Summary: Our passage requires that we stay focused on the judgment to come to those who have offended God. For though Jesus has saved the elect from destruction, it nevertheless will come on the wicked.
Isaiah 2:12-22 The Arrogance of Man
8/20/00e D. Marion Clark
Last week we considered the condition of Israel, or Judah. The nation was experiencing prosperity. She seemed to be secure militarily. And all this was taking place in the midst of rampant idolatry and mixing in other religions, specifically the practices of divination. By their very unfaithfulness to God’s commands, they seemed to be prospering. Through their own ingenuity – economic, military, and religious – they had made themselves into a great people, or so they thought.
What they had really made themselves into was a nation ripe for judgment. I had asked how Israel had gotten herself into such a position. How was it that a nation selected and really formed by God could have strayed so far from him, forgetting his commandments and warnings? The answer was arrogance. Through their arrogance they presumed to take for themselves the glory reserved only for God. The passage closed with a warning of the judgment to come. If you recall, I did not spend much time with that, instead reflecting how wondrous that God, who receives such great offense, would in his mercy let his Son take the judgment in the place of those who have offended him.
Our passage this evening requires that we stay focused on the judgment. For though Jesus has saved the elect from destruction, it nevertheless will come on the wicked.
The word of judgment begins at verse 9, which sets the theme and tenor. There is the theme of arrogance being humbled: 9 So man will be brought low and mankind humbled.
See it again in verse 11 – 11 The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low – and also verse 17 – 17 The arrogance of man will be brought low
and the pride of men humbled.
12-16 lists the great symbols of pride that had always mesmerized Israel – the tall, lofty cedars of Lebanon, the great oaks of Bashan, the majestic mountains and hills. There are the great works of man – high towers and strong walls of cities and the great trading ships. Yes, God has something in store for all these signs of greatness – they will be brought down, made low. They will be humbled.
These things will take place on the day of the Lord that he brings judgment. And note how Isaiah depicts the judgment.
19 Men will flee to caves in the rocks
and to holes in the ground …
20 In that day men will throw away
to the rodents and bats
their idols of silver and idols of gold,
which they made to worship.
21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks
and to the overhanging crags …
Men will be filled with terror. They will hide in the deepest depths they can find. They will throw away as worthless all the idols they had made to make them prosperous and secure.
And what is it that they will be fleeing? God in his exaltation. They hide from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty! Three times that is stated (10,19,21). Read verse 21:
They will flee to caverns in the rocks
and to the overhanging crags
from dread of the LORD
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.
We have a picture of God rising as out of a deep sleep. It’s as if he literally has been laying low. But now he rises, and seeing the pretentiousness of the world, he gives it a good shake, making all of its vanity fall to the ground and the inhabitants hiding in fear. Isaiah is saying, “You want to see real greatness? Real loftiness? Some day you will when you are confronted with the majesty of God. I promise you, you will not be standing tall then. You will not be smiling serenely as though God had come to acknowledge your importance. His splendor will terrify, not delight you.”
Why is God so upset with pride? Think about it. It really is through pride that great things have happened. Men do great things because men wants to make a name for themselves. We push into new frontiers because we want the satisfaction. So we climb mountains, cross oceans, fly into the sky, even go to the moon. We may have other reasons, but really, what causes the first to make such daring exploits is glory (and a healthy measure of greed in many cases.)
We make discoveries and inventions, think new ideas and create new works of art, again, for glory. Otherwise, why do we compete to be the first or recognized as the best? It’s our pride that stirs us on. And it has take us rather far. I bet the old Greeks would have thought they had been transported to the world of the gods, if some could be transported to now.