As we open Isaiah 4, one commentator summed up this scene in verse one perfectly,
“This verse brings to a high point the horrors that were to come. War has always resulted in the decimation of the male population. For example, approximately one million French, one million German, and half a million English male soldiers died in World War I. So many men would die in Israel that women would be desperate for male companionship and support. They would be willing to humiliate themselves to escape the reproach of being unmarried and childless. Long gone is the hope to gain a man through seduction of the eyes (cf. 3:16). Now even begging and pleading would be ineffective. Women providing their own food and clothing is the reverse of God’s intention in marriage (cf. Exod. 21:10). Likewise women taking men’s places and leading them, as Eve led Adam (Gen. 3), illustrates a desperate situation.” (Constable’s Notes, https://netbible.org/bible/Isaiah+4)
Although verse one doesn’t seem radical to our modern ears, there was great shame associated with the declarations of these women. Sin had left Israel in such poor estate that it would take generations to “wash away the filth” and “cleanse the bloodstains.” Yet, that’s exactly what God would do.
“That day” in verse two, refers to a future day when the Lord would fulfill his covenant promises by creating something “beautiful and glorious,” something of “pride and honor.” Isaiah refers to the “branch of the Lord,” which refers to Israel, but also used as a Messianic title elsewhere. Ultimately, God’s Messiah would “create” a “booth for shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.”
Scripture often refers to sin as a “pit.” To use a more modern phrase, quoting Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” At first, sin feels good, but as days turn into months and months into years, the consequences of sin bring devastation and heartache. It’s also amazing to see sin’s grip, and how trapped a person can become in the consequences of choices made outside of God’s Wisdom.
In high school, a good friend of mine was driving while listening to Frank Sinatra. You might be asking how many high school guys listen to the Rat-Pack, but, he did. I can’t remember if it was inattention or a slick road, but he described the scene of driving off the road in a sharp turn. He was blasting the song “My Way” by Sinatra. “I planned each charted course, Each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” As it turned out my friend’s “way” was, instead of following the road, careening down a steep hill toward the back of a house in the “rich” neighborhood in a mid-90’s Dodge Neon.
Sin has a way of making wrong turns seem right. Our way, instead of following God’s Way, leads to devastating and costly consequences. Ultimately, those consequences lead to shame and humiliation and only God-sized intervention can lift a person out of the pit of sin. In that place, it’s hard to imagine something “beautiful and glorious,” bringing “pride and honor,” but that’s exactly what God wants to do.
Don’t respond in the comments, but what in your past still brings shame when it comes to your mind? Have you confessed it as sin before God (1 John 1:9)? What you should respond in the comments is: how has God, through Christ, set you free? You might still be suffering consequences, but where have you seen victory?
*Just in case anyone is wondering about my friend. He was fine. He had just enough traction to aim for a tree instead of the house. I think he still even drove that Neon for years after. So many people had gone off the road there that the city of Richmond finally installed a guard rail.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate