Isaiah Chapters 3 Great Time of Trouble

Jul 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Isaiah Chapters 3  Great Time of Trouble

Isa. 3:1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,

The “stay” would be bread and water, ie, food. The “staff” would be the structure of society, all the supports of society. Principal men in all aspects of government and social affairs will be brought low; they will no longer function. Therefore, the entire structure will collapse from within. Not only will the people suffer the loss of food and employment, but the whole structure of government will collapse as well.

Judah was no less guilty than the ten-tribe kingdom. Incidentally, Isaiah uttered this prophecy not too long after Elisha died. The ministries of Isaiah, Daniel, and John the Revelator were unusually long.

Isa. 3:2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,

In the Time of Trouble all of these individuals will find they can no longer do what they want. There will be no place of safety and nowhere to turn for help and protection.

Isaiah was prophesying of a severe experience that would occur in Judah and Jerusalem. He was speaking to the people back there, warning them and predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah. The prophet had a long ministry, and his predictions preceded Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s by about 100 years. The ten-tribe kingdom was taken into captivity toward the end of Isaiah’s ministry, during Hezekiah’s reign, but he was speaking of the trouble to come on Judah and Jerusalem in 606 BC, which was a still later event.

A “mighty man” would be an important man.

Isa. 3:3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

“Captain of fifty” (that is, units of 50) are identified with the Hebrew system, not only in the Jubilee but in groups of 50. Instead of having a Roman centurion over 100 men, the Israelites used groups of 50. “Cunning artificer” = a wizard, an advisor. All these staffs of society in verses 2 and 3 would be gone.

Isa. 3:4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

The “children” and “babes” will not be favorable rulers, for they will “oppress” the people (see verse 5). In other words, the structure of society will be turned upside down. A new, inexperienced, immature element will take over positions of control. Many corrupt politicians and financiers milk millions from the people, but they do it in a clever way that is as painless as possible. For example, they rob a bank by taking the money little by little so that the auditors will not notice. However, the new element will be more ruthless.

Isa. 3:5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

“The people shall be oppressed, … every one by his [close] neighbour.”

Many young, inexperienced people are very confident about what they can do, but experience is a qualification for office.

Isa. 3:6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:

Isa. 3:7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.

No one wants the job. We ask, because of the headaches involved and the abuses heaped upon the one in the office, “Why would anyone want to be President?” And we say this today when conditions are mild compared to what they will be in the future. The one who refuses the job in verse 7 is saying, “I am not doing so well in my own home, so how could I help you in your situation?” There are two elements: those who formerly ruled and the young (not necessarily in age), untried, inexperienced element. The people would remove the inexperienced element if only the “brother” in the house would accept the responsibility. The “brother” is a third element. The whole stay and staff of Judah and Jerusalem were crumbling—both their food supply and their counselors (the mature, experienced counselors were leaving office and being replaced by a ruthless, inexperienced element).

Isa. 3:8 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.

Ezekiel’s technique was to look to the north, prophesy against the city, make a drawing—in other words, to dramatize. Isaiah’s technique was to speak as if the trouble prophesied were already occurring and he was witnessing and describing it.

Isa. 3:9 The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.

This is a general statement about the immorality in Judah. The people were bold and brazen in their sins just as the inhabitants of Sodom had been. Sin became so prevalent that there was no shame attached to it. A similar condition prevails today. The Roman Empire was brazen in sin during the century prior to its fall. And of course in Noah’s day, conditions got worse and worse. Noah’s day is the parallel to our day; both terminate in great trouble.

Isa. 3:10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

Isa. 3:11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

God told Judah, through Isaiah, that the wicked would be recompensed for their evil.

Isa. 3:12 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.

“Children are their oppressors” means that those who were in rulership positions lacked maturity, experience, and judgment. Consequently, the whole fabric of government was distorted. “Women rule over them” probably refers to the immorality. At any rate, children and women dominated society. Sin was openly practiced. Society was rotten from top to bottom. The people lived without inhibitions.

Isa. 3:13 The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.

Isa. 3:14 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.

Isa. 3:15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

With the rulers, to “grind the faces of the poor” would mean they exacted heavy taxes and lived off the fat of the land. The “ancients” were the judges, who were supposed to have wisdom and to render fair judgments and decisions; with them, to “grind the faces of the poor” meant they took bribes under the table and judged against those who could not afford to pay the bribes. Hence the brunt of the oppression was upon the poor.

The rulers and the judges “have eaten up the [Lord’s] vineyard.” The Lord’s vineyard was the nation of Israel itself, who were nominally the Lord’s people. The parallel down through the Gospel Age has been the spiritual vineyard, the professed people of God. In regard to the spiritual vineyard, there will be a time of reckoning at the end of the harvest. The vine of the earth will be harvested.

Jesus gave a parable about a certain man having a vineyard (Mark 12:1–9). Finally he sent his son to see how the crops were growing and the caretakers (the rulers, both civil and ecclesiastical) murdered the son. Jesus implied that he was that son. (The parable reads as follows: “A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winevat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.”)

“The LORD standeth up to plead, and [he will] … enter into judgment, …for ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor.” Strong language! To deliver his message, Isaiah had to appear before nobles, usually in the outer court of the Temple and sometimes at the chief gate entering the city. He would cry out as the king and other nobles and judges went or rode by. The implication is that the faces of the poor were figuratively ground in the dirt.

“The spoil of the poor is in your houses.” Those in positions of power seized the possessions of the poor by foreclosing on mortgages, levying heavy taxes or fines, etc.

Isa. 3:16 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:

Isa. 3:17 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.

Isa. 3:18 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,

Isa. 3:19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,

Isa. 3:20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

Isa. 3:21 The rings, and nose jewels,

Isa. 3:22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

Isa. 3:23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.

Isa. 3:24 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.

Isa. 3:25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

Isa. 3:26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Women (plural) as the “daughters of Zion” become the woman (singular) as the nation of Israel, showing that these criticisms are directed to the nation as a whole. Their behavior was likened to a woman with all her apparel. The abundant apparel indicated the leaders had wealth to acquire jewels; expensive perfume; and ornaments for the nose, wrists, and ankles. Their posture was proud and their walk seductive, tinkling ornaments attracting attention to their legs. The characteristics applied to both male and female, for pride and the accumulation of money overcame and permeated the whole nation. The same dangers of pleasure and relative wealth exist today. In the Dark Ages when right and wrong were clear-cut, true Christianity was purer and more wholesome. Today the dangers and temptations are subtle. Judah was complacent, feeling the judgments that came upon the ten tribes would not touch them.

The Lord would bring retribution: stink, a rent, baldness, sackcloth, and burning. And that is what happened. Those whose lives were spared were stripped of all jewels, goods, and property and taken into captivity. And captivity had a cleansing effect, as spoken of by the minor prophets.

“Her gates shall lament and mourn” sounds like Lamentations, which is a song that graphically describes  poverty and famine in a foreign land.

“The Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion.” This would be leprosy. When Isaiah started his ministry, the very king, Uzziah, was smitten with leprosy when he presumed to go into the Holy. “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the  LORD” (2 Chron. 26:16–21). When the priests remonstrated against Uzziah’s entering the temple, he ignored them. The priests had a right to be angry with him, but instead he was angry with them. All of a sudden King Uzziah was smitten with leprosy. In isolation and quarantine for the rest of his life in a separate house, Uzziah had his son, Jotham, administer the kingdom, especially public functions. As king of the nation, he was the “crown of the head” (verse 17); this was a strong prophecy and it points forward to an even more powerful fulfillment.

The mention of the “daughters of Zion” in verse 17 would refer to retribution too:

Therefore “the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion.”

Instead of garments of glory, beauty, and sweet-smelling fragrance, the opposite occurred: sackcloth, stench, and a scab on the head instead of “well set [attractive]” hair. They were bold in their sins “as Sodom” (Isa. 3:9). In antitype the harlot has on her forehead “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (Rev. 17:5). This scab is the mark of the beast, a stigma, a leprosy.

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