Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem
For behold, the Lord God of hosts
is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
support and supply,
The Lord will take away from Judah and Jerusalem their supporting pillars, leading the country to further ruin. The things they trusted in would fail them, for they are not trusting in the Lord.
all support of bread,
and all support of water;
(bread and water = all economic resources)
2 the mighty man and the soldier,
(mighty man and soldier = defense of the country)
the judge and the prophet,
the diviner and the elder,
(judge, prophet, diviner, and elder = civil and spiritual leadership)
3 the captain of fifty
and the man of rank,
the counselor and the skillful magician (NASB reads “artisan”)
and the expert in charms.
(captains and men of rank, counselors and men with skill and expertise in craft = further leadership)
4 And I will make boys their princes,
and infants shall rule over them.
5 And the people will oppress one another,
every one his fellow
and every one his neighbor;
the youth will be insolent to the elder,
and the despised to the honorable.
The best rulers will be taken away and the responsibility of the government would be left in the hands of the young and inexperienced. This will lead to a breakdown of order in society.
6 For a man will take hold of his brother
in the house of his father, saying:
“You have a cloak;
you shall be our leader,
and this heap of ruins
shall be under your rule”;
“You have a cloak” — the smallest qualification will be enough for leadership.
7 in that day he will speak out, saying:
“I will not be a healer;
in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;
you shall not make me
leader of the people.”
The situation will be so desolate that no one will even want to work for the government.
8 For Jerusalem has stumbled,
and Judah has fallen,
because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord,
defying his glorious presence.
9 For the look on their faces bears witness against them;
they proclaim their sin like Sodom;
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil on themselves.
They glory in their ungodliness. They boast of their impurity. They strut their sin. It is the height of iniquity.
10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
Even in the midst of judgment, God knows how to bless and protect His people. Sometimes this is only seen in the perspective of eternity, but God assures us that the righteous will never share the same fate as the wicked. Abraham knew this principle well when he said to the Lord, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
God’s “shalls” must always be understood in their largest sense. From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, from the first gathering of evening shadows until a new day dawns, in all conditions and under all circumstances, it will be well with the righteous. It is so well with him that we could not imagine it to be better, for he is well fed—he feeds upon the flesh and blood of Jesus; he is well clothed—he wears the imputed righteousness of Christ; he is well housed—he dwells in God; he is well married—his soul is knit in bonds of marriage to Christ; he is well provided for—for the Lord is his Shepherd; he is well endowed—for heaven is his inheritance. It is well with the righteous—well upon divine authority; the mouth of God speaks the comforting assurance.
O beloved, if God declares that all is well, ten thousand devils may declare it to be ill, but we may laugh them all to scorn. Blessed be God for a faith that enables us to believe God when the creatures contradict Him. It is, says the Word, at all times well with you, righteous one; then, beloved, if you cannot see it, let God’s Word assure you; believe it on divine authority with more confidence than if your eyes and your feelings told it to you. Those God blesses are blessed indeed, and what His lip declares is truth most sure and steadfast.
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.
12 My people—infants are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
13 The Lord has taken his place to contend;
he stands to judge peoples.
14 The Lord will enter into judgment
with the elders and princes of his people:
God speaks to the men of Judah:
“It is you who have devoured the vineyard,
the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor?”
declares the Lord God of hosts.
16 The Lord said:
And God speaks to the women of Judah:
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
and walk with outstretched necks,
glancing wantonly with their eyes,
mincing along as they go,
tinkling with their feet,
17 therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
the heads of the daughters of Zion,
and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.
The fashion industry, with its emphasis on sexuality and luxury, is decimated, including jewelry, handbags, perfumes, accessories, clothing, belts, hats, scarves — as David Guzik quips, There must have been some good malls in Jerusalem! But this description of what is important is a far cry from the instructions Peter gives to Christian women in 1 Peter 3:3-4: Do not let your adornment be merely outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
24 Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;
and instead of a belt, a rope;
and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;
and branding instead of beauty.
25 Your men shall fall by the sword
and your mighty men in battle.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn;
empty, she shall sit on the ground.
All the luxuries and fineries that the women used to impress each other and get a man — all are gone, replaced by ugliness and pain. The war has taken the men, and the women mourn their many losses.
For all of you who, like the faithful ones in this chapter, are dealing with hard issues — you are surrounded by difficulties, your health is not good, your body tells you that you are old, your children are inattentive to you or to the Lord, you are in a financial crunch that seems not to end, you feel alone and stressed out, you wonder what the world is coming to, that sin is so acceptable and God so often mocked — to all of you, the Lord says:
“Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. I am with you wherever you go.”
“My peace I leave with you.”
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Selah sings it so beautifully HERE.
Isaiah 4 (ESV)
And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”
The Branch of the Lord Glorified
2 In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. 3 And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.
“Sin is the excrement of the soul, the superfluity or garbage of naughtiness, the devil’s vomit. From this abominable filth Christ hath ‘loved and washed his with his own blood, that he may make them kings and priests unto God and his Father.’”
–John Trapp (1601-1669)
5 Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6 There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
Surely these word pictures would bring to their minds stories of old, when their ancestors lived in the wilderness and worshiped in the Tabernacle, with God’s cloud of smoke and pillar of fire guiding them. The visible presence of God protected them then, and the Messiah — God with us — will come to bring peace again.