You successfully added to your cart! You can either continue shopping, or checkout now if you'd like.

Note: If you'd like to continue shopping, you can always access your cart from the icon at the upper-right of every page.



Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 4

Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Isaiah 28, 29: Ephraim and Judah

Chapter 24: Woe to Ariel-Jerusalem

In Isaiah’s warning to the House of Judah, he sets forth the judgment of God because the people had continually refused to repent. That judgment would not last forever, he assures them, but nonetheless, the judgment was to be severe, as described in the next chapter.

Isaiah 29:1, 2 begins,

1 Woe, O Ariel, Ariel the city where David once camped! Add year to year, observe your feasts on schedule. 2 I will bring distress to Ariel, and she will be a city of lamenting and mourning; and she will be like an Ariel to me.

The city where David once camped” was Jerusalem. The prophet called it Ariel, a name that carries a double meaning. First, it means “lion of God,” since ariy means “lion” and el means “God.” Secondly, it is a homonym for ariy’eyl (from harel) which is translated “altar-hearth” in Ezek. 43:15, 16. In other words, the city was to become a place of sacrifice and fire.

In a more positive sense, because the temple in Jerusalem was also a place of sacrifice, old Egyptian monuments refer to the city by the name Harel. So says Dr. Bullinger in his notes on Isaiah 29:1.

So also the prophet tells them, “add year to year, observe your feasts on schedule.” This should be read as irony: “Keep on observing your feasts every year with their sacrifices; but because your hearts are far from Me, they will do you no good.”

No doubt Isaiah knew that the Egyptians referred to Jerusalem as Harel, the place of sacrifice. But here he used the name in a negative sense, saying, “she will be like an Ariel to me,” for this was followed by a prophecy of a fiery judgment. This was the cause of Jerusalem’s coming “distress” and the reason it was to become “a city of lamenting and mourning.”

The most important factor is to see that Isaiah was giving the city the word of the Lord. Hence, when he says, “I will bring distress to Ariel,” God Himself was speaking through the prophet. Though God used Assyria and (later) Babylon as His army, God was the Commander-in-Chief of those armies laying siege to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s Downfall

Isaiah 29:3, 4 says,

3 I will camp against you encircling you, and I will set up siegeworks against you, and I will raise up battle towers against you. 4 Then you will be brought low; from the earth you will speak and from the dust where you are prostrate your words will come. Your voice will also be like that of a spirit from the ground, and your speech will whisper from the dust.

The city was to be leveled to the ground. Its citizens were to speak “like that of a spirit from the ground.” In other words, they would become the subject of spiritists and mediums who consult the dead, as we saw earlier in Isaiah 8:19,

19 When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

The law forbade men from consulting the dead in Lev. 19:31, because God’s desire is for us to hear His voice and to obtain our information from Him. The point of Isaiah 29:4, then, is that the people of Jerusalem were to be killed, so that no one would be able to talk to them face to face aboveground.

God’s Enemies Destroyed

The destruction of the city was then described in Isaiah 29:5, 6,

5 But the multitude of your [Ariel’s] enemies will become like fine dust, and the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff which blows away; and it will happen instantly, suddenly. 6 From the Lord of hosts you [Ariel] will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.

Many have misunderstood this passage because they have not understood that God was speaking directly to Ariel-Jerusalem. Secondly, they have assumed that the invading armies were God’s “enemies,” rather than Jerusalem itself. But the scene painted by the prophet showed that Jerusalem’s leaders and people were God’s enemies and that God Himself was the Commander of the armies laying siege to the city.

God’s enemies are those who refuse to obey His will, whether they are Israelites or foreigners. We see this in Exodus 23:22,

22 But if you truly obey his [the angel’s] voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

In other words, if the Israelites would heed God’s voice and do His will, then God would take their side and be an enemy to their enemies. Conversely, if the Israelites rebelled against God, He would then become their enemy and side with their adversaries, as we read in Isaiah 63:9, 10,

9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy; He fought against them.

This is also prophesied in the law of tribulation found in Lev. 26:40-42,

40 If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— 41 I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.

So it is clear that God’s enemies are not defined in terms of race, genealogy, or nationality but in terms of obedience to God. Foreign nations were assumed to be in disobedience to God, but the problem was that Israel was hardly better than the foreign nations in this regard.

That, in fact, is the whole point of Isaiah’s prophecy against Judah.

Because Judah had become hostile to God, God, in turn, became hostile to Judah. Because Judah had refused to hear and obey the word of the Lord (in spite of their sacrifices and feast keeping), God had finally become the enemy of Jerusalem. God Himself was leading the foreign troops against Jerusalem. Hence, the multitude of Ariel’s enemies in Isaiah 29:5 was not the foreign army that God was commanding, but rather the enemies within Jerusalem itself—the place where David camped.

The city was spared when King Hezekiah took heed to the word of God during the Assyrian siege, but the city was destroyed a century later when King Zedekiah refused to listen to the word of God through the prophet Jeremiah. Obviously, God had become Jerusalem’s enemy at that time, because God gave the city—and all nations—into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27:6, 7).

Six centuries later, Jesus told a parable about the people of Judah and Jerusalem, who refused to repent and to recognize Jesus as the Messiah-King. Luke 19:12-14 says,

12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself and then return. 13 And he called ten of his slaves and gave them ten minas and said to them, “Do business with this until I come back.” 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.”

Everyone knew that King Herod had gone to Rome “to receive a kingdom for himself and then return.” When he returned, he had to fight King Antigonus to wrest the throne from him. Jesus used that well-known precedent to show that He Himself was to go to heaven to be ratified by God as the true King of the Kingdom of God.

But the Jews spiritually sent a delegation (i.e., they appealed to God) saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.”

In other words, they rejected Jesus as the Messiah-King. During His absence, His “slaves” (believers) were told to conduct their business on earth until He should return, at which time they were to be rewarded according to their labors. But then Jesus said in Luke 19:27,

27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.

This shows that the Jews themselves (or Jerusalem as a city) were Christ’s “enemies,” because they refused to recognize the King that God had commissioned to rule the Kingdom. This is an obvious prophecy of the second coming of Christ, and it shows that He will not come to save Jerusalem from foreign “enemies,” but to destroy it.

The point is that Isaiah 29:5, 6 was describing the destruction of Jerusalem, not the destruction of the armies that God was leading against Jerusalem. The enemies of God were within Jerusalem, not within the ranks of the foreign armies. Why? Because the people of Jerusalem were hostile to Jesus Christ and did not want Him to reign over them.

Jerusalem was (and is) “Hagar” (Gal. 4:25). Hagar wanted her child of the flesh (Ishmael) to be the inheritor of the throne. Paul makes it very clear that Hagar’s fleshly children are not inheritors (Gal. 4:29; Rom. 9:8). “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God,” Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:50.

The Nuclear Altar-Hearth

Isaiah’s description of the destruction seems to describe a nuclear war. Isaiah was unfamiliar with nuclear devices, but his description of a nuclear explosion was very accurate: “earthquake with thunder and… loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.” Very little of this took place when Babylon and Rome destroyed the city, each in their turn. It is something that has yet to take place.

Jer. 19:11 says that the city will never again be repaired (or rebuilt) but instead will be cast into Gehenna, the prophetic place where God’s enemies are destroyed. It appears that Isaiah 29 describes the manner of Jerusalem’s destruction and the reason why men will no longer be able to rebuild the city. A nuclear destruction of this type could result in radioactive fallout that would contaminate the place for thousands of years.

Perhaps this is also the manner in which “Hagar” is to be “cast out” (Gal. 4:30). If so, part of the purpose of this destruction is to dash the hopes of those who think that the children of the flesh are the inheritors of the Kingdom.

The 2,000-year-old problem has been the rivalry between the two covenants (Hagar and Sarah) to see whose children will inherit the Kingdom. The children of Hagar-Jerusalem have hated the divinely-appointed King and have opposed His reign since His first appearance. They appealed their case to God, but they have continued to this day to reject Him.

Hence, as the time of His second coming approaches, the fulfillment of Luke 19:27 is drawing near. The fulfillment of Jer. 19:11 is soon to come. The fulfillment of Isaiah 29:5, 6 is also coming soon. When we put all these prophecies together, we can hardly conclude that Christ is coming to save the day for Jerusalem in the face of a foreign invasion. The only feasible conclusion is that they will not repent and that the city will be destroyed “suddenly,” as Isaiah says, perhaps by a nuclear missile attack.

This event will then prove that the earthly Jerusalem is not destined to bring forth the Kingdom of God and is not “the eternal city,” as so many have thought. The earthly Jerusalem will become God’s altar-hearth, the place of fire and sacrifice. Christ will rule from the heavenly Jerusalem, which is figuratively known as Mount Sion (Heb. 12:22, KJV).

The obedient ones will rule with Christ, not those claiming fleshly genealogy back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those who have been “hostile” to God and to Christ will be judged, and only later will they bow their knees to Christ at the Great White Throne.

They will indeed bow (Isaiah 45:23; Phil. 2:9-11), and they will certainly be judged. Fortunately for them, the prophet already told us in Isaiah 28:28, divine judgment does not last forever. In the end all of God's enemies will be put under the feet of Christ (1 Cor. 15:27), and “the last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). When death itself is abolished, then God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).