(When I taught my two year long Bible study on Isaiah, I used The Pulpit Commentary Volume 10: Isaiah edited by H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell to give me a starting point and rough outline of the material covered in the chapters. In this article, when you read the phrase “my commentary”, I am referring to this volume.)
Read Isaiah 3:8-9. Judah is going to be judged for:
— what they say (words)
— what they do (deeds)
— their lack of shame and their pride (parade their sin like Sodom)
Chapters 1 & 2 gave ample examples of exactly why Judah is under judgement and what God hates:
— arrogant and prideful
— doesn’t help the poor or needy
— dishonest in court and takes bribes
— ignores God’s rebukes and commandments
— mixes the religion of the one true God with paganism (child sacrifice, idolatry, orgies)
What is sad is though God warns Judah over and over through Isaiah and other prophets, she doesn’t change (as a nation). She brings this judgement and disaster upon herself.
Sometimes when I read the prophets I wonder “did anyone ever listen and repent?” We can’t know about individuals (we can only hope), but we know of one case where, as a city, people repented when a prophet came and preached judgment. This is the amazing and comforting story of Nineveh and Jonah and the whale.
What is so amazing is that this is a pagan city, a city of Assyrians. The Assyrians were an incredibly prideful, violent, and cruel culture. Yet they repented!
Read Jonah 3:1-10. This shows how God loves all peoples, not just the Jews, and that He sought to save these pagan people even before Christ’s coming.
This particular incident occurred during the time of King Amaziah of Judah, the father of King Uzziah (the king of Judah during the time of Isaiah chapters 1-3). Surely this story was known in Judah; it is so sad that they didn’t learn anything from it and follow the Assyrians lead and also repent.
Read Isaiah 3:10-11. This couplet, to me, demonstrates dramatically the duality of God’s character ‘” He is a God of mercy (to the righteous) and a God of judgment (to the wicked). Verse 10 is actually the only voice of hope in this whole chapter, the other verses all deal with sin and judgment. There is a lot packed into this one verse. Several questions came to mind when I read this:
Who are the righteous? (what does it mean to be righteous?)
What does “be well with them” mean?
What is the “fruit of their deeds”?
How are their deeds different from the wicked’s deeds (“what their hands have done”)
Question 4 seemed the easiest to answer. The righteous (whoever and whatever they are) don’t do what the wicked do. And we know what the wicked do from previous studies:
Wicked: Prideful (self first), Oppress the poor and needy, Dishonest, Ignores God, Mixes paganism with true religion
Righteous: Humble (God first), Help the poor and needy, Truthful, Pays attention to God, Has a pure relationship with God
Now that we know what the deeds of the righteous and wicked are, what kinds of fruits are going to result? (Question 3) Galatians talks about reaping what you sow.
Read Galatians 6:7-8. So the wicked with reap the fruit of destruction, the righteous the fruit of eternal life. Galatians 5:19-23 gives us even more fruits, for both groups.
But what about Question 2, “it will be well with them”? Will the righteous in Judah somehow escape all the physical troubles that are coming (the war, lack of supplies, loss of leaders, the chaos?)
I don’t think so. I don’t think Isaiah is promising a physical health and well being, I think he is promising a spiritual health and well being, a perfect peace that focuses on God and the reality that God is in control. Read Isaiah 26:3.
The world is crashing down around them, around the righteous and wicked alike, but the righteous know that they are held in the God’s hand.
But who are the righteous? (Question 1)
We looked at this question last summer, when we studied the Roll Call of faith. Read Romans 3:9-12. So we know that NO ONE is righteous, because no one can perfectly keep God’s law (ie. never sin). The only real righteousness for us, as sinful human beings, comes by faith.
Read Romans 3:21-26. So, for us, we know that righteous comes from faith in Jesus Christ, that we are justified and cleansed by His blood.
But that is the New Testament — what about what Isaiah is teaching in the Old Testament? How could the people of Judah be righteous without a Messiah to have faith in? They couldn’t be righteous by works — once more Romans provides the answer. Read Romans 4:1-3.
Just as in the NT, in the OT, belief in God was attributed to the people as righteousness. We know that if you believe in God (REALLY believe), you will do what He tells you to do and you will do the deeds of righteousness and show the resulting fruits.
H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (editors). The Pulpit Commentary Volume 10: Isaiah