Isaiah 3:16-4:1 – From Beauty to Ashes

Read Isaiah 3:16-4:1

Women are apparently not immune from the wrath of God. Not that I would have thought so, but there are some drastic measures being taken here. I don’t know about you, but when I think of women from Isaiah’s time, I picture more of a servant girl not wearing jewelry or adornments of any kind. The picture here of women is glamorous, “haughty” walking around with their noses in the air. It is obvious these women have great wealth and prestige or have the appearance of that at least.

We see how quickly beauty can be taken away. Is it wrong to want to look beautiful? The problem here was these women had placed importance on their alluring clothing and stylish jewelry rather than on God. Instead of seeing the oppression around them and using their wealth to care for those less fortunate, there was greed and selfishness. Those are traits that keep us from a lasting relationship with God.

What do you think the women hearing Isaiah’s warning from God thought? They were probably in complete denial that they would go bald. Imagining a scalp full of scabs does not sound at all pleasant to me. “On that day of judgment the Lord will strip away everything that makes her beautiful,” and Isaiah goes on to list in detail the pieces of jewelry and apparel that would soon be only a memory. Will the loss of their “costumes” cause them to be more focused on God, or will they become angry and insolent like spoiled children?

This is another example of the “idols” we can place around us which keep us from focusing on God. Having wealth itself is not the problem. We know that everything belongs to God. People who collect many possessions will end up with nothing when they die.

God looks at how we handle and manage the possessions he gives us. Do we live lavishly? Compared to many people on this planet, I live like a queen. I need to be careful not to let the extravagance around me distract me from my true calling as a child of God. That is my take-away from today’s reading. I choose to use my abundance to bless others and support missions and ministries devoted to reaching those that don’t yet have a relationship with God. Rather than adorn myself in new clothes and fancy jewelry, my heart says—GIVE. What does your heart say to you?

We see here the results of what happens when prideful ambition and the wrong intentions are in control. “The gates of Zion will weep and mourn. The city will be like a ravaged woman, huddled on the ground.” This is such a vivid picture for me. I’ve been the abused woman, cowering on the ground hoping to not take another blow. I know the fear, the humiliation, the anger, the hopelessness. That is not what God intends for his people.

It’s time for all of us to rise from the ashes. Look around your surroundings today. Do you see “stuff” you flaunt? How can you use what God has given you to help others?

Let’s pray … Lord, I thank you for how you have rescued me from a life of fear. Your blessings of abundance overwhelm me still. Help me not to be selfish with what you have given me. I pray that you will multiply the blessings I can provide others with the gifts you have given me. May I never give up on giving all I am for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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