Isaiah 3 continues along the same line as Isaiah 2 and makes it very definitely clear that it is Jerusalem and Judah which God has in view above all others when He speaks of coming desolation and unsparing judgment. The covenant people and the one-time holy city had strayed so far from the path of obedience that God Himself prepared them for the vengeance decreed by weakening their means of defense. “Children” were their princes and “babes” ruled over them. Their leaders, in other words, were like infants unable to control themselves, much less guide others aright. So disorder and confusion prevailed in place of orderly government. When God is dethroned, anarchy always results.
In their desperation, men were ready to follow anyone who might seem to be able to point out a way of escape from the present misery and might promise to bring order out of the chaotic conditions prevailing. But those to whom men turned for guidance were in utter bewilderment themselves and so refused to take the responsibility of seeking to rectify the abuses that were affecting the nation so adversely.
The root cause of all the trouble is indicated in 3:8: “Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.” The people had brought down judgment on their own heads and therefore solemn woes were pronounced against them: two in Isaiah 3 (3:9,11) and six in Isaiah 5 (5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22).
In 3:9 we read, “Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves,” and in 3:11, “Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” As for the righteous remnant, God will care for them and protect them in the day of storm and stress.
Alas, the great majority of the people were oblivious to their danger and were content to go on with children as their oppressors and women ruling over them. Such weak and powerless leadership could not lift them above the existing confusion.
The psalmist had prayed, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2), but now there was no one to plead for the guilty leaders in Judah. Instead the Lord Himself stood up to plead against them and to judge them. Because of the way they had misled His people and abused their confidence, He would hold them accountable for all their waywardness.
The vain women who had given themselves to folly were also sternly rebuked. In their pride and empty-headedness, their one great concern had been personal adornment. They sought to add to their beauty by using every device known to women of fashion, but God was about to smite them with sore diseases that would so disfigure them that they would be loathed by their former admirers.
If it seems strange to us that God took note of all the ornaments and apparel that the women relied on to make themselves attractive, we need to remember that in the New Testament careful instruction is given to women regarding their “adorning” (1 Peter 3:3-4). It is to be not “that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel,” but the adorning of the heart with “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” Christian women would do well to pay close attention to that which the Bible says is becoming to women professing godliness. Pride and vanity—in men or women—are hateful to God and in due time must be dealt with by Him in judgment if there is no repentance.