Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” (Isaiah 29:13-14)
Physical blindness is a special burden to bear. Yet the Bible tells us there is a worse kind of blindness – spiritual blindness. Isaiah 29 is all about spiritual blindness – the causes and cures of it. In part, Israel was spiritually blind because they wanted it and chose it. In part, they were blind because God sent blindness upon them. Isaiah 29:13-14 explains why He did this.
First there is a dramatic accusation against the people of Jerusalem: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me” In Isaiah’s day Jerusalem knew how to talk the spiritual talk, but their hearts were far from God.
You can’t always tell a person’s heart by what they say. You can’t always tell a person’s heart by what they do, at least in a single deed. Though only God can really know the heart, the closest we can come is by looking at the whole of their life – not only what they say or only what they do, and especially not only at how they act at church or among Christians.
Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). This is a true, but not absolute principle because people can draw near to God with their mouths and honor the Lord with their lips, and their hearts can still be far from God. Of course, their speech will betray them at one time or another – but perhaps it will never happen at church!
This manner of talking the talk, but not having the heart, didn’t end in Isaiah’s day. Jesus quoted this same passage from Isaiah when He rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their hypocrisy (Matthew 15:7-9, Mark 7:6-7).
Because of all this, God gave the sad verdict: “The wisdom of their wise men shall perish.” Because Jerusalem’s pride had led them into spiritual blindness, sleep, drunkenness, illiteracy, and hypocrisy, God promised to destroy the “wisdom of their wise men.” Their supposed wise men promoted the pride that led to all these evils.
Isaiah called this “a marvelous work and a wonder” when God decides to reject the wisdom of man and to display His own superior wisdom. Many years after Isaiah, the Apostle Paul was also amazed at the “wisdom” of man, and how it compared to the “foolishness” of God (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).
Isaiah and Paul were in perfect agreement about the great wisdom of God and how human wisdom – though it has its own glory – must always take a second place to the wisdom of God. You would have to be blind to not see it.