Isaiah 3 has the prophet painting a picture of what is to come for Judah. “For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them”. The prophecy begins with God saying He will take away their food and water. They are heading into famine.
But it goes much further. God is going to deal with their lack of godly leadership. God is addressing the incompetent leaders on every level from top to bottom. The prophecy says they will all be captured. Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass in 2 Kings 24 where all the leaders were captured and carried into captivity. But the destruction will go further. “And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable”. There is a huge leadership void as all the leaders are taken away and the people are left to rule themselves.
So the bar for leadership gets pretty low. “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader”. God warns His people that He will strip away all that they have come to depend on. And when He does, there is no one qualified to step up and lead. So people are grabbed and put in authority to fill the void. This is a sure way to create disaster – when people not qualified are put in a place of authority and lead. Leadership is such an important trait that every people and nation need. God’s punishment for Judah is to strip it away and leave them without. A very big punishment indeed.
The reality is that God will deal with those who don’t walk in His ways. “For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence….haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet”. How we live does matter. Our sinful life will cause us to be separated from God, just like the people of Judah. We have to determine what we’ll go about our sin – which is based completely on what we do with the blood of Jesus. But after that one decision that determines our eternity, how we live and our obedience to God will shape how that eternity looks.