For King James Version…
Judgment on Jerusalem and Judah
See now, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water, the hero and the warrior,
the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.
“I will make mere youths their officials; children will rule over them.” People will oppress each other— man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored. A man will seize one of his brothers in his father’s house, and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!”
But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.” Jerusalem staggers, 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. Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done.
Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path. The Lord takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people. 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. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
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. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald.”
In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
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.
This is a hard, disturbing and depressing chapter!
This chapter, and the ‘feelings’ it conjures up for me makes me think of that so common statement “My god would never….” usually followed up with “be so cruel”, or “send anyone to hell”. The whole question of God’s righteousness and love, and punishment has been covered in previous articles on Tough Questions, so I don’t want to get into that here now. Just to say however, this is one of so many I used to read and really grapple with, as far as God’s judgments go because it always seemed so harsh. But the more I read the Scriptures, the more I can somewhat understand just how loving He still is- that it’s because of His absolute Holiness, that He can’t let sin go undisciplined, and unpunished.
The destruction set to fall on Judah and Jerusalem were on the condition that the people stubbornly ignored God’s warnings. Those warnings given by the Prophet Isaiah included: depriving them of all the supports both of their life and of their government, that people of worth and reputation would be removed and incompetent people would rule, resulting in oppression and in the breakdown of their society. Does anybody see pretty similar parallels right now in our country?
Given that they were besieged and most were taken captive to Babylon shows that they willfully remained in their sins. God warned them, Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done, because He loved them, and like those who ignore Him to follow their own ways, they bring destruction on themselves.
What I take away from this chapter, is that what happened in Judah and Jerusalem, has been happening since time began. A progression of sin that spreads from the inward person, to society which infects every part of life eventually. It’s not so much that God makes bad things happen, as that if we don’t look and heed the warnings of corruption and sin when it begins to creep into society- in schools, government, media, and the church, He removes His hand and ‘gives them over‘.
There is one short little promise in this chapter buried in the warnings however- Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. God always leaves a remnant. Whether it’s Joshua and Caleb and next generation of Israel entering the promised land, Noah and his family, or the remnant God told Elijah about when he was hiding in a cave believing Israel had killed all the prophets, and there will be a remnant of Jews during the tribulation times. It’d be well with Christians also to heed warnings of our Most Holy God, but also realize that He will keep a remnant of righteous and born again followers.
Have a blessed day all!