We’re back in Isaiah’s book of prophecy today — and we’ll be here for a few more days. Then we’ll finish 2 Kings, as the Israelites are taken into exile in Babylon. We’ll, then return to finish Isaiah, then we’ll cover each of the prophets as they write about the Hebrews’ time in exile. All of these stories and prophecies are important as they lead us to Jesus and the need for a Savior. With that said, our need is to open our hearts to God’s Word every day. (Which is one of the reasons I do this blog and podcast daily.) As Isaiah will point out in today’s lesson, we need to put our lives in the Potter’s Hands. God is in control. Let’s dig in…
Isaiah 29 – A Message about Jerusalem
“What sorrow awaits Ariel, the City of David.
Year after year you celebrate your feasts.
2 Yet I will bring disaster upon you,
and there will be much weeping and sorrow.
For Jerusalem will become what her name Ariel means—
an altar covered with blood.
3 I will be your enemy,
surrounding Jerusalem and attacking its walls.
I will build siege towers
and destroy it.
4 Then deep from the earth you will speak;
from low in the dust your words will come.
Your voice will whisper from the ground
like a ghost conjured up from the grave.
5 “But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed
like the finest of dust.
Your many attackers will be driven away
like chaff before the wind.
Suddenly, in an instant,
6 I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will act for you
with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and storm and consuming fire.
7 All the nations fighting against Jerusalem
will vanish like a dream!
Those who are attacking her walls
will vanish like a vision in the night.
8 A hungry person dreams of eating
but wakes up still hungry.
A thirsty person dreams of drinking
but is still faint from thirst when morning comes.
So it will be with your enemies,
with those who attack Mount Zion.”
9 Are you amazed and incredulous?
Don’t you believe it?
Then go ahead and be blind.
You are stupid, but not from wine!
You stagger, but not from liquor!
10 For the Lord has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep.
He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries.
11 All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.” 12 When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.”
13 And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.
14 Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites
with amazing wonders.
The wisdom of the wise will pass away,
and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.”
15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their evil deeds in the dark!
“The Lord can’t see us,” they say.
“He doesn’t know what’s going on!”
16 How foolish can you be?
He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
“He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
“The potter who made me is stupid”?
17 Soon—and it will not be very long—
the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field,
and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book,
and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 The scoffer will be gone,
the arrogant will disappear,
and those who plot evil will be killed.
21 Those who convict the innocent
by their false testimony will disappear.
A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice
and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
22 That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel,
“My people will no longer be ashamedIsaiah 29 NLT
or turn pale with fear.
23 For when they see their many children
and all the blessings I have given them,
they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob.
They will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 Then the wayward will gain understanding,
and complainers will accept instruction.
First, Isaiah warns Jerusalem, calling her “Ariel”, which means “an altar covered with blood”. Even though the temple was there and that’s where the altar for sacrificing was, this takes a larger meaning as to the coming armies of the Assyrians, first, then the Babylonians. God crushed the Assyrians because King Hezekiah humbled himself and pleaded for mercy.
This chapter is one in a series of “woes” — warnings — “what sorrows lie ahead”. Still the people didn’t get it.
Siege warfare was the worst. The enemy would surround a town or city and prevent any supplies, goods, food, even water from entering or exiting the city. Literally starving the city until they surrendered. It meant the end of trade. Kind of like an modern trade embargo or blockade that’s used to stop a country from building nuclear weapons or other evil doings.
In verse 7, Isaiah launches us in to the future — the Last Days — when many nations will try to attack Jerusalem and Israel, but He will protect them supernaturally. That’s the war prophesied also by Ezekiel. You may hear Bible Prophecy teachers mention this quite often, as what’s going on in the Middle East, with Russia added into the mix, is lining up the Ezekiel 38-39 war perfectly. I’ll cover that in due time.
A Spiritual Slumber
Then Isaiah asked, “Are you amazed?” Well, you shouldn’t be! He actually says, “Go ahead and be blind.” I didn’t start reading the Bible until I was well into my 30s. At first, I didn’t understand it all. However, slowly, as I dug deeper, God opened my eyes, mind and heart to understand it more and more each day.
Verse 11 and 12 reminds me of how the Roman Catholic Church kept the Word of God from its parishioners for hundreds of years by only having the Bible in Latin. Only well-educated people knew Latin. Most of the people of the Dark and Middle Ages were illiterate. If they did know how to read, it was more than likely in their own common language — not Latin. The book was either “sealed” — incomprehensible to them — or they just didn’t know how to read. It’s just plain sad.
The prophet Amos spoke of this…
11 “The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord,Amos 8:11-12 NLT
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread or water
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from border to border
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.
“You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”Mark 7:6-8 NLT
The NLT version, says “rules learned by rote.” Other translations have it similar to the way Jesus quoted it, “merely human rules they have been taught” (NIV) and “taught by the commandment of men” (NKJV). In other words, traditions and twisted “catechisms” written by men is not the truth. Read the Bible!
We are seeing this starvation of the spirit in the world today. People are desperate for the truth, and they seek for it in New Age garbage, and other fake religions. They are blind to the fact that the truth resides in the Bible, the Word of God.
I used to be a “Halfway Christian”. I thought I was Christian. At least I didn’t follow other religions, though I did look into them when I was in college. None made any sense to me. Halfway Christians are people who know who Jesus is. They may even comprehend that He is the Son of God, the 2nd part of the Trinity. Nevertheless, they haven’t gone all the way to becoming BORN AGAIN as Jesus explains in John chapter 3.
You try to hide your sins from God, thinking that your good works will suffice. That because your good acts outweigh the bad, you’ll get into Heaven when you die. Sorry, friend, it doesn’t work that way!
God, the Potter
Isaiah paints this picture perfectly. God is the Potter. He has complete control of our lives. He made you. He loves His creation. God wouldn’t have sent His Son to die in your place if He didn’t! The Potter has the capability of making some pottery very sturdy and some more fragile. Some will be hard and impenetrable, others will be more porous.
As Paul wrote…
18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.Romans 9:18 NLT
Later, in the same book he wrote…
25 I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.Romans 11:25 NLT
We are living in the time of the Gentiles. Paul warned us through his 2nd letter to Timothy…
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT
The Last Days
Believe it or not, God is still in control. God does as He pleases! He’s allowed the devil to use the earth as his playground and have his way with it. Obviously, he has. It seems like evil is taking over. It seems like everyone is against the Christians. Friend, that all was prophesied right here!
The Good News
In the end, JESUS WINS! The scoffers and deceivers will be, along with Satan, the Antichrist, the false prophet and all non-believers “brought down”. In other words, killed and thrown into the fiery lake — a.k.a. hell.
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
The Potter’s Hand
Note: this was my theme song as I was driving from Florida to Arizona 17 years ago. I put my life in the Potter’s hand.