RPM, Volume 15, Number 40, September 29 to October 5, 2013

Little Leaders

Isaiah 3:1-7

By D. Marion Clark


Last Sunday we studied a passage that presented the final judgment of God, a judgment that shakes the whole earth and humbles all the arrogant. It ended with this admonition:

22 Stop trusting in man,
who has but a breath in his nostrils.
Of what account is he?

That verse is a fitting introduction to this evening's passage, which presents a temporal judgment against the nation of Judah. God will show the foolishness of trusting in man.

The Judgment

Verse 1a makes clear that what is about to take place is from the hand of the Lord:

See now, the Lord,
the LORD Almighty.
See now, the Lord,
the LORD Almighty…

Adonai is the Hebrew word translated in small cases as "Lord." It is the term that speaks of God as Sovereign. LORD in capital letters is from the Hebrew word "Yahweh," also transliterated as "Jehovah." Hebrew has no vowel letters and how one inserts vowels changes the form of the word. This is the name God gave to Moses for himself, and it indicates his self-existence, that his existence is eternal and depends on no one or nothing else. Almighty is more literally translated by the KJ as of hosts. He is the God of many or a mighty army. Therefore he is almighty.

The great almighty God is about to remove from Judah everything that she thinks makes her mighty. First, he will remove the basic support system.

both supply and support:
all supplies of food and all supplies of water,

These basics, which are essential to sustain life, and which are taken for granted, will be removed, probably through famine and drought. Man can cultivate and irrigate all he wishes, but it is God who brings and withholds the rains.

The second action is perhaps more severe. God will remove worthy leadership. He will remove the 2 the hero and warrior. The tried military leader who has proven his courage and ability will be removed. Perhaps he will be killed in battle; perhaps he will step down without a worthy successor. But the ones whom a nation relies on to protect her from attack, will no longer be available.

The judge and prophet will be removed. Those to whom the nation looked for wisdom, discernment, and especially to teach the will of God will be taken away. Even the soothsayer will be taken out of commission. This is a strange group to include. Soothsayers were supposed to be illegal anyhow. Even so, Judah and Israel continued to call on their services. Despite their theology that proclaimed God as sovereign and their religion that esteemed his prophets, they nevertheless turned to soothsayers for "real" help. God is going to take them away too, which will unnerve the people and leaders.

He will also take away the elder, the legal and esteemed position of leadership. Every town had its elders who decided the everyday cases of the people, and who helped regulate the community life. They were, as they were termed, the elder men. They earned their position by their experience.

Then there are 3 the captain of fifty and man of rank, the counselor, men of various rank and distinction, both in military and civilian life. There is also the clever enchanter, another illegal occupation that the Israelites turned to for help. Again, God will remove that crutch.

And then I want you to note the term skilled craftsman. This is the master tradesman, the one whose skill supports the practical structure of a society and its government. The skilled craftsman was the local carpenter, the plumber, or, in our day, the electrician. You can see the importance of this position. The warrior was only as mighty as his military weapons. Society functioned only as well as the practical structure functioned. Just think of the effect on a community when the plumbing and electricity fails for a time.

This deprivation of experienced leadership will result in chaos. Boys, i.e. inexperienced and inept persons will become leaders. With the removal of strong and wise authority, oppression and violence will rise. The respected ways of society — respect for the elders and for the distinguished — will turn into animosity. Civil authority will become so devalued that people will try to force others to become leaders, and even then on the most superficial of reasons. Even that won't be enough, as those sought to be leaders vehemently refuse, again for superficial reasons.


The value of leadership in society:
- military
- government
- civil life

The value of skilled service:
- essential role in war
- The Kursk submarine
- the New York blackout
- the longer degrading situation of systems failing

The role and value of leadership in the church:
- the older members — who possess experience and wisdom
- the middle-age — capable of leading and carrying the weight of responsibility
- the skilled servant — who sees that the support system is functioning

To disable a church, make it ineffective:
- don't need to create a division or scandal
- don't need large numbers leaving
- just need to remove able leaders and servants
- and to put in place inexperienced and inappropriate people

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but many advisers make victory sure (Proverbs 11:14).

If the removal of able leaders and skilled servants is a curse upon a nation and a church, then let us pray that God would bless us with such persons. Let us pray that he will both send us such persons and that he would raise them up within our midst.

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