Hope amongst 'spirits of judgement and fire'

As the word of God tells us there is nothing new under the sun. The prophet Isaiah could stand in Parliament Square and preach the same message as he did two and a half millennia ago.

A paraphrase of Isaiah Chs. 3 and 4

IsaiahA nation in turmoil

See how the Sovereign all-powerful God is going to remove from the capital city and the country as a whole, what is needed for normal daily living and for an ordered law-abiding society.

He will make callow, but arrogant youths take charge over the people; mere children will run the show.

People will rise up against each other – men against men, neighbour against neighbour: the young will rebel against those (adults) who are mature and worthy of respect; and against the aged.

There will be such a sense of anarchy and fear, and lack of leadership that the man in the street will look to someone, anyone, to ‘take charge’. But all asked will say: “I have no answers; I have enough problems of my own in looking after myself and my family.”

So the capital is rocked and the nation is collapsing because society and those who govern have spoken and acted in rebellion against God; and defied His person and blasphemed against His name. You can see it in their faces; they are haughty and proud and display it publicly. But they have brought disaster upon themselves and great will be the trouble that they will yet bring down on their own heads because of what they have done.

Feral youths are in violent uprising against the population and women are calling the shots. Meanwhile those who should be showing leadership and spiritual guidance are intent on rebellion against God’s statutes, and leading all those in their charge away from God.

God's response in judgement

However, the Almighty God will take His place on the judge’s bench against those who have set themselves up as the elite, because it is they who have created the economic plight which has robbed the poor to serve the rich.
But the God of justice will hold them to account for what these leaders have done to create the economic hardship which brings poverty and despair.

Pride and vanity is rife amongst the women; they flirt shamelessly and adorn themselves with trinkets but God will turn their beauty into ugliness. He will strip them of all their finery and bring shame and disgrace upon them.

Meanwhile your menfolk will be killed in military conflict and the country will mourn in the despair of it all. Women will want the kudos of being married but will want to live in proud independence of their spouses.

God's response in mercy

Yet in that day those who honour the Lord will manifest His glory. A righteous remnant will be seen as such and honoured in the city. Once God has dealt with all the troubles by ‘a spirit of judgement and a spirit of burning’ (Is 4:4) then God will presence Himself over and above it all – in tangible ways both day and night. He will provide shelter and protection from all that is raging around.

Ref. Is 3:1-26; Is. 4:1-6


Isaiah 3 & 4

Judgment on Jerusalem and Judah

1 See now, the Lord,
the LORD Almighty,
is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah
both supply and support:
all supplies of food and all supplies of water,
2 the hero and the warrior,
the judge and the prophet,
the diviner and the elder,
3 the captain of fifty and the man of rank,
the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.

4 “I will make mere youths their officials;
children will rule over them.”

5 People will oppress each other—
man against man, neighbor against neighbor.
The young will rise up against the old,
the nobody against the honoured.

6 A man will seize one of his brothers
in his father’s house, and say,
“You have a cloak, you be our leader;
take charge of this heap of ruins!”
7 But in that day he will cry out,
“I have no remedy.
I have no food or clothing in my house;
do not make me the leader of the people.”

8 Jerusalem staggers,
Judah is falling;
their words and deeds are against the LORD,
defying his glorious presence.
9 The look on their faces testifies against them;
they parade their sin like Sodom;
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They have brought disaster upon themselves.

10 Tell the righteous it will be well with them,
for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked!
Disaster is upon them!
They will be paid back
for what their hands have done.

12 Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them.
My people, your guides lead you astray;
they turn you from the path.

13 The LORD takes his place in court;
he rises to judge the people.
14 The LORD enters into judgment
against the elders and leaders of his people:
“It is you who have ruined my vineyard;
the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people
and grinding the faces of the poor?”
declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.

16 The LORD says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads
of the women of Zion;
the LORD will make their scalps bald.”

18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery:
the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,
19 the earrings and bracelets and veils,
20 the headdresses and anklets and sashes,
the perfume bottles and charms, 21 the signet rings and nose rings,
22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses
23 and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.
25 Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will lament and mourn;
destitute, she will sit on the ground.

Is. 4

1  In that day seven women
will take hold of one man
and say, “We will eat our own food
and provide our own clothes;
only let us be called by your name.
Take away our disgrace!”
The Branch of the LORD

2 In that day the Branch of the LORD
will be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the land will be
 the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.
3 Those who are left in Zion,
who remain in Jerusalem,
will be called holy,
all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.

4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion;
he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit
of judgment and a spirit of fire.

5 Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion
and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day
and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory
will be a canopy.
6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day,
and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

Ed footnote: The above is not intended to suggest that Isaiah's words are to be taken verbatim as a description of what is currently happening, nor as a prediction of the eventual outcome. The purpose is mainly to illustrate that we are facing nothing new; but also that God's dealings with us remain unchanged. Rebellion, lawlessness, judgement and mercy are all intertwined.

We need to seek the Lord's face in knowing how to pray. It is good to pray for peace, but principally we need to hear from God in terms of what He is doing (and/or allowing), and pray in line with His agenda.

Christians Together, 10/08/2011