Our final reading this week is from Isaiah 10:1-4
G-d loves justice (Micah 6:8). He commands us to pursue and chase after peace (Heb 12:14). There is a relationship between justice and peace. Without justice there would be no peace. Without peace, there is no righteousness. When we deny someone justice, we are inviting the judgment of G-d upon ourselves.
Isaiah 10:1-4 is a continuation of what we were studying in Isaiah 9. The rest of Isaiah 10 speaks about the judgment that G-d is going to mete out to His people through Assyria. Assyria was used by G-d to mediate justice to Israel.
v1: Woe: This is a word of admonition. It is a warning, which means how awful something is going to be unless there is a change in behaviour. If the person/people continue in this way the outcome will be disastrous.
- Decree unrighteous decrees…write misfortune: These letters were written and sent out to be read publicly to the people. In a sense it was a proclamation, but these proclamations had consequences attached to them. They were proclamations that brought grief and trouble to people. They caused people to suffer. The principle we can learn here is this: When we are part of something that denies someone else justice (receiving the right judgment), or when leaders deny their people justice, wickedness is going to flourish. This in turn leads to grief and trouble.
v2: Rob: This is a word of distortion. Something which is twisted.
- Needy: This is a synonym for the word ‘poor’. It is a word that refers to those who have meagre resources. Usually, the needy in a society have very little power within it. G-d’s nature is to be very protective over the helpless in a society. G-d watches over them. The Bible contains many warnings against those who deny justice to the poor. G-d gave His instructions and laws to regulate society. He expected more from those to whom He had given these laws to (Luke 12:48).
- Widows may be their prey: They created situations where the assets of widows and the provision of orphans would be taken away. In the original Hebrew, these words used to refer to the treatment received by the orphans and widows are words for plundering and taking spoil (see biblehub.com). This is language that is associated with a victorious army who take all the spoils or booty of war from those they have defeated. These individuals were abusing their powers and they were exploiting those in the society. This was not the way that G-d’s covenant people were meant to behave.
v3: Punishment (Literally the word here is ‘visitation): This is a word that speaks about G-d getting involved in society – G-d coming into a situation. When G-d gets involved, He is all in – totally involved in either delivering people or punishing them. The implication, here, is that G-d is going to visit them for judgment.
- Desolation: In Hebrew this is the same word that is translated ‘holocaust’. This is a disastrous and catastrophic event.
- Glory: Referring to their treasured possessions. They had impoverished people and now they were going to be impoverished (Matt 7:2).
v4: Bow down: Bend the knee. They were going to be brought into submission.
- They shall fall among the slain: When G-d visited His people (in order to put things back into their rightful order) many of them would be taken prisoners and many of them would die. This is the consequence of exploiting others, taking advantage of those who have no voice within a society. When we are unkind to others, we are inviting G-d’s judgment into our lives.
- His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still: This is the fourth time that this phrase has been repeated in the past two chapters.
- His hand is stretched out still: This is good news. Although G-d will not withdraw from this time of judgment upon His people, He still gives them an opportunity to repent.