A daily devotion for February 12th
Woe to David’s City
29 Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David settled!
Add year to year
and let your cycle of festivals go on.
2 Yet I will besiege Ariel;
she will mourn and lament,
she will be to me like an altar hearth.
3 I will encamp against you on all sides;
I will encircle you with towers
and set up my siege works against you.
4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground;
your speech will mumble out of the dust.
Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth;
out of the dust your speech will whisper.
5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust,
the ruthless hordes like blown chaff.
Suddenly, in an instant,
6 the Lord Almighty will come
with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.
7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel,
that attack her and her fortress and besiege her,
will be as it is with a dream,
with a vision in the night—
8 as when a hungry person dreams of eating,
but awakens hungry still;
as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking,
but awakens faint and thirsty still.
So will it be with the hordes of all the nations
that fight against Mount Zion.
9 Be stunned and amazed,
blind yourselves and be sightless;
be drunk, but not from wine,
stagger, but not from beer.
10 The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep:
He has sealed your eyes (the prophets);
he has covered your heads (the seers).
11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”
13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?
17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field
and the fertile field seem like a forest?
18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,
and out of gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind will see.
19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord;
the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 The ruthless will vanish,
the mockers will disappear,
and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down—
21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty,
who ensnare the defender in court
and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.
22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed;
no longer will their faces grow pale.
The Lord says:These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.(Isaiah 29:13)
Israel's problem was what we would call
mechanical religion, meaningless, external conformity to a performance of religious things. This is a grave danger. When you feel yourself becoming spiritually dull, it is a warning sign that says,
Watch out! You are headed for trouble. This happens to all of us on occasion. It is healthy to ask yourself at times,
Have I lost my zest for God? Do I sing the hymns mechanically? Do the truths of Scripture appear to me dull and common place? Have I lost the sense of joy in my Christian experience? That is a danger sign. That is what this
woe is referring to. God's provision for this is found in the latter part of verse 5 and in verse 6:
Suddenly, in an instant, the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. (Isaiah 29:5b-6)
Suddenly God will send into your life some experience—a disaster, perhaps—something that will get your immediate and undivided attention. That is God's action to wake you up to the danger of drifting away from the vitality of a spiritual walk.
I have always appreciated the story of the two students at Duke University who went to a costume party dressed as blue devils, the mascots of Duke. They started out to the party, but by mistake they stumbled into a prayer meeting, setting off a great exodus through the doors and windows. One lady became wedged in a pew and began to scream in terror. Forgetting that they were causing her agony, the two young men rushed forward to help her. As she saw them advancing she raised her hand and said,
Stop! Don't you come any further. I want you to know that I have been a member of this church for 25 years—but I've been on your side all the time! That is what we call a moment of truth. It is a very valuable experience.
At times God will send something that wakes you up suddenly to the drift in your life. This is why he has spoken so helpfully through the prophets and the apostles, warning us of the danger of spiritual drift and the danger of living mechanically as a Christian.
Thank you, Lord, for your relentless pursuit of me when I fall into mechanical religion. Open my heart to the great riches that are waiting for me through living in vital fellowship with my living, loving Lord.
Life Application: God's love for us does not tolerate pretense and external worship. Do we gratefully acknowledge His wake-up calls as His loving pursuit?
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Daily Devotion © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.