4. Society as A Veneer
The thing that is hard to see is that our entire society is just a veneer, or simply a highly artificial facade. For example, you can take two little plastic sheets, and one is worth 100, and the other is worth less than a cent. That's an artificial construction of our society. In the same way, trust in horses, chariots and stealth bombers is an artificial construction. Fancy clothing, jewlery, cars and even electricity are all things whose value comes from the society. Every day that we live in such a society, we are being taught the society's concept of what value these items have.
However, the next few chapters of Isaiah show that this veneer is to be broken up and discarded, as a new society is built.
Isaiah 34:1.: Come near, you nations, to hear; And heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, The world and all things that come forth from it. 2. For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations, And His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter. NKJV
This is a force that will undermine the structure of even the most prosperous empire. The veneer that is present human society will be broken up, and the priorities that once were, are no longer. The destruction spoken of in chapter 34 is not a permanent thing, but merely a time of transition, where an artificial order is broken up. Isaiah 26 describes:
Isaiah 26:20.: Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. 21. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; ... NKJV
The new world is described in the next chapter of Isaiah,
Isaiah 35:1.: The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; 2. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, The excellency of our God. NKJV
It is speaking of a time when the problems in the world are overcome, and the wrongs made right.
Isaiah 35:3.: Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. 4. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you." 5. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. NKJV
In the context of this new world society, the values inherent in human societies for the past few thousand years will be obsolete. Indeed, they are already obsolete, as the believer is called to come out of this world. The book of James shows the fate of the current riches of society.
James 5:1.: Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! NKJV
In most places in the world today, people want to be rich. It is one of primary things to be desired. However, James says that this will not last.
James 5:2.: Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 4. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. NKJV
This passage is a concern to us, because 21st century western life is materially very rich. So why were the rich men to weep and howl? The problem to them shown here is not so much the loss of the treasure. If the rich man did not significantly value the riches and garments, the loss would not be a cause to weep and howl. In the end they would still be no worse off than the poor person. Instead, it is the effect of the wealth on the person that is important.
Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 6:
Matthew 6:19.: " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20. "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. NKJV
This is not just about quantities of gold bullion and clothing. The value of gold and money is simply one aspect of this artificial veneer that we call our civilisation. There are many other aspects of wealth, such as power and social standing.
Gideon had been able to take ten men from his servents, and they willingly obeyed to do an unpopular act. This showed that Gideon was a wealthy person. However, he did not value his social standing among the worshippers of Baal. If he had, he would not have been able to carry out the work of God. He knew that that was not a treasure to be valued.
Just as Gideon could see that the world of oppression by Midian and Baal could end, so the modern believer is given a promise of a new society.
1 Cor 2:9.: But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." NKJV