Isaiah 29

Blind Yourselves So That You See Nothing

1-4 Doom, Ariel, Ariel,
    the city where David set camp!
Let the years add up,
    let the festivals run their cycles,
But I’m not letting up on Jerusalem.
    The moaning and groaning will continue.
    Jerusalem to me is an Ariel.
Like David, I’ll set up camp against you.
    I’ll set siege, build towers,
    bring in siege engines, build siege ramps.
Driven into the ground, you’ll speak,
    you’ll mumble words from the dirt—
Your voice from the ground, like the muttering of a ghost.
    Your speech will whisper from the dust.

But it will be your enemies who are beaten to dust,
    the mob of tyrants who will be blown away like chaff.
Because, surprise, as if out of nowhere,
    a visit from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
With thunderclaps, earthquakes, and earsplitting noise,
    backed up by hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning strikes,
And the mob of enemies at war with Ariel,
    all who trouble and hassle and torment her,
    will turn out to be a bad dream, a nightmare.
Like a hungry man dreaming he’s eating steak
    and wakes up hungry as ever,
Like a thirsty woman dreaming she’s drinking iced tea
    and wakes up thirsty as ever,
So that mob of nations at war against Mount Zion
    will wake up and find they haven’t shot an arrow,
    haven’t killed a single soul.

Drug yourselves so you feel nothing.
    Blind yourselves so you see nothing.
Get drunk, but not on wine.
    Black out, but not from whiskey.
For God has rocked you into a deep, deep sleep,
    put the discerning prophets to sleep,
    put the farsighted seers to sleep.

You Have Everything Backward

What you’ve been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone who can read and tell her, “Read this,” she’ll say, “I can’t. The envelope is sealed.” And if you give it to someone who can’t read and tell him, “Read this,” he’ll say, “I can’t read.”

The Master said:

“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
    but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
    but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
    astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
    will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
    will turn out to know nothing.”

Doom to you! You pretend to have the inside track.
    You shut God out and work behind the scenes,
Plotting the future as if you knew everything,
    acting mysterious, never showing your hand.
You have everything backward!
    You treat the potter as a lump of clay.
Does a book say to its author,
    “He didn’t write a word of me”?
Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it,
    “She had nothing to do with this”?

And then before you know it,
    and without you having anything to do with it,
Wasted Lebanon will be transformed into lush gardens,
    and Mount Carmel reforested.
At that time the deaf will hear
    word-for-word what’s been written.
After a lifetime in the dark,
    the blind will see.
The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God,
    the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel.
For there’ll be no more gangs on the street.
    Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species.
Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean
    will never be heard of again:
Gone the people who corrupted the courts,
    gone the people who cheated the poor,
    gone the people who victimized the innocent.

And finally this, God’s Message for the family of Jacob,
    the same God who redeemed Abraham:
“No longer will Jacob hang his head in shame,
    no longer grow gaunt and pale with waiting.
For he’s going to see his children,
    my personal gift to him—lots of children.
And these children will honor me
    by living holy lives.
In holy worship they’ll honor the Holy One of Jacob
    and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel.
Those who got off-track will get back on-track,
    and complainers and whiners learn gratitude.”

Read More of Isaiah 29

Isaiah 30:1-18

All Show, No Substance

1-5 “Doom, rebel children!”
    God’s Decree.
“You make plans, but not mine.
    You make deals, but not in my Spirit.
You pile sin on sin,
    one sin on top of another,
Going off to Egypt
    without so much as asking me,
Running off to Pharaoh for protection,
    expecting to hide out in Egypt.
Well, some protection Pharaoh will be!
    Some hideout, Egypt!
They look big and important, true,
    with officials strategically established in
Zoan in the north and Hanes in the south,
    but there’s nothing to them.
Anyone stupid enough to trust them
    will end up looking stupid—
All show, no substance,
    an embarrassing farce.”

And this note on the animals of the Negev
    encountered on the road to Egypt:
A most dangerous, treacherous route,
    menaced by lions and deadly snakes.
And you’re going to lug all your stuff down there,
    your donkeys and camels loaded down with bribes,
Thinking you can buy protection
    from that hollow farce of a nation?
Egypt is all show, no substance.
    My name for her is Toothless Dragon.

This Is a Rebel Generation

So, go now and write all this down.
    Put it in a book
So that the record will be there
    to instruct the coming generations,
Because this is a rebel generation,
    a people who lie,
A people unwilling to listen
    to anything God tells them.
They tell their spiritual leaders,
    “Don’t bother us with irrelevancies.”
They tell their preachers,
    “Don’t waste our time on impracticalities.
Tell us what makes us feel better.
    Don’t bore us with obsolete religion.
That stuff means nothing to us.
    Quit hounding us with The Holy of Israel.”

Therefore, The Holy of Israel says this:
    “Because you scorn this Message,
Preferring to live by injustice
    and shape your lives on lies,
This perverse way of life
    will be like a towering, badly built wall
That slowly, slowly tilts and shifts,
    and then one day, without warning, collapses—
Smashed to bits like a piece of pottery,
    smashed beyond recognition or repair,
Useless, a pile of debris
    to be swept up and thrown in the trash.”

God Takes the Time to Do Everything Right

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
    has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
    and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
    in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
    you’ve been unwilling to do.
You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’
    You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!
You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’
    Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?
Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker.
    Before a mere five you’ll all run off.
There’ll be nothing left of you—
    a flagpole on a hill with no flag,
    a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
    He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
    Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

Read More of Isaiah 30