Monday, October 18, 2010

Isaiah 3

"Jerusalem stumbled" (vs. 1-9)--Chapter 3 starts with "for" thus indicating a continuation of the subject explored at the end of chapter 2. Because of Judah's sins, the Lord will take away their needed sustenance--"the stock and the store, the whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water" (v. 1). Their soldiers will not be able to help them (v. 2), indicating that they will be conquered by the military of another land (in this case, Babylon), nor will any of their great or talented people--judge, prophet, diviner, elder, counselor, artisan, or "the expert enchanter" (vs. 2-3). There will be no leadership; so weak will they be that "babes shall rule over them" (v. 4). The people will be oppressed, and there will be no respect given to those to whom it should be due (v. 5). So desperate will they be for leadership that anybody will be accepted as ruler (v. 6), but nobody wants the job (v. 7). Why? "For Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen" (v. 8), because what they said and what they did was "against the Lord". And apparently they were so proud of it at the time that they openly admitted it; thus they will bring their punishment upon themselves (v. 9). Keep in mind that, in these early chapters, Isaiah is prophesying of a destruction that is well over 100 years in the future.

The failure of leadership (vs. 10-12)--All people need good leaders; Israel did not have them. While the Lord knows the righteous and will take care of them (v. 10), "Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him" (v. 11). It was a leadership problem: "O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths" (v. 12). So weak are they, that children will oppress them (figuratively, of course) and "women will rule over them" (v. 12). In a masculine, patriarchal society, there can be few things more shameful than that.

The Lord speaks (vs. 13-26)--Jehovah pleads with and judges all the people (v. 13), but there will apparently be a harsher judgment (as there should be) for the "elders of His people and His princes" (v. 14). Oppression of the poor was a major crime mentioned in this section (vs. 14-15). The Bible speaks repeatedly of a special responsibility we have to the needy poor; laziness, though, is condemned (cf. Prov. 10:26; 18:9; II Thess. 3:10). The Lord also has a message for the debauched women of the day--they will be shamed (vs. 16-17). All of their "finery" (v. 18), and the multitudes of exorbitant luxuries will be taken away from them. Quite a list is given in verses 18-23. And instead of the richness they enjoyed, there would "a stench," "a rope," "baldness," a "girding of sackcloth," and "branding instead of beauty" (v. 24). The "branding" ("burning," KJV) apparently has reference to a sunburnt skin, caused by the removal of the fine, protective clothing they had had. Soldiers will not be able to defend them in that day, and "her gates" (Jerusalem) "shall lament and mourn," with no place to sit (v. 26). Jerusalem's destruction would begin at the very gates and infiltrate the whole city.

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