Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 2 (2)

For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners. Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots. Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. So man is humbled, and each one is brought low—do not forgive them! Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty. The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the lofty mountains, and against all the uplifted hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away. And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty,when he rises to terrify the earth.

In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. Stop regarding manin whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? (Is. 2:6-22)

After proclaiming the future glory of the Kingdom of God which will come, Isaiah prophesied against apostate Israel, who we have seen has been practising syncretism. Here Isaiah goes futher into the sins of Israel, and judge them as being full of things in the East (v. 6). East here refers mainly to Babylon which is east of Israel, and is and also symbolizes the mother of all harlots (Rev. 17:5), as the city is the site of Babel, the original place of post-flood rebellion (Gen. 11: 1-9). Therefore, such an indictment against Israel is stating that Israel has imported idolatry from the source of all idolatry itself, Babylon! Like the Philistines their immediate, most hated mortal enemy, they have embraced fortune tellers. Between idolatry and sorcery, Israel has embraced a practice that is an abomination to God, being spiritual depravity of the worst kind. They are then stated as striking hands with the children of foreigners, which prove their spiritual adultary as they refuse to keep themselves separate but instead make all manner of alliances with the ungodly despite God's commands to do otherwise (cf Lev. 20:22-27).

Verse 7 describes the extent of their material wealth. Unlike the teachings of propserity teachers, prosperity is not necessarily a good thing. God states here the richness and material abundance of the Jews here. Though probably not as rich as the times of Solomon (1 Kings 10:27), there was still material abundance in this present time of apostasy. Horses and chariots, which denote military might, were aplenty too. Yet with all their propserity, Israel prostituted herself to vile idols, the works of her hands (v. 8). And because of this, God's hot wrath will come upon her, and will not spare her in his justice against their sins and iniquities.

In this day of the Lord of judgment against Israel, all Man would be humbled before God (v. 9). God will not forgive these unrepentant sinners (v. 9b), whose haughty looks will be brought low and their lofty pride humbled (v. 11, 17). They will hide, or at least try to do so as God executes His judgment upon the ungodly (v. 10). God will on that day punish all that rear itself up against Him in prideful rebellion (v. 12): those who pride themselves on their inherent and material strength (like the cedars of Lebanon and the oask of Bashan - v. 13), those who pride on their 'strong' foundation which is not that of the Lord and their lofty position (lofty moutains and uplifted hills - v. 14), those who take pride and have false confidence in their military strength and prowess (high tower and fortified wall - v. 15), and those who take pride and have false confidence in in luxuries, physical beauty and elegance (ships of Tarshish and beautiful craft - v. 16). All things which Man boast in would be taken away from them when God comes in judgment against their haughtiness and loftiness. Such a judgment would render people trembling in fear before God's coming judgment against them, and their idols will be seen to be totally worthless and destroyed by the Lord (v. 18). Man will then cast them all away as being totally worthless. That the idols are said to be cast to the moles and the bats (v. 20) show that the degree of abandonment of these idols which were once formerly valued. And they will try to hide in caverns of rock and clefts of cliffs (v. 21) trying futilely to hide from God's hot wrath against them (cf Rev. 6:15). In conclusion of this passage, God then exorts Man not to place their confidence in the themselves and the works of their hands, for they are but breath — fragile and weak; here today, gone tomorrow (Is. 40:7)

So what does all of this say to us? Although this prophecy have an immediate partial fulfilment in the day of judgment against Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, there is still a coming future judgment when Jesus comes again which will completely fulfil this prophecy. And thus, like Israel, we are exhorted not to trust in Man nor the works of Man. Health, wealth, strength and successes are elusive and the security they provide are but illusions. Regardless of how wealthy, how healthy or how successful anyone is, all of this will benefit them nothing on the day of judgment when God's wrath will be revealed against them (Rom. 1:18; 2:5). As it is written, what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his own soul (Mt. 16:26; Mk. 8:36)? O sinner, why are you continuing to chase after the wind for what does not benefit you nor save you from the final judgment? Rather, turn to Christ alone and let Him alone be your hiding place, your refuge and shelter from the coming storm of God's wrath which is even now hanging over the world ready to be poured on it.

No comments: