Isaiah 29:1-8: Fulfilled During the End Times?

Isaiah 29

One of the more challenging things to do when studying Bible prophecy is determining whether a particular Bible prophecy passage has been fulfilled in the past, has dual fulfillment (past and future), or will be fulfilled solely in the future. Unsurprisingly, I often see disagreements among different Bible prophecy commentators when reading about the fulfillment of a particular prophecy.

Isaiah 29:1-8 is an example where disagreement exists among different Bible prophecy commentators. Many Bible prophecy commentators do not identify Isaiah 29:1-8 as a passage relevant to understanding the future because many assume that Isaiah 29:1-8 is a passage which concerned the defeat of Assyrian King Sennacherib’s forces by the Angel of the Lord. However, I believe Isaiah 29:1-8 is a passage relevant to understanding the end times, and I explain why in this article.

Hezekiah and the Assyrians

Before I get to Isaiah 29:1-8 specifically, I think it would be a good idea to briefly touch on the main Bible passages which describe the defeat of the Assyrian army since many people think that Isaiah 29:1-8 refers to the defeat of Sennacherib’s forces.

Sennacherib launched an offensive against Judea after Hezekiah rebelled against the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:7). Sennacherib forces defeated several fortified cities in Judea before targeting Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13 and Isaiah 36:1). After the Assyrian army arrived outside of Jerusalem, a representative from the Assyrian army tried to convince the people listening to turn against Hezekiah and to follow the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18:28-35 and Isaiah 36:13-20).

Hezekiah heard about the Assyrian army’s attempt to turn people against him and went to the temple dressed in sackcloth (2 Kings 19:1 and Isaiah 37:1). Meanwhile, Hezekiah sent servants to see the prophet Isaiah (2 Kings 19:2-5 and Isaiah 37:2-5). Isaiah provided the men with a message from God, which was recorded in 2 Kings 19:6-7 (and Isaiah 37:6-7):

“(6) And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. (7) Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” (2 Kings 19:6-7)

Soon after, Hezekiah received another threatening message from the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:10-14 and Isaiah 37:10-14). Hezekiah then went to the temple and prayed; asking the Lord to save them from Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:15-19 and Isaiah 37:15-20). After Hezekiah prayed, Isaiah came to Hezekiah to deliver a message from the Lord (2 Kings 19:20-34 and Isaiah 37:21-35). Concerning Sennacherib, the Lord promised Hezekiah that Sennacherib (and his forces) would not be allowed to enter Jerusalem or allowed to attack the city:

“(33) Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. (34) By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. (35) For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (Isaiah 37:33-35)

“(32) Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. (33) By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. (34) For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (2 Kings 19:32-34)

Keep the promise that Sennacherib would not be allowed to enter Jerusalem or attack Jerusalem in mind because it will be relevant when discussing Isaiah 29:1-8.

After the Lord made Hezekiah a promise, the Angel of the Lord smote 185,000 Assyrian troops. The Assyrian army’s defeat is recorded in Isaiah 37:36 and 2 Kings 19:35:

“Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” (Isaiah 37:36)

“And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” (2 Kings 19:35)

Isaiah 29:1-3

Isaiah 29 begins with a woe against Ariel, which many Bible commentators believe is a name for the city of Jerusalem. The Lord suggests that an army will surround the city and lay siege against the city in verse 3:

“(1) Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. (2) Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel. (3) And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.” (Isaiah 29:1-3)

The statement that the army will lay siege against the city distinguishes Isaiah 29:3 from the verses concerning the promise the Lord made to Hezekiah.

  • The Lord promised Hezekiah that Sennacherib would not be allowed to “cast a bank against” Jerusalem. This means that Sennacherib’s forces would not be allowed to build a siege mound that his forces could use to begin the process of battering the city.
  • In contrast, the Lord would allow this army to construct the structures necessary to lay siege and allow this army to lay siege.

The distinction between Isaiah 29:3 and the verses concerning the promise the Lord made to Hezekiah is one reason why I believe Isaiah 29:1-8 merits consideration as a passage that may relate to the end times.

Isaiah 29:4

Another reason why I think Isaiah 29:1-8 merits consideration as a passage that may relate to the end times is the language found in verse 4. First, Isaiah 29:4 suggests that the city will be “brought down”:

“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.” (Isaiah 29:4)

The Hebrew term for “brought down” is shâphêl, which means “to depress or sink” (especially figurative to humiliate, intransitively or transitively).[1]

The use of the term in context of a siege on a city suggests to me that the city described in Isaiah 29 has been attacked by the army that surrounded it, which consequently makes Isaiah 29:4 unrelated to the verses concerning the promise the Lord made to Hezekiah.

Second, some of the language in Isaiah 29:4 is reminiscent of what is found in Isaiah 51:23, a verse which I’ve identified as a verse relevant to end time Jerusalem, and Isaiah 52:2, a verse which I believe also has relevance to end time Jerusalem.

  • Isaiah 51:23 mentions that Jerusalem is on the ground vis-à-vis its attackers. Isaiah 29:4 says that the city will speak out of the ground.
  • The Lord calls for Jerusalem to shake off the dust on it in Isaiah 52:2. Isaiah 29:4 suggests that the city’s “speech shall be low out of the dust”.

“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.” (Isaiah 29:4)

“But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.” (Isaiah 51:23)

“(1) Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. (2) Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” (Isaiah 52:1-2)

Given that Isaiah 29:4 is unrelated to the verses concerning the promise the Lord made to Hezekiah and the similarity between some of the language in Isaiah 29:4 and verses which are related to the end time Jerusalem, Isaiah 29:4 (along with Isaiah 29:1-8) should merit some consideration as a verse relevant to understanding the end times.

The Nations Attack

Another reason why I believe Isaiah 29:1-8 merits consideration as a passage relevant to understanding the end times is that the attackers in Isaiah 29:1-8 appear to be distinct from the attackers of Hezekiah’s day. Isaiah 29:1-8 identifies the city’s attackers as the nations instead of the Assyrian army:

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…(7) 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.” (Isaiah 29:5, 7)

One could argue that these verses could be talking about the Assyrian army and its allies, but the verses concerning Hezekiah’s day mentioned explicitly that the Assyrian army was defeated.

Other Considerations

There are two other considerations which I believe further strengthens the case that Isaiah 29:1-8 is a passage relevant to understanding the end times:

  1. There is a parallel between Isaiah 29:5-8 and Isaiah 17:12-14, a passage from an end times chapter.
  2. There is similarity between Isaiah 29:6 and Isaiah 30:30. I believe that Isaiah 30:30 is a verse that is relevant to the end times as it is part of a passage which includes the statement in Isaiah 30:19 that the inhabitants of Jerusalem “shalt weep no more”.

If Isaiah 29:1-8 is a passage relevant to the end times, it most likely relates to the end time siege of Jerusalem. If you would like to learn more about the end time siege of Jerusalem, click this link for my article on the topic: When Will Jerusalem Be Attacked During the End Times

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Note

  1. H8213 shâphêl Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.