Woe to Ariel

Isaiah 29 begins with a woe against Ariel.  Ezra mentions an Israelite by the name of Ariel once but this chapter in Isaiah is the only place in the whole Bible where Jerusalem is referred to as Ariel.

Ariel means lion of God.  Here, it refers to the city of Jerusalem where David dwelled but it is also where the Lion, from the tribe of Judah—Yeshua HaMashiyach (Jesus, the Messiah) will dwell in the future.

Years will go by and the feasts will be celebrated in their cyclical fashion but the Lord promised to eventually encamp against Ariel.  This is in contrast to how the tribes of Israel once camped around the Tabernacle in the wilderness; this was a time when the Lord dwelled among His people.  The Lord warned them He would make war against them.  The result would be their deaths.  At that point, the only way they could speak to Him would be from the ground.  Based on the following verses, it seems that multitudes will come against Ariel but the multitudes will suddenly turn to dust as well. 

Isaiah 29 continues by warning the people of Ariel that the Lord of hosts (armies) will punish them with storm, thunder, earthquake, and fire while Revelation 19:11-16 describes Him coming with His armies to strike down the nations.  The multitude of all the nations that come against Ariel will be as a hungry man’s night vision.  In other words, their desires will not be satisfied.

Even now, there is a strong desire among Israel’s enemies to wipe the Jews off the earth and seize the land for themselves.  Surely, Isaiah 29 concerns the future around the time when the seven trumpets (shofars) will sound (Revelation 8 & 11).

Israel’s prophets and seers couldn’t really discern or understand anything because the Lord has stunned them with a spirit of lethargy.  To them, the vision described in Isaiah was and is a sealed book.  It is much like the vision Daniel sealed and the visions John saw in Revelation.  Even now the vision is taking shape but there isn’t complete agreement on the meaning of the visions.

What is the problem?  The problem is the same as it’s been for many generations.  The New American Standard Updated Version translates it well. Isaiah 29:13-14 says, “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, 14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” According to these verses, the problem was:

  • Insincerity or lip service,
  • Heart defect,
  • Tradition.

The Lord wants sincerity, hearts of love and devotion, and obedience to His written Word!  This is what Jesus stood for.  He was irritated by the fact the leaders voided the written law of God by their traditions (Matthew 15:3).  When Jesus taught His disciples, He used parables so the disciples could know the secrets of the kingdom of God but also so that those around them could look and hear but would not be able to see, hear, and understand (Luke 8:9-10).

Even the apostle Paul warned the readers of Colossians 2:8-9, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”   We are to heed Paul’s warning and not to become blinded by such things.  Philosophy and traditions can eventually cause us to give lip service to the Lord and affect our heart condition.  Our wisdom will disintegrate and we’ll lose the ability to properly discern anything.  We must pray for wisdom, discernment, and understanding while actively pursuing righteousness which is obedience to God’s commandments.  We must separate ourselves from paganized Christianity (spiritual Babylon the Great) and honor the terms of our marriage covenant with the Lord.

We must also pray that the Lord will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.  Especially, pray that Israel will be able to see, know, and understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yeshua is HaMashiyach (Jesus is the Messiah) before the Beast, Scoffer, or Tyrant rises to power.  If not soon, then after all that has been said has been done.  Pray for the protection of Israel; for justice and mercy to prevail; and for the wicked to be cut off quickly if their hearts are so hard they will never repent.  Pray for Israel to stand in awe of the Holy One of Israel. 

May He be consecrated, praised, and magnified forever!

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The Cornerstone and Stammering Lips

As I think of Israel today, my heart mourns for its people.  I long for the day when Jacob will take hold of the Lord’s strength and make peace with the Lord as mentioned in Isaiah 27.  I want the Lord to guard Israel and care for it.  I dread the thought that it will be trampled and burned.

I want Jacob to take root and for Israel to bud and flower so that it fills the whole world with a harvest.  That would be an awesome sight although many in the Middle East would hate to see that happen at this point in time.

Unfortunately, my desires are out of my control.  In this passage from Isaiah, I see that God is not just a god of love; though He is merciful, He is also just.  He executes judgment at the right time with the right amount of force or discipline.

According to Isaiah, the Lord wanted the idolatrous altars removed from the land of Israel forever.  The desire to worship idols and offer incense to foreign gods also needed to be removed from the hearts of God’s people.  In Isaiah’s time, this may have been accomplished to some degree through exile in Babylon.  The idols have taken different forms now.  What will it take now to bring people to the Lord?

Isaiah 27:10-13 describes the desolate city of Jerusalem. The prophet said dead tree branches will be broken off and burned.  These branches represent people who were spiritually dead.  These people had no understanding of spiritual things.  They were pursuing lives of lawlessness and the Lord was not willing to show them mercy.  The same can be said of people throughout the world today.

A harvest of souls will be separated; some are wheat and some are weeds or tares.  In Matthew 13:30, Jesus said, “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”” Isaiah indicates this will be in the day that the great trumpet is blown–the day of Christ’s return. 

People will come to Israel from the surrounding nations such as Egypt and Assyria.  This is not referring to the aliyah (return) that people are making to Israel today but to a time yet in the future—the time of the end.  When that time comes, people will worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.  No one will forbid or stop them from doing so.

The Lord will remove the priests and prophets who are drunk from drinking wine, erring in vision, and stumbling in judgment.  Isaiah 28:5-6 says, “In that day the Lord of hosts will be For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty To the remnant of His people, 6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.”

If the priests and prophets are drunk on wine, how can the people learn anything?  Merciful acts of charity are wonderful but the Lord wants us His people to learn knowledge and understand the message He is trying to convey too.  Everyone, including young children have to learn “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

Is this how the Lord had to teach Israel in the past?  It seems so but it also sounds as if the Lord will bring foreigners to teach His people in this manner now and in the future.  They will teach with stammering lips and another tongue to speak to His people so that they can be saved (Isaiah 28:11).

The Lord wants the people of Israel to hear the word of the Lord but they scorn the teachings.  Instead, they’ve made a covenant with death.  They don’t fear the scourge that’s coming because they have trusted in their deceitful lies to be their refuge.  Israel shouldn’t do this, they should trust the Lord. 

The Lord Jesus is the precious cornerstone.  Everyone who puts their trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.  Jesus used the law to make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.  He spoke clearly and taught with authority.  He did not teach them anything they weren’t supposed to already know.

Isaiah said that hail will sweep away the refuge of lies which they trusted in.  I believe the hail being referred to in Isaiah 28:17 is prophesied in Revelation 8:7, 11:19, and 16:21.  In addition to hail, water will overflow their hiding place.  When Israel’s trust in lies is removed, they must reach out to Truth.  They must reach out to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and live righteously.  Before they do that, their covenant with death will be annulled and they will be attacked and terrorized. One thing is sure; the Lord plans destruction to fall upon the whole earth.

The end has been predetermined from the beginning.  No one can bring about the end of days or force the fulfillment of prophecy.  It will come according to God’s time-table.

We must be teachable.  We must listen to what the Lord wants us to hear.  We must ask Him to help us understand His word, give us counsel, and to guide us in these last days.