In Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel is the recipient of both her father’s favor and wrath. In chapter 29 of Isaiah’s prophetic oracles, “Ariel,” the city who experiences both God’s wrath and favor, is a pseudonym for Jerusalem or Zion. In his commentary, The Prophecy of Isaiah, J. Alec Motyer explains why he thinks Isaiah chose this pseudonym:
- Ariel literally means ‘altar hearth’ which combines the ideas of distress and favor. Ariel, David’s city, the city of God’s favor has resolutely rejected God’s wisdom and is under divine duress, but she will be delivered. God will remove her indifference and ignorance, which are no longer voluntary. The Lord alone will save Ariel and restore her fortunes.
- The juxtaposed concepts of ‘altar’ and ‘hearth,’ illustrate both sides of God’s relationship with his people – holy wrath and preserving favor. As the inhabitants of Ariel or Zion live before God, whose inward presence is outwardly symbolized by the ever-burning fire, they are living both in privilege and peril; Ariel is a place where the fire of God saves and preserves sinners, but it is also “a place where holy wrath is aroused and active.”
Below is my poetic response to Isaiah’s oracles concerning Ariel. It follows the poem, The Monotony of Destruction, posted last week that described the seemingly innocuous monotony of life that leads to unrest, deception, and ultimate destruction. In contrast, I hope Ariel gives you a sense of the glory of the Lord who deals directly with sinners, yes in blight, but also in blessing. I hope it gives you insight into the Lord who, though capable of swift destruction, is ever able and ever ready to save.
Motyer, J. Alec, The Prophecy of Isaiah, Dowers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993, (pp. 236-244).
Strongs #740 defines “Ariel” as “lion of God” or “lioness of God” a name applied to Jerusalem, accessed February 26, 2014 from Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius, “Hebrew Lexicon entry for ‘Ari’el”. The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, accessed February 26, 2014 from http://classic.studylight.org/lex/heb/view.cgi?number=740
Strong’s #741 defines “Ariel” as “hearth, altar hearth, alter” (Ezekiel 43:15-16.), accessed February 26, 2014 from Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius, “Hebrew Lexicon entry for ‘ari’eyl”. The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, accessed February 26, 2014 from http://classic.studylight.org/lex/heb/view.cgi?number=741