Tuesday in the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 2:6-4:6

Pride Goes Before a Terrible Fall

Proverbs 6:16 tells us: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him.”  And then the first sin it lists is “haughty eyes,” a graphic metaphor for the terrible sin of pride.  It is often said that pride was the primal sin, the one that Adam and Eve indulged when the serpent tempted them to partake of the forbidden fruit: “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

It is pride that is the theme of the chapters in Isaiah listed above.  Gold, silver, treasures, horses, and chariots, presumably for the men, for chapter three addresses the “daughters of Zion” as being particularly interested in headbands, crescents, pendants, bracelets … well, it’s a long list.  But the message is that the people of Judah were not interested in the things of the Lord but only in possessions.  Both men (2:11) and women (3:16) are indicted for haughtiness.  And even worse, they were worshipping idols.  Now this should not surprise us.  Pride is a form of self-worship as we place ourselves before everything and everyone else.  An idol is simply ourselves objectified.

But the Lord has a remedy for this: it’s called judgment.  You will remember that yesterday I quoted First Corinthians 11:31: “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”  This is so.  We need to examine ourselves on a regular (i.e., hourly) basis to see if we are walking with the Lord.  If not, we can expect God to discipline His children, which is unpleasant, since no one enjoys being disciplined, but necessary, since it later “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

The judgments that God was to bring upon Judah are quite severe.  In short, the land was to be invaded (which it was, by the Babylonians, a century later) and devastated.  But chapter four reveals that even then, God would not be finished with His people.  Isaiah 4:2-6 promise a messianic time when the “branch of the Lord” would be beautiful and glorious.  The “branch” in the Old Testament is a reference to the Messiah himself (for instance, see Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8).  The “survivors” are the remnant that is left after the Lord has cleansed His people.  Reminiscent of the ancient Israelites in the wilderness, the Lord will protect His people overhead with a cloud by day and a fire by night – a refuge and shelter.  The Lord judges His people for the purpose of sanctifying them.  May we use this Advent season to examine ourselves ahead of that wonderful Messianic reign before us.

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