**WARNING** Long post ahead. Hope it's worth the read.
Before we left South Africa, I was invited to sing at a Women's Day Celebration. The hostess shared with us a devotion on the above title. I admit I had never read (or at least didn't remember reading) the verses she shared that day. But they really impacted me. So much so, that I have meditated on them quite a lot. I also have a few things to share about these verses. So, let's learn together, ok?
Isaiah 32:9 "Rise up ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech."
Verse nine here is obviously the beginning of a warning. God is saying 'Listen up! What comes next is not pretty.' But one thing we can take as a positive, is that he is addressing these women at all. He hasn't given up on them, even though he calls them 'at ease' and 'careless'. There is always hope!
[Until you're dead. Then it's over, ya know?]
But what exactly does 'at ease' mean? What does 'careless' mean? Well, if we think of this in terms of the military, 'at ease' is when the soldiers are allowed to relax, and rest. They aren't standing at attention anymore. So, the women who are at ease, are relaxed. They are resting, just kind of floating through life, if you will. They pay attention to nothing.
Careless here (I think) means without care. (Since that's the obvious definition.) But to define it further, let's say it means without care for others. These women have no interest in the people around them. They don't care what is happening to others, or with the government, or problems in their neighborhood. They are looking out for Number One (themselves) and have no time for anyone else.
The next few verses (actually verses 10-14) outline the things the people of their towns will suffer because the women are selfish and self-absorbed. They will lose the harvest, they will be naked, they will grieve for their losses. Their city will be destroyed, palaces will be empty, and the forts will be useless.
Wow, that's pretty harsh. Lots of bad things coming their way. This complacency, this relaxation they have enjoyed (or fooled themselves into thinking they enjoyed) will bring destruction to not only them, but everyone around them.
Let's chat for a minute about the role of women in society, shall we? God created us especially to be soft hearted and nurturing. We are the sex that carries life. We are emotional, and can easily get caught up in the details of another person's story, feeling what they felt as they re-tell it to us.
So what happens when women decide not care anymore? When the women in a society do not care for others, do not care to do their assigned work, do not care to teach their children anything but 'doing what feels good', then society will break down. I'm not trying to say that women are the leaders of society, but think about the influence they have.
When you've had a bad day with the kids, and the hubby walks in all smiles, how long does it take him to be frustrated with the kids after you tell him all their sins of the day? It's been my experience that it takes about .05 seconds. A woman is the thermometer of the home, whether she likes it or not, and influences those around her emotionally with her mood.
So rather than the leaders of society, I guess really women are more supports. Take, for example, bridge supports. These supports are never really noticed or thought about unless they stop working. When bridge supports give out, people get hurt, the bridge is ruined, and engineers will go over the supports in fine detail to see what went wrong.
See, when women stop doing their job (nurturing others, teaching their children to care and have compassion, as well as work hard) then society will begin a slow ruin. Men, who are already geared for survival, will have no one to temper their feelings. Soon it will be every man for himself. When this happens, no one will help another when drought hits, or pestilence strikes. Your loss is your loss alone. Also, there is no way for an army to form to fight off the enemy. The city will be destroyed, the people will leave (or all be dead) and the palaces will be empty.
I want to come back to these verses, but for now hop on over to Isaiah 47:8-11. They say:
"Therefore now hear this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as the widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: (9) But these two thins shall come to thee in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments. (10) For thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. (11) Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth:"
Again, wow. Have we ever thought we were alone? Ever put on tunnel vision and really thought what was important was only what happened to us or our family? How many times have we heard a prayer request given, and we're touched for the moment, but soon forget about the grieving, or sick? How many times have we even dared to think 'That would NEVER happen to me.'?
For these women, because they have thought they were alone, (and that no one was watching them) they also have not noticed the creeping in of the enemy. They don't see the warning signs that something bad is coming. They are content in their knowledge and wisdom. They don't need God. They have done exactly what they have wanted to do, and not cared that their children were gaining bad habits. They have not cared that the world has seen hypocrisy. They are an island.
However, all the things they fear will now fall upon them in one day because of their tunnel vision. They won't even know what hit them. As much as we women desire security and the strength and care of a man, for some reason these women have shaken that off. (Sound familiar?) They are content on their own, needing no one. When catastrophe hits, they will not be prepared, and they will be destroyed.
How can we prevent this from happening? Some verses in Jeremiah are the answer.
Jeremiah 9:17-18 "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Consider we, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for the cunning women, that they may come: (18) And let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters."
The answer is to keep our hearts open. To be softened toward others who are suffering. When the women in society become hard of heart, especially toward their own sin, destruction will happen. (It may be called 'progress', but it isn't. Not in God's eyes.)
Honestly, when is the last time you actually wept over someone's condition? Whether it be an illness, or spiritual condition. Dr. Charles Keen (one of my favorite preachers of all time) asked us a few Sunday nights ago: "Who actually loses sleep because the world is still lost?" Think about that for a minute. What are the things that cause us to lose sleep?
Probably for most people it's financial worries. Self-inflicted crises.
When was the last time we wept and mourned for the condition of a family member's soul? Where is our compassion? Are we so consumed with ourselves that we worry more about what others think (should we dare to weep in public) than how God would want to touch our hearts? I can't tell you the last time I hit the altar with a mournful spirit, and actually wept.
Verse 20 continues: "Yet hear the word of the LORD, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbor lamentation."
What are we teaching our daughters? Have we taught them to mourn for others? Have we taught them to feel and pray for people who are in need? For their sin? Or are we so hard-hearted we can't even imagine such a thing?
I think it's time the women in our society learn to mourn. We need soft hearts so God can touch us and use us. We need to pass on a legacy to our daughters to be women who can hear God, who see danger coming, who are aware to the issues and problems around them, and who respond by weeping and admitting their dependence on God.
Now let's quickly jump back to Isaiah 32:15-17:
"Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. (16) Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. (17) And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever."
When we are open to God, and keep our hearts soft toward Him and can mourn for our sin, then His Spirit will be poured upon us. And with that, His blessing. The fields will be so full of harvest that they will look like a forest. Righteousness will remain. No longer will it be every man for himself. We shall have peace, quietness, and assurance forever.
Just what every woman wants. But it's not just given to us. We must not be careless women who are at ease. We must be willing to do the work God has for us. We must be willing to weep when it is necessary. We cannot close ourselves off and focus only on our own family.
I just can't stop thinking about this, and am praying God will help it sink in deep.