JUDGMENT AND SENTENCE
Sovereign Lord, I give myself to You. With all my being I want to run the race of life for You.
Read ISAIAH 3:13 – 4:1
13 The Lord takes his place in court;
he rises to judge the people.
14 The Lord enters into judgment
against the elders and leaders of his people:
“It is you who have ruined my vineyard;
the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people
and grinding the faces of the poor?”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
16 The Lord says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the Lord will make their scalps bald.”
18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, 19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, 21 the signet rings and nose rings, 22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses 23 and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
24 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.
25 Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will lament and mourn;
destitute, she will sit on the ground.
4 1 In that day seven women
will take hold of one man
and say, “We will eat our own food
and provide our own clothes;
only let us be called by your name.
Take away our disgrace!”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.’1
Isaiah is finding as many different ways as he can to say the same thing. One is reminded of Paul’s words, ‘It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you’.2 It is worth reflecting on how difficult we sometimes find it to really grasp what we are being told. We know that driving too fast, or drinking too much, or smoking, or not getting enough rest etc, will not be good for us and could have disastrous consequences. However, we don’t want to hear it because we think we know better, and it won’t happen to us. Isaiah, however, really cares that the people get hold of how bad their behavior is and how awful the consequences might be.
In today’s passage he uses court imagery, beginning at the point where God, the Judge, stands to proclaim the judgment. The crime is outlined and the sentence is passed. In chapter 2 the emphasis is on the arrogance of the top people who exercise military and economic power and on the danger of others thinking too highly of them. Here, although arrogance is clearly present, the emphasis is on the oppression of the poor and the fact that not sharing goods fairly can only be seen as oppressive. Those who benefit from this crushing of God’s own people, in this case the haughty women flaunting their riches, are held equally to blame. The punishment will fit the crime. The riches will be snatched away, the expensive perfume will become a stench, the slave-owners will become branded as slaves.
Many people benefit from oppressive acts and unfair agreements carried out by our governments to the detriment of poorer nations. Should we take this seriously?
Gracious God, sometimes it is not easy for me to identify with the poor and disadvantaged. Forgive me and quicken my sensitivity toward those in need.
1 John 12:26 2 Phil 3:1
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