Isaiah 3:16-17 (NKJV)
16 Moreover the Lord says: “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with outstretched necks And wanton eyes, Walking and mincing as they go, Making a jingling with their feet, 17 Therefore the Lord will strike with a scab The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, And the Lord will uncover their secret parts.”
Today we come back and close out the series of exhortations on the lessons taught to us by the young women in our midst. Tragically, as we see in our text, not all the lessons which young women teach are positive. There are particular sins to which young women are prone – and these sins which show up so strongly in young women are sins by which all of us to a greater or lesser degree are tempted.
As we observed a few weeks ago, young women are lovers of beauty – and this love of beauty is a good thing. God has placed in young women an appreciation of fine clothes and jewelry. Accentuating beauty is a good thing.
However, a young woman’s love for beauty can frequently degenerate into the idolization of beauty, into vanity, and it is this sin which our Lord so vividly condemns in the passage before us, a sin which permeates our broader culture – a culture whose women are loose and immodest, vain and self-centered. So listen again:
“Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with outstretched necks And wanton eyes, Walking and mincing as they go, Making a jingling with their feet, 17 Therefore the Lord will strike with a scab The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, And the Lord will uncover their secret parts.”
As one reads Isaiah one’s mind can’t help but be filled with visions of Hollywood celebrities, Cosmopolitan models, and the beaches of Coeur d’Alene. And note that God’s judgment on this vanity is harsh. To those women who made their beauty their idol and were were intent to show off their goods to the men around them God declares, “I will give you scabs in place of beauty and I will cause you to reveal everything to the passers by.” God’s judgments are always proportionate.
But note that the true tragedy of the prophet’s words is that he is not exhorting the daughters of Canaan but the daughters of Zion. The culture of the Canaanites had become the culture of the Kingdom of God. Rather than be a light to the world, the daughters of Zion had become a mere reflection of the world, mimicking the vanity of the world. Tragically, it is often the same today.
So, young women, beware vanity. It is a sin which our Lord hates and for which we as a people can only expect judgment. Don’t be like the daughters of Canaan – proud, strutting, immodest, offensive, catty, self-centered; rather be daughters of Sarah – chaste, discreet, modest, wise, shrewd, joyful, thankful, humble.
Likewise, all of us must beware the lure of vanity. In our culture, image is everything. We must keep up with the Joneses. We must have the newest, the greatest, the best. We must appear important. God hates this vanity and will judge it.
Reminded of this, let us kneel and confess that we are a vain people, concerned more for image than for substance of character.