Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Woe of Ariel (Part II)

"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. 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. 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. 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. 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." 
(Isaiah 29:4-8)

The Babylonians completely destroyed Jerusalem and its temple. The city and its inhabitants were brought down as the text says. Jeremiah described these events.

Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about (Jeremiah 52:12-14).

How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger (Lamentations 2:1)!

The pride of Judah's citizens would be broken and their speech would be brought down to the dust. This phrase probably has other connotations as well. Even though Jerusalem would be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and also by the Romans (70 AD), her voice would still be heard out of the ruins. Not all life and hope would be removed. The voice would be low and soft, but it would be there nonetheless. Eventually, Zion would be resurrected.

The apocalyptic flavor of this passage is strong. Babylon's invasion is the near fulfillment of these things but there is a far fulfillment which has yet to come. Zechariah clearly prophesied of a time near the end of the Great Tribulation when Jerusalem will be conquered and terrorized by her enemies.

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem ... Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity...(12:2, 14:1-2).

However, because of the power and promises of God, she will not be permanently subjugated. Once the Lord has accomplished his will in breaking the pride and disbelief of His people, He will come and destroy the enemies of Israel.

And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness ... Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle ... And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour 12:3-4, 14:3, 12-13).

God's enemies eventually come to nothing. Where is the wealth and grandeur of the Babylonian Empire? What remains of Babylon's magnificence? Jerusalem continues because of God's righteousness and His plans for her restoration, but the world's kingdoms are doomed to failure. Upon the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the antichrist and his kingdom will be no more real than the banqueting of a hungry man's dream.

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