How clearly different forms of human pride are shown in these allegorical descriptions: some boast that they are slim as cedars of Lebanon, others – that they are strong and wide as the oaks of Bashan. Some are as high as the mountains, while some lift up only as little hills in the valley. Some have built for themselves the authority of a sole tall tower, while others have constructed a fortress with fortified walls. Some make their accomplishments in the dynamic of actions, like the ships of Tarshish, others enjoy all pleasurable craft, willing to give away everything they have for it. Each man boasts in himself, his own accomplishments which in the spiritual reality became modern idols for people.
“Their land is full of silver and gold” – when did people ever have so much silver and gold as nowadays, economic crisis notwithstanding? When did people have such levels of well-being? For many millennia people lived and could not even imagine the level of comfort that every citizen of a civilized country has now. Even our grandparents (and great-grandparents) ate wheat bread and meat on holidays only, two-three times a year. While bathrooms, showers, toilets, washing machines, refrigerators, microwaves, telephones, cell phones, computers, internet and many other things we are used to and cannot imagine our lives without – they never even occurred to all the previous generations of earth residents. An incredible leap in development and enrichment took place in the past 100-200 years.
“Their land is full of horses; nor an end of their chariots” – when did people ever have such a number of their personal horses – cars – in the whole history? Huge traffic jams are a normal site in cities; wide highways are unable to service the existing number of cars.
“They worship the work of their own hands” – all people in all countries do so. It became second nature to our civilization to admire our own accomplishments. Competitions, awards, titles, money prizes, etc. – all of this became the measurement for pride and self-satisfaction. It seemed like such a good principle: work and do your best. But people start boasting in their results, praising those who reach the highest! Even in churches one can see the flourishing of this culture. Take, for example, such cultural peculiarity of the modern world as applause. What does it mean in the spiritual world? In essence and in appearance it is almost always the praising of man. Even when they say they are applauding to God.
“The man bowed down, and man was humbled” – God’s evaluation of our attitude to our accomplishments seems paradoxical to humans: when a man bows down to the work of his own hands and to his own accomplishments, God views it as humiliation of this man, of his God-like nature. Because a man is much higher than his works, therefore “ the man bowed down, and man was humbled”. It is much more important to know who we are, that we are created in His imagine and likeness, than what we have reached and done, even though it has its meaning as well.
“You forgive them not” – this should plunge us into fear before God because this is His evaluation, this is God’s conclusion of our fate. Just as before the earth was created, cherubim, Son of the Morning, was not forgiven by God for his pride and was cast down from heaven and became devil and satan, so the modern world will not be forgiven by God for the cultivated pride in their accomplishments and in themselves.
“For the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be on every proud and lofty one, and on every lifted up one; and he shall be brought low”. First of all, time has come for the Lord to to “bring man to his level”, to destroy all of his “Babylonian towers” that people have built in boasting and arrogance one to another. Secondly, every place of pride, arrogance and loftiness will see its day of humiliation and discrediting. If one of the manifestations of human pride has been brought low while another remains untouched, it does not mean that one was bad and another good. It means that the time of humiliation has come for the first object of pride and is still coming for the second one.
Even in church, in serving God, believers build their high places to worship the Lord. Several times in the Holy Scriptures we read these words in the history of the Jewish nation: “but the high places were not removed” (1 Kings 15:14; 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 15:4; 15:35). It was usually written of God-fearing kings, the times when the nation would worship the Lord. They worshiped God in the temple and in various high places. There was one high place, mount Zion, which the Lord God has chosen for Himself. But it was not enough for people, and they worshiped God in the mountains in their localities that they knew since childhood, were used to and loved. What does worship in high places mean in the spiritual realm? It happens when we come to the Lord without putting aside our favorite things, accomplishments, positions, values, etc. We recognize the Lord as the Highest God but we cannot part with our money, our position in the society, our career, our hobbies, etc. None of it is sin in itself; all of these things belong to us as a result of our talents, or came to us due to lucky circumstances, or was obtained by diligent work. But when we hear the calling of Christ which the intelligent, highly educated and higly moral young man once heard: all that you have – give it away to the poor and come follow me – we, like him, depart from Christ with sadness. We agree to serve God and Christ but we want to leave for ourselves all our accomplishments and all the things we love in this life, that is, stay in our high places where we felt pretty comfortable even before we came to know the Lord. We serve the Lord – but each at our own high place, giving glory to God but receiving something for ourselves as well. The day of the Lord that Isaiah mentions here, in chapter 2, will also come upon all the Christian high places, and they too will fall. Many believers will hear this in spirit and comment: the time of shining Christian leaders has passed. But this talks not just about leaders, but also about ministries that block out the Lord.
The Spirit of God says through Solomon, “Pride comes, then shame comes” (Proverbs 11:2). Shame will come. “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be bowed down”. As a result, the Lord alone will remain, high above all the earth and its history. Take a careful look around: the process of destruction of every pride of man and of establishment of the glory of God is in its peak. The strongest walls, the highest authorities, the best accomplishments are falling down one by one. All of this is being done, so that “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day; and the idols shall completely vanish”. And also, “ Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostril; for in what is he to be esteemed?” Time has come when the image of the Lord God alone will be exalted more and more over all the earth in glory that truly belongs only to Him –Creator, Almighty and our Savior.
«And their land is full of silver and gold. There is no end of their treasures and their land is full of horses; nor an end of their chariots. And their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the man bowed down, and man was humbled, but You forgive them not. Enter into the rock and hide in the dust for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be on every proud and lofty one, and on every lifted up one; and he shall be brought low, And it shall be on all the high and lifted up cedars of Lebanon, and on all the oaks of Bashan, and on all the high mountains, and on all the lifted up hills; and on every high tower, and on every fortified wall; and on all the ships of Tarshish, and on all pleasurable craft. And the pride of man shall be bowed down, and the loftiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols shall completely vanish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth for fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth terribly. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made for him to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth terribly. Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostril; for in what is he to be esteemed?” (Isaiah 2).