Three Views of Jerusalem

Isaiah 2 – 4

After an introduction to his prophecy, Isaiah uses chapters two through four to give three views of Jerusalem: the Ideal, the Real, and the Redeemed.

The Ideal Jerusalem, 2:2-4

The vision concerns the specific time period called here the “latter days.” It could mean the last days of the Jewish Dispensation or more likely means the last era of time, the Christian Dispensation. It could most likely be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. (Ac. 2:17; Dan. 2:28; Joel 2:28; Ac. 3:24).

Zion or mountain in the text is the same mountain which is the church of the firstborn in Hebrews 12:18-23. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, seventeen nationalities flowed into the church and later all nations. Gentiles are also implied here as citizens of this ideal Jerusalem. The mountain is the government of the Kingdom. The Law and Word which goes forth is the Gospel of Christ. Jesus told His disciples “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:47). This new Kingdom will be one of peace (Eph. 2:17). It will not be enlarged or defended by carnal weapons. The weapons of the church are spiritual (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-17). God will judge who is and who is not in the kingdom. “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:23).

The Real Jerusalem

 Full of Worldly Ways, 2:5-9

God calls upon the current inhabitants to take a little stroll with Him in the light of reality. They have filled Jerusalem with the wicked customs of the east, this had brought them silver and gold, and horses and chariots, but most of all idols. They put their trust in the nations, the riches, their armaments, and idols, but not God. They are full of everything except righteousness. They may be prosperous, but they are not pleasing to God. They may be pleased with foreigners, but God is foreign to them. The soothsayers may speak soothing words to their ears, but they are not listening to God.

God will not forgive them because they bow down to idols which they have made with their own hands. Instead of worshiping the true God who created them. “‘Idols’ a favorite term in Isaiah, perhaps because it is identical with the adjective ‘worthless’” (Kidner). God is determined to punish their pagan worship.

 Lofty Brought Low, 2:10-22

They may have trusted in their riches, weapons, alliances and idols, but now they must hide “for the fear of the Lord.” There were many caves throughout Palestine. God will bring upon them a time when they will run and hide in them. If they do not already have a bomb-shelter, they best find one in that day.

The Day of the Lord is in contrast with the “latter days” in verse two. One is a day of hope and the latter a day of fear and dread, because God’s judgment is coming with His wrath. This warning is to those who have exalted themselves in the previous paragraph. The day of reckoning for the proud is here. An extensive list of all things to be brought low is given. Even the trade ships as far away as Tarshish, Spain are mentioned. Perhaps the towers are those built by Uzziah and Jotham (2 Ch. 26:9,10). Every thing which is exalted will be brought low by God. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6b). God includes the idols being “utterly abolished.” Only He will not be brought down.

The time for the proud to run and hide is when God comes in His day to shake things up. At the time he will not flee with his idols but cast them aside. Even those idols made with precious metals. They will leave them to the rats and the moles.

Idolaters are to be ostracized by all the righteous. Those who exalt idols find no help for themselves and can give no assistance to others. They may breath unlike their idols, but they are of no help to anyone. A man may take his final breath at any moment, so it is foolishness to trust in mere men.

 Removal Of Jerusalem’s Leadership, 3:1-12

Isaiah listed about a dozen things which will be removed. They have to do with the leadership of Judah and Jerusalem. All the food supplies will vanish. All the military leaders will be taken away. The city council as well as even those who dabble in sorcery and witchcraft will be gone. Babylonian was known for this practice. It hindered future rebellion among leaders of the people and helped the transition of Babylonian or foreign rulers to step in and take control.

The new leadership would consist of young children or young men or even a man with a coat and food. All this illustrates how desperate they will become for leadership. The only thing one needs is a good suit and a full belly and he is qualified to be mayor of Jerusalem. Even this man will refuse the job. It is interesting to note ages of the subsequent kings of Judah: Hezekiah was 25; Jehoahaz 23; Amon, 22; Zedekiah, 21; Jehoiachin, 18; Manasseh, 12; and Josiah, 8. With a lack of mature leadership will come a lack of respect for age and station.

Why is God punishing Judah and Jerusalem in this manner? They have refused to listen or obey. They are rebellious against God in their speech and actions. Even their faces are hardened with guiltiness and they are set to shamelessly parade their wickedness like Sodom (Gen. 19:4-9). They have no one to blame but themselves. They have “received in themselves the recompense of their error which was meet” (Rom. 1:27). They will reap as they have sown (Gal. 6:7,8). They directed the people wrong and confounded them as to the instructions of God.

 Leaders are Judged, 3:13-15

The leaders are to be condemned, because they have used their position to steal from the poor. The Lord questions their treatment of the poor. How could they be doing this?

Women are Judged, 3:16-4:1

The women of Judah and Jerusalem strut around town with an arrogant disposition. They lack any demonstration of humility in their step and gaze. They dress and walk with silver bells to attract attention. Strong defines their walk “to trip (with short steps) flirtatiously.” They have certainly attracted God’s attention.

Next, twenty-one items of their wardrobe are singled out for removal. Not because these were wrong to wear, but the attitude behind their dress. They will be given a scab on their head and their nakedness completely exposed. The attire and condition of the women as described in verse twenty-four is that of those in great poverty, sorrow, and slavery. Slaves were often branded. They would pluck or pull their hair out in mourning as they were led away naked into captivity. With the men dead and gone, seven women will try to seek protection just to be called the wife of a man. The shame of their childless and single status is traded for a polygamous relationship by sharing one man with six other women.

Jerusalem Redeemed, 4:2-6

As chapter 1 served as an introduction to the entire book, chapters, 2-4 serve as a preview of the remainder of the book. The redeemed remnant will find hope in the Branch. Further mention of this Branch is found in 11:10; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12-13. This Branch is Christ who will come after the land has been judged. He will clothe them in beauty. The remnant will be those of the beautified bride consisting of those who have been made holy (Eph. 5:23f). They will have their names recorded in the book of life. In order for them to be so blessed the Lord must first wash away the women’s filth and purge Jerusalem of the bloodshed. This was done through the captivity. Old Israel must first be put away in divorce for her adultery with idolatry. The cloud by day and flaming fire by night will serve his holy people as a shelter, as a representation of Divine presence, protection and guidance (Ex. 13:21).

– Daniel R. Vess

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