3 September 2007

Isaiah 2: 5-17

"The haughtiness of people shall be humbled, and the pride of everyone shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day". (v.17)


The first 39 chapters of this Old Testament book are attributed to Isaiah of Jerusalem, who lived in the city in the second half of the eighth century BC. There is a colourful account of his call to prophesy in chapter 6

In today's passage, we see the prophet in judgemental mode. Earlier in the chapter, he has introduced a note of hope, that "in days to come" Jerusalem will be a place of pilgrimage for all nations, and a centre of peacemaking. But he goes on to pronounce judgement on the people whose wealth has made them arrogant, and whose religious life has been influenced by practices which take them away from their God. 

The prophet introduces ideas of a day of judgement, and gives stern warnings about what will happen to people who are filled with a sense of their own importance. God will teach them humility, he says. 

In vivid language, he lists some lofty things - trees, mountains, ships - to illustrate the heights from which people will be brought down by God.

To Ponder

If you were Isaiah speaking to the world today, how would you encourage people to be humble before God?

"Pride goes before a fall." Can you illustrate that statement from your own experience or from the contemporary world? Do you see God in action in such situations?

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.