First, God rules in this world right now and turns the course of nations and history as he pleases. If this were not so, he could not promise Judah that he would cut off Edom and establish Jacob. No Christian should have the jitters that the world is careening out of control toward a meaningless catastrophe. We may feel like people tossed around in an old stagecoach pulled by six wild horses, but fear not, God sits serenely over our heads, and the hands that made the world hold the reins.
Second, pride is deceptive. Verse 3: “The pride of your heart has deceived you.” Pride makes us think we are independent, self-sufficient, invulnerable. Pride is based on a lie. The person who yields to the temptation of pride surrenders his capacity to think and feel and act without deception. Pride distorts every area of thought and life. My own conviction is that most of our perplexity regarding moral and theological issues is owing to the distortions caused by our pride, not to the complexity of the issue.
Third, God abominates pride and will bring it down. Verse 4: “Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the Lord.” Or as Jesus says in Luke 16:15, “What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Fourth, therefore proud nations and proud individuals will reap what they sow. Verse 15: “As you have done, it shall be done to you, your deeds shall return on your own head.” If we choose in our pride to live without God, then he will grant us our independence in the day of the Lord. And he will not be our refuge or our righteousness in that day. And our self-confidence will be like a feather in a hurricane when God’s wrath is revealed from heaven (cf. Psalm 76:7).
Fifth, God has made a way of escape and salvation from his wrath. Verse 17: “In Mount Zion there shall be those that escape, and it shall be holy.” Those who have fled from the wickedness of pride to the holiness of humility will find refuge on the day of the Lord. Zion, the city of God, shall be holy because it will be filled not with people who never sinned, but with people who have been broken and humbled by their sin and have thrown themselves for mercy on Jesus and have come to love him more than anything and any person in the world, because “he loved us and gave himself for us.”