Why should women read Isaiah?
Isaiah affirms that the Lord is exalted, high and holy, the unique God who creates, makes covenants, and punishes rebellion, but He loves the rebel deeply and unwaveringly because she is His creation, the “work of His hands.” Some definite themes resonate with women in addition to the astonishing acts of redemption God performs and the victorious work of the Suffering Servant; as well as from the lilting passages about the completing work of the Spirit of God in salvation and its availability to all nations—not just Israel.
Biblical Womanhood: Importance of Women to the Moral Fabric of a Nation
When the moral breakdown reaches the nation’s women, the most devastating impact is on the home, affecting the most formative influence on the younger generation (3:16–4:1). The last bastion of defense is then crumbling, and God’s judgment is imminent. The judgment God pronounced on the women of Isaiah’s day, the daughters of Zion, indicates a state of unrepentant wickedness on their part and, consequently, their share of responsibility for the desperate social situation. These women were:
• haughty and arrogant, manifested by their walking with heads held high, with overtones of a desire to
be noticed. They exalted themselves, thinking more highly of their own needs and desires than those
of others. Self-centered pride led to an improper valuation of their own worth in relation to God and
others, so that judgment is imminent (cp. Pss 10:4; 101:5; Pr 16:5,18; 18:12; Ec 7:8; Is 2:11; 5:15).
• immodest, going about in a way that attracted attention. They walked with seductive [Hb saqar, “flirt, ogle, be wanton”] eyes and prancing steps (Hb taphaph, “take quick little steps, mince along, skip”). Their way of going about was not natural or modest; rather they were preoccupied with self importance,
flirting mannerisms, and arrogant embellishments to draw attention to themselves. This attitude contrasts with the behavior the Lord mandates for women (cp. 1Tm 2:9-10; 1Pt 3:3-4).
• materialistic, wearing ankle bracelets and the long list of accessories the Lord was going to remove
indicates that they were wealthy. However, the problem was not the fact of their affluence but their focus on material things coupled with their apparent disregard of the needs of others.
• self-centered, lavishing themselves with unnecessary adornments that accentuated their own social status and comfort while ignoring the basic needs around them. Consequently, the selfishness and materialism of the women contributed to the oppression of the poor. Proverbs 31:10-31 commends the contrasting description of a wealthy yet righteous woman who provides for her household and those working for her as well as for the poor (Pr 31:15,20).
The judgment against Jerusalem’s haughty women affected all aspects of their lives. The Lord would take
away everything in which they had previously placed their trust: physical beauty, material possessions, and confident self-assurance.
Sadly, the horrifying shame experienced by the women of Judah reflected the spiritual condition of their hearts when, in their pride, they had embraced a lifestyle that inherently rejected the priorities of the Lord who had provided the finery (Hb tiphʾarah, “splendor, beauty,” Is 3:18; see Word Study, p. 929) that he had finally taken away (cp. Hs 2:2-13).