Now Will I Arise
Trumpet Sounds - February 5, 2003

Isaiah 33 describes a time when God rises up to defend Israel, in response to a failed peace plan. Could this be talking about events about to happen?

As I began to examine that section of prophecy, I was astonished at the things the Lord began to reveal. For example, verse 12 may be referring to chemical warfare, a topic quite pertinent today!

"Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads. The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no one is respected." (Isaiah 33:7-8 NIV)

"Listen! the valiant cry in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. The highways are deserted, travelers have quit the road. The treaty is broken, its oaths are despised, its obligation is disregarded." (Isaiah 33:7-8 NRSV)

Beginning with verse 7, we are presented with a scene that is startlingly similar to Israel today. The brave men cry aloud in the streets of Israel, anguishing over the bloody and horrid results of yet another terror attack. The envoys of the Oslo false peace process bitterly lament the failures of their efforts. People avoid the roads, fearful of snipers and bombers. Some areas in historical Israel like Ramallah and Nablus are altogether inaccessible to Jews, being occupied by a gang of murderers. The treaty that was supposed to usher in a "New Middle East" has been irreparably shattered. The witnesses of that treaty are despised for its failure, men such as Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin and Yassir Arafat. The Labor and Meretz parties that are most closely associated with Oslo are held in disdain. "The Israeli public hates us," lamented Labor party secretary-general Ophir Pines-Paz. And the obligation stipulated by the Oslo accords for the Palestinian militants to cease their violence is disregarded.

The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away; Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves. (Isaiah 33:9 ESV)

Sharon is a region in Israel, the seacoast area south of Haifa and north of Tel Aviv, where the majority of Israelis live. Bashan is an area roughly equivalent to the Golan Heights, and Carmel is Mount Carmel, adjacent to Haifa. It appears that some unpleasant things are occurring in Lebanon as well as in the coastal population center of Israel. Lebanon is the home of the Shiite Muslim terrrorist group Hezbollah, poised to attack Israel with tens of thousands of missiles, some reportedly with chemical or biological capability. I hesitate to suggest this may mean that the Israeli population centers along the coast, along with the Golan Heights, will be hit very hard with missile attacks from Hezbollah and Syria. This would result in extremely severe retaliation against Lebanon and Syria.

"Now will I arise," says the LORD. "Now will I be exalted; now will I be lifted up." (Isaiah 33:10 NIV)

The verses prior to verse 10 describe events that will happen just prior to this announcement, and will indeed incite it. What happens when God arises? His enemies are scattered. But this seems to portend a momentous occasion, a historical event, when God abandons the appearance of not being directly engaged with the affairs of Israel. Rather, He rises up, determined to bring glory to His name by the mighty actions He takes on Israel's behalf. Could this signify a new chapter in history, an era when God's powerful redemptive acts for Israel once again become obvious to all?

"You conceive chaff, you give birth to straw; your breath is a fire that consumes you. The peoples will be burned as if to lime; like cut thornbushes they will be set ablaze." (Isaiah 33:11-12 NIV)

We are not told the exact identity of the "you" in these verses; presumably it is the "destroyer" mentioned in verse 1. "You conceive chaff, you give birth to straw" - this an analogy from the baby conception and delivery process. But it is no baby born here; these are both trash materials, both highly combustible.. The Geneva Study Bible says for verse 11: "This is spoken against the enemies, who thought all was their own, but he shows that their enterprise will be in vain, and that the fire which they had kindled for others would consume them."

And how will they be consumed? By their own breath. They will be burned "as if to lime". Do you know what a lime burn is? It's a chemical burn. Could this be talking about chemical weapons, weapons that the enemy attempts to use on Israel but fall back on themselves? The word for "breath" also means wind, gas, or blast. Could it be that these enemies that will be burned by chemical fire will be consumed by their own weapons of mass destruction that are blown back on themselves?

Matthew Henry wrote about these verses: "You shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble, which is not only worthless and good for nothing, but combustible and proper fuel for the fire, which it cannot escape, when your own breath as fire shall devour you, that is, the breath of God's wrath, provoked against you by the breath of your sins--your malignant breath, the threatenings and slaughter you breathe out against the people of God, this shall devour you, and your blasphemous breath against God and his name. God would make their own tongues to fall upon them, and their own breath to blow the fire that should consume them."

"You who are far away, hear what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my power!" (Isaiah 33:13 NIV)

As a result of what has just happened, God demands that both those in Israel, and those beyond, must recognize what He has done for Israel. Perhaps this is why these verses are being spotlighted now, so that when it happens, no one will be ambivalent in their determination of who did it. The Lord's mighty hand and outstretched arm are still active for Israel! In response to the failed peace process, God has arisen and powerfully consumed the enemies of Israel.

"The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14 NIV)

This verse is reminiscent of the accounts I've read about when the Holy Spirit of God moved in a powerful way in peoples hearts to invoke the fear of God, resulting in great revivals of repentance and rebirth. May God do this in Israel soon.

Feb 2003 Postscript

(Isaiah 33:7 NIV) "Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly."

Nearly all translations say "brave one" or "valiant". It's from this Hebrew word erel.

691. 'er'el, er-ale'; prob. for H739; a hero (collect.):--valiant one.

But when I looked at the New Jerusalem Bible, it says for verse 7:

"Look, Ariel is lamenting in the streets."

Young's Literal translation of verse 7 is:

"Lo, `Their Ariel,' they have cried without, Messengers of peace do weep bitterly."

In verse 7, the word for cry out is tsaaq.

6817. tsa'aq, tsaw-ak'; a prim. root; to shriek; (by impl.) to proclaim (an assembly):-- X at all, call together, cry (out), gather (selves) (together).

So it is either the "brave men" shrieking in the streets, or, as Young's alternatively indicates, outsiders are crying out, "Lo, their Ariel." Either could be interpreted as the response to some dreadful thing happening to Ariel.

The city of Ariel is the largest in Samaria, a vibrant, lovely city. It is called a "settlement" by those hostile to God's covenant promise of the land, who insist on a Palestinian state.

Could that verse also be foreshadowing some calamitous and grievous Palestinian terror attack on Ariel?

November 8, 2023 Postscript

As I write this, it is one month after the horrific attack by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, with over 1400 Israelis killed and more than 240 taken hostage to Gaza.

The sham formal "peace process" started 30 years ago with the Oslo Accords is in shambles. Incredibly, even though events in the last month have decisively shown Israel has no "peace partner" because the Palestinian Authority is as murderous in their intentions as Hamas, the world still pushes for a "two state solution".

If the current war with Hamas escalates to war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the outcome for Israeli population centers could be catastrophic, similar to the depiction in Isaiah 33. The devastation described in verse 9 could be happening very soon.

In agreement with God's declaration "I will arise" to deal with Israel's enemies, let us pray the prayer of King David: "May God arise, may His enemies be scattered, and may those who hate Him flee from His presence." (Psalm 68:1 NASB)