“What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts (v.15)”.
Social dynamics of the time in which Isaiah observed the rich and the poor must be familiar to us. Those who sleep out in the rough in the cities are viewed with distaste. Homeless people are 17 times more likely to be a victim of violence, mostly at the hands of the public. In 2016 two cases were reported of being set to fire. Isaiah must have seen in his day similar cases all of which boils down to is this: lives of poor are not worth the straw. On the other extreme we have haughtiness of the rich using every visit to Harrods or any other shop, as a catwalk flaunting their wealth, Isaiah’s words are vivid, “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:” One does not have to be a social philosopher to appreciate their stark difference. “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all(Pro.22:2-NIV). In the light of this, context in which the prophet was raising voice of God’s judgment on Judah is as valid as today.
War time austerity and post-war economic expansions are but names to indicate great upheavals not only in social or political areas but also point to moral standards. We had discussed earlier a quote from Leviticus. “Thou shalt honor the face of the old man (Le.19:32)” When the old is despised and no one raises an eyebrow it is a symptom much more then any lack of respect would indicate. Similarly ignoring this injunction “If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, you shall not vex him (Lev.19:33)” is not addressing a simple migrant crisis but moral degradation that refuses divine ordinance. “I am the Lord, your God”. At the time of Uzziah both Israel and Judah were poised for economic expansion and the daughters of Zion could certainly buy up branded items of their times as we do now. But Isaiah warns that all their haughtiness shall not stand when God punishes the nation for their spiritual apostasy. Their armbands and leggings are merely fashion accessories but when their moral compass is lost whatever direction they walk in their finery shall only leave the stench of the damned around. “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:(v.16)
“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./ In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,…. The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails (vv.16-23).
“And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent;,,,,Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
These warnings apply to us. In the Book of the Revelation when the 7 angels blow their trumpets and pour out vials what they do is to shut down the powers,- one after the other of the might, of prince of the power of the air. It is Satan the old Liar who puts gloss over the sentient beings. In taking away the pleasure of the eyes, ears and taste they would limit the damage he can do to God’s people. God’s Judgment shall purge from the ungodly men all their eye candies so they shall wonder for what sorry stuff they had neglected the study of the word of God. Similarly in everything else. Any right thinking person would agree that there is nothing noble or grace in the arts and culture of today, but tastes of people as they are, whatever that might mean.
In the Vision of the woman clothed with the Son we read that the woman was helped by two wings to escape the red dragon. Grace of Jesus Christ shall help the left-behind church (as well as the Jews) with prayer and supplications. Without his grace in her grave danger how would she otherwise survive in the wilderness? The point is God’s Judgment given through Isaiah was for their own good. So would Babylonian captivity and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 are all different phases of divine wrath. Lucky is the man who would learn in time and escape judgment.
“And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground (v.26).
Sitting upon the ground is a sign of bereavement. We see it in the life of Job.Jb.2:12-13. Misfortune in his case did not make him sin but he gave vent to his plight. Righteousness of God whether the nation of Israel or in the case of an individual is His sole prerogative and it is not to be confused with adversity. God chasten while one may be corrected and saved, Similarly when we are rich in goods, we should not consider it as God’s reward for our seemingly goodness. His long suffering must make the wicked his hell and the children of light the path to everlasting life.