The Lord God was bringing His judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah. He would take away from them “all support of bread, and all support of water.” He would also remove from them the leading men of their society. The top military people, the best advisers, and the respected religious spokesmen would be gone. In their places would be “boys” who would be unable and unwilling to lead the people with love.
The nation would no longer respect any honorable voices from among the elderly. They would press the unworthy into service who lacked the character or desire necessary to show God’s people the right way to go. “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader.” This voice of the people would not seem to inspire great confidence. “And this heap of ruins shall be under your rule.” Despite the encouragement of those around them, such “infants” would never agree to the sacrifice that would be necessary of men who would truly set the best example of righteous living. “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.”
How had the Lord’s chosen people fallen so far? The answer was very plain. “Their speech and their deeds are against the Lord.” Those who should have been the top men in their society bore on their faces their obvious immorality. “They proclaim their sin like Sodom. They do not hide it.” They had abused the Lord God Almighty and had taken advantage of the weakest and frailest among them. “The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of His people.” What had they done? “The spoil of the poor is in your houses.”
The only note of hope in the midst of this withering indictment was the promise of God to rescue those who were truly faithful. “Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them.” But it would not go well with the wicked.
What about the highly placed women among them? Would they be spared? No, the Lord spoke against them for their “haughty” eyes. Their concern was to appear impressive in their outward appearance, but they were not women of excellent character. They would one day find themselves greatly changed. They would be led into exile. Their fancy jewelry and garments of beauty would be replaced by signs of humiliation and subjugation.
This prophetic warning against both highly placed men and their privileged wives should have made it clear to everyone that the respected names in Jerusalem and Judah would not be able to save the Lord’s people. They would have to look beyond the best and the brightest among them to find any reasonable hope of deliverance.
The Lord had a plan to provide the only Man who could ever bring salvation. Yet when He arrived on the scene many centuries later, the leaders among His own nation did not receive Him. Though He was despised and rejected by men, the humble and wise Captain of our salvation has proven His worthiness through His love. The brash leaders from the days of Isaiah were long gone. The true Messiah showed His surpassing worth in one great act of obedience: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God of Hosts, what will Your church do when You come to purify us? There is much weakness around us and within us. We want to trust You, even in the day of worst tribulation. Give us grace to be faithful in every time of trouble, and cut short the days of testing, for You know the limits of our strength. Father, Your people have been crushed by their leaders. Men and women have become haughty and complacent, but how will we be proud when powerful enemies come to destroy us? Unite together those who belong to You, and show us mercy because of the wonderful righteousness of Your Son, who shed His blood for our sins.