Someone pointed out that in chapter 2 Isaiah begins by describing the ”ideal” (1-5), but then goes on to talk about the ”reality” of the situation. The people of Judah were not walking ”in the light of the LORD” (5) but clasping ”hands with pagans” (6). In other words, they were living as worldly people and not as godly. The challenge is to live godly lives in a godless world; to seek the ideal in the midst of imperfect reality (Matt.5:48).
So this was the ”reality” Isaiah faced: ”GOD, you’ve walked out on your family Jacob because their world is full of hokey religion, Philistine witchcraft, and pagan hocus-pocus, a world rolling in wealth, Stuffed with things, no end to its machines and gadgets, And gods – gods of all sorts and sizes. These people make their own gods and worship what they make. A degenerate race, facedown in the gutter.” The Message.
The key message in these verses is that a day of judgment is coming. It will be a day when the arrogance and pride of men is humbled. It will be a terrible day. People will try to hide from God’s ”dazzling presence’’ (10, 19 and 21) The Message, but they will be unable to do so. ”The LORD alone will be exalted in that day” (11b, 17b). That, of course, is how it should be in this day. True life is found now in worshipping God. (”Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism. ) This is what we were made for. (‘It’s GOD alone at front-and-center on the Day we’re talking about…” is how The Message puts it.) ”Pride is the attitude in man that leads him to exalt himself and put himself in the place of God; it is this attitude which leads a man to create his own ”gods” – idols – rather than worship the true God who created him! All manifestations of human pride will be brought low by God.” Tom Hale: The applied Old Testament Commentary, p.995. By the way, all the things mentioned in (13-16) are poetic representations of human pride. This comes across clearly in The Message: ”People with a big head are headed for a fall, pretentious egos brought down a peg, It’s GOD alone at front-and-center on the Day we’re talking about, The Day that GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies is matched against all big-talking rivals, against all swaggering big names; Against all giant sequoias hugely towering, and against the expansive chestnut; Against Kilimanjaro and Annapurna, against the ranges of Alps and Andes; Against every soaring skyscraper, against all proud obelisks and statues; Against ocean-going luxury liners, against elegant three-masted schooners. The swelled big heads will be punctured bladders, the pretentious egos brought down to earth, Leaving God alone at front-and-center on the Day we’re talking about.”
People trust in all manner of things:
- Occultic/superstitious things (6);
- Material things and wealth and trade (7a and 16a);
- Military strength and fortifications (7b and 15);
- gods of their own making (8 and 20);
- Pleasure and leisure (16);
- Man himself (22)
But you can only properly prepare for ‘the Day of the Lord’ if you abandon all these ‘idols’ (for that is what they are) and trust solely in God.
One final thought: a day of judgment is coming. But even in this life there can be ‘mini’ days of judgment on the way to the big one. Arrogance and pride so often get dealt with here and now. There can be an abandoning by God even while we live in the world (6; see also Rom.1: 18-32.)
Prayer: Help me Lord to trust you only.