This chapter includes 2 of the 5 "woes" in this section of Isaiah, Chapters 28-31.
Woe to Ariel, the city where David dwelt. (Jerusalem)
The MacArthur Commentary proffers that "Ariel" means "lion of God" or "hearth of God." Either way, even though we're about to read some serious woes, choosing that name seems to offer hope even during the chastening. The Father loves His chosen.
The Lord also notes that the people have the annual feasts, but although they were ordained by God, they mean nothing to Him when the people don't really mean to honor Him properly.
Feasts without belief and behavior to back them up...are meaningless to God. We should take special note of that when we're blindly singing along with a worship song and haven't engaged our heart, or we're writing a donation check or any other action that isn't backed by belief and behavior. Heart is what has always mattered to Him.
However, for now, the Lord promises to distress and bring heaviness and sorrow.
He describes how an enemy would come against the city, but He makes it clear- He is behind the attack.
- encamp all around
- siege with a mound
- raise siegeworks
He promises they will be brought low, speaking out of the ground, from the dust, as if speaking with the dead.
The description of the enemy is the picture of a fine dust, I assume that means completely covered. And it will be instant and sudden. (Verses 5-8)
MacArthur interprets these passages (verses 5-8) differently, and I see it that way, now, as well. He describes what will, eventually, happen to those who God is using to come against Jerusalem-His judgement on them will be abrupt and complete. MacArthur goes on to point out that the Assyrians were abruptly repulsed in 701 B.C. and Ryrie interprets that this also predicts how the enemy will be abruptly ended in the End Times.
You will be punished by the Lord of hosts with thunder and earthquakes and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire.Isaiah 29:6
Wow. That's just a terrifying picture.
God is quite a Poet.
In verses 7 and 8 He describes the multitude of nations who fight against Ariel as a hungry man dreaming of food and eating in his sleep, but waking with an empty soul or a thirsty man dreaming of drink, but to awake faint.
...and his soul still craves; so the multitude of all the nations shall be, who fight against Mt. Zion.Isaiah 29:8c
This is the end of the "Woe" quotation from the Lord.
I think about modern day Israel and the multitude of nations that hunger and thirst to destroy them It's tragic, but it confirms for me that are still God's people. Evil still longs to destroy them; but the Lord sets a hedge around them.
Next, starting in verse 9, Isaiah describes the blindness that comes with disobedience. Worse than a staggering drunk. Eventually, the Lord turns you over to your hearts desire and it's like a deep sleep. You cannot hear the prophets or see the seers.
He uses the analogy of giving a sealed book to someone with a command to read, but the literate man uses the seal as an excused not to read; and an illiterate man uses that as his excuse.
Therefore the Lord said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.Isaiah 29:13-14
I think this is an easy posture to slide in to. Honor with our mouths but our hearts are on whatever draws our attention.
Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; they say, "Who see us?" and "Who knows us?"Isaiah 29:15
Somehow, those leaders thought they could ally with Egypt without God knowing. Such a foolish an fatal attribution to the Lord's character and description.
The same is true of whomever it is (or whatever it is) that we trust in in our modern lives. We pretend that we're hiding this idol from the omnipotent and omnipresent God of the Universe. I know I do this. I have my food that I eat "in secret" and my sinful thoughts I entertain "in secret"; but that's not how it works. I marvel that they think they were hiding Egypt, but I hide too. I need to be quick to take thoughts captive and confess those sins to the One who knows all.
Verse 16 assures us that this logic is turned around. It's the potter Who should be esteemed. The creature has no place questioning whether it was created; or questioning whether the creator understands the thing He created.
(Ryrie calls verse 17-24 a description of the millennial blessing.)
There is hope for Lebanon to be turned into a fruitful field that will be esteemed as a forest. (It seems like modern Israel has turned a wasteland into a bread basket!)
In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.Isaiah 29:18
- The humble increase their joy in the Lord
- the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel
- the terrible on brought to nothing
- scornful one consumed
- and those who invite inequity and hate justice at the gate will be cut off
It's worth pointing out who God is looking forward to blessing- the humble and the poor. Further evidence of the "upside down kingdom" referenced frequently by the Bible Project Devo videos. Only this is prophesied throughout the Old Testament, through all the prophets, hundreds of years before Jesus comes in the flesh.
The last three verses are beautiful promises from God.
We learn it is the God who redeemed Abraham who makes these promises about also redeeming the house of Jacob:
- Jacob will not be ashamed
- Jacob's face will not grow pale (from illness or shame or fright?)
- But Jacob will see his children and see God working in their midst
- Jacob's children will hallow the Lord's Name (finally seeing His holiness above all others)
- And hallow the Holy One of Jacob (since this seems separate from the previous line, I take this to mean Jesus. The Holy One that will descend from the line of Jacob.
- Jacob's children will fear the God of Israel
These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.Isaiah 29:24
We saw in verse 14 that understanding was hidden, even from the prudent man; but God can heal that.
Look what happens when God works in our midst. We perceive His holiness. We perceive who Jesus really is. We fear the Lord. And we come to understanding, because instead of complaining...we learn doctrine.
Hallelujah for His patience and care.