Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition. The lectures are arranged by chapter and verse, which will serve as our referents for citations.
“Isaiah Chapter 3”
Luther notes on Isaiah chapter three verse one that the Jews “were proclaiming an advent in humility, while we preach a glorious one” (LW 16, Is. 3:1). Chapter three describes judgment against the ungodly in a very grim way, applicable to all ages. All that Jerusalem depends on will be taken away (LW 16, Is. 3:2). This extends to civil government and all leadership as well (LW 16, Is. 3:3). This results in chaos. “When good men are lost, the law is removed, since there is no one to administer it. Then might makes right” (LW 16, Is. 3:5). Luther compares the situation in Isaiah’s prophecy to current events of 1525 in Erfurt, as the Peasant’s War was beginning (3:6, footnote).
As Isaiah proclaims the stumbling of Jerusalem in 3:8, Luther identifies the rejection of Christ, alluded to in Isaiah 2, as well as the condemnation of Stephen at the end of Acts 7. The stumbling is a denial of the work of the Holy Spirit. Luther applies this to the disputes of his day about the keeping of various laws. On the contrary, the righteous who live by faith will be kept safe, as Luther demonstrates from several passages (LW 16, Is. 3:10). The unrighteous are ruled by oppressors and women, whom Luther identifies as those interested only in themselves and their possessions, not in the common good (LW 16, Is. 3:12).
Despite all the confusion in the world, God is present as the judge (LW 16, Is. 3:13). The punishment will be swift. Again, the text focuses on the women of Zion. The emphasis is on the haughty attitudes (LW 16, Is. 3:16). The women will lose their beauty (LW 16, Is. 3:17-24), described in some detail, though briefly. The mighty men will fail in protection. The result will be destruction. Luther ties this all to the haughty attitude of God’s people (LW 16, Is. 3:26).