If we are honest whether it is showing up at church, reading our bibles or going to Bible Studies can become more of a routine in our lives instead of authentic worship and a personal relationship with God. Isaiah was dealing with people that had become spiritually insensitive to God Himself even though they were worshiping Him regularly. It is scary to think that you can sing about God and listen to messages about God and not be worshiping God. Even though that is the case for the people Isaiah is dealing with and that is the case for many people who call themselves Christians there is hope because God turns their hearts back to Him. Unfortunately, for many of us it takes difficult moments for us to get our hearts back in tune with God and that is something we can learn from the people of Isaiah’s day.
Isaiah 29:1-3 Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the feasts run their round. 2 Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and she shall be to me like an Ariel.[a]
3 And I will encamp against you all around, and will besiege you with towers
and I will raise siege works against you.
- Allow the heat in your life to transform you
Wow to Ariel was a warning to Jerusalem that there was going to be consequences for their actions and the city of David was in jeopardy of receiving wrath from God. Why was God upset? They were going through the motions in their religious practices and their worship was not personal, and their lifestyles reflected that they had no desire to do the things of God outside of the times they showed up to the temple. King Hezekiah had purged the temple of all the false idols (2 Chronicles 29) but the people still had some of their pagan thinking and false idols in their lives that they incorporated into their worship of God. Because they were going through the motions of worship without putting their heart into it, God was going to turn up the heat in their life.
“It will be like an Ariel” which is the top of the altar where the fire was placed when the sacrifices were burnt. God is going to turn up the heat in their lives to show them the areas in their lives that they are disobedient in or the ones which they are not trusting Him. Heat reveals what you are made of and what comes out of your mouth shows what is really going on inside of you. (Matthew 15:18)
They were taking advantage of their relationship with God which something that has been called “Cheap Grace” because we believe in the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness of God and so we go ahead and live our lives the way we want with no regard for God. In Romans 6 Paul ask the question “should we go on sinning so grace could abound?” because the people were saying if it is by grace then we should sin more so God’s grace would be more. If we go to a worship service , give our tithe, serve in a ministry but live however we want the rest of the week then that is going through the motions.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]
Hebrews 12:28-29 says “for our God is a consuming fire.”
How we live our lives every day is an act of worship to God not just showing up and singing songs and saying scripture together as important and commanded by God that those things are. (Hebrews 10:24)
We need to be grateful for the love relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ and not treat God as ungrateful children who have taken advantage of His love, mercy and Grace.
“And I will encamp around you all around” To get them to change God will allow their enemies to come around them and put the pressure on them. God is the one who is saying He is going to allow this to happen and He is going to use their enemy to bring them back into an intimate relationship with Himself.It is strange to think that God can use evil people for the sake of His children, but we see God do this time and time again in scripture. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 even Paul said God sent a Messenger or Satan to keep him humble. Have you ever thought that the people you hate God is using to show you areas in your life that you need to give to Him?
God allowed their place of worship to be destroyed because they gave Him halfhearted worship because God is more concerned about His children’s hearts rather than the place of worship. Is God turning up the heat in your life? What do you think God is trying to show you about your own life or your relationship to Him?
Isaiah 29:4 And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust your speech will be bowed down; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and from the dust your speech shall whisper.
- Humble yourself
You will be brought low” The people had pride in their military, their wisdom and with the alliances they had made with foreign countries and thought that they could not be defeated. The people of God turned to everyone else but God Himself in their daily lives and only acknowledged God at the Temple.
The people will no longer be arrogant and proud but now their speech will be a whisper as they realize all their plans will not work.
We have too much confidence in our own abilities and we fail to turn to God because our own abilities and wisdom get in the way. The only time we turn to God is when all of our resources and abilities run out and that is exactly what happened to the people in Isaiah’s day.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
To Humble oneself is to make yourself lower. When you humble yourself before God then you are acknowledging that He is God and you are not.
Isaiah 29:5- 8 But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small
dust, and the
multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff. And in an instant, suddenly, you will
be visited by the Lord of hosts
with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire. 7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night. 8 As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating, and awakes with his hunger not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking, and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.
- See What God does to your Enemies
We tend to focus on our enemies instead of what God is doing in our lives and the people He has placed around us we are supposed to tell about Him. “Your many foes will be like fine dust” Although God used their enemies for His purposes it does not mean God is not going to punish the people who acted against His people. God’s enemies are like Chaff which are light and have no value to them. (Psalm 1:4) and in an instant God will be the one to right all the wrongs. God’s enemies are living in a fantasy land if they think that they will defeat Him and God says that they will be like a hungry man who dreams he has eaten only wake up hungry or a thirsty man who dreams he drank to only wake up thirsty. To show His grace God will destroy their enemies after He is done using them for His purposes. You do not need to ask God about your enemies and when He is going to deal with them, just trust Him through it all that He loves you and is using your enemies to work on you.
29:9-12 Astonish yourselves[b] and be astonished; blind
yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk,[c] but not with wine; stagger,[d] but not with strong drink! 10 For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers).11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”
- Remove your spiritual blinders
“Make yourselves Stop The people are called to reevaluate themselves in their relationship with God because they were spiritually blind but did not realize it. The people were shutting their eyes or covering them so they could not see so their spiritual blindness was caused by themselves and they could no longer trust in God. Because they blinded themselves to the things of God, He allowed them to be put in a deep sleep as part of His judgement on them. To be put in a deep sleep means that they are in a spiritual coma because they refused to listen to God’s Word. The prophet’s eyes are shut, and the seers have their heads covered so now the religious leaders cannot even give guidance to the people. Some refuse to open it and some cannot read it and the nation that was privileged to have the word of God could no longer follow it. Although the people blinded themselves God allowed them to continue in the blindness. Romans 1 is a scary chapter where God allows people to be turned over to more wickedness and blindness. The phrase “God gave them up” is repeated three times in the chapter showing that the more the people ignored the things of God the more blind they became. The people sang the songs and repeated the scriptures but were blind to the things of God and that is because we can become so ingrained in our sin patterns that we do not even see them as sins anymore.
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
The Galatian church was being deceived by false prophets but even worse they were deceiving themselves. We mock God when we sin deliberately without caring about what God thinks and God will discipline His children and He will show them the blind spots they have in their lives. (Hebrews 12) We are also called as brothers and sisters in Christ to lovingly show people their sins they may not see as sins as well. (Matthew 18; ) This is why being a part of a church is important because we need other people to sometimes point out the sin in our lives.
Isaiah 29:13-14 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14 therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
- Check your Heart
“Their hearts are far from me” On the outside their worship looked great but God was looking at the heart. The heart represents the persons entire being, their thoughts, motives, desires and emotions. Our motives can be hidden from others but not from God. Everyone may have looked like they were worshiping God in the temple and maybe even on the outside, but it was not true worship from the heart. Reverential worship is more than just singing songs and proclaiming Gods glory it is an entirety of our lives lived out for His glory. In Matthew 15:8-9 Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 to the religious leaders to show them what God really looks for in worship. The religious leaders had all the outward appearance, but Jesus knew their heart.
If your mind, will and emotions could be shown on a screen what would they reveal about you? We all tend to be deceived either by others or by ourselves and we must do a heart check. Like a check engine light on a car we either ignore the warning or we choose not to fix the problem it is indicating we have. You have a check “Your Heart light” which is your mouth. What comes out of your mouth shows what is going on inside of you.
Matthew 15:18-19 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander
Are you worshiping God with some areas of your life but not with others?
Are you showing up on Sunday but the rest of the week you do not acknowledge Him?
Are you willing to talk to someone about the blind spots in your life?
What warnings has your mouth given you about things that need to be checked?