Isaiah was a prophet of God sent to warn the people that their actions were going to lead to their downfall and judgment from God. They were not taking care of the poor, their courts were filled with injustice and they mixed in various religions with the true worship of God. The people were relying on their government leaders, their wealth, and their military and even other gods instead of putting all of their trust and hope in God. Isaiah began warning them that God was going to take these things away from them if they did not change their behavior
The warning of leadership and the warning of what sin will do to the nation have already been said and now we are going to see the judgment that God will bring on those who are in leadership and those who have made the entire world about themselves.
With the technology on our phones today we are able to take pictures of ourselves and others with incredible clarity. The phone comes with a button that can turn the camera around so that as you hold the phone the camera is on you and not what is around you. In our world we have many people who have the camera phone setting in such a way that they camera is always on themselves. We only see the world by how it affects us and we have no concern about anyone else.
The people in Isaiah’s day were self-consumed and it was at the cost of those around them. Isaiah is going to call the selfish people out and show them that God is going to judge them harshly for their self-focus and their neglect of those around them.
View: The Act of seeing or examining
We all have a view of the world and so the question we have to ask ourselves are we seeing the world through the lens of self or are we looking through a panoramic view that shows us what others are going through around us.
Isaiah 3:13-15 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: “It is you who have devoured[a] 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.
1) Panoramic: Our view of Others
“The Lord has taken His place to contend with the elders and princes”
The first people we see are the ones who were responsible for maintaining true justice. They were the ones who were supposed to defend the poor and defenseless people against those who were wealthier and who had more resources to cause the poor and defenseless harm either physically or financially.
God, through Isaiah, ask them “What do you mean by crushing my people” or How can you do this to my people? We are not to have an “every man for himself” mindset but we are to be concerned for those who God has placed in our lives. One of the beliefs that Christians have is that no matter who the person is they are created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Every human being has value simply because they are made in the image of God no matter their physical appearance or their financial status. When we devalue humans, from the baby in the womb (Abortion) to those who are at the end of their life here on earth (Euthanasia), or those with disabilities or disease, we are devaluing someone made in the image of God.
The Leaders in Isaiah’s day were looking down on the poor and using them for their own gain and their own purposes. “Grinding the face of the poor” Although they were leaders in government positions we have to be careful that we are not users and abusers of people for our own gain. There will be times when you can abuse the power you have over others for your own gain and that is something we are not to do as Christ followers. We can all be guilty of viewing people for how they can be a benefit to us rather than how we can be a benefit to them. You will hear the statement, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” which is a statement of I will do for you if you can do for me but we are not called by God to just do things for people who can do things for us we are called to go to those who can do nothing for us and serve them as well. We need to change our consumer, what’s in it if for me, mindset and begin by saying how can I serve my family, my coworkers, my boss, my community and my church even if they have nothing to offer me.
When is the last time you served someone who had nothing they could do for you? Stop saying you will serve your spouse when they change but serve them because they are made in the image of God. Stop saying I will serve my coworkers or boss when they treat me better and begin to be faithful to God by serving them even if they never change. When we see people as being image bearers of God then we will serve them.
Matthew 25:34-40 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
After Jesus commends those who did those things He then says the same thing to those who are cast into Hell because they did not do those things. Both cases Jesus lets them know that what they did for those who were the least it was done as if it was done to Him directly. In Matthew 7 people will stand before God and say they cast out demons, did miracles and prophesied in Jesus name but Jesus will say depart from me because they did not know Him. The things Jesus talks about in Matthew 25 are just common everyday needs and not big undertakings. You don’t have to do big things for God just serve those who God has placed in your path.
Start off every conversation with a person and say to yourself “You are made in the image of God and I love you” because God will hold us accountable for our treatment of people and by realizing God loves them it will change our view of them. The good deeds you produce naturally are from the fruit of the spirit inside of you not the root of your salvation. Those who did good deeds did not even remember doing them because Christ had transformed their lives. We do not do good actions and deeds to earn Gods favor we do them because He has already made us favorable through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 3:16-4:1 16 The Lord said: 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.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.4 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.”
2) Selfie: Our view of ourselves
The women thought they were superior, and they were only thinking about themselves and how they looked. Isaiah goes into detail how they were dressed but the main problem was that they were the Woman of Zion and so they were taking away from their focus on God and placing their entire thought on themselves.
In Isaiah 3:18 it says their ankle clasp restricted their movement so they could only take tiny steps when they walked. How ironic the things that we think are important and will bring meaning to our lives will only hold us back. How many people go in debt thinking that a house or car or even changing their appearance will bring them happiness only to realize that instead of happiness they are only being restricted in their life?
Isaiah list 21 items they had all in an attempt to show that they were beautiful and that they were important. Isaiah is warning them that everything that they think makes them beautiful God is going to take it away from them. Does your identity rely on what accessories you wear? Does your identity rely on what car you drive? House you live in? What if all of those things are taken away? Would knowing who your are in Christ be enough?
These women that Isaiah mentions will be carted off as slaves and humiliated and the ones who are left will be begging for a husband to restore their dignity. The ones that will be carted off will have a brand scared into their faces showing that they are slaves. The beauty they long to have will be scared and the things they thought made them feel superior will be taken away. When you get tricked into putting your hope, joy and peace into things of this world you will be let down but when your hope is in God then you will never be let down.
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
When we focus on ourselves it will cause us to demand our rights but not the rights of others. When we are focused on ourselves we demand our way at the expense of others not getting what they want. When we are focused on ourselves we take away from pointing people to Jesus because we have made it all about us. Our society is about exalting ourselves where God wants us to exalt Him by lowering ourselves.
Matthew 23:11-12 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
We are not to think less of ourselves we are just called to think of ourselves less. Self -demeaning is not what the Bible is talking about it is about viewing others as more important and placing their needs above your own. We are created in the image of God as well and when we try and make ourselves into something so that world thinks we are important than we are denying what God created you to be. We all have things we wish were different about our bodies, our hair, strength etc. but the reality is those things do not define us our relationship with God does. We need to empty our lives of thinking about ourselves and focus more on God and others.
Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
When every sentence out of your mouth begins with “I” or “Me” you just might be full of yourself.