyed.
Verses 19:20 confirm again that one of the Tribulation purpose is to give an end to the transgression, "and its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again ."
In verse 19, the Hebrew text is even more emphatic and literally translates as follows: "Felling, there is a shattering of the earth; all cracked, there is a crack through the earth; shaken, there is a shaking of the earth." In verse 20, as these judgments are poured out upon the earth by God, it appears to be intoxicated. The earth is shaken so violently that it staggers like a drunk. If it could be seen from the moon, the earth would be seen swinging like a hammock, unable to straighten its path around the sun, but staggering forward and back as if the earth were a drunken globe.
In conclusion, it is stated in verse 20 that the earth's transgression will fall and not rise again, thus fulfilling the purpose of the Great Tribulation.
16 ...But I said, "I am ruined, ruined! Woe to me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously, indeed, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously."
17 Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth.
18 And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who comes up from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare; for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth are shaken.
19 The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again.
Isaiah chapter 24, verses 16b to 20