In this chapter, Isaiah speaks of both God’s judgment and his hope for restoration of the nation of Israel. Today, we want to think about these two aspects of God’s nature so as to understand Him on a more fundamental level. The prayer is that when we see this full picture of God more clearly, we may be naturally drawn to worship and love him.
Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled!
We often ascribe feelings of righteous anger and judgment to the word, “woe”. This only captures part of the sentiment behind this word. If we want to get the full thrust of this, we must look at the context. Jerusalem was a city filled with a people whom God dearly loved, a people he rescued out of slavery centuries ago in order to be his own treasured possession. He graciously gave them a sacrificial system so that they could atone for their sins. In fact, the city where David settled, Jerusalem was the site of Solomon’s temple wherein the altar was repeatedly kindled in order to consume sacrifices for the sin of the nation. This reminded them of the LORD’s mercy to forgive their sins and also taught them about the costliness of sin, that it literally consumed life itself. Ariel, which means alter hearth (the part of the altar upon which sacrifices were consumed by fire), was then a fitting name for Jerusalem.