Isaiah Chapter 3 – You Reap What You Sow
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you reap what you sow.” It’s not just a saying, it’s a biblical principle…
If you sow corn, you’ll reap corn. “That’s so simple Pastor Clay, any idiot knows that.”Yes, but do we understand that this is also true in how we live our life?
Isaiah chapter three is a continuation of the warning to Judah and Jerusalem, but it’s given in the context of the basic principle – You reap what you sow. See, God isn’t going to judge Judah without first laying out His case, and explain to them how they’ve erred.
If a parent were to punish a child for an infraction that was never explained to the child, we would say that parent was being unfair. The bible teaches us that God is holy and righteous, and thus He would never punish His children without first explaining the rules (the law), and even further sending Isaiah to point out where they’ve gone astray, and what the consequences will be for not returning.
We could say this is day two of the court proceedings against Judah.
1 – Open sin against God
Isaiah points out that not only are they sinning in their deeds, they’re not even attempting to hide it; They proudly proclaim it! There is no sense of shame. You could say that they were “loud and proud” of their lifestyle! Does this sound familiar? It should, as we see it in our culture today, where sin is declared “lifestyle” and its proudly on display for all to see. In chapter five God declares “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Is 5:20)
2 – Robbing the poor
It would have been bad enough for Judah to have failed to help the poor, as the bible clearly teaches us to be willing to help the poor (Deut 15:7, Luke 3:11). Judah was worse, guilty of taking advantage of the poor, and oppressing them. Again, we see this practice today in the payday loan industry that prey’s on the poor with interest rates as high as 600%!
3 – Sexual promiscuity
Lets be clear that God isn’t condemning jewelry, nor is God sexist. The charge here deals with women adorning themselves in a promiscuous way, and having a haughty, seductive attitude. Just keeping in real, in the male-female dynamic it is usually the female that displays the “I’m hot and available” outward signals, with the male responding. Both are wrong. So God isn’t saying that the women are the only ones in sin, but simply pointing out the sin that they women are guilty of. That’s why the bible teaches that women should adorn themselves in such a way that they aren’t sending the “I’m available” signal to men (1 Tim 2:1).
4 – Obsession with luxury
Again, God isn’t picking on women, as it can certainly be said that many men have their own obsessions with material items, such as boats and cars. The point here is that the women were obsessed with these things as a way of declaring that they were better than others. I think many high-end fashion stores understand this, which is why there’s such a huge market for $500 purses!
You may be thinking “that sounds like many large US cities today – and you would be right! The sad thing is this: There are consequences to sin, and in this chapter the Lord explains what those consequences are…
1 – Removal of basic necessities
I was watching a documentary the other day that talked about what happens when starvation sets in; Lack of food has such a devastating affect on the mental state of the person, they’ll resort to cannibalism – you’ll eat your friends! When the Babylonians lay siege to Jerusalem, the city will undergo devastating shortages, and women are reduced to eating their own children.
2 – Loss of skilled workers
We may not realize it, but our standard of living is directly tied to people that do the needed jobs. What would our city look like if there were no trash men? How would we fare if there were no air conditioning repair people? Things would go downhill quickly! This is part of the consequences of Judah’s sin; The people that build a culture; soldiers, judges, artisans, will no longer contribute to society, and things will go downhill fast.
3 – Incompetent leaders
When a man takes hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying, “You have clothing; You be our ruler…” (vs 6)
Wow this one strikes close to home! One of the most devastating things that can happen to a society are incompetent leaders. In our country, elections have become popularity contests, with the person offering the most “freebies” usually getting the vote. I hate to say it, but our country is getting what we asked for! In Judah’s case, godly leaders will be so scarce, simply owning a cloak will qualify a man for leadership!
4 – Breakdown of order in society
“The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; The child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable.”
The result of poor leadership and the lowering of moral standards is a breakdown in the order of society. When fathers and mothers live only for pleasure and personal comfort, children are brought up to be self-centered, and there is no longer respect for authority. Again, it’s scary to see how we are seeing this in our own culture. Watching how the events in Ferguson MO this year exposed the complete lack of respect for authority and for others property in our culture. God help us!
5 – Men killed by the sword, women desolate
Your men shall fall by the sword, and your mighty in the war. Her gates shall lament and mourn, and she being desolate shall sit on the ground. (vs 25-26)
When the Babylonians sack Jerusalem, the soldiers go through the city slaughtering men, and many women are taken captive or abused. The first verse of chapter four give a stark picture:
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; Only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.” (Is 4:1)
In other words, “We’ll support ourselves, just take me as a wife so I don’t die childless.” Those are sad words!
I have to say that reading through this chapter is quite sobering, as many of the sins of Judah are clearly evident in our culture today. Are we like Judah, so far from God that judgment is coming? One might argue where we are in the timeline of God’s judgment, but there’s no getting around the fact that our country is already seeing some of the fruit of its sin.
Yet there is hope for the righteous, and God promises that we shall indeed reap what we sow:
“Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” (vs 10-11)