Isaiah 3 and the 2016 Presidential Election

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For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.

"Stay and staff" or “rod and staff” are closely related in Hebrew and were a common expression such as our "room and board". The ESV says, "support" and "supply." The Lord is removing every thing and every person that the people depend upon for support and sustenance. In verse one, the prophet names bread and water specifically, the basic commodities needed for life. In the following two verses, he names those people who were and still are important to society for safety, leadership and supply of needs.

The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

Isaiah names eleven examples, but obviously not all.
1) Mighty men - men of character and greatness, influential persons in a positive way.
2) Men of war - soldiers, the military.
3) Judge - this would include all judicial persons of any society, including courts of law and law enforcement.
4) Prophet - spiritual leaders. Today these would be pastors, theologians and evangelists.
5) Prudent - those gifted in interpreting laws or formulating solutions to difficult problems.
6) Ancient - this word is used to represent men of wisdom that comes from great experience. These are gifted and capable mediators in bringing people together who have a controversy.
7) Captain of fifty - These are not only military captains, but people with authority in various ways such as mayors and employers.
8) Honourable men - these would be doctors, bankers, lawyers and people we should be able to trust.
9) Counselors - Here are various kinds of advisors or consultants. Today we would include people like insurance or investment advisors.
10) Cunning artificer - skilful craftsmen and handworkers.
11) Eloquent orator - The word translated "eloquent" indicates gifted, knowledgeable, educated. It would include motivational speakers, but also teachers, instructors and educators.
In brief, these verses describe a general decay or collapse of society until nothing but chaos, misery and confusion remain.

And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. (v. 4)

The term "children" indicates an immature, pre-adolescent boy although it sometimes includes girls. The word "babes" is used twice in the OT, both times by Isaiah. The other time (66:4) it is translated "delusions"! The Hebrew word is closely related to the word for caprice= "unpredictable mood change, a sudden change in temperament". When we read on, it would seem that Isaiah is speaking of immature rulers, who like children, easily take offense and throw temper tantrums.

It certainly describes Herod the Great, who had many of the Jewish leaders killed soon after becoming king of Israel because he didn't trust them. When the wise men didn't report back, he ordered all boys under 2 years of age in and near Bethlehem killed. When he himself was on his death bed, he ordered all important people to be herded into the hippodrome, the gates to be locked and the stadium burned! This act was to assure that there would be great mourning after his death! The soldiers did not obey and many lives were spared.

And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. (v. 5)

This verse is easier to understand and it aptly depicts the situation in our society today. Is there any politician, business, or person that you can trust anymore? Promises mean nothing and everyone is just out for himself. Adolescents are arrogant and show little respect for their elders and authorities. Children in school are taught to report parents who spank them or own guns.

When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand: In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people. (v. 6-7)

Frustration of voters over the lack of viable candidates is a major factor in the present presidential election. Newsweek, May 5, 2016, reported that a Reuters poll shows "deepening polarization in U.S. society over the personalities and policies of the two presidential candidates." It asked those who planned to vote in the November 8 election about their reason for voting for either Trump or Clinton. Some 47 percent of those who backed Trump said they were only voting for him to keep Clinton from becoming president. The survey shows Clinton supporters are thinking the same way. Some 46 percent said they would vote for her to keep Trump from winning the race. The poll, conducted between April 29 and May 5, surveyed 469 Trump voters and 599 Clinton voters.

For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. (v. 8) Is there any need for explanation of this verse?

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves. (v. 9) [ESV= "brought evil upon themselves"]

The people are open and brazen about their sins, even bragging about them. The comparison to Sodom is significant. Think of the "Gay Pride Parades" and the blatant act of a US President who reacted to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the LGBT crowd by lighting up the White House in rainbow colored lights! The New Testament says that the day of the Lord will come as in the days of Noah, when there was general godlessness.

Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him. (v. 10-11) We all reap what we sow, whether good or evil!

As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (v. 12)

This is the situation in public life and also in Judaism (church). Teachers are required to extol "the wonderful merits of LGBT philosophy" to children in public schools. They must deny the Creator and teach unproven and disproved evolutionary theory as fact. Slaughtering innocent unborn babies is proclaimed "a woman's right to choose." Those who refuse to comply can lose their job or even be taken to court. The first four words may be indicating the role of women in worship and church leadership. The final phrase indicates: causing confusion and misleading followers.

The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. (v. 13-14)

"Standeth" appears twice but the Hebrew has two different words. The first utterance means "to assume a stand or position" and the second means to "hold, keep or defend that position." The Lord will come to the defense of his people and oppose ancients and princes (elders, senators or politicians) who have only served their own interests rather than the interests of the people.

What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts. (v. 15)

The words "beat" and "grind" are borrowed from the threshing and wine making processes. Grapes are crushed to get the juice and wheat is ground to make flour. Leaders of the people are doing this to those whom they should be helping in order to make themselves rich and feed their own stomachs.

Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet (v. 16)

The description is picturesque and even though some of the words are unclear, but I get the picture of women strutting around. wearing make-up and revealing clothes, trying to get men to gawk. The word translated "mincing" only appears here in the Bible and indicates flirtatious eyes. "Tinkling" is a reference to ankle bracelets that jingle as one walks.

Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. (v. 17)

This is very descriptive and should be terrifying to those indicated in Isaiah's prophesy. He says that the Lord will cause them to bow (instead of stand or walk haughtily) by hitting her on the top of her head with a "scab" = a kitchen utensil used to scrape out pots that are caked with hardened substances. The picture is that of a so-called "liberated woman" strutting her sexy body for men to admire and lust after being struck and humbled by a common hard kitchen utensil. The translators obviously had difficulty with the last part of that verse. To translate it literally, would have been very easy, but they must have felt that it would be inappropriate for believers to read! I tend to agree and leave it as translated. The woman is stripped naked and her private parts exposed for all to see.

I can not help but think of an incident that happened in our youth center back in 1972. Our youth went out into the streets, sang gospel songs, passed out tracts and invited youth to evangelistic evenings in the youth center. The 14-year-old daughter of a church elder decided that she was old enough to attend and she  showed up wearing lots of make-up, dressed in a mini skirt, net type stockings and high heel shoes. She was out to impress all the guys and while I was trying to figure a way to get her aside and ask her to leave, God took care of the matter for me. One of the guys who had only recently been saved and freed from a rough life that included drug addiction, recognized the delicate situation and acted promptly. He got out of his seat, walked over to the girl, bent over and studied her legs closely until she became angry. He looked at her surprised and said, "Isn't that why you dress like that - to get us to look?" She ran out of the room crying all the way home. I never saw her dress like that again!

In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell [parfume] there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

That last verse tells us who is being described in these verses (see also verse 1). It is Israel, Judah and Jerusalem. It could also describe America!

Ralph V Harvey, May 11, 2016