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INTRODUCTION: (Two part message)

Keep in mind the overall structure of this opening portion of Isaiah. After an initial chapter which serves to introduce the entire prophecy, we have been focusing on chapters 2-4 –which are bracketed by two bookends which describe the glories of the Messianic kingdom of peace and righteousness when all the nations will flock to hear and obey the law of the Lord administered from Jerusalem (2:1-4; 4:2-6); our passage falls in the middle where the judgments of the Lord are detailed during the day of the Lord; transitional verses in 2:5 (“walk in the light of the Lord”) and 2:22 (don’t trust in man).

Remember last week from chapter 2:6-21 — In the day of reckoning, self-absorbed Israel will be abased and quaking before the majestic presence of the exalted Lord – now some of those more general descriptions of judgment are made more specific in terms of how God will judge the lofty male leaders and the arrogant aristocratic women.

Jerusalem is destined for judgment – and that judgment will be reflected in the chaos of a collapsing society. You can track through the lessons of history and trace the downfall of any powerful nation that ever existed. As the seeds of moral depravity bear fruit and the basic institutions of society break down – especially the family structure and respect for authority – chaos and anarchy inevitably fill the vacuum of whatever former structure of order existed.

It is sobering to evaluate where our great nation stands with respects to the signs of a collapsing society. On every front we see the negative consequences of our spiraling rejection of God and His revealed standards of morality and righteousness. How can we reject the basic principles of finance (you can’t spend more than you have) and expect to prosper? How can we continue to rely on humanistic forms of public education that have proven to be futile (Let’s just throw more money at the problem to fix it) and expect better results? How can we let our consciences become calloused about the lack of integrity in our government officials and expect them to make wise decisions? How can we turn upside down God’s revealed order for relationships in marriage (with role distinctions between men and women and the husband being the head of the home) and expect our children to develop in a healthy fashion? Our nation is collapsing before our eyes. We deceive ourselves if we think we will not have to pay the piper like every other nation. Israel’s lessons are important for us to consider.



A. (:1-3) Judged by the Negation of Necessities – Abandonment

1. (:1a) General Summary – Both Supply and Support

“For behold, the Lord God of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support,”

Motyer: Supply and support are masculine and feminine forms of the same noun, an idiom of totality, meaning “every support without exception”

Near term partial fulfillment in the Babylonian Captivity in 586 B.C. under King Nebuchadnezzar; ultimate fulfillment in the Tribulation Period

God is going to pull the rug out from under them – everything that they have been trusting in will be overturned and they will be left with no foundation or security

2. (:1b) All Supply of Necessities of Life

a. Necessary Food

“the whole supply of bread,”

God used famine to judge Israel throughout her history. Our country knows nothing of famine. The worst we experience is when we have to ration gasoline. Maybe farmers have specific seasons where localized drought denies them a harvest. But our government is able to step in and subsidize their hardship. We could live every day like a Thanksgiving feast if we wished. When people come over here from third world countries and visit our grocery stores they are amazed at the abundance and the variety of the selections. We have taken for granted the blessing of our prosperity. History says it will not always be so for the nation that collapses.

Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread” – Where is our dependence for daily sustenance?

b. Necessary Drink

“And the whole supply of water;”

How long can you live without water? Maybe 3-5 days is what my Google search tells me; Our idea of deprivation is when the reservoirs dip beneath their required capacities and we put a temporary ban on washing cars; History says it will not always be so for the nation that collapses.

Preceptaustin: both in the Chaldean (Babylonian, 586BC) and in the Roman periods (Jerusalem and the Temple besieged and destroyed in 70AD), Jerusalem perished under dreadful famines such as were threatened…on both occasions, the inhabitants were reduced to such extremity that women devoured their own children (Lam 2:20)

3. (:2-3) All Support of Necessary Leaders

Van Parunak: The roles are grouped by the omission of the copula into three sets.

2 Kings 24:14-16

a. Military Leaders

“The mighty man and the warrior,”

Israel had been known for her military might; a nation without a strong army is defenseless against invasion and oppression

b. Judicial and Religious Leaders (legitimate and illegit)

“The judge and the prophet, The diviner and the elder,”

Van Parunak: These four are arranged chiastically, with civil authorities on the outside and spiritual ones at the center.

  • Without a judge, where is the justice?

  • Without a prophet there is a famine in terms of understanding the mind of God.

  • Without an elder there is no maturity and wisdom to provide stability in the basic structures of home and society

“Diviner” is someone involved in occult practices – prohibited in Deut. 18; the stars do not hold our future; don’t pay attention to horoscopes

Preceptaustin: Isaiah’s inclusion of diviner and enchanter (Is 3:3) does not signify that he approved of these practices. Unfortunately, the nation had come to “approve” of them and to depend on even these evil, godless methods for their “wisdom” and their survival. Isaiah wrote disparagingly about Babylon trusting in this kind of activity (Is 47:12).

c. Specially Gifted Men

“The captain of fifty and the honorable man,

The counselor and the expert artisan, And the skillful enchanter.”

Van Parunak: The final five, in 3:3, may be more at the national level, and describe those who would enjoy the esteem of the common people

Israel had been putting her trust in her respected leaders in all areas of society. This trust was misplaced. God will remove all such support just like He removed the supply of their physical provisions.

B. (:4-12) Judged by the Chaos of Role Reversals — Anarchy

1. (:4-5) Unnatural Roles – Upside Down Relationships

a. (:4) Youth over Maturity

“And I will make mere lads their princes

And capricious children will rule over them,”

Preceptaustin: Nature abhors a vacuum and so does leadership. So when God takes away those things (and people) in which Judah had placed their trust and depended upon for military security and social order, this “vacuum” would be filled by those who were inadequate, incompetent and ill equipped to lead individuals

Capricious – unstable, immature, prone to rash decisions that are not thought out, one who acts without justification; impulsive, unpredictable

b. (:5) Substituting Oppression for Helpfulness and Rebellion for Respect

“And the people will be oppressed, Each one by another,

and each one by his neighbor;

The youth will storm against the elder,

And the inferior against the honorable.”

Everybody taking advantage of everyone else

2. (:6-7) Unwilling Leaders

“When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying, ‘You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler, And these ruins will be under your charge,’ On that day will he protest, saying, ‘I will not be your healer, For in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; You should not appoint me ruler of the people.’”

Nobody wants to be in charge of a sinking ship; usually people are aggressive in wanting to rise to positions of power and influence

Van Parunak – reference to 1:6; I won’t bind up the wounds; Christ was wounded for our transgressions

3. (:8-9) Unashamed Depravity — Nobody to Blame But Themselves – Their Words and Actions

“For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the LORD, To rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them. And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.”

At the center of this section

Illustration: Atlanta Pastor Louie Giglio (headed up recent Passion Conference – shared President Obama’s agenda in the area of speaking out against human trafficking) pressured to back out of delivering the Inaugural benediction over his public preaching comments against homosexuality; Is everyone who holds to the moral system revealed by God in His holy scripture now persona non grata in our culture?

Borgman: “For” – gives us the reason; starts with speech; we will be held accountable for every idle word; Is. 6:5 – first thing that strikes the conscience of Isaiah is his sinful speech; “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips”; blatant and blasphemous and flaunting sin; open defiance of God; parading of sin; brazen; homosexuals are not even in the closet anymore; no shame; to say “Woe” is to begin an oracle of doom

Delitzsch: describes an insolent look which their sinfulness is stamping upon their faces, without the self-condemnation which in others takes the form of dread to commit sin…The expression of their countenance testifies against them, for it is the distorted and troubled image of their sin that cannot and will not hide itself. They do not even content themselves, however, with this open thought silent display; they further speak openly of their sin, making not concealment of it, like the Sodomites who proclaimed their fleshly lust…Jerusalem is, in fact, spiritually Sodom, as the prophet called it in Is 1:10-note. Through such shameful sinning they do themselves harm: this the undeniable fact, the actual experience.

Van Parunak: the core of their offense = “To provoke the eyes of His glory” – they don’t even attempt to hide their sins; behave this way right before His glorious eyes; military officers put on commanding look and assume commanding voice – “Don’t even think of disobeying” – but these people openly rebel

Ironsides: Thus they had brought down judgment upon their own heads, and so we hear the solemn “woes” pronounced against them – two in this chapter (verses 9 and 11); and six in chapter five (verses 8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22).

4. (:10-11) Universal Harvest Law – Applied to the Righteous and the Wicked – No Surprises here; they brought it on themselves

a. (:10) Applied to the Righteous – word of hope

“Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, [him]

For they will eat the fruit of their actions.”

Nugget of hope for the righteous

Universal principle of God’s judgment

Van Parunak: “it will be well with him” – singular righteous person; for “they” plural wicked; will eat the fruit of their wicked “doings” are wicked doings; when applied to men it means to do what you please without any accountability; it is a righteous thing for God to recompense tribulation to those who trouble you; the righteous are not doing so well in this world picture

b. (:11) Applied to the Wicked – word of doom

“Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him,

For what he deserves will be done to him.”

Motyer: The boomerang quality of sin is highlighted and the sinner is his own paymaster

Why do the wicked prosper now?? Look at the ultimate end; the righteous will get his just reward; God will right all wrongs (Psalm 73)

“Sow a thought, reap an action.

Sow an action, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character.

Sow a character, reap a destiny.”

5. (:12) Summary: Unnatural Roles – Upside Down Relationships

a. Youth Over Maturity / Substituting Oppression for Submission

“O My people! Their oppressors are children,

And women rule over them.”

Van Parunak: vs. 4 in future tense; but right now (present) women are ruling over them; the judgment that is coming is an unveiling of what is already going on; the cancer that is looming under the service

b. Substituting Wandering for Guidance

“O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray,

And confuse the direction of your paths.”

Matt. 15:14 speaking of the Pharisees “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

Motyer: they enact laws which misdirect. And this is only half of their mischief for also (lit.) “they swallow up the way of your paths”; the old established signposts for right living are as completely obliterated as if someone had swallowed them!

Borgman: they are destroying (covering up) God’s true path; Job 39:24; speaking of the horse: “he swallows up the ground” in his running he throws up dirt that covers up his path;

C. (:13-15) Judged by the Supreme Judge Himself — Accountability

1. (:13) Divine Judge Positioned

“The LORD arises to contend, And stands to judge the people.” [the nations]

They imagined themselves as invincible, untouchable

Van Parunak – “peoples” plural – talking about the nations here in contrast to Judah and Jerusalem; When you see the Lord standing it is almost always in the context of judgment — Amos. 9:1; Psalm 82:1

2. (:14a) Key Leaders Targeted

“The LORD enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people,”

Judgment starts at the top; more light and power means more accountability

3. (:14b-15) Inexcusable Exploitation of the Poor Indicted

“’It is you who have devoured the vineyard;

The plunder of the poor is in your houses.

What do you mean by crushing My people,

And grinding the face of the poor?’

Declares the Lord God of hosts.”

Motyer: The vineyard is symbolic of the Lord’s care in choosing, delivering and settling his people (Ps. 80:8ff).

grinding like between two millstones

Oswalt: When government becomes corrupt it is usually those who are helpless who are hurt first and most often, especially if the leaders think of the people as their own preserve which they can use to their own advantage. But God says that the people, especially the helpless, are his and asks with the burning eyes of v. 8 how the rulers dare to treat his heritage as they do. Not only are the poor plundered, but they are devastated, broken into pieces, and then ground to powder.

Preceptaustin: Vineyard (kerem) literally describes a plot of land on which grapes were grown and which needs to be cultivated and tended, functions the elders and princes failed to perform for the nation in general and specifically for the poor. . . cp Ps 80:8-18, 14,15; a choice vine = Je 2:21; Je 12:10; Ezek 15:6, 7, 8; Ho 10:1)


We do not have the power to turn around our society from its downward plunge into spiraling depravity and rejection of God. We can and must pray for revival. We can witness to those around us so that they personally repent and put their trust in the one true God. We can take a stand against wickedness and expose the folly of sin. We can make sure that our lives and our families are not built on the sinking sand of trust in man but on the Solid Rock which is Jesus Christ. We can rejoice in our secure spiritual standing before the coming Judge: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Our future remains glorious!

“Say to the righteous that it will go well with him.”



Last week we saw how far Israel had fallen in their rejection of God. Things were so bad that their culture was compared to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the LORD, To rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them. And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.” (:8-9)

Their sin is blatant in both word and deed. They boast in their rebellion. Woe to them! They have no excuses and no one to blame but themselves. So we saw God rising up to contend in judgment against His people. The emphasis was upon His judgment of their lofty male leaders. We drew the parallel to our own society. In what ways have we rejected God and caused Him to abandon us and turn us over to our own evil lusts? The process is described for us in Romans 1. As we review that passage, we can’t help but be alarmed at how far down the path we are to utter devastation.

* * * * * * * * * *

Rom. 1:18-32


A. (:18-23) Society’s Rejection of God’s Truth – Follow Paul’s argument here:

1. (:18-20a) God has made His Truth Known – don’t blame God

– Conscience – available to all men

– General revelation in nature – available to all men

Don’t complain that you did not have access to the light of God’s truth

Don’t try to argue against the clarity of God’s revelation – doctrine of perspicuity –

God does not start out hiding His truth … although as light is rejected, further light is withheld

2. (:20b) Man is Without Excuse in Their Rejection of God’s Truth

3. (:21-23) Such Rejection of God’s Truth is Futile and Ludicrous

When we grumble against God instead of being thankful – maybe we better take that sin more seriously

Indictment of the wisdom of men and their sophistication

B. (:24-32) God’s Abandonment of Society — Series of 3 Judgments for Abandoning God’s Truth – “God gave them over”

These judgments reflect a society that is spiraling downward to chaos and devastation and ultimately extinction

1. (:24-25) Sexual Impurity is God’s Judgment for Idolatry

a. How did they abandon truth?

1) Exchanged the truth of God for a lie

2) Idolatry — worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator

b. How did God judge them?

1) Gave them over to the natural outworking of the sinful desires of their lustful hearts

2) Life of sexual impurity rather than the beauty of holiness

3) Life that is physically degrading

2. (:26-27) Homosexuality is God’s Judgment for Worshipping the Human Body

a. How did they abandon the truth?

1) Rejected natural sexual relations for unnatural

2) Rejected decency for indecency

3) Rejected truth for perversion

b. How does God judge such a society? with homosexuality

“shameful lusts” “inflamed with lust” “indecent acts”

not a legitimate sexual orientation, but an unnatural perversion that is living proof of God’s wrath

3. (:28-32) Unrestrained Total Depravity is God’s Judgment for Casting off the Fear of God

a. How did they abandon the truth?

you either value God’s light or you ignore it and become your own guide thru life

b. How did God judge them? Unrestrained total depravity —

a whole smorgasbord of sin stemming from a depraved mind

* * * * * * * * * *

That helps to put our passage in Isaiah 3 into the proper context. We are looking at God’s judgment against His people for their rejection of His truth; We are looking at the disintegration of their society; We fear for the extinction of our own society


Van Parunak: why address these pampered ladies?

– warns them about the nature and character of these women that would aspire to lead them – their pride and guilt

– influence that these women have on the leading men; these women do not encourage their husbands in godliness; they care about enlarging their wardrobe and enhancing their prestige; I need more money to buy this and that

  • Reason for Judgment

  • Retribution Described

  • Result of Judgment

A. (:16) The Reason for Judgment – Proud Prancing

“Moreover, the LORD said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion: are proud,

And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,

And go along with mincing steps,

And tinkle the bangles on their feet,’”

Peacock attitude of pride = their fundamental sin; 2:11

Young: When the women are wholly vain and self-centered, the cancer of moral decay is truly consuming the nation’s heart. Proper adornment and true beauty in women should be a reflection of the glory of God. When women cultivate and cherish beauty only for itself, they are infringing upon and detracting from the glory and beauty that belong to Him. That ordinary women of the world should be vainglorious might be expected. But the daughters of Zion, women who live in the city of God, under the very shadow of the Temple, who should have set the example of the beauty of holiness, these are haughty and walk with outstretched neck.

Beall: v 16 indicates that these women are dressed and are acting in a flirtatious, immodest manner

Constable: Everything they did was designed to attract attention.

Borgman: Luther: they walk along and waggle; “mincing steps”; taking little tiny steps; have ornaments on their feet; ostentatious; making a show; proud of the show that they can make; wanting to get noticed

Look at the money spent on this frivolity when the poor are in such need

B. (:17-24) The Retribution Described – Shamefully Stripping Them

1. (:17) Embarrassing and Humiliating Them

“Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,

And the LORD will make their foreheads bare.”

“the Lord will lay bare their secret parts” is more literal translation; uncover their nakedness; give them up violation and abuse; judgment for flaunting their sexuality; retributive justice

Glory of women to have long hair according to Paul

Young: Those who delight in immodest exposure will be rewarded with immodest exposure at the hands of vile men

Clarke: It was the barbarous custom of the conquerors of those times to strip their captives naked, and to make them travel in that condition, exposed to the inclemency of the weather; and the worst of all, to the intolerable heat of the sun. But this to the women was the height of cruelty and indignity; and especially to such as those here described, who had indulged themselves in all manner of delicacies of living, and all the superfluities of ornamental dress; and even whose faces had hardly ever been exposed to the sight of man. This is always mentioned as the hardest part of the lot of captives.

Van Parunak: references of nakedness as judgment from God — Jer. 13:22-27; Ezek. 16:35-43; Is. 47:1-3; Nahum 3:5 [“’Behold, I am against you,’ declares the Lord of hosts; ‘and I will lift up your skirts over your face, and show to the nations your nakedness and to the kingdoms your disgrace.’”] – Why is nakedness a shame? What is wrong with it? It was not shameful when man was first made; when they broke God’s law the very first thing they realized is that they needed a covering; needed a covering that relied on sacrifices; it is a wonderful thing that we stand erect and walk on two feet; amazing that we can speak; can make and use tools – did not become ashamed of these things; but ashamed of their ability to procreate; producing rebellious sinners = one thing you can be sure your children will inherit from you; that is something to be ashamed of; modesty in dress is how we show our awareness of this; they covered themselves instinctively as soon as they were aware of their sin

2. (:18-23) Stripping Off All Their Beautiful Adornments

“In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans, and veils.”

Van Parunak:

  • Headbands – ornaments representing sun god

  • Crescent ornaments – representing moon god

  • Sashes – something tied like a scarf

  • Amulet – good luck charm to protect from evil spirits

Ancient world you did not have a lot of changes of clothes like we do; to have multiple suits of clothing – special things for special occasions – was very special

Undergarments?? – fine linens

NT instructions for godly adornment and behavior of women:

1Pet. 3:3-6 “Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him, lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

I Tim. 2:9-11 “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; 10 but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness. 11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.”

Titus 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”

Borgman: God strips them of everything they put their pride in in making themselves beautiful for themselves and others; God despises when men and women break out of their God ordained roles; feminism is eating their own fruit right now; women will stand out from the culture if they act as God has instructed

3. (:24) Exchanging Their Glory for Shame – 5 Contrasts for sake of illustration

a. Stench for Sweetness

“Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction;”

dead, stinking carcasses

b. Simplicity for Fancy Accessorizing

“Instead of a belt, a rope;”

Preceptaustin: A rope brings to mind the picture of slaves being led away into captivity (cp Dt 28:36, 2Chr 29:9).

Tie their sackcloth around them with a crude rope rather than an ornate belt

c. Shame for Glory

“Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;”

d. Sackcloth (Poverty/Mourning/Distress) for Luxury

“Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth;”

Some type of luxurious purple garment

e. Scarring (Disfiguring) for Beauty

“And branding instead of beauty.”

Motyer: all items listed in v. 24 but the branding are deliberate signs of the abstention from body-care associated with mourning

Van Parunak: Some type of burn on the flesh like a brand or scar; these women thought they were beautiful but they were not; they will lose both their loveliness and their lovers (the ones who could appreciate their beauty)

C. (3:25 – 4:1) The Result of Judgment – Reduced to Desperate Hopelessness –

3 Expressions of Desperate Hopelessness

1. (:25) Death — of Potential Husbands

“Your men will fall by the sword, And your mighty ones in battle.”

2. (:26) Devastation — City Vanquished

“And her gates will lament and mourn; And deserted she will sit on the ground.”

Borgman: men gather at the city gates; no more men

Preceptaustin: Jerusalem is personified as a destitute woman who sits mourning the empty city whose male population has been slaughtered. When the glory of the Lord departed the gates of the cities . . . these same gates which were once sites of song and rejoicing, will become scenes of great groaning and mourning.

3. (4:1) Desperation — for Marriage with its Provision and Protection

“For seven women will 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!’”

Motyer: In 3:6 the men “take hold of” a man, seeking a ruler, in 4:1 the women take hold of a man, seeking a husband. The men placed reliance on worldly social strength only to find such reliance always perishes for want of people fit to rely on; the women gave their all to allurement only to find that in the end there were no takers. How well Isaiah began this section with the call to refuse to put trust in man (2:22)! The women providing their own food and clothes (4:1) is the reversal of the due ordering of marriage (Ex. 21:10).

Oswalt: In an extremely powerful figure Isaiah makes the whole argument very concrete: wealthy women, secure in their luxury and their allure, are reduced to scabrous hags begging to belong to someone. . . Here is the final end of our desire to avoid dependence. We will become dependent in the most degrading and disadvantageous ways. Instead of the exaltation and building-up which comes from glad submission to God and one another (60:1-62:12), our drive to be sufficient in ourselves brings only humiliation, despair, and bondage.


Psalm 81:8-13 –

Social reform is not the answer; Embrace God’s Truth – Listen and respond to God

Based on the criteria in this passage, our society is obviously disintegrating rapidly as well; no more integrity of leadership; anarchy is starting to replace a well-ordered society that promotes righteousness; wicked words and actions demonstrate open rebellion against a holy God; our nation has become like Sodom and Gomorrah – in fact to speak against homosexuality as a sin in the eyes of God is quickly approaching the level of a state condemned hate crime; women assert their independence from their God-given role and strut about proudly in seductive and immodest ways; promiscuity has become accepted; it is all about what makes me happy in the moment; we should not be surprised that God will spring into action and give such a nation what it is asking for; the only question seems to be “How long before the Lord acts?”