11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning
to run after their drinks,
who stay up late at night
till they are inflamed with wine.
12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
tambourines and flutes and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD,
no respect for the work of his hands.
13 Therefore my people will go into exile
for lack of understanding;
their men of rank will die of hunger
and their masses will be parched with thirst.
14 Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite
and opens its mouth without limit;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
with all their brawlers and revelers.
First Things First
This is another hard rebuke, because it again speaks against one of the core values of Western civilization: pleasure. It appears that Isaiah is rebuking those who pursue pleasure with really the harshest terms, that they will be responsible for Israel’s ultimate ruin. This is very hard for us to take because we value pleasure and recreation, and we naturally wonder if God is calling all of us to a severe, hard, and ultimately unhappy life of work and work and work.
But this is not what God is rebuking in this passage – he doesn’t have a problem with fun and joy and spending time with the ones we love. The mentality he is addressing is one where pleasure is our FIRST priority, where we wake up for it, and we stay up late for it. Our thoughts are bent on how we can have fun this weekend or our next vacation, and we ignore the suffering of those around us because we are so distracted and consumed by our pursuit of pleasure.
It is a hard balancing act – to enjoy fun and pleasure, but not to allow it to become our first priority. Instead, we should realize that there is a time and a moment for us to have fun, but our attention to the things of God should still be a 24/7 affair.
1. Have you ever found yourself having this mentality, where FUN was really your first priority?
2. How can we practically put fun and recreation into its proper place in our lives?
3. What habits or parts of our lives make it hard to prioritize fun correctly?