1 Oy! Ariel, Ariel, city where David encamped! Keep on, year after year, let your festivals recur. 2 But I will keep inflicting Ariel, and there will be mourning and lamentation, and I will consider it like a bloody altar. 3 And I will encamp like a sphere against you, and I will lay siege to you with a tower, and I will raise up siege works against you. 4 Then you will be low; you will speak from ground level, and your word will be low, from dust. And your voice will be from the ground, like a ghost, and your word will be a whisper from dust. 5 And the mass of your invading foreigners residing in you will be like fine dust, and the mass of tyrants ruling over you like chaff that blows by. And this will happen in an instant, suddenly.
a ghost’s whisper
The inhabitants of Isaiah’s Jerusalem prided themselves on the importance of their city. It was the mighty city where David had encamped. They celebrated their importance regularly with festivals. When a politician from Jerusalem spoke, people listened, because it was always considered a message from a higher-up. But Isaiah broke the spell of their arrogance and self-importance. He told them that God considered that great city an altar for a bloody sacrifice. He told them that he was going to surround them and bring them down. Their mighty voice would be reduced to a ghost’s whisper. It would be a voice from the ground; people will say “Did I hear something?” And the foreign invaders will overwhelm that great city and be everywhere, like the dust, or like the chaff blowing around at harvest.
Why would God treat his own city like that? Because he abhors pride and pretense. Our generation needs to understand this, because we honor the celebrities who think they are better than everyone else. We feed on their words as if they are coming from a higher place. Is it any wonder that so many of those celebrities turn out to be dirt bags? We need leaders who dare to speak God’s words to the needy world around them. We need to follow those who are humbly following Christ.
LORD, give us wisdom to listen to the voices who speak for you. Keep us from the pride and pretense that was Jerusalem’s undoing.
 “A bloody altar” is another possible meaning of the name “Ariel.”