This week we find another rich study in the book of Isaiah, chapter 29.
In verses 1-8, Ariel is mentioned again and again, this is a city where David lived. The word “Ariel” most likely means “altar hearth,” or the place where offerings were burnt (Ezekiel 43:15,16). The city of Ariel is actually referring to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is being referred to as “Ariel,” or “altar hearth” over and over in these verses to stress that Jerusalem would be burnt and destroyed as the result of its disobedience, just as a sacrifice is on the altar hearth.
Ariel’s (Jerusalem’s) once mighty voice will be a whisper, its’ sphere of influence and importance having shrunk greatly. There is a futility in fighting against and resisting God. See verse 8, which compares “actions” in dreams with reality:
“It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams, And look—he eats; But he awakes, and his soul is still empty; Or as when a thirsty man dreams, And look—he drinks; But he awakes, and indeed he is faint, And his soul still craves: So the multitude of all the nations shall be, Who fight against Mount Zion.”” Isaiah 29:8
This description shows how a nation might believe it can prosper without attending to the statutes of God, but that this is ultimately futile. Prosperity, success and wealth can vanish just as quickly as the tattered remnants of a dream.
Verses 9-16 tell the story of the people’s blindness to their plight. They think they know God and they suppose they are following Him, yet they are led by men rather than by God. The people put more value into the words of “wise” men rather than into the holy commandments of God:
“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,” Isaiah 29:13
Also in this section is a very plain but striking illustration that lets us know exactly who we are as creations:
“Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?” Isaiah 29:16
Man often forgets that he is a creation of the Almighty God and that it is useless and a waste of time and energy to resist Him:
“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11
To conclude, verses 17-24 leave us with a positive end, a prophecy of Jesus. People will understand God’s plan and rejoice. Those that wait falsely will be punished, but those who are honest enough to truly seek and understand God and His plan will be rewarded.
“But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine.”” Isaiah 29:23-24
The “Holy One of Jacob” is a reference to Jesus.
Tonight I would ask you to recognize the uselessness of avoiding/resisting God. Balanced with the rich blessings of His grace through Jesus Christ, following Him appears to be an easy choice. Of course, we are tempted by Satan and drawn away from God by our own desires, but if we can resist all these and cling to Him, we shall have blessings eternal.