A Lesson on National Peril

Read: Isaiah 2:5-22

The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear. (vv. 17-18)

Having read yesterday about God’s glorious future for his people, we can empathize with Isaiah’s dismay at the decadence in the religious and social trends of his day. He sees people fascinated by superstitions from the East, a land full of silver and gold, horses and chariots for military strength, and idols in excess.

If we examine our culture we see remarkable similarities to current fascination with New Age mysticism, daily focus on stock prices, confidence in military power, and the ever-present idols of nationalism, materialism, and entertainment. Perhaps the time has come when God is calling us to humble ourselves before his penetrating assessment of our choices. Are we being as cavalier and arrogant as ancient Judah?

One effect of God’s judgment is that people are humbled when their great works, lofty towers, fortified walls and trading ships are destroyed (recall September 11). Isaiah visualizes people in such despair that they throw their idols of silver and gold to rodents and bats! The first and last verses of today’s reading invite us to something better: participation in God’s glorious future. “Come . . . let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (v. 5) “Stop trusting in mere humans.” (v. 22) —Gordon Van Wylen

As you pray, ask God for wisdom to make choices that further God’s purposes.

About the Author

Gordon Van Wylen served as the Dean of the Engineering School at the University of Michigan, and was the President Emeritus of Hope College. Dr. Van Wylen died in 2020.