Much of a prophet's duty is the announcement of judgment, and for the next 12 chapters Isaiah will speak for God against nations, culminating in chapter 24 with judgment against the world. Their sin is our sin and is two-fold at its core: we forget our God and we take his place; "for you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge" (Isaiah 17:10).
It works for a time, we "plant pleasant plants" and "make them grow on the day that you plant them, make them blossom in the morning that you sow" (Isaiah 17:10-11), and we begin to believe only in ourselves. When all is sunshine, the world seems like a place we can manage on our own, but there is darkness in our heart, and rather than manage, we want to rule, to be our own god. It started in the Garden with Eve, "for God knows that when you eat of the tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God" (Genesis 3:5). It is the sin of Satan, "You said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High'" (Isaiah 14:13-14).
It works during the day, and we desire to rule, but only one can rule and so we war, and then comes the night; "at evening time, behold, terror! Before morning, they are no more!" (Isaiah 17:14). We destroy ourselves.
The judgment of God is not to ruin, but to restore, to remind us of our God. "In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made" (Isaiah 17:7-8). The judgment of God lifts our eyes from the pride of our own hands, and returns our gaze to the glory of the one who made everything.
Heavenly Father, You are the God most high, and yet you kneeled low so that we might be saved. Your Son came in humility, considering us better than Himself. You, God, showed that kind of humility for our sake.
I look forward to seeing You return again, in power this time. You have already demonstrated love to its fullest, dying for us even though we had turned out back on You. When You come again, we will see You in full glory, full power, full majesty, and still full of love.