ISAIAH CHAPTER 29.
The Tribulation and Delivery of Ariel.
THE WOE UPON ARIEL. — V. 1. Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, a name signifying either “lion of God” or, more likely, “mountain of God,”2) the city where David dwelt! which is still distinguished by that fact. Add ye year to year, another year to the present year; let them kill sacrifices, so that another cycle of festivals will be completed, that is, after the end of the present year another full church-year would elapse, but then the catastrophe would surely strike Jerusalem. V. 2. Yet I will distress Ariel, at the time indicated, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow, sighing and groaning; and It shall be unto Me as Ariel, Jerusalem would prove herself a place where the judgment of the Lord would be carried out. V. 3. And I will camp against thee round about, the enemies carrying out His plans in their siege of the city, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, with fortifications fully manned, every soldier determined to take the city, and I will raise forts against thee, earthworks or entrenchments. V.4. And thou shalt be brought down and shalt speak out of the ground, as though covered with earth, her voice faint and hollow, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, muffled and hard to understand, and thy voice shall be as of one that has a familiar spirit, out of the ground, like that of a ventriloquist imitating the speech of spirits, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust, as one would imagine the voice of a dead person to sound out of the grave. Note the heaping of the expressions to emphasize the intention of the Lord. But the time of tribulation would not last long. V. 5. Moreover, the multitude of thy strangers, of the enemies of Zion, shall be like small dust, utterly crushed, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away, carried off by the wind without a trace to show that they were there; yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly, the destruction coming upon them in a moment. V. 6. Thou, Jerusalem, shalt be visited, but graciously, with a view to deliverance, of the Lord of hosts, the mighty Commander of the heavenly armies, with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire, all the forces of nature being employed by the Lord in overthrowing the haughty invaders. V. 7. And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, the mount of the Lord, typical of His holy Church, even all that fight against her and her munition, her mountain fortress, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision, with nothing tangible to boast of, with no victory won. V. 8. It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth, the dream being so very vivid; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty, no real food having passed his lips; or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, with his thirst unquenched, and his soul hath appetite, he is still longing for a cooling drink. So shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion. They had thought it would be an easy matter to conquer Jerusalem, but they find themselves bitterly disappointed. The whole attempt of Assyria upon Jerusalem would be as if it had not been, would he as empty and unreal as the fabric of a dream. The same will finally be true of all the enemies of the real Mount Zion, of the Church of God. But since the people of Jerusalem would not accept the words of the prophet in firm faith, in glad acclaim, therefore he continues with sharp reproof. V. 9. Stay yourselves and wonder, stopping in foolish astonishment and unbelieving amazement; cry ye out and cry, rather, “blind yourselves and become blind,” said of those who deliberately harden themselves against the influence of the joyful message brought to their attention; they are drunken, but not with wine, a spiritual paralysis having taken hold upon them; they stagger, but not with strong drink, their intoxication being due to their spiritual stupidity. And since they were thus closing their hearts against the influence of the Lord, He would punish them with that same stupidity which they were cultivating. V. 10. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, with which they were stupefied, and hath closed your eyes, blinding them against the light of understanding; the prophets and your rulers, the seers, hath He covered, the very leaders who were supposed to teach the people were afflicted with blindness. V. 11. And the vision of all, that which was revealed by the vision of the true prophets concerning all things, is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, of a roll of parchment sealed so that the writing is not visible, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed, and unless the roll is opened, it is impossible for the writing to be seen; v. 12. and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, an illiterate person, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned. In either event, the writing will not be revealed, the teaching of God is hidden from them, just as it is from the hearts and minds of all such as harden their hearts against His teaching.
THE COUNSEL OF GOD. — V. 13. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people, the men of the Southern Kingdom, the children of Judah, draw near Me with their mouth and with their lips do honor Me, in a mere outward form of worship, but have removed their heart far from Me, faith being lost entirely, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men, their outward morality being based wholly upon the rules of conduct in vogue among men, not upon the way of sanctification prescribed by God, cp. Matt. 15, 8. 9, v. 14. therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder, by an exceptional act of judgment; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, so that the counsel and help of those upon whom Judah depended would no longer appear, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid, their leaders becoming dull and stupid without knowing it. V. 15. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, trying to conceal their object from the eyes of God, as even Hezekiah did at times, and their works are in the dark, as they think, hidden from the omniscience of the Lord, and they say, Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? V. 16. Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay, the sentence being like an exclamation: “Alas upon your perversion! As clay is the potter to be considered?” For shall the work, the vessel as it comes from the potter’s hands, say of him that made it, He made me not? Or shall the thing framed, that which is formed by the artist’s skill, say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? The leaders of Judah were turning things upside down, ignoring God and even placing themselves in His stead. V. 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? The reference is to the time of the Messiah, when the hearts of men, moral deserts without the Lord, will be reclaimed so as to bear fruits of righteousness. V. 18. And In that day shall the deaf, those whose ears had, by their natural perversity, been closed to the voice of the Lord, hear the words of the Book, of the written revelation, and the eyes of the blind, those suffering with spiritual blindness, shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness, for the Lord Himself would enlighten the eyes of their understanding. V. 19. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, the godly among the afflicted finding their one satisfaction in communion with Him, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Cp. Matt. 5, 3; Luke 6, 20. V. 20. For the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, both the tyrants and the mockers, the enemies of Jehovah being laid low, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off, their wickedness in watching for opportunities to commit iniquity being duly punished, v. 21. that make a man an offender for a word, unjustly condemning him, no matter what his cause may he, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, one who has a matter at issue in the courts, which were commonly held in the gates of the cities, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught, bringing lying accusations against him, this being the way of the world everywhere. V. 22. Therefore, thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abraham, by calling him away from his father’s house, out of the midst of idolatry, concerning the house of Jacob, the congregation of people chosen by Him, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale, the Church of the Lord no longer being subject to shame and disappointment. V. 23. But when he seeth his children, the work of Mine hands, a new generation of sincere believers in Him, in the midst of him, as a new congregation and assembly of saints, they shall sanctify My name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel, the lesson of Judah’s punishment and of the overthrow of the Lord’s enemies serving to make the hearts more willing to accept the doctrines of the Lord. V. 24. They also that erred in spirit, those whose spirit had forsaken the way of the Lord, shall come to understanding, namely, that of God’s will and ways, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine, receive the discipline or instruction of the Lord. God desires His children of all times to learn the true wisdom from Him, to hear and heed His Word and be found on the ways of sanctification.