Today: [Isaiah 3] It Shall be Well with the Righteous. In chapter 3 of Isaiah we see the elite classes and the ruling class targeted in the crosshairs of Isaiah’s prophesies. Because the culture of the ancient city of Jerusalem has been lulled to sleep by decadence and sinful habits Isaiah predicts a season when competent leaders will stumble by their policies into all out war that will bring much suffering to the city and the nation. In the midst of great chastisement however the promise to the righteous is that it will be well with them for God will reward them according to their doings.
[Isa 3:1-26 KJV] 1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, 2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, 3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. 4 And I will give children [to be] their princes, and babes shall rule over them. 5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. 6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, [saying], Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and [let] this ruin [be] under thy hand: 7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house [is] neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people. 8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings [are] against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory.
In verse 1 of our chapter we see the double expression “the Lord, the Lord of host” which is translated 532 times in the Old Testament as “Lord God”. It is inclusive of the covenantal name of God contrasted with the earliest use “Elohim” which means “the Creator El and His Family”. There is controversy suggesting that there was an effort by very early copyists and evidence suggesting that there are places that Elohim was referenced originally and substituted for “Lord God” later on. The “Lord God” or “the Lord, the Lord of hosts” is equivalent to our reference to our own leader as “commander and chief”. God is trying to get our attention. It is as though a parent would say to a distracted child who refuses to listen “I am your Father and you are going to pay attention to what I am saying…”
Isaiah has earlier equated Jerusalem with Sodom and Gomorrah and derided it for being full of murderers and hypocrites. He predicts lack of bread and a total loss of water supply. During times of siege that came later under Hezekiah (in Isaiah’s lifetime) this was a very real threat. Not only is there to be a loss of bread and water but also a loss of honorable leaders. The mighty man, the man of war, the prudent judge and the eloquent orator are to be taken from the nation because of her sins and her lackadaisical attitude toward the things of God. In place of competent leaders the people will be foisted upon with leaders who are babes and childish. In the recent election cycle in the United States the one thing both parties agreed upon was the lack of a good quality candidate.
On both sides of the political scene voters saw themselves as voting for the lesser of two evils. The rhetoric and vernacular of both candidates has been childish, unpresidential and immature. A sobering thought that this is the character of those who now have their hand on the trigger of nuclear holocaust over our nation. In Isaiah’s day the two earlier kings of his time serving as prophet to the nation were good kings. Jotham’s son Ahaz however in 1 Kings 16:2 “did not that which was right before the Lord” and as a result according to Isaiah’s prediction the city was besieged by invaders. In order to buy off the besieging armies Ahaz pillaged the temple, stripping the gold and silver and desecrating the altar itself to save his own hide. In our own day there is an increasing call to weaken the protections of the non-profit sector including the churches in order to siphon off by taxes the billions of dollars held in the name of God in order to reduce the national debt incurred by incompetent leaders. A sobering thought indeed.
9 The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide [it] not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves. 10 Say ye to the righteous, that [it shall be] well [with him]: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. 11 Woe unto the wicked! [it shall be] ill [with him]: for the reward of his hands shall be given him. 12 [As for] my people, children [are] their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause [thee] to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. 13 The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. 14 The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor [is] in your houses. 15 What mean ye [that] ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts. 16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing [as] they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: 17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.
In verse 9 Isaiah declares the sin of the city to be evident in the very faces of its population. Nothing is hidden anymore. Ungodly lifestyles and sinful habits are flagrantly flaunted as merely the triumph of personal choice and individualism. As though to give a moment’s respite Isaiah pauses to comfort the righteous who stand aghast at what Isaiah says is coming. He encourages them that in spite of the difficulties ahead it will be well with them for they will eat the fruit of their doings. This was true during the days that Jesus Himself declared that Jerusalem would be left desolate and the temple destroyed, yet the people of God were rejoicing going from house to house eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. In times when darkness comes if we will listen to our God we will have light and rejoicing though all around us is insecurity and difficulty.
Isaiah describes the Lord standing up against the oppression of the poor who have been pillaged at the expense of the upper classes. Isaiah accuses the wealthy of increasing themselves at the expense of those less fortunate. In verse 15 God demands an accounting for policies of government and society that have in effect “beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces (spirits) of the poor…” Not a very conservative platform for God to stand on at this moment. Isaiah goes on to excoriate the hedonism and sexually laced fashions of the day declaring that for all her vanity Jerusalem will suffer with a scourge of sexually transmitted diseases not just against the city but among the very elite class of the daughters of Zion. From the sexual revolution in the 60’s we have see the epidemic rise of sexual diseases compounded by the commercialization of sex laden themes in the marketplace that has found its way into our courts to where now lifestyles of debauchery and degradation have been declared a protected class and Christian business people have been stripped of their goods and livelihood in some cases and ordered by the courts to attend re-education programs till they acknowledge the legitimacy of perversion all around them. All the while the church slumbers and goes on as though these things will never really touch them.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of [their] tinkling ornaments [about their feet], and [their] cauls, and [their] round tires like the moon, 19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21 The rings, and nose jewels, 22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. 24 And it shall come to pass, [that] instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; [and] burning instead of beauty. 25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. 26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she [being] desolate shall sit upon the ground.
The predictions of Isaiah during Uzzah and Jotham’s reign come to pass in Ahaz’s time and after Hezekiah’s day during which time Isaiah is lashed to a stock and sawn in to because he has prophesied so accurately. The vanity of the culture into which Isaiah has been called to prophesy will be severely challenged and ultimately the city and the southern kingdom brutalized by all out war brought to her very gates. In our day when we have seen the fall of the twin towers and the scourge of terrorism we cannot but observe the similarities of Isaiah’s day to our own. Our only comfort is this in verse 10 that it will be well with the righteous because they shall eat the fruit of their doings. In spite of difficulties coming upon the earth that seem at times to be without end God will ever care for and protect His beloved.
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