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The issue in Isaiah 29 is that God’s children had reached a point where they must be seriously disciplined. With very pained words Isaiah described God’s deep emotion at the coming judgment of his people.
The tenderness of God is pictured in the use of Ariel, his pet name for Jerusalem.
Rudy Ross and I produce a YouTube video each day that covers the Bible passage of these blog articles. Rudy studied the word in Hebrew and believes Ariel means “My Lion’s Mountain.”
The willfulness of God’s people made it necessary for God to bring judgment on his beloved people. “My Lion’s Mountain” would suffer disaster because of the sins of the people.
Religion without Righteousness
The people of Jerusalem never stopped religious activity. Yet, their leaders planned to have an alliance with Egypt in a war against the superpower Assyria.
The overarching theme of Israel was that God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery Egypt by his mighty hand. Now, the leaders were willing to place more trust in Egypt than in God.
As if that is not enough, to join Egypt in battle also required they worship the gods of Egypt, too.
For this and many more reasons God pronounced judgment on his beloved city.
Ah, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David encamped!
Add year to year;
let the festivals run their round. (Isaiah 29.1)
God’s people continued their religious festivals but trusted the fertility gods of Canaan and the idols of Egypt.
Religious activity and unfaithful behavior resulted in God’s judgment.
Yet I will distress Ariel,
and there shall be moaning and lamentation,
and Jerusalem shall be to me like an Ariel.
And like David I will encamp against you;
I will besiege you with towers
and raise siegeworks against you. (Isaiah 29.2-3)
Like the time when King David’s conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites, the Assyrians were destined to do the same to the Hebrews.
In judgment, God turned on his faithless people and his beloved city. The Assyrians were only a “tool” of God’s judgment.
What happened then can happen today. If we go through the motions of devotion to God while our true loyalty is toward the idols of this age, we also run the risk of God’s judgment.
A Rock Bottom Response
The enemy of our soul cuts to kill. God cuts to cure. He reduces his people to rock bottom. When they have been crushed and have no other resources, they return to their Savior.
Then deep from the earth you shall speak,
from low in the dust your words shall come;
your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost,
and your speech shall whisper out of the dust. (Isaiah 29.4)
“It was the worst day of my life and the best day of my life,” said one of my friends. Rock bottom took him to Alcoholics Anonymous and from AA to Jesus. His life is great today.
“I hated eight years in federal prison, but I wouldn’t change prison for not getting to know Jesus as my Savior,” said another friend. At the point of rock bottom, this man found friendship with the Greatest Being of All.
When our willful, prideful, self-sufficient behavior crushes us to dust, God is there for us.
Judgment to Redemption
The rest of Jerusalem’s story is one of grace and redemption. God came to them in judgment, but also in salvation.
But the multitude of your foes shall be like small dust,
and the multitude of tyrants like flying chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
You will be visited by the Lord of hosts
with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire. (Isaiah 29.5-6)
God is the Lord of the hosts of heaven. The entire heavenly family of created beings knows that God is the Lord.
There are times in history when God visits his people. In Isaiah 29 God visits his people to show them the foolishness of trussing their resources and self-will.
When they are ready to give up their plans, alliances, and idols, God will visit them with grace and redemption.
This is the way that God works with his people. He loves us and even has pet names for us. He disciplines us for our good, so we will return to a faithful relationship with him.
It is for our good and those around us that he doesn’t let us remain in a state of prideful self-will.
This passage encourages all of us to live in a faithful and loving relationship with the One who loves us.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.