First thought as I go into chapter 3 is how well organized was the Lord with his people. Ample provisions of leadership and judgment should have been a safety net for the people to keep them in the ways of righteousness. All these were taken away in their wickedness.
Similarly, this is how the devil works as well. He weaves us into such intricate system of enslavement that to leave it is a very difficult process indeed. The haughtiness of the daughters of Zion is an example of this detailed entanglement in things that are of no eternal consequence.
In verse 5, a people that are in a state of sin are an oppression to one another. Neighbors drawing resources from one another. There is a scarcity mentality — not enough to go around. While the poor have burdens to be lifted, when everyone is poor, so that no one is able to provide for their own, then do they become a burden to each other.
There is a conversation recorded here between a man and his blood brother ( brother of the house of his father) where in the former will solicit the later for protection. The brother will refuse the invitation to become a ruler in that day, acknowledging that he himself is without resources even to provide for this own house, let alone to be a ruler over the people.
Either this is the foolish assumption that one must be of means to occupy a position of public service, or there is a more sober reality that a people in such a state cannot be governed. At any rate, leaders of good character are hard to find when the people refuse to be self-governed by the truth.
Verse 9 illustrates how far gone these people are. “They declare their sin as Sodom, they hid it not.” This is the seriousness of their situation, they are in open acknowledgement of their rebellion. So long have the warnings of the prophets been ringing in their ears, that it has become for them a subject of mockery. They openly declare their own sins. The prophets no longer had anything to tell them for they had accepted this as the way things were for them. Sodom did the same.
Their final indictment is this: “For they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” Evil as a reward? How backwards have we become when we see wickedness as something good or to be desired as a reward?
Amidst all the destruction foretold in these verses, and which are verified in other parts of the Old Testament, there is this verse of hope and promise:
Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.Verse 10
This is such an important declaration, that even in the midst of a civilization in decline, among a people who’s fallen countenance witnesses of their sins, it will still be well with those that choose to follow God, even if they are alone in doing so.
The final topic of consideration is this stinging indictment of the house of Israel towards their own poor.
…for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.Verses 14 & 15
What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?
This is a topic of serious contemplation. How can I build and grow in such a way as to not take advantage of the poor? “The spoil of the poor is in your houses.” This means so much to me. Can we go to the stores and buy what was produced through quasi-slave labor to adorn our homes and not be held without blame?