The end of pleasure?

Our western culture could be like this…

Listen to this, you pleasure-loving kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure. You say, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other. [Isaiah 47:8NLT]

Where self-focused complacency develops, a culture becomes conceited and wants everyone to emulate it.

“Come down, virgin daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust.” [Isaiah 47:1NLT]

Law is symbolised by Egypt. Pleasure seeking is symbolised by Babylon, whose end is not great.

You will be naked and burdened with shame. [Isaiah 47:3NLT]

Ultimately, the Lord lifts the lid and exposes what is within. Arrogance and abuse born of conceit will be exposed.

… your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one…’ [Isaiah 47:10NLT]

A culture that grows powerful through knowledge uses that power to exercise its will and elevate itself. It begins to act as if it were a god.

A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared. [Isaiah 47:11NLT]

The Lord shakes everything to prove its permanence. That which is not built on the foundation of Christ will eventually fall.

Where are all your … stargazers who make predictions ..? Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds. But they are like straw burning in a fire. [Isaiah 47:13-14NLT]

The experts make predictions as if they had divine insight. Ultimately, they will be proven fools and those who trust in them will share their fate.
So, what do I build my life on?

Unsustainable idolatry

Many are burdened and unable to carry either the great image ‘success and happiness’, or the great sacrifice, ‘being busy’ that are demanded by our culture. It is amazing how hard people work to present this image of everything being OK while in the worst recession of living memory. This unsustainable idolatry is rampant in our Church as it is driven by the goals of ‘Church growth’ and ‘experiencing God’. It is both disturbing and a relief to find that this situation cannot persist. The outcome of any idolatry is either repentance or captivity.

Isaiah proclaimed the outcome for the idols of Babylon,

“Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; … the images that are carried about are burdensome … They … themselves go off into captivity.” (Isaiah 46:1-2)

The passage goes on to give the Lord’s alternative.

“Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Instead of us carrying burdensome idols, the Lord desires to carry us! He cannot carry us if we insist on carrying Him.

The rest of this chapter outlines how people pour out wealth to build their idols, while the Lord is looking for those who will entrust themselves to Him.

The Lord challenges this persistent idolatry by bringing in a destroyer.

“From the east I summon a bird of pray; … a man to fulfil my purpose.”

Isaiah prophesied a pagan invasion, fulfilled through Cyrus king of Persia. Who or what will it be for our society?