Isaiah 29 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
I. E. Five 'Woes' upon unbelievers, 28:1-33:24
2. Woe to the Hypocrites of Jerusalem (Ariel), 29:1-24
1. Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city [where] David dwelt!
add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.
2 Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow:
and it shall be unto me as Ariel.
3 And I will camp against thee round about,
and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.
4 And thou shalt be brought down, [and] shalt speak out of the ground,
and thy speech shall be low out of the dust,
and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground,
and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
Woe to Ariel...- The word 'Ariel' is used, here, as a name for Jerusalem (Zion, see v.8),
by its identification as the city where David dwelt, which was Jerusalem (2Sam 5:7,9,13).
  • 'Ari-el' means 'lion of God' or 'lion-like' (2Sam 23:20). It speaks of strength.
    A lion was a prominent part of the crest or insignia of the house of David. His strength was in his dependence upon the LORD. David counseled his son, Solomon, to seek the LORD with his whole heart and to establish the Temple worship on that basis. 1Chr 28:9,10
         The Lord Jesus Christ is "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Rev 5:5).
    He is the strength of those who know Him. In the future day of His reign, Jerusalem will be strong because of His presence.
  • In Isaiah's day, the rulers and residents of Jerusalem considered themselves strong,
    because their king was descended from David, and because their city was the place of God's Temple. But they did not know the LORD, and they were not serving Him.
add ye year to year; let them kill {HB=naqaph, strike off, complete} sacrifices {HB=chag, feasts, festivals}.-
This line may be read with the emphasis on 'sacrifices' or on 'feasts,' but both are in view. They took pride in their continual offering of sacrifices, and in their faithful observance of the prescribed feasts according to the religious calendar. But because their hearts were far from Him, the LORD was not pleased with their empty rituals (cp. Isa 1:11-15).
Yet I will distress Ariel... and it shall be unto me as Ariel.-
While the primary meaning of 'Ariel' is 'Lion,' the word has an alternate meaning: 'hearth' or 'altar' (as translated in Eze 43:15,16; and similarly applied in Isa 44:16 where it is translated 'roasteth.') This usage may be a play on words from the HB word 'har-el' {lit., hill of God} which sometimes refers to the altar of burnt sacrifice.)
     Thus, the Lord says that the city of 'strength' will become an 'altar' upon which His wrath will burn until sin is purged away. cp. Eze 39:17; Zeph 1:7,8
I will... lay siege against thee...-
Jerusalem has been besieged and destroyed multiple times. The first application of Isaiah's prophecy occurred when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, threatened to besiege Jerusalem, in 701 BC (twenty years after the fall of Samaria). The city did not fall at that time, because the LORD intervened. But other enemies would follow. Babylon besieged and destroyed Jerusalem (in 586 BC). Rome did the same, in 70 AD (Luk 19:43,44). During the Tribulation period, Jerusalem will again be besieged by the armies of gentile nations.
thou shalt be brought down... thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.-
The rare use of the word for 'whisper' {HB=tsaphaph, peep, chatter} suggests two senses:
  1. Isa 8:19 (peep) - Having forsaken the voice of the LORD, to seek guidance from the occult (those with familiar spirits, who purportedly spoke out of the grave), they would justly be brought down to the level which they sought.
  2. Isa 38:14 (chatter) - Having been brought to the end of their own strength and with no other hope, they appeal, from the dust of death, to the ever-living One
5 Moreover {ie., but, yet} the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust,
and the multitude of the terrible ones [shall be] as chaff that passeth away:
yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly.
6 Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake,
and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,
even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her,
shall be as a dream of a night vision.
8 It shall even be as when an hungry [man] dreameth, and, behold, he eateth;
but he awaketh, and his soul is empty:
or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh;
but he awaketh, and, behold, [he is] faint, and his soul hath appetite:
so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.
yet, the multitude of... strangers {ie., foreigners}... terrible ones...-
Although Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles (Mat 23:37- 24:2; Luk 13:34,35; 21:20-24), the time will come when Israel's enemies...
...shall be as chaff that passeth away... at an instant suddenly. (v.5; cp. Isa 17:13,14}-
Though Israel's judgment was from the LORD, their deliverance would also come from Him. At the very moment when Jerusalem appears to be irrevocably lost, and the enemy uncontestably victorious, the LORD will render Israel's oppressors inconsequential.
     In Isaiah's day, this would soon be illustrated by the miraculous defeat and sudden retreat of Sennacherib's army (Isa 37:33-37). But the prophecy awaits future fulfillment, in the Time of Jacob's Trouble, the Tribulation period (Zech 12:2,3).
the multitude of the nations... shall be as a dream of a night vision...-
The enemies of Jerusalem (ultimately the nations led by the Antichrist) will be so certain of victory that they can taste it. But the anticipated victory will vanish out of their clutches (v.8). For, in that day, they will...
...fight against Ariel...(v.6,7) - The true Lion of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5),
will destroy the enemies of Zion, at His return, in that future day. Zech 14:1-7
     Until then, the nation of Israel remains downtrodden in their unbelief.
9. Stay {HB=mahahh, delay, wait, linger (as in Gen 19:16)} yourselves,
and wonder
{ie., be astounded, be amazed};
cry ye out
{HB=sha'a, blind yourselves}, and cry {HB=sha'a, be blind}:
they are drunken, but not with wine;
they stagger, but not with strong drink.
10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you
the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes:
the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
11 And the vision of all is become unto you
as the words of a book that is sealed,
which [men] deliver to one that is learned,
saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed:
12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned,
saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
Stay... wonder... be blind... they are drunken... not with strong drink.-
Israel continues in a state of willful ignorance and unresponsiveness to God's Word.
the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep... as the words of a book that is sealed...-
Israel's leaders could not understand and would not receive the LORD's message, delivered to them by Isaiah. cp. Isa 28:9-13
     Because Israel refused to receive the light of His Word, the LORD judicially blinded them. This blindness continues to the present day (Isa 6:9-13; 44:18; Rom 11:7,8), and extends to both 'the learned' and 'unlearned' of all other nations (2Cor 4:4).
the vision of all {ie., the totality of prophecy} is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed.-
Regardless of whether God's prophetic message is of judgment or of restoration, to those who are spiritually blind, it is unintelligible and irrelevant. cp. 1Cor 2:14
13 Wherefore the Lord said,
Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth,
and with their lips do honour me,
but have removed their heart far from me,
and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
14 Therefore, behold,
I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people,
[even] a marvellous work and a wonder:
for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish,
and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid.
{cp. 1Cor 1:19-24}
15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD,
and their works are in the dark,
and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
16 Surely your turning of things upside down
shall be esteemed as the potter's clay:
for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?
or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
Forasmuch as this people draw near with their mouth... their fear... is taught by the precept of men...-
Although Israel refused God's Word (v.9-12), they were not without religious speech and action.
     However, their religion was according to human 'precepts' (HB= mitsvah, commandments). This word occurs in 177 OT verses, predominantly of the commandments of the LORD (more than 144 times. eg., Gen 26:5; Ex 15:26) and occasionally of the commandments of kings and rightful authorities (in 32 verses). Only here (in v.13) is this word used of commandments of men which directly oppose the commandments of God.
     The word for 'precept', in Isa 28:10,13, is HB=tsav, ordinance, oracle, instruction. In that passage, as Isaiah taught God's commandments 'precept upon precept' (ie., in small easily understood pieces), the leaders disregarded God's Word as simplistic. Here, they have displaced God's commandments with their own. When Jesus walked in Jerusalem, He accused the Pharisees of the same error, quoting v.13, in Mat 15:8,9 (see the context, Mat 15:1-9).
woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD...-
Our outline of this section is divided according to five 'Woes,' but their heart condition demanded this sixth 'woe.' Not only were they blind to God's counsels (His Word and purposes), but they considered Him blind to theirs. cp. Psa 94:9; Heb 4:13
surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed {regarded} as the potter's clay...
Alternate translation: "Your perversion! as clay is the potter esteemed?" [YLT]
shall the thing formed say: He made me not? or... He had no understanding?-
The foolishness of men, who think to displace the wisdom of God with their own, is likened to a lump of clay supposing itself to be superior to the potter (cp. Isa 45:9; Jer 18:1-10; Rom 9:18-24). The creatures had perversely 'turned things upside down' by setting themselves above their Creator. In the next verse, the Lord declares that He will restore the rightful order, in His relationship to His people.
17. [Is] it not yet a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?
18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book,
and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.
19 The meek also shall increase [their] joy in the LORD,
and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed,
and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
21 That make a man an offender for a word,
and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate,
and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.
Is it not yet a very little while...-
There is a definite time coming, when the LORD will re-order the world, in the Kingdom of the Messiah. cp. Hag 2:6,7; Heb 10:37
...Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field...-
In His own time, the LORD will turn the thick forests of Lebanon into food producing fields, and those fields will produce so abundantly that they might be regarded as thick forests. He would turn things upside down, not only by changes in the realm of nature, but also by transformation of the hearts of men (cp. v.13,14; Isa 32:15-18; Hab 2:3,4).
in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book... the eyes of the blind shall see...-
Israel's spiritual blindness will be cured in Christ's Kingdom (cf. v.9-12; Isa 25:7; 2Cor 3:14-18).
the deaf [shall] hear... the blind shall see... the meek... the poor... shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.-
Their joy will be centered in "the Holy One of Israel." cp. Isa 47:4; 49:5-9; Luk 4:17-21
Yet, those who think they see, and proudly cling to their own wisdom, have no part in Him. cp. Mat 11:25,26; Joh 9:39-41; 1Cor 1:27
in that day... the terrible one {ie., the Antichrist} is brought to nought...
and the scorner {cp. the scornful men of Isa 28:14,15} will be consumed...-
Those who sought to destroy the righteous through the imposition of upside down justice (cp. v.20,21; Isa 5:20; 24:5), will be consumed upon God's hearth.
"The day" pointed to in verses 18-24 is the day of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit [Zech 12:10]. That visitation will destroy the proud, the scornful and the evil-workers (vs.20 and 21), but will enlighten and heal and gladden (vs. 18 and 19), and sanctify and teach the redeemed sons of Jacob (vs. 22-24). [GWms; Reference in brackets added.]
22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham,
concerning the house of Jacob,
Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.
23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him,
they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,
and shall fear the God of Israel.
{cp. Hos 3:4,5}
24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding,
and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.
Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham...
Abraham was redeemed by God's Grace because he believed God's Promises (Rom 4:1-5). The same gift of righteousness is available to Abraham's seed, by the same means (Rom 4:21-25; Gal 3:11).
Jacob shall not now be ashamed...
The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) would be ashamed of the ungodliness and hypocrisy of their descendants (as described in v.1-17 of this chapter).
But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him {ie., of Israel}...
Jacob and the other patriarchs will rejoice in the work of God, by which Israel's believing remnant will be converted and transformed, out of their state of blind rebellion, into His joyful service.
they shall sanctify my name... and the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.
In that day, the people of Israel will live to honor the LORD, the Holy One who came into the world as a descendant of Jacob, to save His people from their sins. Mat 1:21-23; Acts 2:36-39; Eze 39:7

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