Isaiah 3-5: The Branch
September 2, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
More extraordinary chapters from the great prophet Isaiah. First, in chapter 3, there is more judgment. Note the signs of judgment: they will have boys as their princes, infants shall rule over them (3:4). God’s judgment against a people is often shown in immature and infantile leadership. Some of our leaders may be older but still act like babies. Lack of fearing God leads to lack of maturity, and bad leadership is a scourge on all. In fact, people will no longer seek leadership positions for they will not be honorable: you have a cloak, you be our leader. Anyone will do! The wicked proclaim their sin. They do not hide it. Immorality is popular; it can make you a celebrity. How relevant is God’s Word!
Nonetheless, the righteous will be alright, and God’s prophet is to assure his righteous people that God will continue to protect them even in the midst of more general judgment.
The haughtiness of “the daughters of Jerusalem” (3:16) will be replaced with a desperate desire to find any husband, and even be willing to share him with many others (4:1). How terrible are these times!
Nonetheless, there is hope, Messianic hope, a “branch” (4:2). The branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious. This branch will have a redemptive purpose and will lead God’s people as they were led in the wilderness: cloud by day, fire by night (4:5). Again and again, Isaiah will prophesy the coming of the LORD, and his own presence with his people.
But, chapter 5, the vineyard—see Jesus’ parable of the vineyard that exegetes and explains this Old Testament parable (Matt. 21:33-44)—is derelict. What had made it so bad, this dereliction of God’s people, was their avarice. We think of sins so often in sexual terms, but here Isaiah has in mind the sin of greed. They had joined house to house (5:8), never satisfied, bigger and bigger McMansions. And their heroes were now heroes at strong drinks (5:22)! They celebrated their drunkenness. Their prosperity had gone to their heads, and they had abandoned the God who had blessed them. They are wise in their own eyes (5:21)—a much easier thing to be than wise in someone else’s eyes. And so, Isaiah declares, exile is coming (5:13).
Well! Hardly encouraging stuff! But remember that branch, which shall be beautiful and glorious (4:2). In the midst of calamity there is Calvary, and in the middle of debauchery there is redemption, or at least hope of redemption, for those who will turn and believe.
How glorious it is that we know this “branch” and can worship at his feet and follow him! And how important and essential it is that we make the most of his revelation and worship him and follow him with faithfulness all the days of our lives, not giving in to the dumbed down, decadent, infantile times, but instead rising up as the righteous in our day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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