Monthly Archives: August 2017

Isaiah Chapter 3: Culture of Youth and Beauty — Post by Mary C. Findley

430px-August_Riedel_Judith_1840
Sounds like Jerusalem and Judah had it pretty good, right? Look over that list of material provision (support system, food, water) and leadership (military, judiciary, teachers, advisers, craftsmen, and someone who may have been a charismatic speaker or influencer). The use of the phrase skillful enchanter gives us a hint that they weren’t sourcing any of their things or their leaders from the right place.

We worship a culture of youth and have for a long time, and here God gives people what they want, youngsters in charge, with disastrous results. People begin to take advantage of each other and the honorable suffer at the hands of these childish rulers. One guy with an intact coat will be grabbed and thrust into leadership, if anybody can make him do it. Apparently nobody will have much more than a coat in those days. Certainly not a will to give proper leadership.

Verses 8 and 9 make it clear that the people oppose God and flaunt their rebellion. When disaster comes, they can’t pretend it wasn’t their own fault. Public sins have public consequences.

Time to reassure the righteous in verse 10. No matter how bad things seem to get, it will go well with them. And in verse 11 another reassurance we often need when, as the Scriptures say in other places, this question hangs in the air: “Why do the wicked prosper?” God says things will turn bad for the wicked. “Let the punishment fit the crime,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado says. God says the wicked will get what they deserve.

Once again God restates in verse 12 that His people are oppressed because they wanted unsuitable rulers – immature, inexperienced, leading the people down twisting paths.
God will judge these rulers. Make no mistake. I’m pretty sure those crushing and grinding references refer at least in part to taxes. People tend to think that government takes care of the poor with welfare and social services. But it doesn’t work that way when corruption takes hold. God is outraged at the twisted mentality that steals from people who already have too little.

Verses 16-24 detail a culture that should be very recognizable to us today. Is it a sin to want to be beautiful and have pretty things? Look at the words used: proud, seductive. Women can bring down a whole culture by worshiping self, sexuality, beauty. Dressing little girls in revealing outfits is starting them down the road to sensuality without reserve. Females scream about their rights and their freedoms Modesty has become kind of an obsolete term but God hates that mentality.

God will send scabs into that beautiful hair. He will make it fall out, or pluck it out. All that long list of pretty things will disappear and be replaced by stench, coarseness, and disfigurement.

The men they have gotten themselves dressed up for will be dying in battle, trying to save their women, but failing. All that emphasis on self, on attracting attention, will change to mourning and loneliness.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
1. What clues indicate that God’s people were prosperous but not by depending on Him?
2. Briefly explain what kinds of oppression take place when the wrong kind of rulers get into power.
3. What are some proofs that these people deserve what they get when destruction overtakes them?
4. Give examples in modern culture of women lacking understanding of modesty.
5. Do you think women have in some cases made it more difficult for men to protect them? Explain your answer.

Your Turn in the Microcosm
Can you see any way in which Isaiah 3 resembles Leviticus? God spelled out laws, described beautiful garments, and even gave proper age ranges for his different kinds of servants. The story of Nadab and Abihu might help provide an example that parallels how people sometimes respond to God’s expectations. There are rewards and punishments in Leviticus. Step into the microcosm and share your observations on how we should really be seeking God’s blessing or avoiding His wrath.

Image Credit: Artist August Riedel Title: Judith Current location: Neue Pinakothek Source/Photographer: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen Wikimedia Commons

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Isaiah Chapter Two — Post by Mary C. Findley

gold sky people

What are “the last days?” According to many Bible teachers, they are the time when the Lord has returned to govern the earth. Some people think they want to go to Heaven and be with God forever. Some think we never actually go there, but will live forever on earth. The beginning of this chapter seems to indicate that God will establish a place of worship on earth, in the New Jerusalem.

Whatever and wherever this place is, I want to be there.

And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

What would it be like to just have everyone want to go to God’s house and learn God’s ways? Right now we do everything we can to wriggle out of it. Commentator Matt Walsh said we are insane in America, trying to find reasons why going to church isn’t really a thing anymore when people in other parts of the world are dying to be able to go to church.

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25)

When the Lord is the judge of all the world, there will be peace. Weapons become farm implements. Whoever says they are working for world peace and isn’t willing for God to be in charge is deceived or a deceiver. So many people know that verse about the plows and the swords but so few want that dominion to come. Submission to God means we lose our freedom, right? (I speak as a fool.)

Verse 6 says God abandoned His people? What? No! God never does that, does He? Well, if He did, why would He do it? Verses 6-9 explain that there seems to have been so much stuff in the land that there wasn’t any room for God. There are those influences of the east again, like we brought up in the last chapter. Mystical things and just plain things have crowded God out. Every class of people found itself devolving, losing touch with spiritual reality, forcing God out. And so, He went, because He wasn’t wanted.
He’s coming back, though, whenever “in that day” is, to humble mankind out of those feeling that they are on top of the world. Hide under the dust and rocks, people. Only the Lord should be on top of the world. This day of reckoning is when God says, “No more. No more idols, no more stuff, everybody down on the ground. Hide if you can …” but you can’t.

Terror and splendor don’t usually go together. But they look good on God. At least, they would, if we could look at Him. People will be too busy trying to survive, to hide, to toss away those objects of worship. Did Adam and Eve eat that whole fruit they took and shared? Or did they toss it, dig a hole and bury it, try in some way to hide it?
Some people hunt for buried treasure. Looking at the passage where it describes the mountains of riches these people accumulated, and their idols of silver and gold, I wonder how much buried treasure there will be when the Lord rises to make the earth tremble. (v. 19) No one will go hunt for it though.

The key to what people are really putting ahead of God is in verse 22. “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?” People don’t really worship those false gods or those things. They worship themselves. Until they accept God’s humbling, they will never understand how terror and splendor can bring salvation.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
Briefly comment on what you think “the last days” means. Use two or three Scriptures as support.
What are reasons people give to justify not going to church? Are there any legitimate ones?
Why would God abandon His people?
What is man really worshiping instead of God? What is necessary for that to stop?
Your Turn in the Microcosm
Does Isaiah 2 in any way echo the message of the Book of Exodus? Does it show people insisting that they want to follow God? Any incidences of people seeing God’s clear provision and commands but shoving off in the other direction? Please share your thoughts on these parallels you find on your trip into the Isaiah Microcosm.

This is part 2 in an occasional series for a future book I am calling “The Isaiah Microcosm” Please let me know your thoughts on these posts, and how you would answer the questions at the end.

Image Credit: Composite of sunrise image by Paulbr75 and crowd scene by puzzleboxrecords on Pixabay Public Domain

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