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Isaiah 4:1-6

Daniel Tan

Isaiah 4:1-6 (NKJV)

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; Only let us be called by your name, To take away our reproach.”

In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped.

And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy —everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

Today we will take a look at Isaiah 4, a rather short chapter but a bit of hope in the wake of all the previous chapters. Keeping in context the past few chapters of doom and gloom, punishment and judgement, Isaiah 4 comes as a somewhat breath of fresh air in terms of what it addresses. We can call back to Isaiah 3’s last verses: a condemnation of the rich and of the extravagance that some of Israel revelled in while their kinsfolk suffered. That wealth would be replaced with desolation that specifically targeted each aspect of that haughty splendour so undeserving. Finally, the gates of Judah would lament and mourn, sitting on the ground in her desolation. Isaiah 4 opens in continuation of that theme at first. As a result of God’s judgment in Isaiah 3:25, “Your men shall fall by the sword”, they arrived at a situation where,“In that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying ‘we will eat our own food and wear our own apparel’”.

Seven women would rather share a man than be without one. And this not for the sake of provision, but in order not to be ashamed of being without a man and a name.

A problem that we might see here is that rather than clinging onto repentance and God, these people still cling more closely to their sense of social dignity. It is more important for them to have some form of dignity than to simply be broken about what they’ve done and been through. Still, this was not a normal thing to do. For one, women were usually not the ones to search for their husbands. It was the other way around. The man’s family would do the searching and pay a dowry for the man to wed the woman. Also, the society then was mostly monogamic. To have seven women share the same husband and not expect any form of support was at the very least a show that they had forsaken their pride and done something to remedy the situation. Regardless of whether these women should be credited or condemned is a difficult thing to say in the patriarchal society they lived in. But at the very least, in the face of God's punishment, we should seek to remove the disgrace by some means. Though preferably, as Luke 1:25 puts it, we should do so through God rather than man. Beyond this however, Isaiah 4 makes a turn towards speaking of the days of the Messiah. That even in lieu of the desolation and disgrace suffered by the haughty, the Branch of the Lord appears beautiful and glorious. This is a slightly different branch from that in John 15, because here the Branch is that of a tree rather than that of a vine. Still, the idea of fruit remains. Those of Israel who have escaped the desolation will be given new fruit. I think it’s safe to assume the idea of fruit here is hardly physical but instead spiritual. That those who persist after the desolation will be given sustenance in at least one form. And that those who are left in Zion will be called holy. We have referred to Mount Zion previously, but Zion here refers to the metaphorical representation of Zion. And once again, the idea of distributive justice comes into play. God’s goal is not to wipe out or exact revenge. God's goal is to wash away the sins and start anew. To purge by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, but then a renewed relationship. Vs. 5 references the account of Exodus 13, where the Lord came in a pillar of cloud and smoke as well as the pillar of fire. Indeed Zechariah 2:5 also references this idea of fire and God's glory being amongst the Israelites. At the end of the day, what God wants is not destruction but restoration. However, it remains that such restoration can only come once the wicked have been purged and humbled. Note that it doesn't say that all will perish but rather some will perish. Those who do not are promised better days. God does not promise an assurance of destruction but an assurance of peace and prosperity in him (keywords: IN HIM). He will provide a tabernacle as refuge from the heat, and from the storms and rain. God has always wanted to provide. Perhaps it is our failing that we cannot see His provision and rather have made our lives vain and conceited. If that is so, we best learn from the example of those Isaiah spoke of and turn back towards him so that what we reap is reward, not punishment.

Daniel Tan

Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections. Daniel is in the Young Professionals ministry of the Central Christian Church.

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