Isaiah 3.8-12 — A Failure of Leadership

Isaiah 3.8: The truth is, the people of God have just become a secular society with religious practices well integrated, so that their consciences allow them to sleep at night, but basically they get to do what they want all day long, and to pursue the desires of their hearts whether or not those desires align with God’s. They’re obviously deeply religious people who take their very identity from the God who made them a nation. But their words and deeds are against the Lord, because they are not from faith, and anything that is not from faith is sin. It’s bloody hypocrisy, and Jesus brutally condemned behavior like this.
Why is that so bad? It’s the Eden problem: doubting the Word and the goodness of the Lord, and making decisions to please oneself. It’s the Babel problem: making God what we want him to be and who we are comfortable with. It’s abrogating the covenant, because the covenant is a covenant of love, and they live as if God is away on a long trip (just like the parable), and so they start doing what is right in their own eyes.
It defies God’s presence because his presence is not a conscious factor in how they live their lives. They live in such a way that they shows they can’t tell if he’s there or not, and so all through the day they don’t reference him, or refer to him, or acknowledge him in any way. They live as if he was an abstraction instead of the core of their lives.
Verse 9: “The look on their faces testifies against them.” Our faces tell a thousand tales about what’s in our hearts and our souls. People who can read body language can reach the truth through applied psychology: interpreting microexpressions, facial expressions, and body language (like the TV show “Lie to Me”). People’s eyes and lips betray a world of feelings. But these people parade their sin like Sodom.  We’re seeing this in our culture in a literal way. There are gay/lesbian parades celebrating the gay lifestyle and values. Churches are participating in calling for gay marriage. They celebrate tolerance and the acceptance of all lifestyles.
Verse 10: “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.” This is significant, because this is seldom the case. Sometimes the righteous get swept up with the wicked, as in the case when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians or when Judah fell to Babylon in 586 BC. More often, though, the wicked benefit from the blessings on the righteous, as when God said he would spare Sodom if there were five righteous, mercy which I’m sure happened many times. Scriptures also tell us the sun shines and the rain falls on the just and the unjust—God’s common grace.

But here the tale is different. The wicked have disaster rained upon them, and the righteous will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. 

And look at v. 12: Youths oppress the people, and women rule over them. Guides lead them astray. It sounds like the youth are roaming the streets like renegades, forming street gangs and taking over the command of the neighborhoods. It’s rule by intimidation, fear, and violence. Something like this can generally only happen when there is no responsible government—no controlling force over society. It’s like Lord of the Flies. Also, in their culture, the women were uneducated and untrained. This is not meant as an insult to today’s women, but just to say that their nation would be so weak that the uneducated and untrained would be in charge. 
Then we see the failure of leadership:

1. To provide a godly vision

2. To provide a moral example

3. To enforce justice and a moral society

4. To support the cause of the oppressed. In their failure they will support money and power instead.

5. To discern with wisdom

6. To rule with mercy

This is what leadership is ordained to do. Anyone who aspires to leadership needs to memorize this list and live it with great responsibility.

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