Isaiah 29

A sad song about Ariel

1 It will be very bad for Ariel, the city where David lived. Continue to have your usual feasts every year, but trouble will come!

29:1‘the city where David lived’ or ‘the city that David attacked’. ‘Ariel’ is used here as a name for Jerusalem.

2 I will bring trouble to Ariel. The people there will be very sad and they will weep. Ariel will become like my altar for burnt offerings.

29:2The Hebrew word for an altar like this is ‘Ariel’.

3 I will bring an army to attack you. There will be soldiers all round the city so that nobody can leave. I will build strong towers against the city's walls. 4 Then you will fall down to the ground. While you lie there, you will speak. Your words will come quietly from deep down in the dirt. It will seem like the voice of a dead person's spirit. You will sound like a magician who is speaking magic words.

5 Your enemies will be like an army of dust. The wind will blow away that crowd of cruel men as if they are chaff. That will all happen very suddenly! 6 The Lord Almighty will come with great power. He will come with thunder, earthquake and a loud noise. There will be a great storm with strong winds and a fire that burns up everything.

7 The great crowd of armies from all the nations that attack Ariel will quickly disappear. They will soon come to an end, like a dream that someone sees in the night. All the weapons that they bring to attack the city's walls will disappear!

8 A hungry man may dream that he is eating a big meal. But as soon as he wakes up, he knows that he is still hungry! A thirsty man may dream that he is drinking. But as soon as he wakes up, he knows that he is still weak and thirsty. That is what it will be like for the great armies from all the nations that have come to attack Mount Zion.

9 You are so surprised that you do not believe what I say. You have become completely blind. You are stupid, like people who are drunk, but not from wine! You fall over, but not because you have drunk too much beer!

10 It is the Lord who has caused you to be like that. He has caused you to be completely asleep. He has shut the eyes of your prophets and he has covered the heads of your seers.

11 You do not understand this vision that the Lord has given to me. It is like the words in a closed book. Give the book to someone who can read. Say to him, ‘Read this, please.’ But he will answer, ‘I cannot read it, because someone has closed it.’ 12 Give the book to someone who cannot read and tell them, ‘Read it, please.’ But he will answer, ‘I do not know how to read.’

13 The Lord God says, ‘These people open their mouths to worship me. They use their lips to say that I am great. But they are not really thinking about me. When they worship me, they use rules that people have taught them. 14 So now I will surprise these people again. I will surprise them with great miracles! Wise people will not seem wise any more. Clever people will no longer seem to be clever.’

15 It will be very bad for people who try to deceive the Lord. They try to hide their thoughts from him. They secretly decide to do evil things. They boast and they say, ‘Nobody can see us. Nobody knows what we are doing.’

16 Your minds are really confused! You think that the clay is more important than the person who uses it to make pots! A bowl cannot say to its maker, ‘You did not make me!’ A pot cannot say to the potter, ‘You do not know what you are doing!’

17 Very soon, Lebanon's forest will become a field of fruit trees. And the field of fruit trees will seem like a forest. 18 At that time, deaf people will be able to hear when someone is reading words from a book. Blind people who have been living in a dark place will be able see what is happening. 19 And the Lord will make weak people happy again. Poor people will sing with joy, because of what the Holy God of Israel has done.

20 Cruel people will disappear. Proud people who insult others will no longer be there. There will be no more people who love to do evil things.

21 It will be the same for people who tell lies in court. They deceive the judge at the city gate. They say false things against good people to make them guilty. People who are like that will have gone!

22 So this is what the Lord says to Jacob's descendants. He is the one who rescued Abraham. He says, ‘Jacob's descendants will no longer be ashamed. Their faces will show their shame no more. 23 They will see that I have blessed them so that they have many children. Then they will agree that I am great. They will praise me, the Holy God of Jacob. They will respect me, Israel's God.

24 At that time, people with minds that are confused will understand what is right. And people who like to complain will accept my teaching.’