Isaiah chapter 29

Isaiah says the Assyrian army will surround Jerusalem. But suddenly, God will rescue Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will have a spiritual awakening.

 


 

THE ASSYRIAN ARMY WILL SURROUND JERUSALEM

SUMMARY: Under Sennacherib, the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem in 701 BC. It was as if God himself had done so.

 

VERSE 1. Woe to Ariel! Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the feasts come around;

Woe to Ariel. Ariel is another name for Jerusalem. Here are two interpretations:

  • Ariel means “lion of God,” in which case the city is seen as a strong, lionlike city.
  • Ariel may also be translated “altar hearth.” It is where the altar of burnt offering was located in the temple.

Jerusalem had not been observing the Sabbath. That has caused the land itself to suffer. For the land to recover, it needs to rest. The land itself needs to catch up on those unobserved Sabbaths. So as to make that possible, the people will be exiled for 70 years in far-away Babylon.

The prophet Jeremiah predicted this would happen:

2 Chronicles 36:21. All this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken to Jeremiah: Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled. (NAB translation)

 

VERSE 2. then I will distress Ariel, and there will be mourning and lamentation. She shall be to me as an altar hearth.

 

VERSE 3. I will encamp against you all around you, and will lay siege against you with posted troops. I will raise siege works against you.

I will encamp against you. Under Sennacherib, the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem in 701 BC. It was as if God himself had done so.

 

VERSE 4. You will be brought down, and will speak out of the ground. Your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will be as of one who has a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and your speech will whisper out of the dust.

 

SUDDENLY, GOD WILL RESCUE JERUSALEM

SUMMARY: Suddenly, God will smash the mighty Assyrian army.

 

VERSE 5. But the multitude of your foes will be like fine dust, and the multitude of the ruthless ones like chaff that blows away. Yes, it will be in an instant, suddenly.

NLT translation. But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind. Suddenly, in an instant,

suddenly. Sometimes God moves quite suddenly.

your ruthless enemies will be crushed. To us this would seem to be impossible. However, for God, it is easy.

 

VERSE 6. She will be visited by the LORD of Hosts with thunder, with earthquake, with great noise, with whirlwind and storm, and with the flame of a devouring fire.

BBE translation. The Lord of armies will come in with thunder and earth-shaking and great noise, with rushing wind and storm, and the flame of burning fire.

The Lord of armies will come in. The doer in this passage is God. What God does is what really counts. Compared to the mighty works of God, our own achievements are almost nothing.

 

VERSE 7. The multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all who fight against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, will be like a dream, a vision of the night.

will be like a dream. Those who attack Jerusalem will vanish. They will simply disappear. They will simply be gone. And nobody will lament their passing.

 

VERSE 8. It will be like when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he eats; but he awakes, and his hunger isn’t satisfied; or like when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he drinks; but he awakes, and behold, he is faint, and he is still thirsty. The multitude of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion will be like that.

ICEL translation. When a thirsty man dreams he is drinking and awakens faint and dry, so shall the horde of all the nations be, who make war against Zion.

who make war against Zion. When God intends to do such-and-such, even mighty armies count as nothing. They aren’t even speed bumps to the plans of God.

 

JERUSALEM WILL HAVE A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

SUMMARY: Currently the people are unaware of spiritual things. But in the days to come, they will become spiritual.

 

VERSE 9. Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

 

VERSE 10. For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, the prophets; and he has covered your heads, the seers.

BBE translation. For the Lord has sent on you a spirit of deep sleep; and by him your eyes, the prophets, are shut, and your heads, the seers, are covered.

your eyes, the prophets. Prophets are like eyes. They are the part of a body that sees. They uniquely see what God is doing.

are shut. The eyes of the prophets are shut. Even they can’t see. If they cannot see what God is doing, then nobody else can either. This is a very sad moment in the life of God’s people.

 

VERSE 11. All vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is educated, saying, “Read this, please;” and he says, “I can’t, for it is sealed;”

a book that is sealed. Ir cannot be read. It is in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 5:2. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?

 

VERSE 12. and the book is delivered to one who is not educated, saying, “Read this, please;” and he says, “I can’t read.”

I can’t read. Literacy is very important for us Christians, as our faith is tied to the written text of the Bible. If we cannot read, we cannot read the Bible. If we cannot read the Bible, we cannot fact-check what our leaders tell us.

The Bible applauds the believers in Berea for fact-checking the apostle Paul!

Acts 17:11. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (NIV 1984 translation)

 

VERSE 13. The Lord said, “Because this people draws near with their mouth and honors me with their lips, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught;

draws near with their mouth. These people claim to be loyal to the LORD.

honors me with their lips. They say the right prayers about the LORD. But their words are just lip service. They are going through the motions of religion.

they have removed their heart far from me. They are not loyal to the LORD God. Going through the motions of religion is one thing. But itʼs another thing altogether to have a heart close to God.

Mark 7:6. He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

their fear of me is a commandment of men. Their worship consists of nothing but man-made obligations. They have an obligation-mindset. Millions of people have that mindset.

That is because religious leaders have given them that mindset. Pretending to speak for God, religious leaders taught them man-made rules.

 

VERSE 14. therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men will be hidden.”

BBE translation. For this cause I will again do a strange thing among this people, a thing to be wondered at: and the wisdom of their wise men will come to nothing, and the sense of their guides will no longer be seen.

again. This isn’t the first time that people fell so far astray that God needed to do some sort of special intervention.

 

VERSE 15. Woe to those who deeply hide their counsel from the LORD, and whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us?” and “Who knows us?”

NLT translation. What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!”

try to hide their plans from the LORD. It is impossible to keep secrets from God. However, many people believe they can.

The LORD can’t see us. Many people have a mistaken notion that God resides somewhere within the time-space continuum. Rather, he “dwells” in Eternity.

Eternity is “outside” of time and space. It is not defined by three-dimensional coordinates or the ticking of a clock.

 

VERSE 16. You turn things upside down! Should the potter be thought to be like clay; that the thing made should say about him who made it, “He didn’t make me;” or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?”

Romans 9:21. When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? (NLT)

 

VERSE 17. Isn’t it yet a very little while, and Lebanon will be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field will be regarded as a forest?

a very little while. That is, a very short time. Soon.

When is “soon?” The Bible often uses this term without defining it. However, we know that God can easily turn around the most difficult of situations. And we know that he can easily do this in a wonderfully short timeframe.

The word “soon” might mean right now. Or it might men in a few decades. Or a few centuries.

 

VERSE 18. In that day, the deaf will hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness.

the deaf will hear. That will be a great day!

the blind will see. That will be a great day!

 

VERSE 19. The humble also will increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

NAB translation. The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

lowly will ever find joy. That will be a great day!

the poor rejoice. That will be a great day!

 

VERSE 20. For the ruthless is brought to nothing, and the scoffer ceases, and all those who are alert to do evil are cut off—

NLT translation. Those who intimidate and harass will be gone, and all those who plot evil will be killed.

intimidate and harass. God does not delight in those who harass or intimidate. Yet such behavior is common Christian leaders.

will be gone. At some point, their deeds will finally catch up to them. They will be gone.

 

VERSE 21. who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and lay a snare for the arbiter in the gate, and who deprive the innocent of justice with false testimony.

 

VERSE 22. Therefore the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no longer be ashamed, neither shall his face grow pale.

BBE translation. For this reason the Lord, the saviour of Abraham, says about the family of Jacob, Jacob will not now be put to shame, or his face be clouded with fear.

the saviour of Abraham. Even Abraham needed to be saved.

shame … fear. Shame and fear are on their way out!

 

VERSE 23. But when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in the middle of him, they will sanctify my name. Yes, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.

NLT translation. For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Israel. They will stand in awe of the God of Jacob.

They will stand in awe of the God of Jacob. This describes one of our greatest needs. We NEED to be in awe of God!

 

VERSE 24. They also who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will receive instruction.”

 


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.