Isaiah 9.7-21 — The Inadequacy of Leadership

The reign of this child is described in ideal terms: the utopia that people dream of and write about in literature. It’s obvious that Isaiah doesn’t mean a king among kings in Israel, but rather THE FINAL KING—the King to end all other kings. But he will still be of David’s line; God has not rejected his ancient promise to David.

V. 8: “The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel.” What I appreciate is that it’s an explanation to bring understanding. God, who doesn’t have to, explains himself. He wants us to understand. The point is to help us turn to him in relationship to be whole. He’s trying to connect and to teach. But he explains through the word of the prophet. Not everyone gets to hear the word of the Lord directly, but only mediated through the gift of prophecy.

I also notice that God communicates, but that doesn’t mean he communicates everything, or answers every question anyone may have. There is a lot that goes uncommunicated. He communicates what he wants to, to get a certain message across. Everything else stays hidden. This is a good message for me in my life. I need to remember all this stuff.

Then more writing about pride. Does the pride thing NEVER quit? No, unfortunately, it doesn’t. We must ALWAYS be on guard, our whole lives, of pride in ourselves and others, in the way we think, in our motives and actions, and in how we justify ourselves.

V. 10: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” The story of the universe is that all things will be made new. 1 Cor. 13: now we see in part, then we shall see completely; the imperfect will be made perfect. 1 Cor. 15: that which is mortal will be replaced by immortality. The tabernacle gives way to the temple. Law is superseded by grace. There will be a heaven and earth. We are new creations. The whole point is recreation: all will be the same idea, but not the same stuff.

11: “But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them and has spurred their enemies on.” This is one example of the Lord’s discipline. Your enemies will be strong against you, and they just keep coming. As we have learned earlier in Isaiah, the Lord doesn’t have to make things miserable for us, He just has to withdraw his protection. See, most of the time we have no idea how the Lord is protecting us, and sparing us what could be coming our way. All he has to do is lift his shield. We’ve read about this before, and it’s something I need to remember. We have no idea how God protects us every day, and how His shield is around us. We need to live in this knowledge.

12: “Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” Most of us have a low tolerance for suffering and pain. We have very little understanding of God’s ways, and a small view of the offense we have caused Him. That’s why we’re so quick to think that this is all so unfair.

13: “But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty.” God’s blessing didn’t turn them to him, and neither did his discipline. That’s why it’s time for judgment. People fault God for being so “mean”, but really, he tried everything else, and since his ultimate goal is to turn people back to him, he has to use every card in the deck.

14: “So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day;” The judgment of the Lord will be both quick and thorough. When people fall, it’s usually hard and fast: Richard Nixon (1973), Enron (2001), Bernie Madoff (2011), President Mubarak in Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Herman Cain (presidential candidate in 2011).

15: “the elders and prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail.” Political, business, community, and religious leaders are all corrupt, and will all fall. It’s the desire for both policy favoritism and wealth accumulation.

16: “Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.”  As go the leaders, so goes the nation. When corruption is endemic, the fall will be fast and thorough. We’re seeing this in America right now. So tragic.

17: “Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks vileness. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” Even those who are the subjects of the Lord’s special affection will lose His heart if they are ungodly.

And even that depth of judgment from God doesn’t set the balance level. More still needs to be done. Nothing works with hard-hearted, hard-headed people.

18: “Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.”  It spreads quickly because it’s people’s nature, and they want it. It’s the way: get them before they get you. You can’t trust people. Wickedness spreads and destroys.

19: “By the wrath of the Lord Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; no one will spare his brother.”  I picture the homestead scene from Gladiator. The fields and home are burned. The servants are slaughtered, and their corpses lie in the fields. His wife and son are murdered and hung from the rafters. It’s a picture of complete devastation, horror, and hopelessness.

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