God’s Vineyard - Isaiah Chapter 5
Isaiah Chapter 5
In Isaiah chapter 5, God pictures His people as a vineyard. “Great provisions for the success of the vineyard were made, rich soil, stones removed, choice vine, tower, winepress, etc. There is no logical reason why it should not have produced the finest of fruit; rather, however, it brought forth ‘wild grapes’, i.e., a disobedient people. What more could the Lord have done to bless His people? Nothing?” (Commentary on Isaiah, Wayne Jackson, p. 16). So God had done everything on His part to set up the nation of Israel for success (Isaiah 5:4).
5:1-4: Anyone objectively looking at how God had treated the nation would have to agree that God had bent over backwards for Judah and that He was completely just in punishing them for their ingratitude and apathy. Now if God had provided everything for Israel to grow spiritually and this in abundance, then how much more has He provided everything necessary for the growth of Christians (2 Peter 1:3)? Added to everything Israel was given, we are given the complete word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, direct access to God through Jesus in prayer, a weekly reminder of His amazing love for us, and so many other blessings.
5:5-7: As a result, God will destroy this vineyard, which means that God is impartial. To remain right with Him one needs to be faithful.
The Six Woes: Isaiah 5:6-23
In the following verses we will find six woes that are pronounced upon the wicked among His professed people; such as consuming greed for more land and houses (5:8-10), drunkenness, wasteful living, and superficial lives (5:11-12). Willful ignorance of God’s word or law is one of the reasons behind how this situation arose in the first place (Compare Isaiah 5:13 with Hosea 4:6).
5:18: “Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood”: “Committing evil became the primary object of their lives. Sin follows them like a cart follows the oxen to which it is harnessed” (Commentary on Isaiah, Robert Harkrider, p. 21). This reveals that the sinner is enslaved to sin, like an ox yoked to a heavy load. They are bound to their sins (Proverbs 5:22), one sin leads to another, and they are forced to drag this heavy load along with them. While temptation often sells itself under the guise of “freedom”, the opposite is true. The sinner who thought they would be free actually finds himself tied down with guilt, frustration, financial problems, poor health, and so on. Though people like to talk about being “free” to sin as they wish, or that true freedom is found in doing whatever you want to do, sin actually takes away a lot of our freedoms (2 Peter 3:16ff; John 8:34). Observe the connection between sin and deception. So when people are trying to justify or legitimize sin look for the falsehood that is being used to pull it along (2 Peter 3:3). This is not merely a condemnation upon sinning; it is equally condemning those who attempt to justify sinful practices by dishonest arguments and outright lies. In addition, it reveals that what at times keeps people from repenting and forsaking their sins is a false narrative, such as:
- “I could never change” (Ezekiel 18:1-4).
- “It would be unreasonable to expect any young person who is full of life to abstain from that”
- “It isn’t that bad, there are things that are worse”
- “Everyone is allowed at least one vice”
- “My life is so hard, this sin is justified. God and I have an understanding”
- “The God I believe in would not condemn anyone for that”
- “Nobody is perfect”
- “We are all sinners, so while it is not right, it isn’t that bad either?”
5:19: “Who say, ‘Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it’”
“With astounding arrogance these sinners challenge God’s prophet, in effect saying: ‘If God is going to punish us, let Him get on with it’” (Wayne Jackson, p. 17). Instead of being repentant, they are brazen, “What is God waiting for – bring it on!”
5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil”: The rejection of absolute truth is near the end of a culture, when man is without moral guidance, and when evil and good are totally confused. Sound familiar? This is the predictable outcome when God’s truth is rejected and when man relies upon his own limited wisdom. This is even at step lower than justifying your sin by false arguments. Rather, now you are presenting yourself as the “moral” or spiritual person while engaging in your sin. For example, in our own time:
- To be in favor of the death penalty means you are a bad person.
- To be in favor of abortion means you are a good person.
- To give money to people who will not work means you are a compassionate person.
- To encourage and praise people for engaging in homosexual activity means you are an enlightened person.
5:21: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight”: Woe to those who trust in their own wisdom, woe to those who reject divine truth, and think they are smart in following their own ideas. Woe to those who feel superior to the teachings in the Bible. When God and His standards are rejected the only choice left is moral relativism. Observe the connection between this and the last woe. When we think that we are smarter than the Bible, then we will end up reversing clear moral guidelines. In addition, note that even when moral confusion reigns, a supposed standard of good and evil still exists. Dostoievski has his priest character say, in The Brother’s Karamasov, “If there is no God everything is permissible”. Everything is permissible does not typically result in that everything is allowed. A new immorality prevails in which the wicked are praised and those who are actually “good” are vilified. And, it is a far more oppressive “morality” than anything revealed in the Bible. It is a morality surrounded by layers and layers of human rules and opinions. It can become the type of inverted morality where millions of people are eliminated in the name of “a good cause” or a “good end”.
5:22-23: “Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink”: Not only do they sin blatantly – they take pride in their adeptness in sinning. Woe to those who have such misconceptions of what it means to be a man.
So when God is ignored and morality is inverted, the wrong people end up being idolized or viewed as role models in a culture. The hard-drinking man is now the hero. Such reminds me not only of those who idolized the Las Vegas/Frank Sinatra type of life, or the rock star on tour who destroys the hotel room every night, but equally how much of modern rap music glorifies the bad, out of control, treating women as mere objects, type of guy.
5:26-30: A serious judgment is on the horizon. God will lift up an ensign, a flag, cloth, or some other symbol upon a pole to the nations afar, and will whistle for them to come with speed and destroy His people. God is not calling any slackers or some disorganized army, rather the nation that will arrive will be diligent, well rested, serious, professional, and bent on destruction. Assyria would come from afar and carry off into captivity the ten northern tribes, and Judah will be spared through the efforts of Isaiah, Micah, and Hezekiah. Yet Babylon would also come from afar and take the remaining unrepentant nation into captivity.
- So God has given us everything we need. We are an even more blessed vineyard than Israel was.
- Are we still humble? Do we completely trust God’s word? Or, do we argue with it at times and try to find a way around it? Do we trust God’s wisdom or our limited wisdom?
- Are we trying to justify a sin in our own life or in the lives of our family members or friends?
- Are we still clear on right and wrong or have we been influenced by the culture around us.
- Do we have the right heroes?
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017