Sorry this is late! But you know what they say: “Better late than Nebuchadnezzar.” Who says Christians aren’t funny?
16 The LORD says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
tripping along with mincing steps,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the LORD will make their scalps bald.”
18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, 19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms,21 the signet rings and nose rings, 22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses 23 and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.
25 Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will lament and mourn;
destitute, she will sit on the ground.
The Women of Zion
Here, the judgments of Isaiah turn to focus on a specific gender, upon the women of Zion. This is pretty noteworthy, and there are a few things we can take away from this passage:
First, look at the laundry list of beauty accessories that Isaiah categorizes:
“bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.”
This may seem excessive, but I think it plays an important purpose in highlighting the bottomless-ness of materialism. Once you start being materialistic and loving yourself or your possessions, there is no end to that process. There is no end to the stuff you feel you need to have in order to have the right look, or the complete set.
That is the illusion we tell ourselves: “All I need is this last accessory, and then I’ll be happy!” But when has that ever been true? When has that one last object put the stopper on our worldly desires? When has any object ever made us enduringly happy? We need to identify this sentiment for what it truly is: futile foolishness.
But additionally, when you think of it, these bangles and accessories are all little self-idols. They are used to magnify us, to make us more beautiful and attention-grabbing. But the goal of a Christian is not to glorify self, but to glorify the one who is truly worthy of glory – God. This begs a question of us: how much of our lives is devoted to glorifying ourselves, and how much is devoted to glorifying God? Do we accesorize ourselves in the hope that people will recognize us, or do we place the focus on God alone, hoping that people will recognize the Christ that resides in us?
1. What was the last material thing that you really pined for and ended up getting? Were you completely satisfied with the purchase? Has it ever disappointed you?
2. Is there anything that you are pining for now? In light of this passage, how might you rethink your desire for it?
3. What in your life is your “bangle”, the thing that brings more attention and glory and honor to yourself? Is it your career, your looks, your intellect?
4. In what ways can that bangle be used instead to bring more attention to God instead of to self?