White Washed Tombs Back to all sermons


Date: February 14, 2021

Speaker: Sean Grossman

Series: Isaiah

Scripture: Isaiah 29:1–29:14

Tags: judgment, Redemption, Chastisement

Isaiah 29:1-14

White Washed Tombs

1 Ah, Ariel, Ariel,

the city where David encamped!

Add year to year;

let the feasts run their round.

2  Yet I will distress Ariel,

and there shall be moaning and lamentation,

and she shall be to me like an Ariel.

3  And I will encamp against you all around,

and will besiege you with towers

and I will raise siegeworks against you.

4  And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak,

and from the dust your speech will be bowed down;

your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost,

and from the dust your speech shall whisper.

(Isaiah 29:1-4, ESV)

5  But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust,

and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.

And in an instant, suddenly,

6  you will be visited by the LORD of hosts

with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,

with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.

7  And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,

all that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her,

shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.

8  As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating,

and awakes with his hunger not satisfied,

or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking,

and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched,

so shall the multitude of all the nations be

that fight against Mount Zion.

(Isaiah 29:5-8, ESV)

9  Astonish yourselves and be astonished;

blind yourselves and be blind!

Be drunk, but not with wine;

stagger, but not with strong drink!

10  For the LORD has poured out upon you

a spirit of deep sleep,

and has closed your eyes (the prophets),

and covered your heads (the seers).

11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”

13  And the Lord said:

“Because this people draw near with their mouth

and honor me with their lips,

while their hearts are far from me,

and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

14  therefore, behold, I will again

do wonderful things with this people,

with wonder upon wonder;

and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,

and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

(Isaiah 29:9-14, ESV)



Main Point

  • These verses describe the situation in Jerusalem
  • The religious and political leaders have failed the people by encouraging them into what was wise in their own sight
  • Despite God’s might coming in the form of other nations…He will still judge those nations
  • He will save His city from them and Himself

Application Points

  • White Washed Tombs

Isaiah does not hesitate to criticize those around him

 Isaiah sees both he disease and the symptom

 The truth can be so hard to speak and hear

 We do not want to be seen negatively

 What is the peace we are seeking?

 The ancient leadership and the people were content to find peace in the worldly powers

 They continued to trust in the world for their peace

  • White Washed Tombs (2)

On the outside it may have appeared they had peace…but there was no real peace

 The things of the world…bind us, blind us, and force us to accept what they proclaim

 It is because of this Isaiah’s proclamation is so important

 It is reminiscent of Jesus when He said…


“27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

(Matthew 23:27-28, ESV)

  • White Washed Tombs (3)

So it is with the leaders and people in Isaiah’s time

What do we find happen?

The alliances, the people, they look nice on the outside, but on the inside they are corrupt

As Christians today we must take warning

 It is possible for us to be just as whitewashed

 But what does it look like?

 Individually there are many Christians who have been seeking their own way

 This past week I heard of a well known youtuber who denied Jesus is God

 His argument is that He reads His Bible and the Holy Spirit illuminates


It is true that the Holy Spirit illuminates

Yet what is to say…

  1. That the spirit within is actually the Holy Spirit?
  2. That the Spirit is actually illuminating?

 We believe we are sufficient with our relationship with God

 While we are all individuals saved by grace through faith, we are also not the only ones in existence nor the only ones called

 We learn in the New Testament how individuals are gifted with spiritual gifts

 Unfortunately when we have such high individualism we believe we have every gift

 Because of this we believe that whatever anyone comes to believe from the Scripture is true


  • White Washed Tombs (5)

Consider the case above

If it is true that anyone can simply read their Bible and come to an understanding…then he isn’t wrong

 Yet, what he says goes against a basic teaching of the historic Christian faith

 We should be encouraging each other to accept and embrace the various gifts given

This doesn’t mean we do not earnestly seek or ask for wisdom and knowledge

 We need to check our beliefs and understandings against the teachings of the Scriptures in their context and as a whole

 Likewise against the historic Church

If we do not then we will be like those who came before…individuals who seemed wise in their own eyes


  • White Washed Tombs (6)

The corporate Church is just as capable of erring

 When they seek the easy way of reforming their beliefs with cultural trends rather than a firm foundation of Christ, the Scriptures, and Christian history

There are many who criticize the Church because of failures past and present

The simple truth is such criticisms are warranted

The Church fails because it is full of failures

We are in desperate need of grace and mercy


  • White Washed Tombs (7)

If this is true of us as individuals, then what does it mean for our corporate identity?

It means we are to request wisdom and guidance for not if we err but when

What is the number one way we err?

By being like the world…instead of a distinctive people

If we should prove faithless, is it any different than their disobedience?

When we seek the world and its peace is it not a complete rejection of what God offers to us?


  • White Washed Tombs (8)

“But it doesn’t make us feel comfortable when we speak the truth to this world!”

 It was uncomfortable for them as well

 It led to persecution

When the Church separates from these things, and when we reject what has come before, we reject the prophets and God Himself

 We would rather trust in our own devices and designs rather than the design God has for us, the design of pure and simple faithfulness

Can you imagine what would happen if we were simply faithful?

We would awake from the nightmare of the fears of the world

That our God is far more powerful than they


  • White Washed Tombs (9)

This doesn’t need to only reflect worldly powers of military or political might

Also it means from false beliefs

Waking up to realize…only Christ is right

We have the answer that unlocks the universe

Let us not settle for ourselves, nor the power of the here and now

Let’s be revived  the truth of our savior Jesus Christ, knowing that in Him we find true peace, and true life, now and forever


  • The Gospel of Christ


Where we began


What went wrong


How it is fixed


Where it at leads