Isaiah 29:10-11. “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. 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.”
Quoted by Paul in Romans 11:8-9. “According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day.”
This judicial blindness was first prophesied by Isaiah (chapter 6) some 650 years before Christ. “And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.””
This prophecy was quoted by the Lord during His ministry, and recorded by all four Gospels. (Matt.13:14, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10, John 12:40) also by Paul in Romans 11:8, and in Rome, at the end of an all-day conference with Jewish leaders. (Acts 28:26-27) This shows the great importance of the prophecy.
But to many in Paul’s day the judicial act of blindness and deep sleep seemed to go against the righteousness of God. How could a merciful God blind His people so that they have no chance of understanding the Gospel and be saved? The same question is often posed today by Christians. They say, “Why did Jesus speak in parables so that the multitude wouldn’t understand? Why did He just reveal the meaning to His Disciples? It doesn’t add up with the declared character of God.”
Paul’s answer is found in Romans 11:11. “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.”
And again, “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (11:15)
Israel’s deep sleep is of such great importance that the subject is found throughout the O.T. prophets, and frequently in the N.T. We shall have to investigate further.