Description
This chapter prophesies the end-time fall of Jerusalem and her deliverance. She is thrown into the dust, from where God hears her prayers. Jesus arrives and fortunes are reversed. Antichrist's armies become fine dust and Israel is restored.
Commentary
Isaiah prophesies the discipline and restoration of Jerusalem at the end of the age. God disciplines those he loves, but punishes those who hate him. In the end-times, Israel will be severely disciplined in order to refine and restore her. But her enemies will be punished and destroyed.

In verse 1, Ariel is a poetic name for Jerusalem. This is a stark pronouncement of woe, that Jerusalem is 'as good as dead'.

In verses 2 to 3, God says he will besiege Jerusalem on all sides. He speaks of this in the first person, but it is actually the Antichrist and his armies that encircle and besiege Jerusalem. In Isaiah 10:5, the Antichrist is described as “…the club I use to vent my anger, a cudgel with which I angrily punish". God temporarily uses Antichrist as an agent of his discipline. Jerusalem will fall and her people will be thrown down into the dust (v4). But from the dust, like a faint spirit speaking from the underworld, her desperate prayers will be heard. Ultimately, it is the horde of invaders who end up like fine dust, or chaff that is blown away (v5). Isaiah tells us this turn-around will happen suddenly, in a flash. Suddenly Jesus arrives as the Lord who commands armies, and releases judgment. Verse 6 lists various weapons that Jesus will use as he fights against Israel's enemies, including thunder, earthquake, noise, windstorm, and a consuming fire. All the enemy's hopes and plans will evaporate like a dream (verses 7 to 8). Zechariah 14 gives a similar account of Jerusalem's end-time fall and subsequent deliverance. Jerusalem also experienced a supernatural deliverance in Isaiah's day when God defeated Sennacherib’s army (Isaiah 39). But the greatest fulfilment of this chapter will occur in the end-times when Jesus defeats Antichrist's army.

In verses 9 to 13, God accuses the Jews of being blind to the words of his prophets, and that their worship consists of nothing but man-made rituals. God says they honour him with their lips but not their hearts. Jesus quoted this to the Pharisees in Mark 7:6-7.

In verse 14, God promises to once more astound his people with amazing wonders. These are signs to Israel. In the previous chapter, Isaiah prophesied the gift of tongues, as with given at Pentecost. Many wonders then followed, as recorded in the Book of Acts (see also Hebrews 2:4). Similarly in the end-times, we should expect a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with signs and wonders (see Joel 2:28-31).

Verse 17 says that 'Lebanon (known for its mighty forests) will turn into an orchard, and the orchard will be considered a forest'. This depicts a reversal in fortunes (see NET Bible notes), which is further illustrated in verses 18 to 24. The deaf will hear, the blind see (v18), the downtrodden and the poor rejoice (v19), tyrants vanish, and wrong-doers eliminated (v20-21). Jacob (Israel) will no longer be ashamed (v22). They will have many children, and will honour and respect the God of Israel (v23-24).

The use of Lebanon to illustrate this reversal of fortunes suggests that Lebanon will be a powerful enemy to Israel in the end times, but will be humbled. In Isaiah 10:34 (NIV) we are told that 'Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One' (Jesus).
Tags
Places: Israel, Ariel, Jerusalem, Lebanon
Symbols:
Tags: Israel judged and restored, Fall of Jerusalem, Deliverance of Israel, Physical healing, Healing of the land, Weapons of Jesus, Jesus uses fire, Earthquake, Signs and wonders, Defeat of Antichrist
Ariel is Besieged
29 Ariel is as good as dead – Ariel, the town David besieged! Keep observing your annual rituals; celebrate your festivals on schedule.
2 I will threaten Ariel, and she will mourn intensely and become like an altar hearth before me.
3 I will lay siege to you on all sides; I will besiege you with troops; I will raise siege works against you.
4 You will fall; while lying on the ground you will speak; from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard. Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld; from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation.
5 But the horde of invaders will be like fine dust, the horde of tyrants like chaff that is blown away. It will happen suddenly, in a flash.
6 Judgment will come from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, accompanied by thunder, earthquake, and a loud noise, by a strong gale, a windstorm, and a consuming flame of fire.
7 It will be like a dream, a night vision. There will be a horde from all the nations that fight against Ariel, those who attack her and her stronghold and besiege her.
8 It will be like a hungry man dreaming that he is eating, only to awaken and find that his stomach is empty. It will be like a thirsty man dreaming that he is drinking, only to awaken and find that he is still weak and his thirst unquenched. So it will be for the horde from all the nations that fight against Mount Zion.

God’s People Are Spiritually Insensitive

9 You will be shocked and amazed! You are totally blind! They are drunk, but not because of wine; they stagger, but not because of beer.
10 For the Lord has poured out on you a strong urge to sleep deeply. He has shut your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers).
11 To you this entire prophetic revelation is like words in a sealed scroll. When they hand it to one who can read and say, “Read this,” he responds, “I can’t, because it is sealed.” 12 Or when they hand the scroll to one who can’t read and say, “Read this,” he says, “I can’t read.”
13 The Lord says, “These people say they are loyal to me; they say wonderful things about me, but they are not really loyal to me. Their worship consists of nothing but man-made ritual.
14 Therefore I will again do an amazing thing for these people – an absolutely extraordinary deed. Wise men will have nothing to say, the sages will have no explanations.”
15 Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are as good as dead, who do their work in secret and boast, “Who sees us? Who knows what we’re doing?”
16 Your thinking is perverse! Should the potter be regarded as clay? Should the thing made say about its maker, “He didn’t make me”? Or should the pottery say about the potter, “He doesn’t understand”?

Changes Are Coming

17 In just a very short time Lebanon will turn into an orchard, and the orchard will be considered a forest.
18 At that time the deaf will be able to hear words read from a scroll, and the eyes of the blind will be able to see through deep darkness.
19 The downtrodden will again rejoice in the Lord; the poor among humankind will take delight in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For tyrants will disappear, those who taunt will vanish, and all those who love to do wrong will be eliminated –
21 those who bear false testimony against a person, who entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate and deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges.
22 So this is what the Lord, the one who delivered Abraham, has said to the family of Jacob: “Jacob will no longer be ashamed; their faces will no longer show their embarrassment.
23 For when they see their children, whom I will produce among them, they will honor my name. They will honor the Holy One of Jacob; they will respect the God of Israel.
24 Those who stray morally will gain understanding; those who complain will acquire insight.
(NET)