The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 29 Part 2

Our next reading is Isaiah 29:9-16

v9: Pause: In modern translations this word has to do with a stopping, with a waiting. In Rabbinical language this is a word that implies a waiting in expectation for the Messiah to fulfil the promises of G-d. 

  • Wonder: ie Be amazed. The people are waiting for a future Kingdom, but this is not what they are going to experience. G-d is going to behave differently to how they expected Him to behave. Many of the modern rabbis teach that things are going to get very good (much like what the Kingdom Now ‘theologians’ in Christianity teach – ie that the church is going to usher in a time of peace and ‘goodness’ before Messiah comes again). This is not what is going to happen. This is what the people are expecting, but that is not going to be the reality. When the people see what is coming, they are going to be amazed, shocked with the actual reality.
  • Blind yourselves and be blind: This is one way to translate this phrase. People are going to be blind to the reality until it is literally upon them. Others point out that this could also be related to screaming or crying out. People are going to be waiting with expectation, but, when that expectation is not fulfilled, people are going to scream and cry out.  
  • Stagger: Wobbling about due to weakness. 
  • Not with intoxicating drink: This wandering backwards and forwards in confusion is due to the fact that they were caught off guard. Incorrect prophecy, false and deceptive teaching, improper leadership etc caused them not to reflect upon the truth of G-d. Being indifferent to G-d and passionate about the things of the world caused them to be taken by surprise. 

v10: Deep sleep: Literally the word ‘trance’. It can also be the word used for receiving anaesthetic and going into a deep state of sleep. This is a false sleep. It is not a normal sleep; it is a spiritual one. These people have no idea of what is going on around them spiritually. Wealth, prosperity, security etc had blinded and dulled the people so that when they were confronted with the reality it caused them great confusion, ensuring that they were unable to respond correctly.

  • Closed your eyes: They will not have any type of perception or revelation.
  • Namely the prophets: G-d is against the false prophets.
  • Seers: These are the ones who supposedly have visions. 
  • Covered your heads: This is an idiom which means that these seers and prophets are not going to receive any revelation from G-d. G-d is going to be silent toward them and will not give them any instruction. In 1 Cor 11:4-7 Paul reveals that it is a shameful thing for a man to cover up his head while he is praying or prophesying. 

v11: Words of a book that is sealed: Anything spiritual will not be able to be discerned. 

Note: The literate man will not be willing to break the seal to read what the book has to say. This is not talking about a seal that cannot be opened due to unworthiness (Rev 5:1-4). This literate man had the opportunity to open the seal, but he was uninterested and unwilling to find out what had been written. 

v12: Note: Most people will find any excuse not to read the revelation that G-d has plainly put forth in His Word. If we do not know how to read, we need to learn how. We must never be careless, indifferent or uncaring about G-d’s revelation to us.

v13: L-rd: Adonai. This name of G-d speaks of His L-rdship, the fact that He is our Master.

Note: The people are giving lip service to G-d (they say nice things about Him) but in truth their hearts are far removed from Him. Outwardly they appear G-dly, but inwardly their thoughts (hearts) are far removed from G-d. 

  • Fear: Fear is synonymous with behaviour. Fear produces a response (flight or fight). The response of the people is not based in G-d’s revelation. Instead, their response to G-d is based upon what man has taught them. Men laid the foundation for their current behaviour (their indifference, their unrepentance etc) so G-d has to bring about a change, in order for His will and promises to be fulfilled. This change will happen in the remnant. 

[So far in this chapter we have seen that G-d is displeased with His people. Although they approach Him with their mouths and honour Him with their words their hearts are far removed from Him. Israel is not a covenant keeping people. But G-d is a covenant keeping G-d! G-d is going to bring about a change for the people of Israel – not because they deserve it, and not because they repent (because initially they do not). G-d brings about a change because of His covenant with them].  

v14: Behold: The word that reminds us that something significant and important is about to be said so we need to pay special attention. 

  • I will again do: G-d is going to do something. What G-d does is the catalyst that is going to bring about a change – a change that is going to be pleasing to Him. 
  • A marvellous work: The word used here is a synonym for something miraculous (which is going to be done within a last day’s context). 

Note: Many Prophetic passages indicate that, within a last day’s context, G-d is going to be faithful to show His covenantal love and fulfil His covenantal purposes with the people of Israel. 

  • Marvellous work … a marvellous work and a wonder: Three times this word for something which is supernatural is used (signs and wonders are miraculous/supernatural events).
  • Understanding: Men are going to realise that their wisdom and knowledge is so much less in comparison to G-d’s wisdom and knowledge. 

v15: Woe to those: How awful it is going to be for those who do not change. Some are not going to submit to the change that G-d is going to bring about. They will not acknowledge the wondrous, miracle-working G-d of Israel.

  • Seek deep to hide their counsel: They try to hide or bury their counsel (advice) from the L-rd. The implication here is that there will be those who will try to counsel or give rebellious advice to others – wanting others to also resist the change that G-d is bringing about. 
  • Who sees us?’ and ‘Who knows us?: Their advice and works are done under the cover of darkness. They think that no one will see or know what they are doing. This attitude attacks the real identity of G-d, who sees and knows all (Ps 139:1-4).

v16: Surely you have things turned around: G-d is pointing out that there needs to be a total overturning of how people think, their attitudes. 

  • Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay: The clay (human beings) wants to think of itself as on the same level as the potter (their Creator). The clay, in other words, wants to think of itself as G-d. This thinking is incorrect. 
  • He did not make me … He has no understanding: The people (clay) believe that their counsel and ways are right, even though their ways are not the ways of G-d. They believe they can hide things from G-d so that in the end their own desires will be triumphant. G-d is going to overturn this way of thinking. 

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