“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you together from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!', and to the south, 'Do not detain them.' Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, and whom I created for my own glory. I formed him. Indeed, I made him.”
But then he immediately says: “Bring forth a people who are blind, though they have eyes, and who are deaf, though they have ears.” 1
While he speaks to those who worship idols as blind, he also says the same thing about his own people: “Hear, you deaf ones. Look, you blind ones, so you can see. Who is blind, except my servant, and as deaf as the messenger I send? Who is blind as the one at peace, and blind as the servant of YHWH? You see much, but you are not observant. You open your ears, but you are not listening.”2
Now, if YHWH says this about the beginning and restoration of the nation, and at a time when they are shown mercy again, how much more so would this be true at its destruction, when they are being punished?
Elsewhere, the prophet says, in reference to a siege: “Be stunned and amazed; reel about, and revel. They are drunk, but not with wine. They stagger, but not from alcohol. For YHWH has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep; and your eyes, the prophets, and your heads, the visionaries, he covers. And all the vision will become to you as the words of a scroll that is sealed.” 3
YHWH explains why this comes about: “Because this people draw near me with their mouth, and they honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and their fear of me has become commandments of men they have been taught. Therefore, look! I will do wonderful things with this people, a marvel and wonder. And the wisdom of their wise ones will perish, and the understanding of their sages will be hidden.” 4
Now, regardless of when this is fulfilled, we could also take it as a general principle. While some of the words of prophecy might be sealed until an appointed time, its true meaning may also be hidden from us, if our hearts are far from YHWH, even if we do not realize it.
Let us, therefore, first of all desire to know the true purpose, thoughts and intentions of YHWH concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and then we will go on to examine greater things. As we do, we will find the words of prophecy unsealing themselves in a wonderful way.