Saturday, March 08, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 3 (2)

For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

The Lord has taken his place to contend; he stands to judge peoples. The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord God of hosts.

The Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.

In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground. (Is. 3:9-26)

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.” (Is. 4:1)

The terrible judgment of the Lord continues. The Lord pronounces judgment on Israel as bein flagrantly boasting in their sins, likening them to Sodom where such a moral breakdown has happened. Looking to modern-day America and the glorification of all manner of sin on MTV and the media should show one what our Lord thinks of this abomination, which is a sign of His impending judgment on such a debased culture, which does not even blush and hide their sinfulness, glorying in their shame (Phil. 3:19). And Isaiah pronounces woe on them because they WILL reap the fruit of their evil (v. 9b). Sin is not really pleasurable; it may be so in the short term but like a boomerang, it will rebound and destroy the sinner. The elders and princes have devoured the vineyard of the Lord (v. 14), and in turn the Lord have given them rebellious sons and daughters who are insolent to them (v. 5b). Sin always have consequences, and such consequences will bring grief to the one who sins by coming back to destroy them.

Yet despite all this ongoing degradation and debauchery, those who are righteous are told to rejoice, for they shall eat the fruit of the wicked (v. 10). The wicked will amass treasures which they will not enjoy, and the righteous will inherit them for their enjoyment.

The Lord continues in judgment on the wicked, and will pay them back according to the measure of their wickedness. Verse 12 restates God's judgment in verse 4 and show the useless leaders which are given to them by God as judgment (mis)leading them into destruction. Since they do not desire godly leaders, God gave them what they desire unto their own destruction. And yet God will hold these leaders accountable for their wickedness (v. 14). They have devoured the vineyard of the Lord, a phrase which aptly serves as a metaphor of God's Kingdom and Rule in the Church, the spiritual Israel. That it is followed with the phrase "the spoil of the poor is in your houses' indicates that such is the manifestation of the devouring the vineyard of the Lord. And to leave us with no illusion and uncertainty as to who the poor are, verse 15 contains a parallelism which shows the poor as referring to God's people.

Contrary to Liberation theology, such an identification does not make all of the poor God's people, or that God favors the poor or that we should focus on the poor. Rather, in context, the wicked rulers would rule against those who are righteous and would not compromise their values, thus the godly people will become the poor. This applied equally to the entire book of Isaiah, Jeremiah and in fact across the prophetic books. This can be seen as God mentioning the devouring of His Vineyard (symbolizing the Church) as being manifested in taking away their posessions (spoils of the poor), thus showing forth the oppression of the godly by the wicked. And such people are being fattened for the day of slaughter (Jas. 5:5), when the Lord will judge them for their wickedness in terrible wrath and fury.

Next, the Lord judges the women of Israel, the daughters of Zion. They are content in their outward beauty and much jewellery and strut around in pride like peacocks. They are haughty with outstretched necks and their eyes are described as glancing wantonly, conjuring up the image of prostitutes (Prov. 7:10-20) and degenerate women. As judgment against them, God will remove all their jewellery (v. 18-23) and strike their beauty — causing an ugly scab to grow on their head and laying bare their secret parts in utter humiliation and shame (v. 17). God will furthermore substitute their perfume for rotten stench, and make them ugly and disgusting to all (v. 24).

Verse 25-26 reiterates God's condemnation and sentence of destruction upon Israel. The people will be destroyed, the young men will fall by the sword, and the cities will be empty and destitute, with broken and destroyed gates. As they have devoured the vineyard of the Lord, God will 'devour' them with destruction, which we all know did finally happen when King Nebucchadnezzar of Babylon razed Jerusalem to the ground, a mere one to two hundred years after the passing of Isaiah.

Chapter 4 verse 1 follows the flow from the previous chapter. The judgment against the haughty women of Israel is disfigurement, disgrace and humiliation, and the young men were killed. This create a calumity, as there are almost no men left and the women are not beautiful also. Scarcely can there even be found seven women to one man, though we must think of this more symbolically, which means it may even be worse. The situation is so dire that the women would not just wait for someone but even force themselves on any man just to take away their reproach. As it can be seen, they would even volunteer to take care of themselves (eat our own bread, wear our own clothes) and not ask the man to take care of them, but just to be called by his name. We must realize that in the Jewish culture, having no father/ husband is similar to having no root and no identity, thus such an attitude on the women's part.

So what can we learn from this? For us individually, we must realize that sins always have natural consequences, not just the 'supernatural' outpouring of God's wrath for sins. God will use this boomerang effect to punish the sinner and cause them grief. We can see this also in society, as the previous generation always is appalled at the extent in which the next generation take their rebellion against God in its effect on society. Sin never pays well, and all will suffer its most bitter consequences. For example, the most recent Feminist rebellion in the 1950s-70s in America has boomeranged into the bondage of women in peer pressure into having sex (whether they like it or not), lesbianism, and subjected to the whole array of destructive influences in society which they were mostly protected from. In society, we will always reap what we sow, even in and especially in the Church. Those who compromise in their association with heretics will find to their own horror that the next generation will compromise the Gospel, and the generation after that will detest and discard the Gospel. Therefore, do not play with sin in your life, whether individually or corporately. As it has been said, "You either destroy sin or sin will destroy you". So repent and strive to follow Christ in absolute obedience, never once giving an excuse or opening for it.

2 comments:

Joe Blackmon said...

Daniel

Very encouraging post. Thanks

PuritanReformed said...

Joe,

thanks. You're very welcome.