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I was in California last week end just as Ariel Sharon went into the hospital after a massive stroke. So I have not yet commented on this news event. And again, I will be flying to Seattle tomorrow (Friday) and returning next Tuesday. That is why these blogs have gaps between dates.
For many years I have believed that Ariel Sharon is a type of Jerusalem and by extension the entire Israeli state. Such connections obviously cannot be proven biblically but is rather based upon my spiritual discernment. Yet this discernment does have some basis in Scripture, namely, Isaiah 29:1, combined with Sharon's (former) political position as Prime Minister.
Leaders of a nation do represent the nation itself. And I have found over the years that names do mean something and often have prophetic significance. Ariel Sharon is thus named for a prophetic and poetic name for Jerusalem in Isaiah 29:1, which says,
"Woe, O Ariel, Ariel the city where David once camped!"
The passage goes on to describe divine judgment upon Ariel-Jerusalem. The reason for such judgment has nothing to do with Ariel Sharon's pullout from Gaza, as Pat Robertson claimed. Verse 13 gives us the real reason:
"Then the Lord said, Because this people draw near with their words, and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote." (NASB)
Evangelicals generally understand Isaiah 29 as prophesying judgment against non-Jewish nations that are coming against Jerusalem. However, it is very clear that the "woe" is directed at Jerusalem itself, called "Ariel." It is NOT the other nations who are being judged for teaching the "traditions of men." It is Jerusalem and its priests/teachers. Verse 2 says,
"And I will bring distress to Ariel, and she shall be a city of lamenting and mourning.; and she shall be like an Ariel to Me."
What does this mean? "She shall be like an Ariel to Me"? Ariel has a double meaning. It means "lion of God," which is what it ought to be if they followed the ways of David. But the prophecy shows Ariel's other meaning: "hearth of God." In other words, Jerusalem is no longer God's lion, but God's hearth. It is a place of burning.
29:3 says, "And I will camp against you (Ariel) encircling you, and I will set siegeworks against you, and I will raise up battle towers against you."
Notice that God is the One who takes credit for this siege on Jerusalem. Yes, He will use real people and real nations, but God takes the credit for doing it, and His reasons are stated in verse 13, as we showed.
20:4, "Then you shall be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust where you are prostrate, your words shall come. Your voice shall also be like that of a spirit from the ground, and your speech shall whisper from the dust."
In other words, Isaiah prophesies that Jerusalem will become like a dead man who is buried in the ground as the result of this siege.
29:5 But the multitude of your (Jerusalem's) ENEMIES shall become like fine dust, and the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff which blows away; and it shall happen instantly, suddenly. 6 From the Lord of hosts you (Jerusalem) will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire."
Much confusion reigns because it is assumed that the "enemies" are the nations who are coming against Jerusalem. In fact, that is not the case, because they have already been shown to be God's army. God identified Himself as their Commander by saying, "I will camp against you, and I will set siegeworks against you." Those fighting against Jerusalem, then, are pictured as being ON GOD'S SIDE, while Jerusalem itself is the "enemy." When two armies are set against each other, they each consider the other to be the "enemy."
The "enemies" of God, then, are those inhabiting or ruling Jerusalem--not the nations laying siege to the city. As for the nations laying siege to Jerusalem, Isaiah speaks of them in verses 7 and 8,
29:7 "And the multitude of all the nations who wage war against Ariel, even all who wage war against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.
29:8 And it will be as when a hungry man dreams--and behold, he is eating; But when he awakens, his hunger is not satisfied; or as when a thirsty man dreams--and behold, he is drinking; but when he awakens, behold, he is faint, and his thirst is not quenched. Thus the multitude of all the nations shall be, who wage war against Mount Zion."
Here we see two full verses that could tell us how God was displeased with the nations for making war on Jerusalem--but there is not a single rebuke toward them. All that is said is that their seige will be like a dream in that they will not be satisfied with the result. It will be like eating or drinking in a dream, but when they wake up, they will still be hungry and thirsty.
In other words, they will not be satisfied or happy when they have completed their task of burning Jerusalem to the ground. Why? In the context of present history and current events, the answer is quite apparent. It is because the Arab and Islamic nations consider Jerusalem to be a holy city to their own religion. The Al Aqsa mosque is sacred to them. When Jerusalem is destroyed, they will find that they have nothing to occupy, no city left in which to live or worship. The whole war will be like a dream of eating and drinking, but in the end, they will remain hungry and thirsty.
So who are Jerusalem's "enemies" in verse 5? The divine law defines God's enemies not in terms of race or nationality, nor even religion. It defines God's enemies as those who rebel against His rule. Isaiah 63:10 says, "But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore, He (God) turned Himself to become THEIR ENEMY; HE FOUGHT AGAINST THEM." (See also Jer. 30:14.) This is in accordance with the law of tribulation found in Lev. 26:21-25,
21 If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins . . . 23 And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, 24 then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins. 25 I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands."
This law of tribulation was brought into play throughout the book of Judges, where we read in many places where Israel refused to be ruled by God (and His law), and for that reason, God brought judgment upon the nation. Finally, in the days of Jeremiah, God brought the "iron yoke" upon them prophesied in Deut. 28:48. The iron yoke meant that the city would be destroyed, and the survivors would be deported to a foreign land.
This iron yoke was actually put upon them in Jeremiah's day (Jer. 28:14) when God brought Nebuchadnezzar, "My servant" (Jer. 27:6) to fulfill the divine will and execute the divine judgment upon Jerusalem. The fact that Jerusalem was "chosen" and the Temple was there did not prevent God from executing His judgment for their rebellion against Him.