In Isaiah 32 the prophet says to careless women who are at ease to rise up, hear his voice, and pay attention to what he has to say.
Are you living with a sense of urgency or complacency? Is your life one of ease or need? What will it take to wake you up from your life of comfort?
Today we look at a group of women covered in the book of Isaiah who the prophet called Careless Women.
Who Were the Careless Women Isaiah Addressed?
Isaiah addresses the issue with careless women in Isaiah chapter 32 verses 9-15. He was speaking to the Hebrew women who lived seven centuries before Christ, and yet, his message is just as relevant to women today.
He opens his plea telling the women who are at ease to rise up, hear his voice, and pay attention to what he has to say. Then he warns them that in a little over a year they’ll be troubled when their world falls apart.
Throughout the Bible God tells people to not be afraid, but in this passage, Isaiah gives the exact opposite advice.
“Tremble, you women who are at ease; Be troubled, you complacent women.” They were living fearlessly, giving no thought to the future. They needed to be shocked awake to be prepared for what was ahead.
He goes on to tell them to get rid of their fancy wardrobe and clothe themselves in sackcloth because their time of mourning is coming. Calamity will hit, palaces will be forsaken, the city will be deserted, the forts and towers will be taken over by robbers, and wild animals will roam freely.
Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Until we get to verse 15.
“Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.”
The remainder of chapter 32 provides hope as Isaiah describes what will happen once God reigns in their lives.
“Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, Though hail comes down on the forest, And the city is brought low in humiliation. Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.” Isaiah 32:16-20 (NKJV)
Why Did Isaiah Single Out the Women?
I’ll let you in on a secret. A year ago, if you had asked me to analyze Old Testament prophecies like this, I would have gone into a panic. But I’ve come to realize that if you read slowly, ask questions, and do a little research, you can make sense of anything you read in the Bible. So let’s go back to verse 9 and delve a little deeper into what Isaiah was saying.
It starts off pretty easy. Pay attention. I’ve got something important to say to all you women who are living the easy life. Darker days are ahead, and you need to be ready.
So why did he specify the women? Why didn’t Isaiah address his message to all the people? Obviously, we have no way of knowing what was going on in his head, but perhaps he thought it would be easier to get the attention of the women since we tend to be more sensitive. Or maybe like in the case of the Wicked Hebrew Women, they were the leaders in their careless living. Often, the Bible reveals the severity of the situation by the state of the women. The prophets used them as an example, saying things had digressed so far that even the women were living in depravity.
Whatever the case, Isaiah wanted to make sure that he got the attention of the women in order to prepare them for what was to come.
Once he got their attention, he proceeded to tell them what lay ahead for them.
Verse 10 is one of those where it helps to read in different versions. I usually use New King James Version that says, “In a year and some days You will be troubled, you complacent women; For the vintage will fail. The gathering will not come.” What does that mean? At first glance, I’m not sure.
The NIV makes it a little clearer. “In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come.”
Their economy weighed heavily on their vineyards. If natural or enemy forces destroyed the harvest, it would devastate their financial situation. Isaiah is telling them, right now you feel wealthy. Come next year, you will be poor.
In verse 11, Isaiah again calls them “women at ease” and complacent. These words can be interpreted women at leisure, arrogant, secure, and confident. He stresses that these women are feeling pretty good about life and their future. Then he warns them to get their sackcloths ready because days of mourning are coming. Their pleasant fields and their fruitful vines will be taken over by thorns, and their city of Jerusalem will be overthrown. Their life of leisure will turn into a life of difficulty.
And then we come to verse 15. “Until the Spirit is poured upon us from high.”
What Can We Learn From the Careless Women in the Bible?
Although Isaiah wasn’t speaking directly to us, his words speak to us.
How many of us are guilty of getting caught up in ourselves when things are going well? We’re so busy living the good life that we forget who is responsible for our blessings. We become overconfident in ourselves, assuming that we control our future.
2020 taught us that we are not in control. Regardless of our current situation, it can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. The more confident we are in our own strength, the more susceptible we are to being overtaken.
Like the Hebrew women who had grown careless or complacent, we need to be on our guard, prepared for God to get our attention. The more arrogant we get, the more dramatic He has to be.
As a people we have pushed God away, trying to limit His role in our lives, preferring instead to focus on our own strengths, our own abilities. We’ve become overly confident.
We need to heed Isaiah’s warning to get ready for God to get our attention. It will come, and it won’t be pretty. But if we know it’s coming, it won’t catch us by surprise.
The good news is that the devastation won’t last forever. When we humble ourselves and cry out to the Lord, He will hear our cries, and restore our lives.
Isaiah chapter 32 closes with, “Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.”
Peace comes on the other side of the tribulation.
We don’t always fully appreciate the good times until we’ve gone through the bad. Oh how sweet it is to reach rock bottom and then see God reaching His hand down to lift you up and gently place you where you need to be.
Lord God, thank you for this warning, alerting us to the harm that comes with complacency. Forgive our overconfidence in ourselves. Open our eyes to our sins. Wake us up to the situation that we’re in, and guide us on the path that will lead us back to those tranquil waters. Thank You for your never-ending grace and mercy. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
That concludes today’s episode of All God’s Women. Next week we will look at Ezekiel’s wife.
Careless Women Bible Study
Bible Study Review
- Why did Isaiah tell the women to be afraid?
- What did he say would happen in a year?
- What will come after the devastation?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did Isaiah address the women instead of the men?
- What is the problem with being complacent?
- How does God get people’s attention?
- Are you guilty of being complacent?
- Has God ever gotten your attention to let you know you were getting careless?
- Have you experienced the peace that comes after a time of devastation?
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