Isaiah 29:9-16Call to Worship (Psalm 5)People of God, raise your voices in praise to God.God takes delight in our presence here.Come and enter God’s presence.We come trusting in the steadfast love of God.Let us worship the God of love and righteousness.
Isaiah 29:9-16Invocation (1 Kings 21, Galatians 2, Luke 7)O God, our world seems in such a mess: greedtriumphs over generosity; death appearsstronger than life; people judge one anotherharshly; sin abounds and grace recedes faraway.
Isaiah 29:9-16Forgive us, O God, when we succumb to theforces of sin, greed, judgment, and death; whenwe act as if you are not here with us; when wefail to do the things we should: welcome allpeople with love and joy, live in an attitude ofabundance and find ways to support your workin the world.
Isaiah 29:9-16Like the woman with the alabaster jar, may welay all that we are and all that we have at yourfeet, trusting in your forgiving, steadfast love.Amen.
ContextIn Isaiah 24:1 through Isaiah 27:13, Isaiah dealswith both the tragedies of the coming Day ofthe Lord and triumphs of the coming kingdom.In Isaiah 28-33, the prophet pronounces a seriesof "woes" against those who have opposedGods words.
ContextThe first "woe" in this section is directed against"the drunkards of Ephraim" (Isaiah 28:1-6)."Ephraim" is a reference to Samaria, the capitalcity of Ephraim, which was located on a hill thatresembled a "crown."
Context"Ephraim" is described as the "crown of pride"yet she was ripe for judgment because she had"...erred through wine, and through strongdrink" (Isaiah 28:7). Her "priest and prophet"(Isaiah 28:7) were also intoxicated and unableto minister because of their senseless judgmentand filthiness (Isaiah 28:7-9).
ContextThe last "woe" of the series (Isaiah 33:1-12) isdirected against Assyria. Isaiahs words are areference to the Assyrian invaders underSennacherib. As soon as they completed thetask assigned to them by God, of punishingJudah, God will judge them (Isaiah 10:5-16).
ContextIn Isaiah 29:1-8, the second "woe" pronouncedby Isaiah is against "Ariel, the city where Daviddwelt" (Isaiah 29:1). This "woe" is the setting forour lesson text in Isaiah 29:9-16.
Context"Ariel" is another name for Jerusalem whichwas the center of Israels worship. "Ariel" inHebrew means "an altar hearth" referring to theplace where the burnt offerings were sacrificed(Ezekiel 43:13-18).
ContextJudgment is coming no matter what religiousrituals you do." God promised they would be"brought down" (Isaiah 29:4) and "visited of theLORD of host" because of their meaninglessworship (Isaiah 29:6).
ContextHow had the people of God who were so wiseconcerning Gods requirements for worshipstrayed so far from genuine worship(Deuteronomy 4:6)?
ContextPart of the answer lies in Isaiah 29:9-16 whereIsaiah graphically describes the condition ofGods people and the inevitable judgments tobe brought upon them because of theirhardness of heart and self-indulgence.
Isaiah 29:9Stupefy yourselves and be in a stupor, blindyourselves and be blind! Be drunk, but not fromwine; stagger, but not from strong drink!
Isaiah 29:9Question: When do sober believers behave as ifthey were drunk and why?
Isaiah 29:9Isaiah is reporting God’s views and his viewsabout the people in the kingdom of Judah. Bytheir actions and false thinking they wereblinding themselves to the truth rather thanlisten to Isaiah or live according to God’s law.
Isaiah 29:9God sometimes allows people to go ahead anddo wrong things. Perhaps by suffering theconsequences of their wrongdoing they wouldturn back to God and turn from theirwrongdoing.
Isaiah 29:9Isaiah mentions that "they stagger." Anintoxicated person has no control of himself andis a danger to himself and others. But one whois "drunken" is sometimes bold and stubborn.Alcohol always leads to bad choices.
Isaiah 29:9Gods people were not "drunk" because of "strongdrink." They were "drunk" on spiritual apathy andhypocrisy.Their spiritual insensitivity was the result of theirwillingness to carry on with life as it was and theirunwillingness to obey Gods will concerningworship.
Isaiah 29:10For the LORD has poured out upon you a spiritof deep sleep; he has closed your eyes, youprophets, and covered your heads, you seers.
Isaiah 29:10Question: What could cause God to increase abeliever’s spiritual apathy and hypocrisy?
Isaiah 29:10As God’s judgment and punishment upon themfor their stubborn refusal to repent of their sinsand return to faith and obedience to God, Godpoured out a punishment of spiritual sleepupon them, a punishment of reinforcing theirchoice to ignore God and His warnings.
Isaiah 29:10God closed the eyes of the false prophets sothey would be unable to see the future; sothey would keep teaching falsehoods that theyand the people wanted to believe and listen toin their rebellion against God.
Isaiah 29:10The "prophets and seers" are synonymous forthose who should have been hearing from Godand communicating Gods message.The "rulers" are those who lead the people indaily life.Isaiah is telling us that both the educated anduneducated have been affected by the spiritualclimate sent by God.
Isaiah 29:10"Closed" and "covered" are two very importantwords in this verse. "Closed" means "shut.""Covered" means "concealed."God caused the discerning "prophet and seer"to be unable to look into the future and Hecaused the "rulers" to be unable to see theimmediate.
Isaiah 29:10The Apostle Paul said, "And even as they did notlike to retain God in their knowledge, God gavethem over to a reprobate mind, to do thosethings which are not convenient..." (Romans1:28).
Isaiah 29:11-12The vision of all this has become for you like thewords of a sealed document. If it is given tothose who can read, with the command, “Readthis,” they say, “We cannot, for it is sealed.” Andif it is given to those who cannotread, saying, “Read this,” they say, “We cannotread.”
Isaiah 29:11-12Question: Who is guiltier? The lazy teacher orthe lazy disciple?
Isaiah 29:11-12Because the prophets and the people hadclosed their eyes to reading, understanding, andobeying God’s word, their present situation andthe warnings of Isaiah had become has a sealeddocument that they could not understand.
Isaiah 29:11-12Sometimes the moral law of God is given tothose who have chosen to live disobedient andself-centered lives and they try to make theexcuse that they cannot read rather than seekto learn the law of God in order to obey andplease God.
Isaiah 29:11-12Another evidence of that apathy is thedependence of believers on others to do theirspiritual study and obedience for them. Theyrise or fall with their teachers for their laziness.
Isaiah 29:11-12While God sent the "deep sleep" (v.10) and the"closed eyes" (v.10), the decisive factor in thenations inability to see and discern what God issaying and doing is their personal lack of desireto know what God required of them in theirworship and life.
Isaiah 29:11-12The problem is not education, the "learned" or"not learned." The problem is apathy andindifference.Many professing Christians no longer read theirBible or study Gods Word. They have no hungerto know God or His will.
Isaiah 29:11-121 Peter 2:2 (NLT)2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritualmilk so that you will grow into a full experience ofsalvation. Cry out for this nourishment,
Isaiah 29:13-14The Lord said: Because these people draw near withtheir mouths and honor me with their lips, while theirhearts are far from me, and their worship of me is ahuman commandment learned by rote; so I will againdo amazing things with this people, shocking andamazing.The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and thediscernment of the discerning shall be hidden.
Isaiah 29:13-14What happens when "lips" are more a part ofworship than "heart?"The result is that "their fear toward me istaught by the precept of men."That is legalism!
Isaiah 29:13-14The heart, mind, purpose, and will of thoseGod spoke to through Isaiah hadsubstituted the performance of rituals ofworship for true obedience to God fromhearts of love.
Isaiah 29:13-14The heart, mind, purpose, and will of thoseGod spoke to through Isaiah had substitutedthe performance of rituals of worship for trueobedience to God from hearts of love.They spoke what they had learned ormemorized, but the words meant nothing tothem personally.
Isaiah 29:13-14Mark 7:7-9 (NLT) Jesus said:7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute yourown tradition.”9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’slaw in order to hold on to your own tradition.
Isaiah 29:13-14When God is finished with His work, the"wise men" who thought they had it allfigured out will be exposed as fools. WhenGod is finished with them they "shallperish." "Perish" means they will"vanish, go away."
Isaiah 29:13-14Also, the "prudent men" or those whopresented themselves as knowingeverything "shall be hid."In other words, when God is finished youwont be able to find a man who knowsGod or men who understands Gods way.
Isaiah 29:13-14The amazing things that God would doinvolved their punishment. They would bebeing carried off into exile and KingSolomon’s Temple would be destroyed.
Isaiah 29:13-14The amazing things included the amazingstupidity of those in places ofleadership, whether political orreligious, and the unwillingness of thepeople to seek out and listen to thediscerning (prophets such as Isaiah andothers).
Isaiah 29:15Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for theLORD, whose deeds are in the dark, andwho say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”You turn things upside down! Shall thepotter be regarded as the clay? Shall thething made say of its maker, “He did notmake me”; or the thing formed say of theone who formed it, “He has nounderstanding”?
Isaiah 29:15Those who do not believe in God oftenmake plans and live in total disregard ofGod.They refuse to believe in God or theyrefuse to believe that if there were a Godthat He would ever hold them accountablefor plans and deeds that harm others andthemselves.
Isaiah 29:15These "wise" and "prudent" men would knowthat the prophet Isaiah would not agree withthat course of action so this group sought to"hide their counsel from the Lord."They pretend to have inside knowledge onissues. They shut God out and work behind thescenes in the "dark."
Isaiah 29:15When the worship of Gods people becomesmeaningless it results in an ignorance of theperson of God and in a presumption of beingable to conceal the reality of the heart.
Isaiah 29:15Isaiah used the analogy of the "potter" and his"clay." It is ridiculous to think the "work" of the"potter" would say to the potter, "You didntmake me."Pressing his point further Isaiah alsosays, "Would the thing made by the potter saythat the potter that he didnt understand whathe had made?"
Isaiah 29:15Isaiahs point is that while the people acted as ifthey knew everything they actually knew little ifanything about what was going on.Only God knows everything
ConclusionTrue worship can never come from a mind-setof equality or superiority with God. Trueworship can never come from a heart that ishypocritical. True worship can never come froman individual who thinks his life and deeds aresomehow hidden from God or that he canoutsmart God.
ConclusionThe people of Isaiahs day no longerapproached God in worship with a sense of aweand wonder.As a result of their dead ritualistic routines, Godsent them spiritual blindness and exposed theirpride and fleshly presumptions of equality withGod and superiority to God.
ConclusionIt is at the cross that God "destroys the wisdomof the wise, and brings to nothing theunderstanding of the prudent" (1 Corinthians1:19). If our worship is honor God we must livein the shadow of the cross!
Blessing(1 Kings 21, Galatians 2, Luke 7)Go forth into the world as people reborn.Live generosity, not greed.Celebrate life, not death.Revel in the abundant grace that flows over andthrough us, and bring that love and grace to a worlddeeply in need.May we share in His peace. Amen.