Today I continue the overview of the Book of Isaiah the Prophet by looking at Chapters 2 through 5. As was pointed out in the article on the prophet Amos, I am trying to follow Mr. BenDedek's advice by providing an overview that might appeal to an audience beyond those who regularly study the Word of God. His advice was "be topical, not theological; teach, don't preach; challenge, don't exhort; highlight, and don't bore to death". In doing so my focus is on the role that religious and secular leaders play in the destruction of their societies. The book is 66 chapters long and we can't possibly cover every aspect of it, but I do hope that both the believer and the casually curious non-believer may gain something from my overview. (For ease of publication all Scripture quotes come from Bible Resources KJV edition. )
Last week's introduction ended at Chapter 1 verse 26 with a promise of restoration if the people repent:
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Isaiah Chapter 2
Verses 1-4 commence with a vision of the 'Last days'
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
This particular passage is an eschatological reference to the coming of Christ at the end of the age. Despite all the evil in the world, God speaking via the prophet says: For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low. (verse 12) And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. (verse 17)
Isaiah Chapter 3
This chapter once again points the finger at the religious and secular leaders of the nation.
Verse 8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory.
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts. Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the LORD will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.
The chapter describes the arrogance of the wealthy by listing their various precious ornaments, and by verse 24 it is made plain that the beautiful smell of success will become an offensive smell and all the richness of the people will fade.
And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
Isaiah Chapter 4
This chapter again refers to the end times when God has fully restored the people and taken away their reproach.
In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (Verses 2-6)
Isaiah Chapter 5
In this chapter God describes himself in an interesting way.
Verse 1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
Using this imagery God asks (verse 4) What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
Here God is asking why his people have not produced the fruit of a righteous relationship with him. He therefore pronounces judgment. (verse 6) And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Verse 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
God decries their drunkenness and lack of regard for him (v11-12) before pronouncing captivity for the people (v13) "because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst".
Verse 20 holds a real warning for us today when it says: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! This verse has a companion in Romans Chapter 1 verse 25
Verses 21 to 23 are quite explicit in describing those upon whom the judgment of God will fall.
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
The root cause of both the sin and God's judgment is revealed in verse 24 - "because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel".
M. Wallace Johnson
Articles by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Holy, Wholly or Holey SERIES
Idols in Ministry SERIES
No 1: The Prophet Amos
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