Isaiah 29

Chapter twenty-nine is a warning against Jerusalem, called “Ariel” here. The name can mean either “lion of God” or “altar hearth.” In verse two the city is said to be “like an Ariel” to God. Most major translations leave the name transliterated, but a few translate it as “altar hearth” there (NET, NIV; NLT, “altar covered with blood”), which is probably the intended meaning. Jerusalem was, of course, the place where the altar of God stood, yet the sacrifices made there were unacceptable to him. Therefore, he had to judge them and would do so with a great “horde” of troops (Isaiah 29:3-4). However, the judgment would not last forever. Even those troops would be blown away “like fine dust” (Isaiah 29:5-8). Their victory over Israel will seem complete, but they will ultimately come up empty, when God restores Israel.

The coming judgment and restoration of Israel would surprise and shock them (Isaiah 29:9-14). They were so wrapped up in saying good things about God without obeying him, that they would completely not understand what was happening. Even their prophets and seers would be like people trying to read a sealed scroll. “This entire prophetic revelation” (or “vision”) probably refers to the book of Isaiah itself.

The future restoration will affect Lebanon, to the north of Israel (Isaiah 29:17-24). Although people were blind to spiritual things in Isaiah’s day, they will be able to see and hear from God in the kingdom. The poor and “downtrodden” will be lifted up, and the abusers will be punished. It will no longer bring shame to be called a Jew, and Israel will once again rejoice in God and worship him only.

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