Isaiah 3-5 and Psalm 97
Today’s word from Isaiah is hard, difficult to read, extremely sad when I think about the population that is affected. He has no choice but to tell it like it is–God has provided a vision, the story must be told.
Judah is falling;
their words and deeds are against the Lord,
defying his glorious presence.
The look on their faces testifies against them;
they parade their sin like Sodom;
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They have brought disaster upon themselves.
This horrible picture of Jerusalem is described in vivid imagery:
Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.
Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle.
The gates of Zion will lament and mourn;
destitute, she will sit on the ground.
The once beautiful city, the pride of Israel, years in the making, will lay in ruin. Pick your finest example of opulence and write the owner a letter with these words–it would not be received well (to say the least). I cannot imagine how the leaders in Judah reacted when they heard Isaiah’s outrageous words. I can imagine those in power scoffed at his vision, completely shut him down. Still, somewhere out there there were those who heard the painful words and were moved. Somewhere. Someone. The Remnant.
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.
Those who are left in Zion,
who remain in Jerusalem,
will be called holy,
all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.
One day the Lord will cleanse all the earth and the holy city will be restored. Isaiah tells of the future, but the present state of the Chosen people will result in exile, banishment from that which they were given.
Therefore my people will go into exile
for lack of understanding;
those of high rank will die of hunger
and the common people will be parched with thirst.
I can’t wrap my mind around the concept, it’s an ancient story of a distant past, right? It’s easy to sit back and take that position, but reading the news (the real news) reveals oppression still exists today. Men, filled with personal agendas and great egos apply their vision of the perfect world on others in North Korea and Syria (to name a few). There are many other areas in the world where the idea of forced exile is very real. These people don’t wake up and decide if it’s a latte or cappuccino, they wake up from a nightmare and wonder if their family will survive the day.
This is a horrible message to deliver to the people who were once the pride of Judah, the wisest, most affluent. People whose reverence for the Lord was so strong that peace was palpable. The very mention of Yahweh brought to mind wonder and delight. Isaiah reveals the pending exile with strong words. That which was once most valued will be discarded as rubbish.
The very things that were fought for will be laid to waste because of selfish pride and complete loss of focus on that which is eternal.
Lord help us to keep you in the center of all we do. We look forward to that glorious day when all will be made new, but don’t let us look so forward that we forget about today and the people who need to feel your presence.