Destruction (1-4): Jerusalem is called ‘’Ariel’’ which means ‘’altar hearth’’ in the Hebrew language. This great city, with its prestigious past (1a) as David’s capital, and which was the site of God’s altar, would be turned into a hearth of burning embers. We cannot live forever off the spiritual capital of the past. Although armies such as those of Assyria and Babylon would besiege the city, it would actually be the Sovereign Lord working through them (2, 3). No amount of religion can save people from God’s judgment (1b). He wants something that affects the heart, and not mere rituals (13).
Deliverance (5-8): This speaks of a sudden and surprising divine intervention: ‘’Because, surprise, as if out of nowhere, a visit from GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.’’(5b, 6a) The Message. In God’s good time, those who seek to destroy Jerusalem will themselves be destroyed. The attacking forces will ‘wake up’, as if from a dream, and discover that instead of being the attackers, they have become the ones under attack. Hold on to this truth today that God can turn bad situations around dramatically, and when He moves He regularly does so speedily. ‘’They will wake up and discover their dreams of success have become nightmares of defeat. God knows how and when to deliver His people.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.469.
Dullness (9-12): But although the far off future looked bright, the present reality facing Isaiah was bleak. The people of Jerusalem were spiritually blind. In a spiritual sense, they were in a drunken stupor; they were asleep (9, 10). They were unable to see or read or hear what Isaiah was trying to say. Even the leaders, who were able to read, couldn’t read what Isaiah had written. It was ‘’sealed’’ – closed off from their spiritual eyes (11): ‘’What you’ve been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone and tell her, ‘’Read this,’’ she’ll say, ‘’I can’t. The envelope is sealed.’ And if you give it to someone who can’t read and tell him, ‘’Read this,’’ he’ll say, ‘’I can’t read.’’ The Message.
‘’God’s people were like drunken sleeping blind men trying to read a sealed book! They had no understanding of spiritual things nor did they worship God in the Spirit (Matt.15:8-9).’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.469.
As we will go on to see tomorrow, this blindness is associated with a dead formalism in worship (13). Tom Hale says some sobering words about this which we will do well to take to heart: ‘’The spiritual condition of many churches today is similar to that of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time: people today engage in lifeless worship; they are not able to see God or to understand his word. When we close our hearts to God, He makes our eyes blind and our ears dull. As a result, our worship becomes mechanical and lifeless. But if we seek God with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13); and He will open up our spiritual eyes and ears and enable us to know His will and to worship Him aright.’’ The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.1028.
Prayer: Help us Father God, to worship you in spirit and in truth. I want to be the kind of worshipper that you are seeking.
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