“Ariel, Ariel” – Isaiah is not advertising washing powder! He is having a dig at Jerusalem with the words “Altar Hearth, Altar Hearth!” – doesn’t have quite the same ring about it in English. Jerusalem was the centre of Old Testament worship where sinners worshipped a holy God through the substitutionary sacrifice of burnt offerings. Isaiah goes on “Add year to year, let their feasts run their round” – Isaiah is having a poke at the annual round of religious festivals “so elaborate, so beautiful, so empty” (Ray Ortlund) – the religious treadmill is getting them nowhere. They are just going through the motions.
By verses 9-10 Isaiah vents “Astonish yourselves and be astonished. Blind yourselves and be blind” If you want to worship God so emptily, devoid of truth, He will darken your minds – “pour out a spirit of deep sleep”. In v11-12 a learned man is handed a sealed scroll like a closed Bible – he’s too lazy to open it and find out what it says – lots of unbelief and God hardens that it into spiritual blindness.
Jesus takes v13-14 and applies it to the Pharisees who are so precise in their worship and yet devoid of heart and love for God. 2 Tim 3:5 tells is some people have a form of godliness but deny God’s power – they attend church dutifully but have hearts far from God. “Their religion is orthodox, beautiful nothing”
We need the power of God in our lives
Older people – because there is little time left for getting ready for heaven
Middle aged people, so you don’t coast and become dull and mediocre
Young families to build homes shaped well for life
Singles to get single minded devotion to Christ
Young people because the world is seductive
Children when they are young and open.
Those around us need to see passion and the power of God changing us, so they can seek to be changed too.
Verse 10 talked of a spirit of deep sleep poured out on some. Yet God says “Awake O sleeper and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you” Eph 5:14 – if your faith has become sleepy dead religion – call on God for a miracle of grace to awaken your sleepiness again!
“The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel” v19 Join us on Sunday to obtain fresh joy – we’re having a guest service in the morning 10am at Gaywood Primary School and will be worshipping and praying 6pm in the evening too!