In my last post, we examined a Woe to Ari’el (Yerushalayim) ~ Part 1 in Yesha’hayu 29:1-12. In this post, we concluded our examination of a Woe to Ari’el (Yerushalayim) ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 29:13-24.
13 Then Adonai said: “Because these people approach Me with empty words, and the honor they bestow on Me is mere lip-service; while in fact, they have distanced their hearts from Me, and their ‘Fear of Me’ is just a mitzvah of human origin —
The worship of the people was empty and meaningless. They were just going through the motions.
14 therefore, I will have to keep shocking these people with astounding and amazing things, until the ‘wisdom’ of their ‘wise ones’ vanishes, and the ‘discernment’ of their ‘discerning ones’ is hidden away.” 15 Woe to those who burrow down deep to hide their plans from Adonai! They work in the dark and say to themselves, “Nobody sees us; nobody knows us.”
A new woe prophecy begins with verse 15 and extends to the end of the chapter. This is the third woe presented in chapters 28-33. Those who did evil thought they could hide their actions from Adonai. Rather than relying on Adonai’s providence, it may be that they had planned to seek help against Ashur from Egypt. Such presumption would not go unpunished.
16 How you turn things upside down!— Is the potter not better than the clay, does something made say of its maker, “He didn’t make me”? Does the product say of its producer, “He has no discernment”?
The metaphor of Adonai as a potter is used in a few key places in prophetic literature (see Isaiah 45:9; 64:8; Jeremiah 18:1-12; Romans 9:21). It evokes the description of the creation of Adam from the dust of the ground. The prophets pointed out how crazy it was for Adonai’s creature, the pot made from clay, to challenge or question their Maker, the Potter.
As with the previous woe prophecy, there is a shift in this prophecy from judgment to hope in verse 17.
17 In but a little while, the L’vanon will be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field regarded as a forest.
L’vanon was known for its cedar forests, but it will be transformed into an orchard – a place for fruit-bearing trees. The cedar is often used in the Bible as a symbol of power and arrogance, so perhaps the transformation has to do with a change from pride to humble service.
18 On that day, the deaf will hear the words of a book, and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.
The coming transformation is also pictured as the deaf will hear, and the blind will see. The book probably is an allusion back to the scroll in verses 11-12 that we looked at in the previous post. In those verses, the scroll could not be understood, but now it can.
19 The humble will again rejoice in Adonai, and the poor exult in the Holy One of Isra’el, 20 for the tyrant is now nothing, the scoffer is finished, and all alert to do evil are cut off – 21 those whose words make a man out to be a sinner, those who set traps for the arbitrator at the city gate, and those who groundlessly deny justice to the one in the right.
The gate of a walled city was where public hearings and judicial proceedings were held. The arbitrator was the person who heard a case. His removal would lead to injustice.
22 Therefore, here are the words of Adonai, who redeemed Avraham, concerning the house of Ya‘akov: “Ya‘akov will no longer be ashamed, no longer will his face grow pale.
The patriarchs of the Jews of Yesha’yahu’s day would no longer be ashamed of the unbelief of their descendants.
23 When his descendants see the work of My hands among them, they will consecrate My name. Yes, they will consecrate the Holy one of Ya‘akov and stand in awe of the God of Isra’el. 24 Those whose spirits stray will come to understand, and those who complain will learn their lesson. ~ Isaiah 29:13-24 (CJB)
People who were previously murmuring would now be discussing the things of Adonai. Adonai will fulfill His promise to Avraham and Ya‘akov by transforming His people.
In my next post, we will explore the Woe to the Rebellious Children in Yesha’hayu 30.