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Isaiah 29 - Part 2


Okay.  So let's just dive in.  The actual verses from the KJV will be in black and my added comments will be in blue.  Also, as we begin please know that I respect and honor men and women equally.  I also think it is very silly to change wording to reflect gender.  When I say "man", I'm speaking of mankind unless the context is clear that I am speaking of that gender.  When I say "natural man" I don't feel it necessary and in fact, feel it a little silly to add "natural woman."  Besides it always puts that song in my head.  A song I don't particularly like.  So please don't be offended by me.  I simply think the extra work is a waste of time which could be spent sharing our hearts rather than speaking to our pride and ego and separation.
Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.
Ariel is another name for Jerusalem, which is symbolic of Zion, which is symbolic of you.  The Lord is pronouncing woes upon me, upon you.  Keep living life on auto-pilot (add ye year to year).  Keep doing those outward observances but without the heart being in it, i.e. going to church but just because we're supposed to, reading scriptures, praying, etc., etc. (let them kill sacrifices).  It is important to understand that what is being said here is that even though the outward obedience is there, if the heart is not in it, if the doctrine is not understood, then He is pronouncing woes upon us.
Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.
This verse is pretty straight forward when you know who Ariel is.  This verse is where I get my term "the distressing of Ariel."  The Lord will bring upon us woes and it is a sacred thing, a beautiful thing.  The heaviness and sorrow are unto Him as Ariel - or, in other words, these things are sacred because they bring to Him that for which He most longs...you.
And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.
Here it becomes clear that He is declaring all-out war upon us.  Doing everything He can to distress us and stop us at every turn.  What?!  WHY???
And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
To help us learn what we will not learn in easy ways.  This distressing brings us to the point where our heads get out of the way and we start to listen to our hearts because all logic has failed.  He works on us until we have come to the point that we are ready to quit trying to create reasons and answers, where we quit relying on our own arm and finally really understand that we cannot, are not capable of doing this life on our own.  We keep going at this until we come to the day that we are ready to truly and deeply surrender.  Not because He is a tyrant wanting to control us, but because He is a loving Father who is trying to save us from all the pain we inflict on ourselves and others.  Some intense pain now that has the result of surrender becomes the greatest of all tender mercies in the future as life becomes sweet and joyful and rich - no matter what the physical circumstances reflect.
Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly.
Here we come to the reason all of us run from this experience which Isaiah is trying to talk us into having - our strangers and our terrible ones.  They are the reason we fear ourselves and what is on the inside - especially if we are very desirous to be obedient.  They are the things within us of which we are ashamed.  They are the things we judge ourselves for feeling and thinking.  
Our strangers - those things which are buried in our hearts of which we are not even aware.  We do not know we harbor those feelings.  We do not allow ourselves to consciously acknowledge that they exist within us.  When they become known and we see them, they shock us and startle us.  We are surprised we have them because in our thoughts things were opposite.  These are our strangers.
Our terrible ones - the things of which we are consciously aware and would never breathe aloud to another living soul because we are so ashamed of them.  The terrible ones are the things which make us choose to be dishonest, to avoid deep connections, to pretend we are not aware or do not see or do not hear so that we can hide our filthiness from those around us.  Our terrible ones - the thoughts of judgement, of malice, of pride which we harbor in our hearts saying "who seeth us? and who knoweth us?" (verse 15). 
Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
Then comes this really scary verse.  Thunder and earthquakes and great noise and storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire?!!  Ummm...no.  Thanks.  But no. 
Except, here's the thing.  It's not really all that scary on the other side of it.  I love the complimentary verse to this verse because it really illustrates what Isaiah is telling us will happen when we choose this path rather than when we are compelled to be humble by our circumstances and pains and struggles.  So let's all go to verse 16 and then return here to verse 7.
¶ And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.
Okay.  Let's keep this internal.  Remember that this entire chapter is symbolic of your inward world, your inward creation.  So everything that is in you that fights against your eternal self (Ariel) is now what is being addressed.  Your ego.  Your fears.  Your false beliefs.  Your pain.  Your doubt.  Your natural man.  Your sense of worthlessness.  Your feelings of being unknown.  All those ugly little thoughts and feelings which separate you from truly receiving Him into your whole self.
It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.
When I first read and understood this verse, I was angry.  That loneliness that I felt, the great black hole in my heart that came up whenever I wasn't busy or distracted or with other people or talking to someone...that black hole of loneliness that was never filled no matter how much I did and how obedient I was...now He's telling me it's a symptom of those who fight against Zion?!  Wait just one minute!  I went to the temple at least twice a week with family names I'd searched myself.  I read my scriptures every day.  I wrote in my journal every day.  I had morning and evening prayer every day.  I did my visiting teaching every month (usually two or three visits).  I followed every prompting I received to the best of my ability.  I sought opportunities to help and serve constantly.  Please.  Please tell me how I am fighting against Zion. !!!
¶ Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
Yup.  He did that.  Right there.  Was Isaiah looking directly at me when he wrote this?  Stay yourselves and wonder??? Really?!  Okay.  Fine.  I'll keep reading.  Apparently you get how I'm feeling right now, Isaiah.  
Have you ever watched a really drunk person walk?  They are wobbly and their body is all over the place trying to stay upright.  And that's how I was living.  I was running from one thing to the next, staying busy and never allowing quiet time or being alone, never settling internally.  Never allowing myself to see those inner parts.
10 For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
Again with the knowing me better than I know myself, Isaiah!  How?!  When I started trying to force out of my heart all my strangers and my terrible ones, the first thing that would happen is my body would shut down.  Everything in me would want to sleep and I was suddenly exceptionally exhausted.  My eyes wouldn't stay open.  I hit my natural man's first wall of defense.  The spirit of deep sleep overtook me every. single. time.
Here we connect with Jacob 5 and the personal symbolism of the olive garden...which is SO much and way, way too much to get into here.  But know that those parts of us which are eternal were covered for a reason and when you are on the other side of all of this, you look back and understand and are filled with gratitude.
11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:
So because we are covered and are in darkness we become heavy, tired, depressed, anxious, worried, stressed, fatigued...and a million other things.  We go to doctors who say there is nothing medically wrong with our bodies.  We go to therapists and say to them, concerning our hearts and our bodies and the struggles we're having, "read this, I pray thee!"  Tell me what is going on inside of me!  Why is this happening?!  Their response?  Tell me your strangers and your terrible ones and then I can tell you why you're going through this.  But the problem is, their sealed.  And when you try to access them, you protect yourself through anger, deep sleep, and a bunch of other protections I will not list.  Because the list is incredibly long.
12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
Frustrated with medical professionals who cannot help us, we go to our family and our friends.  HELP!  And they say, "I don't know.  I'm not a doctor.  I'm not a therapist.  If they can figure it out, there's no way I can."
13 ¶ Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
Wherefore...because of all of this.  Because we are sealed, because we cannot see, because we are full of strangers and terrible ones and cannot find any help to move forward.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me and their awe and reverence toward me are taught by the beliefs of others...
You get it, right?  You see it?

If you don't, for more on this verse, click here.
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Therefore - because of all of this, because the situation is hopeless and seems impossible - therefore, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder...
He will heal you.  He will do what no one else, including yourself, is able to do.  He will take the darkness from you.  Your strangers and your terrible ones shall be as small dust that passes away at an instant suddenly.  
15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
Again with the woes.  When we hide, when we do as Adam and Eve in the garden and take upon us that shame and fear, we are seeking deep (or burying our strangers and our terrible ones deep within ourselves and away from our own awareness) to hide from the Lord.  We hide them and say no one sees and no one knows.  Yet in the very next verse He, almost in a gently light way laughs at the thought that we are unknown to Him.  He made us.  He framed our lives...do we really think He doesn't understand and know what is going on?
(You can read 16 again if you wish, it adds depth to 15.  Or skip on to 17.  Whichever you prefer.)
16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
Good job!  You followed my choose-your-own-adventure-esque instructions!
Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay...
You, dumping out your heart - ALL of it's contents - to Him is esteemed as the potter's clay.  In ancient Israel, they had clay pits.  The potters would go out to the pits, climb down, choose out a lump of clay, and begin to work.  The clay is too dry.  It's thrown down into the pit.  Water is added.  The potter brings is back up and continues to work.  It's still too dry.  The process is repeated.  Then the clay is too wet.  Again repeated, adding more clay instead of water.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Down into the pit again and again.
The process is painful.  If I were that lump of clay, I may be tempted to feel abused and hated by the potter.  But that's not the point.  The potter knows that this clay, when it is shaped and molded into the thing He desires it to be, will have to pass through "the flame of devouring fire" and it must be able to withstand the heat.  If it is too wet, it will melt into itself and be ruined.  If it is too dry, it will crack and shatter in the ovens.  But the potter, with His expertly trained hands, knows just when that clay is the perfect consistency.
For shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?  Do you see the love and attention and compassion in these words now?  It is not a chastisement, but a question of compassion.  Do you not know how well I know you?  Do you not know how completely you are known?  Do you not know how much love and compassion I have for you?  
Do you see the Lord's heart here?  Isn't it so beautiful and touching?  He knows you.  He knows your name.  You are His.  He has claimed you and taken you into His bosom.  You are beloved of Him.  You are His only work.  Your heart is His greatest desire.  To be knit to Him, to connect with Him every moment, to share all that you are - including your strangers and your terrible ones - with Him is His greatest wish.
Okay.  Back to verse 7.  (Or on to 17 if this is the second time through.) :)
17 Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?
Speaking again of your heart and it's internal condition, this verse is the promise of the Lord if we are brave and do what Isaiah is encouraging.  Lebanon - akin to the barren, desolate wastelands - shall become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest.  In other words, those parts of our heart which are barren, where nothing can grow, will be healed.  And suddenly seeds will be planted (truths of eternity) and our hearts will have become soft ground to let them in.  Our hearts that were once bursting with strangers and terrible ones will now have space for seeds to be planted.  
Those other parts of our hearts, those parts which had real, growing, fruit-producing vegetation will become so lush and rich that it will be esteemed a forest.  
Do you see the joy promised?  How my heart burns when I read this verse.  The Lord is so good and gentle and loving.  He takes us as we are, where we are and walks with us along a lovely gentle path until we have our greatest wish become reality - to be in His presence again with nothing in our hearts keeping us from receiving Him fully.
18 ¶ And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.
In that day, when He will do His marvelous work within your heart (the book), those who would not hear their strangers and their terrible ones will suddenly hear.  Those who refused to see themselves truthfully will see - out of the darkness we will see.  In other words, we begin to foster the right environment within ourselves for healing as Isaiah shares with us in chapter 6 - eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands...then we convert, and we are healed
19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Those parts of us that were obedient, that were meek, that were whole will rejoice as never before.
20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.
These two verses are parts of each other, it seems.
For the terrible one - that make a man an offender for a word - is brought to nought.  And the scorner - he that lays a snare for him that reproveth in the gate - is consumed.  And all that watch for iniquity - and turn aside the just for a thing of nought - are cut off.
The terrible one within us...the ego, the pride, the cruel thoughts towards others, the judgments of others...it is brought to nought.  It literally vanishes instantly as if made of small dust.
The scorner within us...the part of us that judges so harshly and looks for hypocrisy in every interaction, it is consumed in that flame of devouring fire and taken clean away.  
The one that watches for iniquity, that tries to trap those whose hearts are good and whose desires are pure but whose outward actions we judge as inconsistent to that state of heart...where we turn aside or shame and judge those whose hearts are good for some little thing we've observed...all of this is cut off.  Gone.  Done. 
22 Therefore thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.
All of Israel (Jacob) will no longer bear shame.  We will no longer seek to hide from the Lord - especially when we see our strangers and our terrible ones.  The shame of the Garden of Eden is lifted and suddenly we see clearly what our relationship and true eternal value looks like to the Lord.  The eternal being within us will become the one in charge of our day-to-day and we will no longer be living on autopilot or in survival mode.  
23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.
This one feels like it needs no explanation.  We will come to know Him.  We will have let Him teach us who He is for Himself.  And our awe, our reverence, our respect, our honor for Him will be real because it will come from a deep and personal relationship - not from the stories others have told.
24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.
To my heart, this verse is the most beautiful verse in all of scripture.  In the next post I will share my experience I had after understanding this chapter in this way and then you will understand why these words are the most beautiful, tender, gentle, loving words in all of scripture to my heart.
When we have erred in spirit - our heart was good but we were completely wrong and off base - the Lord gives to us understanding.  When our strangers become visible to us, as we come (implies work on our part) to Him, He gives to us understanding. 
When we have murmured - we fought against what we were told because we didn't want to do it or because of a million other reasons - we learn (again, implies work on our part) doctrine.  
This process of Isaiah 29 is more for the erring in spirit.  When we have murmured, the way to heal it is to learn doctrine.  Pick the topic with which you struggle.  Go to the topical guide.  Read only one verse from the topic per day.  Not more.  Read the other verses around it for context, read cross references and footnotes, but do not do more than one verse each day.  Invite the Spirit to teach you as you read and then as you ponder on what you've read throughout the next 24 hours or so.  Let the truth percolate and reach your heart.  By the time you are finished with the topic, you will have learned doctrine and you will no longer struggle with that topic.  If you allow your heart to be part of the process, this cannot fail to happen.  It is the eternal way of things and is a true principle.

Next post I will share with you my experience after understanding these verses.

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