The Decline and Fall of a Nation

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Isaiah marks four components of behavior that will assure the decline and fall of a nation. What was true for Israel in 700 B.C. has been repeated for centuries in various nations since that time.

The root cause of the decline and fall of nations is arrogance, which then leads to other problems.

— Arrogance and pride lead to trust in false leadership.

— Self-serving and false leaders lead to an “everyone for themselves” approach to life.

— A lack of love toward others leads to a lack of social justice.

These are major themes in the Book of Isaiah. We ignore them to our peril because God is a just judge.

A Snap-Shot of Arrogance

Isaiah captures a nation’s pride and arrogance with a one-verse image.

The sin for Isaiah, the source of all other sins, is the pride that exalts humanity above God. It makes God but a tool for the achievement of our plans and dreams.

In pride and arrogance of heart they said:
“The bricks have fallen,
but we will build with dressed stones;
the sycamores have been cut down,
but we will put cedars in their place.”
(Isaiah 9.9-10)

Henry Blackaby observed that in our nation’s past tragedy would be met with a call to prayer and repentance.

— If there were a mass shooting or civil disturbance, there would be prayer.

— If there were a massive forest fire, a hurricane, or a powerful tornado, there would be a prayer meeting.

— If there were a war or conflict with another nation, it would be accompanied by a prayer meeting.

In all of these meetings the question would be, “God, where have we gone wrong? How can we return to you and your ways?”

Other than a brief return to God after the terror attacks of 9/11, turning to God seems to be lacking in our nation.

Instead, the pride of self-sufficiency seems to predominate the discussion. Slogans like “Make America Great” and “Build Back Better” are just two expressions that reflect our nation’s self-reliance.

The bumper sticker, “The Power of Pride,” is the pathway to judgment.

Leaders who Mislead

Rather than turning to God, people turn to various leaders for guidance.

The people did not turn to him who struck them,
or seek the Lord of hosts.
(Isaiah 9.13)

If we don’t turn to God for his direction, we will find ourselves having no leadership at all.

So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—

Elders and dignitaries are the head,
and prophets who teach lies are the tail;

For those who led this people led them astray,
and those who were led by them were left in confusion.
(Isaiah 9.14-16)

When people turn away from God in willful self-reliance, they put their faith in political, religious, business, and other kinds of leaders.

The religious guides “teach lies” and the overall result of bad leadership is that the general public is “left in confusion.”

This passage proclaims, “If we are trusting anything other than God, we are placing our confidence in the wrong place.”

Everyone For Themselves

The march to the bottom begins with pride, then misplaced trust in human leadership. Next, comes everyone for themselves.

They gorged on the right, but still were hungry,
and they devoured on the left, but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred.
(Isaiah 9.20)

The Psalm writer described the actions of people who believe they will never be held to account by God. He wrote,

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon the Lord?
(Psalm 14.4)

The arrogance that believes that “man is the measure of all things,” gives license to the strong to “eat up” the vulnerable.

How can we expect God to bless a nation that permits and/or endorses the prosperity of a few at the expense of the poor?

God declares through his prophet that he will bring nations like this to justice, even those with whom he has a covenant relationship.

Institutionalized Social Injustice

The final stage on the road to ruin is state-sponsored injustice.

Uzbekistan and China use slaves to harvest their cotton crops.

North Korea, India, and the Democratic Republic of Congo all use slave labor for certain tasks. In those countries, children as young as five are part of the slave labor force.

Whether nations sponsor slavery or enact laws to permit gross income equality, God has a message for them.

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
who write oppressive statutes,

To turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil,
and that you may make the orphans your prey!
(Isaiah 10.1-2)

God begins every statement of his judgment with the word, “Ah.” This is a warning that judgment is at hand.

The downward march to the bottom begins with arrogant pride that believes we are not dependent on God.

Self-dependence leads to a misplaced trust in untrustworthy leaders, who promote social inequities and state-sponsored injustice.

God’s word to Isaiah that is recorded in chapter 8 is an excellent way for us to respond to this dire warning.

Verse 11[Do] not to walk in the way of this people.

Verse 12Do not fear what it fears, or be in dread.

Verse 13But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

When we respond in this way to God, we know “He will become a sanctuary” (verse 14).

About This Blog

Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.

Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.

I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.

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