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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 29

Verses 1-4


While the king of the North is in Egypt, restoration will take place in Israel with the return of the remnant from the two tribes – and later from the ten tribes (Matthew 24:31). Through the intervention of the LORD, the enemy moving against Israel at that time will be destroyed and Israel will be redeemed.

Historically, the miraculous destruction of the army of Assyria and later the death of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (Isaiah 37:36-Zechariah :) preceded and illustrated this.

The Siege of Jerusalem

In the beginning of Isaiah 28 Samaria is compared with a fading crown of flowers. This chapter begins with the announcement of a “woe” to “Ariel”, which is Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:1). Ariel means “lion of God”. Ariel is also translated as ‘[fire] hearth of God’ with the connotation ‘altar of God’. In that case it also means Jerusalem, but then seen as a place of sacrifice where the fire burns in the new temple (Ezekiel 43:15-Nehemiah :).

‘Lion of God’ points to the great power of the Lord Jesus as King (Matthew 28:18) which He will use to rule from Jerusalem. He is then the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). The ‘altar of God’ (Isaiah 31:9; Ezekiel 43:15-Nehemiah :) points to Jerusalem as the future center of service to God. The nations will come to worship the LORD there in the new temple.

The LORD denotes Jerusalem more closely as “the city [where] David [once] camped”. This indicates His intimate connection with it and also points to the future when the great Son of David will dwell and reign there. Then the LORD will be for that city, but now he must turn against that city to purify it. The reason is their religiosity, which is still a purely formal matter, in which nothing is for Him.

He says in a mocking tone that they should continue with their formal religious obligations by observing their annual feasts. The expression ‘year to year’ makes it clear that these feasts have become a habit, yes, a rut, no more than a formal handling. To place their trust in this is foolish (cf. Jeremiah 7:4).

He Himself will bring distress to them (Isaiah 29:2). Ariel is not yet a lion here, but a hearth of massacre. Jerusalem undergoes a deeply humiliating treatment here, under the fire of God’s anger. The LORD shall besiege the city, a siege which He shall cause to take place by the enemy armies in the end times (Isaiah 29:3). Think of the second siege of the Assyrians of Jerusalem in the end times.

When the king of the North is in Egypt he will hear rumors from the east and from the north and therefore return from Egypt to Jerusalem (Daniel 11:44). The festive bustle and party cheer in the city of Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 22:2) will turn in agony and deep mumbling over the disasters that are now imminent (Isaiah 29:4).

Verses 5-8

The LORD Delivers Jerusalem

Then there is a sudden reversal. The enemies are unexpectedly so crushingly defeated that they become like fine dust that can be blown away (Isaiah 29:5; Daniel 11:45). Isaiah addresses the inhabitants of Jerusalem and wants to share with them what he sees in the spirit. With a sudden intervention the LORD intervenes. He intervenes by thunder and lightning (Isaiah 29:6) in order to free Jerusalem from distress. The multitude of all the nations who went up to wage war disappear as in a dream the appeared forms disappear (Isaiah 29:7).

For the enemies it is also like a dream, but a terrible nightmare. They dream of victory, that they have Jerusalem in their hands, but they wake up and see that they have achieved nothing (Isaiah 29:8). That will happen when the Lord Jesus is back in Zion. A fulfillment of this prophecy will take place in the short term when Jerusalem is enclosed by the Assyrians (Isaiah 37:33) and the Assyrian army is beaten by the LORD (Isaiah 37:36).

Verses 9-16

The Judgment of Blinding

In Isaiah 29:9 Isaiah again describes the condition of God’s people, the sad moral condition that makes God’s intervention by the Assyrians necessary twice. In the previous chapter he denounced the mocking spirit and unbelief (Isaiah 28:14), here he points to the spirit of blindness. He tells them to continue in blindness on their foolish, self-chosen path. In spite of all the revelations of God’s will, and in spite of the constant messages of His prophets, they have turned away and followed the counsels and imaginations of their own hearts.

As if drunk by wine, they are mired in human traditions that invalidate the Word of God. Thus the Word has become unintelligible to them. This is not because the Word of God lacks clear statements or because teaching is too complicated, but because they have become blind because of their unbelief (cf. Matthew 13:14-Ezra :). It is the path of hardening. In their spiritual intoxication they stagger towards judgment.

Blinding and anesthesia are also a judgment of the LORD (Isaiah 29:10). After the people have chosen to be blind and their hearts have hardened, comes the moment when the LORD respects their choice as it were and says to them, ‘If you choose to be blind, you will be blind. If you choose to harden your heart, I will harden your heart.’

This verse is quoted by Paul to show that the hardening of the people still exists in the present day (Romans 11:7-Ruth :; 2 Corinthians 3:14). They do not want to understand, therefore they will not understand. Their spiritual state is like a deep sleep, through which voices do not penetrate them. Their prophets, those who are the eyes of the people to see what the LORD wants of his people, have closed their eyes. Their heads, the seers, cannot see anything either. Those who are to lead the blind people are blind themselves. And how can a blind man lead a blind man (Matthew 15:14-Ezra :)?

The revealed will of God has become for them like a sealed book. The one who can read does not understand its message (Isaiah 29:11). The other cannot read and does not understand its message either (Isaiah 29:12).

Many Christians are in such a state when it comes, for example, to the prophetic book of the New Testament par excellence, the book of Revelation. It is considered a sealed book that one cannot read, or the reader sees himself as incapable of reading it, despite the name of the book, ‘Revelation’ or ‘unveiling’. People who believe they have found an excuse not to read in God’s Word show that the blindness does its work.

The lip religion, in which the heart is estranged from God (Isaiah 29:13), is the result of traditions, learned commandments of people. The heart is the birthplace of thoughts (Matthew 15:19). It “is more deceitful than all else” and only “I, the LORD, search the heart” to its deepest hiding places (Jeremiah 17:9-2 Samuel :). The Lord Jesus quotes these words of Isaiah when He reproaches the religious leaders for making the Word of God powerless by teaching doctrines that are commandments of men (Matthew 15:3-1 Samuel :; Mark 7:6-1 Samuel :).

The result is the loss of wisdom and the concealment of the will of God (Isaiah 29:14). This is the result of a marvelous act of God, marvelous because it is a judgment on His own people. He is against His people. Therefore the LORD continues to act in the same way as in the past two thousand years.

The word of Isaiah 29:14 is also a word quoted by Paul in connection with the preaching of the word of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-Psalms :). It shows that in its application it also has authority for Christianity today. This judgment of hardening announced by Isaiah also applies to Christianity, although fortunately not yet in full. However, it will happen fully after the rapture of the church (2 Thessalonians 2:11-2 Kings :). In Christianity one also has the Bible in one’s hands, while one is not able to read or understand what God has to say, because the heart is alienated from God. He will exhibit the so-called wisdom of liberal theologians as foolishness.

How deep the apostate can sink, shows Isaiah 29:15. It is the greatest foolishness to suppose that one can hide from the LORD as long as one does so deep enough. This is where the third “woe” comes in. The prophet is deeply shocked by it. He expresses his great indignation at their folly to suppose that they are wiser than the LORD (Isaiah 29:16). The LORD says to them: “You turn [things] around.” Everything is turned upside down. Instead of putting their trust in the LORD in heaven, they put their trust in people on earth. It is foolishness at the top.

In their minds they have turned the relationship between the puny little creature and the sovereign Creator upside down (cf. Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:1-Joshua :; Romans 9:19-Ecclesiastes :; Job 33:13). They deny their relationship with Him or attribute inferior qualities to Him. They deny what the psalmist joyfully acknowledges, namely, that the LORD knows him through and through (Psalms 139:1-Numbers :).

They are like the clay that claims to be on the same level as the potter and in its folly claims that the potter did not make a pot of him (Romans 9:21). We also recognize it in the folly of the big bang and evolutionary theory which are invented to deny God as Creator.

This is the error of all who want to act independent from God. They do not take into account that they were not created to live for themselves, but to serve Him. They deny that He created them or blame Him for being busy without understanding. It’s the kind of people that blames God for all the misery, as if He worked it through His actions. Such foolishness shows that they are blind to the fact that they have brought all the misery upon themselves through their unbelief and obstinacy. The only way to blessing for man is to bow down to the absolutely wise Creator and submit to His holy will.

Verses 17-24

Joy for the Afflicted and Needy

The LORD will exhibit their folly. At His coming, He will reverse the reverse and put things right again (Isaiah 29:17). He does so through the remnant. He will make the forests of the Lebanon fertile and make the fertile field a forest. In other words: He will work a total reversal of things.

He will do so after “just a little while” of great tribulation (cf. Isaiah 10:25). That is what “on that day” (Isaiah 29:18) connects to. That is the period that the Lord Jesus will reign over the earth, a period that is still to come. Then He will make sure that the (spiritually) deaf will be able to hear the Scriptures and that the (spiritually) blind will be able to see (Isaiah 35:5-Joshua :). That is the time when no one has to say to the other ‘know the LORD’, for they will all know Him, from the least of them to the greatest of them (Jeremiah 31:34). Deafness and blindness are the two characteristics of the spiritual state of the people of Israel (cf. Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 42:19; Matthew 12:22; Matthew 11:5).

What He does to a remnant is in contrast to the judgment of hardening and blinding that He brings to the masses (Isaiah 29:11-2 Kings :). This remnant consists of “the afflicted” and “the needy” (Isaiah 29:19). They have become that because they have learned it from the LORD Himself, who is the Lord Jesus (Matthew 11:28-Joel :). They will rejoice in “the LORD” and in “the Holy One of Israel”.

So it is now. The afflicted and the needy, or the meek and the poor are they among the believers who are aware of their spiritual need. They have the greatest joy in the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit ministers the glory of Christ especially to them (Isaiah 61:1; Zephaniah 3:12; Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5).

At that time, “the ruthless”, that is the Assyrians, and “the scorner”, that is the man of sin, the antichrist, will be eliminated (Isaiah 29:20). Their taunting, God degrading language will no longer be heard. “All who are intent on doing evil”, all those who follow them and are therefore animated by the same anger, that is, the wicked mass, will be exterminated. The corruptness of their mind is manifested in their rejection and distortion of all that is just and right (Isaiah 29:21). “The gate” is the place of justice and government (Deuteronomy 21:19-Ecclesiastes :; Ruth 4:1).

The basis of blessing for the remnant, “the house of Jacob,” is the covenant of the LORD with Abraham, whom He redeemed from his heathen environment (Isaiah 29:22; Isaiah 51:2). Once the house of Jacob – that is, all twelve tribes – has been freed from shame and violence, it will rejoice in all the redeemed children who have been spared by the work of the LORD’s hands (Isaiah 29:23).

Jacob and his children will sanctify “My Name”, which is the name of the LORD, that is make His Name great above all names. The name of the LORD will be sanctified when Israel returns to his land and is restored (cf. Matthew 6:9; Ezekiel 36:20-Jeremiah :). In the same way, they will also sanctify “the Holy One of Jacob”, who will exalt His Name above all names as incomparable. They will also stand in awe of “the God of Israel”. These three names relate to one Person: the Lord Jesus.

Besides physical ailments such as deafness and blindness (Isaiah 29:18), the remnant will also be cured of illnesses of the mind (Isaiah 29:24). Instead of an erring mind they will have the right insight and instead of being animated by a grumbling mind that complains about the in their eyes difficult or foolish teachings of God’s Word, they will gladly accept instruction from God’s Word. At last the moment has come for them to return to the LORD and the covering that is still there at the time of reading the Old Testament will be removed (2 Corinthians 3:14-Nehemiah :). This will find its glorious fulfillment in the realm of peace.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 29". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.