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Punishment and Eventual Restoration
These chapters appear to be a continuation of the prophecy started in chapter 2. God will remove the people's food (Isaiah 3:1) and their leadership (verses 2-15). With immature, incompetent and inexperienced rulers ("babes," verse 4) and everyone oppressing or seeking selfish advantage over each other (verse 5), a state approaching anarchy will prevail. The people will turn to those who appear outwardly successful (verse 6). But they either simply don't want to get involved or, perhaps, are themselves overwhelmed by the increasing mess (verses 6-8).
By the look in the eyes of the people, along with their words and deeds, it is clear that they are arrogant and defiant against God and His law—indeed, brazenly and shamelessly as Sodom (verses 8-9)—and they will reap what they sow (verses 10-11; compare Galatians 6:7-8). The immature leaders lead the people astray and exploit the poor (verses 12-15). The "daughters of Zion" are vain, haughty and wanton, obsessed with appearance, fashion and materialism, drawing undue attention to themselves (verse 16). While perhaps a literal reference to the women, this may also be a figurative reference to Israel and Judah in general. Sadly, they will get more attention than they seek—as we see them left stripped and violated in fitting repayment of their anti-God moral revolution (verses 17-26). Verse 17 could imply sexually transmissible diseases.
Isaiah 4:1 may indicate a lack of children, as was prophesied of Israel by Hosea (compare Hosea 9:11-16). The verse seems to imply that there will be a lack of husbands and fathers—perhaps because many men die or because very few men will commit to marriage and family in the dire circumstances into which society will ultimately crumble.
Verses 2-6 give the wonderful hope of the future Kingdom of God—the promises of good times to come once God has cleaned up the people. "The Branch of the Lord" is here a dual reference—both to the earth yielding its fruit and to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, a "branch" of the family of David, yielding spiritual fruit (compare Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8; John 15:1-8). War-wracked Jerusalem will, in the glorious age of Christ's 1,000-year reign over the earth (compare Revelation 20:4-6), finally see true peace and safety.
This future age is pictured in the observance of God's Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:33-43 and our booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind). And at that time, the inhabitants of Zion will dwell beneath the tabernacle of the cloud and fire—the same that led Israel through the wilderness as they trekked to their permanent home (Exodus 13:20-22; Exodus 40:34-38; Numbers 9:15-23). The cloud and fire gave constant reassurance of God's presence plus practical shade in the day and light at night.
A tabernacle represents a temporary dwelling. And even the millennial Jerusalem will be a temporary dwelling—as its inhabitants will await the permanent habitation of the New Jerusalem that will follow the Millennium (compare Revelation 21-22). Yet the millennial Jerusalem will become the most dazzlingly beautiful temporary dwelling imaginable. And the millennial age will be, in essence, one long and increasingly expanding "Feast of Tabernacles"—wherein the actual Feast of Tabernacles will be observed year by year, first in Jerusalem and eventually throughout the whole world (Zechariah 14:16-19).