Isaiah 29-30

is29.jpgGreetings!  There are lots of important and familiar verses in these passages.

Ariel was a name for Jerusalem.

Woe to David’s City

29     Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel,

the city where David settled!

Add year to year

and let your cycle of festivals go on.

2 Yet I will besiege Ariel;

she will mourn and lament,

she will be to me like an altar hearth.

3 I will encamp against you all around;

I will encircle you with towers

and set up my siege works against you.

4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground;

your speech will mumble out of the dust.

Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth;

out of the dust your speech will whisper.

5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust,

the ruthless hordes like blown chaff.

Suddenly, in an instant,

6 the Lord Almighty will come

with thunder and earthquake and great noise,

with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.

7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel,

that attack her and her fortress and besiege her,

will be as it is with a dream,

with a vision in the night—

8 as when a hungry man dreams that he is eating,

but he awakens, and his hunger remains;

as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking,

but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched.

So will it be with the hordes of all the nations

that fight against Mount Zion.

9 Be stunned and amazed,

blind yourselves and be sightless;

be drunk, but not from wine,

stagger, but not from beer.

10 The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep:

He has sealed your eyes (the prophets);

he has covered your heads (the seers).

11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, “Read this, please,” he will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” he will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”

13 The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth

and honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

Their worship of me

is made up only of rules taught by men.

Those verses sound so much like what goes on in many U.S. churches today!  Rules made by men, God’s rules ignored, people claiming to be Christians (and even thinking that they are) when they have not placed their faith in Jesus.

14 Therefore once more I will astound these people

with wonder upon wonder;

the wisdom of the wise will perish,

the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”

15 Woe to those who go to great depths

to hide their plans from the Lord,

who do their work in darkness and think,

“Who sees us? Who will know?”

16 You turn things upside down,

as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!

Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,

“He did not make me”?

Can the pot say of the potter,

“He knows nothing”?

That is what non-believers do when they deny God.  They make him in their own image.  Oh, the foolishness of telling God how He must be!  We can’t hide from God, though we pretend that we can.

17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field

and the fertile field seem like a forest?

18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,

and out of gloom and darkness

the eyes of the blind will see.

19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord;

the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

20 The ruthless will vanish,

the mockers will disappear,

and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down—

21 those who with a word make a man out to be guilty,

who ensnare the defender in court

and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.

22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the house of Jacob:

“No longer will Jacob be ashamed;

no longer will their faces grow pale.

23 When they see among them their children,

the work of my hands,

they will keep my name holy;

they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,

and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.

24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding;

those who complain will accept instruction.”

Woe to the Obstinate Nation

30     “Woe to the obstinate children,”

declares the Lord,

“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,

forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,

heaping sin upon sin;

2 who go down to Egypt

without consulting me;

who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,

to Egypt’s shade for refuge.

The “obstinate children” are the people of Judah.  Isaiah condemns their plans.

3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,

Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace.

4 Though they have officials in Zoan

and their envoys have arrived in Hanes,

5 everyone will be put to shame

because of a people useless to them,

who bring neither help nor advantage,

but only shame and disgrace.”

6 An oracle concerning the animals of the Negev:

Through a land of hardship and distress,

of lions and lionesses,

of adders and darting snakes,

the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs,

their treasures on the humps of camels,

to that unprofitable nation,

7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless.

Therefore I call her

Rahab the Do-Nothing.

8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them,

inscribe it on a scroll,

that for the days to come

it may be an everlasting witness.

9 These are rebellious people, deceitful children,

children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.

10 They say to the seers,

“See no more visions!”

and to the prophets,

“Give us no more visions of what is right!

Tell us pleasant things,

prophesy illusions.

11 Leave this way,

get off this path,

and stop confronting us

with the Holy One of Israel!”

Again, people want to hear only what they desire.  It reminds me of 2 Timothy 4:3 (“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”)

12 Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says:

“Because you have rejected this message,

relied on oppression

and depended on deceit,

13 this sin will become for you

like a high wall, cracked and bulging,

that collapses suddenly, in an instant.

14 It will break in pieces like pottery,

shattered so mercilessly

that among its pieces not a fragment will be found

for taking coals from a hearth

or scooping water out of a cistern.”

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,

in quietness and trust is your strength,

but you would have none of it.

Verse 15 is a great memory verse.  God gives us salvation if we repent and trust, but so many of would have none of it!

16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’

Therefore you will flee!

You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’

Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

17 A thousand will flee

at the threat of one;

at the threat of five

you will all flee away,

till you are left

like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,

like a banner on a hill.”

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;

he rises to show you compassion.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed are all who wait for him!

19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”

What a dramatic image!  But what a wise thing to do with our idols.

23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.

27 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar,

with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke;

his lips are full of wrath,

and his tongue is a consuming fire.

28 His breath is like a rushing torrent,

rising up to the neck.

He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction;

he places in the jaws of the peoples

a bit that leads them astray.

29 And you will sing

as on the night you celebrate a holy festival;

your hearts will rejoice

as when people go up with flutes

to the mountain of the Lord,

to the Rock of Israel.

30 The Lord will cause men to hear his majestic voice

and will make them see his arm coming down

with raging anger and consuming fire,

with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.

31 The voice of the Lord will shatter Assyria;

with his scepter he will strike them down.

32 Every stroke the Lord lays on them

with his punishing rod

will be to the music of tambourines and harps,

as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm.

33 Topheth has long been prepared;

it has been made ready for the king.

Its fire pit has been made deep and wide,

with an abundance of fire and wood;

the breath of the Lord,

like a stream of burning sulfur,

sets it ablaze.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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