Judgment on Judah
Text: Isaiah 3:1-5:30
The Punishment - Isaiah 3:1-15
God declares that He will remove both the food supplies and the leadership from Judah. The Hebrew verb for “to remove” indicates something that is certain and will happen in the near future. The lack of food and water indicates a siege that will last until all supplies are gone. It isn’t limited to political leaders. God lists anyone who has skills in some way. Even false prophets (diviners and enchanters) will be removed.
They will be replaced by people without experience or skills who will oppress the people. Chaos will ensue. It will become so bad that when people are asked to lead simply because they have good clothes. They will turn the offers down, most likely because they fear being deported like rest, but they will declare they have nothing to offer the nation to fix its problems.
The Cause - Isaiah 3:8-4:1
The certainty of God’s punishment is declared: “Judah has fallen.” Even though it is a future event, its fall is so certain that it can be spoken of as already completed.
The reason God is doing this is that Judah has rebelled against God in both speech and actions. They are unable to hide their rebellion. It is readable on their faces and they don’t bother to conceal their sins, just like Sodom.
Though God is taking down the country as a whole, He will distinguish between the righteous and the wicked. Each group will receive what they deserve based on their deeds (Galatians 6:7).
God feels sorrow over what must be done. “O My people!” But the nation as a whole is being lead astray by incompetent leaders. They cause confusion about what is right and wrong, making it difficult to follow righteousness. God declares that He will judge the leadership because of their destruction of the country. God likens the nation to a vineyard He planted but those given the care of it have brought it to ruin. They will be called into account for their wicked deeds in oppressing the poor.
The women are not exempt from God’s judgment. They walk in pride with mincing steps to cause their ornaments to jingle and gain the attention of those around them. But God will take away their wealth and beauty in such a way that everyone will see it. They will be led off as slaves and branded. The warriors will die battle and the whole country will go into mourning. There will be so few men left that the women will pursue them. The law requires that men provide food and clothing for their wives (Exodus 21:10), but these women will be so desperate for a husband that they will offer to support themselves and be willing to share the same husband.
Not Without Hope - Isaiah 4:2-6
Despite the devastation that God will bring, He does not leave Judah without hope. The Branch (the Messiah) will come (Matthew 2:23). The survivors of Israel washed clean of the filth of sin and become holy. Then God will lead them as He led them in the wilderness and give Israel protection.
The Vineyard - Isaiah 5:1-7
Isaiah sings a song about his Beloved. In the song, his Beloved had a vineyard that was located in a fertile area. It was well-tended and planted with the best vines. His Beloved had high expectations from the vineyard, but its produce was worthless.
God is the Beloved and He asks the people to judge the relationship He has with His vineyard which is the nation of Judah. What more could have been done for them? And, yet, why did it fail to produce righteousness? Thus, like a worthless vineyard, God is going to tear down Judah and no longer care for it.
Verse 7 contains a wordplay in Hebrew. God looked for mishpat (justice) but He found mishpach (bloodshed). He looked for tsedaqah (righteousness), but He found tse’aqah (a distressful cry).
The Sins of Judah - Isaiah 5:8-30
Greed (Isaiah 5:8-10) - People were accumulating land, disregarding the laws of inheritance (Micah 2:2; Leviticus 25:13-33). The rich lived in isolation from the rest of Israel. As a result, God would empty their dwellings, no matter how rich they are. The land would stop yielding, no longer making its owners wealthy.
Revelries (Isaiah 5:11-17) - People were spending their days getting drunk and partying. No one paid attention to God and His teachings. Thus, they will go into exile because of their lack of knowledge and the grave will swallow them whole. Everyone will be humbled, but the Lord will be exalted. The land will be empty. Just lambs grazing in fields for strangers to take.
Sin (Isaiah 5:18-19) - People were dragging their sins behind them. They just would not let them go. They mocked God, challenging Him to bring on His judgments.
Immorality (Isaiah 5:20) - People were reversing God’s standards of morality.
Pride (Isaiah 5:21) - People thought themselves to be clever and smart, but they were only using themselves as the judge.
Drunkenness and Drugs (Isaiah 5:22) - They thought they were strong because of how much alcohol and drugs they could consume.
Bribery (Isaiah 5:23) - Justice no longer existed because the wicked bought favorable verdicts.
The Anger of God - Isaiah 5:24-30
God’s anger will burn through the land like wildfire through dry stubble because they have rejected God’s law. God will strike the people down and the dead bodies will fill the streets like rubbish, much like the destruction caused by a volcano erupting.
In His anger, God will call a distant nation to come quickly. They are well-rested and prepared for war. It will destroy and carry off the people and no one will rescue them.