THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

God Canít See Me

Isaiah 29 SCC 8/4/13

Religious Hypocrisy provokes Godís Judgment 29:1-4

Verse 1: Isaiah described Ariel as the place where Israelís religious festivals took place. Clearly Ariel refers to Jerusalem, the city where David set up his headquarters and Mount Zion the site of Judahís worship. Jerusalem prides itself as being Godís altar-hearth, the very heart of the only system of worship that pleases him. But, in fact, God is not pleased at all. The city also boasted of its heritage in David, but the present residents did not share Davidís heart for God. The prophet called the city to continue to observe its annual religious feasts regularly. This seems to be a sarcastic call to continue offering the sacrifices, which the people thought assured their blessing by God, even though they were doing so as an empty ritual. These meaningless acts of worship would not avert judgment to come.

Verse 2: The Lord would bring the city into distress, lamentation, and mourning. It would become like an altar hearth in that it would become a place of death. If we treat lightly the sacrifices God has made available then we ourselves become the sacrifice. If we will not accept Godís substitution, we must carry the burden of our own sin (Heb 10:26-27; Rom 8:11-13).

Verse 3: The Lord would bring Jerusalem under siege. David had camped there but God would camp there too. This probably refers to His use of Sennacherib and the Assyrians for this purpose in 701 B.C., though other armies also besieged Jerusalem.

Verse 4: Both the status and the strength of the city would suffer humiliation. The peopleís weak voices would reflect their sick condition under the Lordís sovereign discipline. This verse has a series of metaphors for death.

1. You shall be brought low.

2. From the earth you shall speak.

3. From the dust where you are prostrate.

4. Your voice shall be like that of a spirit from the ground.

5. Your speech shall whisper from the dust.

This context is metaphorical language to describe Jerusalem, on the brink of total destruction, crying out to her God in a weak voice while lying on the ground just before death.

Restoration will Follow Judgment in the Future for Israel 29:5-8

Verse 5: God would powerfully blow away the enemy, who would be as numerous and insignificant as dust and chaff, even though the enemy built great ramparts and siege towers to storm Jerusalem. His deliverance, like that of a storm, would be very quick. God would judge those whom He had sent to judge His people. God will do a similar thing at the end of the Tribulation.

Verse 6: The Lord Himself would be directing Jerusalemís judgment. He would use the audible, the visible, and the invisible, to shake, remove, and consume the city. These are probably not the instruments that He would use as much as expressions of His sovereign power.

Verse 7: However, eventually ďallĒ the enemies of Israel would vanish, just as the subject of a nightmare disappears when one wakes up. This points beyond the Assyrian invasion and includes all similar attempts to destroy Jerusalem in the future. The events of 701 B.C. were a partial fulfillment, but the ultimate fulfillment is still future. The Exodus was a similar earlier deliverance.

Verse 8: Israelís attackers would also dream of devouring their enemy, of drinking them down, but when they awoke to reality they would discover that their desires were vain. Israel has proved to be an elusive enemy, by Godís grace, throughout history.

The Judgment is the result of willful and deliberate distancing from God 29:9-14

Verse 9: Jerusalemís leaders would be delayed, by their lack of perception and wait to act in faith because they were spiritually blind and drunk. Isaiah was apparently speaking to them ironically. If the people of Jerusalem failed to see the importance of trusting God in the face of enemy attack, and failed to trust Him, they would find it even more difficult to see His will and do it later. When people see the will of God and refuse to do it, they become incapable of seeing it and doing it further (Acts 28:26-28; Rom 1:24-28; Heb 4:1-11). This is serious spiritual blindness and drunkenness.

Verse 10: The people already found it more difficult to see Godís will and act obediently because God had shut their eyes and covered their heads. He had not given most of their prophets and seers insight into what was coming that they could share with the people. Isaiah and a few other faithful spokesmen were the exceptions.

Verse 11-12: God would hide His will from those who could know it but did not have the spiritual discernment to understand it. This would lead the people to appeal for an interpretation of His will to those who did not even have the intellectual ability to understand it. The idea is the prophets and visionaries cannot see because God placed a darkened spirit upon them. They cannot decipher the prophecies and cannot envision a proper future. Why all of this darkness transpired?

Verse 13: Because the Lord had observed that the people of Jerusalem were going through the motions of worship without a vital, daily relationship of trust and obedience with Him. Their worship was a matter of traditional ritual observance rather than heartfelt desire to interact with Him.

Verse 14: Therefore He would again deal with them in a way that would cause others to marvel, as He had done in the past when they sank to this level. Their wise men would not be able to view life from Godís perspective, and their discerning men would not be able to see through things to the real issues. Inability to see would be their punishment for choosing not to see. You do not want to get here!

This Distancing Sets one up for Deception 15-16

Verse 15: Since you distance yourselves Godís actions will become more and more inaccessible. You canít understand me because you deliberately avoid bringing me into your minds. ďWoeĒ announces divine condemnation of another trait of the Jerusalemites: their habitual and determined decision to try to hide from God. The political strategists seem to be particularly in view. This refers to Judah's leadership's plan for a political alliance with Egypt to protect them from Assyria. They are trusting in Egypt, not the Lord.

Verse 16: These politicians turned things upside down. What they wrongly think is now explained. Do you really think the art says to the artisan you cannot understand me? God made you. He knows. Who sees us? or Who knows us? This is basically a denial of God's personal presence. Verse 16 expresses the logic and foolishness of these statements.

God Will Reverse the Situation Permanently 17-21

This describes the new Messianic day that is coming.

1. It is coming soon.

2. Lebanon will become very fertile.

3. The deaf shall hear.

4. The blind shall see.

5. The afflicted shall be glad in the Lord.

6. The needy shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

7. The ruthless will come to an end.

8. The scorner will be finished.

9. Those intent on doing evil will be cut off.

10. Justice will be restored at the gate.

Verse 17-18: This change will be literal in the Millennium. Isaiahís point was that only God could do these things, not man. The fact that Jesus was able to do this shows that He was God.

Verse 19: The Lord would also cause the afflicted and the needy to be happy in the Holy One of Israel. True joy in worship would appear.

Verse 20-21: God will destroy the mighty as well as elevate the helpless. He will correct social ills. Specifically, those who abuse the legal system by committing perjury, tampering with witnesses, and withholding protection from the innocent will come to an end. The prophet pictured false witnesses, crooked lawyers, and corrupt judges. One can imagine the places of justice where nobles sat in power in the city gates over civil and criminal cases taking bribes, wheeling and dealing, where they hatched plots and dealing above the law while the prophets and moralists preached their own brands of justice.

A summary statement 22-24

Verse 22: The Lord, who began a good work of redemption in Abraham, would bring it to pass. Jacob may have felt embarrassed by all that his descendants had done, as, Isaiah suggested, Jacob looked down from heaven on them. But he would no longer feel ashamed of them nor fear Godís dealings with them when he saw the transformation that God would make in them. They would finally trust in the Lord, as they should.

Verse 23: The Lord would halt the downward course of the history of Jacobís family, and transform them. The Israelites would at last confess their God as holy and acknowledge His holiness as central in their lives. They would be fruitful rather than barren. It is this deep awareness of Godís goodness to them as a nation that will produce a penitent and receptive spirit in those formerly wayward and complaining.

Verse 24: Their formerly incorrect understanding will be straightened out. Those who have been critical, feeling superior, will accept instruction. Deliverance leads to praise, which results in understanding, just as lack of understanding leads to pride resulting in judgment. On that day the wrong spirit will understand and the grumblers will learn their lesson.

 

SO WHAT?

1. The quality of your personal relationship with God is a serious consideration every day of your life. God takes seriously and personally the depth and quality of our relationship with Him.

2. God is aware of the games we play in our relationship with Him. He knows our heart attitudes, motives, ambition, and passion. Going through the motions will not cut it.

3. Expect some form of discipline or chastisement from God should you stray and deliberately distance yourself from God, His will, His Word, or His heart.

4. Repent everyday if you have to, to ensure that you do not and will not forget God, marginalize His will, set aside His Word. You will have to answer for this and you cannot make up for any lost time.