The purpose of the passage we’ll be looking at today is to push us toward humility. In the world, we are always pressed and pushed toward pride. But, after discussing this, we should hopefully walk away humbler and more aggressively pursuing humility as Christians.
Ask yourself this: “Has my Christianity made me humble? Because I am a Christian, am I growing humbler over time?” In Isaiah 3:1-4:1, we see how God was going to humble His people.
God Humbles the Leaders
What we see first off is that God humbled His people by humbling their leaders and taking away their power.
For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms.
– vv. 1-3
God’s people had begun to feel powerful in themselves. But God is, in essence, saying, “How powerful will you be if I stop giving you bread and water?” Without God, mighty men, judges, prophets, diviners, elders are all powerless. They have no place exalting themselves above Him.
God would humble leaders by taking away their power. He would also take away their position. This is what we see in verses 4-5:
And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable.
Part of God’s humiliation of His people was having the younger generation disrespect their elders. Not only that, but leadership positions were going to be so disrespected that no one would even want to be in them (vv. 6-7). God was going to leave His people without leaders.
Why Was God Doing All This?
This seems like pretty harsh punishment. Why would God do this? He was doing this “because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence” (v. 8) and because His people “proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it” (v. 9).
God was not like an enraged, abusive father punishing His children for a minor infraction. The agreement between God and His people was very specific. He had laid out the blessings that would come if His people stayed faithful to Him – He also laid out the consequences for turning away.
Israel shouldn’t have been surprised at this humiliation. God had told them what was going to happen, and it was Isaiah’s job to remind them. They were now reaping what they sowed (vv. 10-15).
It’s true that “with great power comes great responsibility.” God’s people had used their power for their own pride and selfishness. So He was going to humble them.
God Humbles the Women
Besides the leaders, God was going to humble another group: the women of Judah. The leaders defied God openly by oppressing the people they should have been caring for. What were the women doing?
The Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
This portrait is of women using their beauty and sexuality for their own pride and selfishness. The same way the leaders were using their position and power, these women were using their beauty and sexuality. And so, in order to humble them, God would shame them by taking away their beauty (vv. 18-24).
The men would lose their power and position. And the women would lose their power and position. When this happens, the “men shall fall by the sword” (v. 25) and “seven women shall take hold of one man in that day” (4:1) to not be widows.
Looking to Jesus: An Example of Humility
So, here we are listening in on God’s conversation with our much older brother Judah. We need to examine ourselves. Do we feel sufficient and superior because we have a lot of supplies? Nice clothes? Money? Power? Do you feel superior because of that and not because of the Lord? Do you feel secure on your own, thinking you’re self-made and don’t need God?
Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all have pride, but it shows itself in different ways. It may look like perfectionism, disdain for others, or emotional distress.
The takeaway from this passage isn’t “Try harder to be humbler!” it’s “Go to the humble one: Jesus Christ.” He humbled Himself in order to save you – look to Him as an example. Use your power and position to worship God by blessing people, not as fuel for your pride.
Whether you’re a father, mother, neighbor, manager – ask yourself this: “How can I use the power and position God has given me to bless others this week?”