In studying how Israel was the harlot of the Old Testament, we have traveled through the wilderness (the Exodus), into the Promised Land (Judges and Kings), and we saw that regardless of who was leading the Israelites, they still suffered from the same disease – idolatry.
We saw that idolatry was a major affront to God; so much so that the diabolical scheme played out by Jezebel and her daughter Athaliah resulted in the 2nd Commandment penalty being evoked as we see the blotting out of four kings in the genealogy of Christ, proceeding from Joram to Uzziah (Matthew 1:8-9).
So now, when we look at the prophet Isaiah, we see that his ministry begins with Uzziah and stretches through the reigns of him, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Of note is that Uzziah and Jotham did right in the sight of the Lord, but they didn’t remove the high places (2 Kings 15:3-4 and 34-35). Remember them, when we studied King Ahab and Jezebel and saw that they were what King Jeroboam of Israel had been infamous for? They were where the people would build their altars to the gods.
Anyhow, Kings Uzziah and Jotham were okay, then came King Ahaz who “followed after the kings of Israel,” which means he did not do right in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 16:2-4). He was followed by King Hezekiah, who was the only king who did right and removed the high places (2 Kings 18:3-7). Years later, King Josiah would also do as Hezekiah did, but by then the damage was done – God was going to judge Judah.
Another interesting note is Isaiah prophesied through the Assyrian plunder of Samaria, which occurred +/- 136 years before that of Judah by Babylon. The filling of Israel with strangers is the definition of desolation. Isaiah’s prophecy is directed at Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:1). We are now prepared to look at what Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had to say about the harlot which is necessary in order to understand who is the harlot of Revelation.
Isaiah saw what the Assyrians had done to Israel, and now he speaks of the people of Judah as having less understanding as that of an ox or an ass; as being weighed down with sin and iniquity; that they are corrupt offspring of evildoers; that they have revolted against, despised, and abandoned the Lord; that they have turned away from Him; and that they are and will be stricken in their rebellion (1:2-5).
These are not words to be glossed over – they are serious; and serious consequences will result, just as happened to their brothers of Samaria. Mothers, and parents in general – think of how you care and grieve for your sick or injured children and family members when you see these words: the whole head is sick; the whole heart is faint; from the sole of the foot to the top of the head there is nothing sound in it; bruises, welts, and raw wounds; not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil (vv. 5-6).
Now, look at the definition of desolation: your cities are burned with fire; strangers are devouring your fields in front of you; your land is desolate; it is “desolation” – as overthrown by strangers (v. 7). That is the definition that must be kept in mind when the word “desolation” is read, as we will see.
Alas, the Lord left a few survivors – a remnant (v. 9) – God always keeps a remnant to Himself. Jeremiah said as much when he addressed the judgments of both Israel and Judah and then said afterward that: search would be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found. Then He says: for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant (Jeremiah 50: 17-20).
Jeremiah prophesied after Isaiah, but he is being cited here to show that God is in control of the nations. Look at what that passage said: Assyria devoured Israel; Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) broke (Judah’s) bones; God had already punished Assyria – these are in the past tense. The only future tense was that He would do the same to Babylon. God directed the judgments of both Israel and Judah, separated by 136 years. We will see that God expected Judah to learn from what their brothers had suffered!
Now through-it-all, we see that God is longsuffering and did keep a remnant to Himself; but nonetheless – that was not enough to spare Israel and Judah from His wrath. Can we look at the bigger picture and see where we were that long-ago in our history and learn anything from that? If we don’t – if we don’t repent of our ways, God will not hear us anymore, He will turn His face from us, and He will “give us up” to the desires of our hearts as we continue to play the harlot.
Become familiar with God’s blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience as spelled out in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 – the law of Moses; also ponder 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.