We've been reading about the end times; both the grim losses and the beautiful coming of the Kingdom. This is the last section of that discourse.
This chapter starts with a song. Isaiah singing about his well-beloved and a vineyard.
- His well-beloved had a vineyard and it was on a fertile hill, so it should have done well.
- He did all the right things to foster a good yield.
- But it produced only worthless grapes.
Starting in verse three, the personal pronouns are capitalized. So I assume we've changed perspective and now the Lord is speaking directly. He explains what He'll do with the vineyard now.
- Take down the hedges.
- Break down the walls.
- Lay waste without pruning or hoeing
- and bring no rain
In verse 7, it appears to me that Isaiah is speaking again. He makes it clear that the vineyard is Israel and the Lord of hosts (Never pleasant when that Name comes out) is displeased with how it is performing.
- He expected these men to act with justice. But instead, they brought bloodshed
- He expected them to act with righteousness; but instead He hears the cries of those being taken advantage of.
He goes on in verses 8-25 to catalogue the specific wrongs committed by His people that have brought Him to the conclusion that the vineyard is bearing bad fruit. And He starts each indictment with "Woe". Again, not a the word you want the Lord of Hosts to use in regards to your future.
Verse 8: Woe to the land grabbers. Who thought they'd get rich, or were rich, and decided to take more than their share. The Lord promises them that it won't work out for them. It will take all of their land and the mansions on it to produce a small amount of wine or grain.
Verse 11: Woe to the drunks. The first part is expected for me. Woe to those who get up early to drink and stay up late to drink. But verse 12 has an interesting twist.
And their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, not do they consider the work of His hands.Isaiah 5:12
I know at least a few of those instruments were developed by David for worship of the Lord in the Temple. But it never occurred to me that to always bring Him to mind. It makes total sense, because music is such a powerful influence on the emotions. Of course it was solely supposed to be a gift between us and our Creator and of course the enemy would want us to separate the advantages and purpose of an invention and just turn it to world purposes.
I have some meditating to do on this.
Verses 13-18 are related to the those who face the woe of the drunkard. It leaves the people ignorant. So either those drinking were in charge of teaching or showing about the Lord; or the music taught the wrong things, or a series of problems combined to leave the people ignorant and heading to hell. And all of that leading to the desperate situation described in the earlier chapters.
Verse 18 Woe to those who...[I've got to admit; I'm not sure how to sum up this one.]
- The first line seems to be someone dragging iniquity with cords of falsehoods. So they are keeping sin with them by their lies?
- and the second half seems to also be an image of pulling or dragging sin around with cart ropes.
Verse 19 continues by explaining that those who are dragging their sin around also demand that the Lord do His work faster so that they can see it.
The Ryrie Study Bible footnote says that these are blasphemous people who taunt God to do anything about it. Yikes. Which we see a lot of today.
The Warren Wiersbe Commentary, Be Comforted, interprets this to be careless ness. Those bound by their sin and yet mocking God.
Verse 20 is the well know indictment of those who call evil good and good evil. And who confuse darkness and light and bitter and sweet. Which we also see a lot of today!
Uh oh...Getting closer and closer to home here...Verse 21 offers Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Super double scary yikes.
Verse 22 and 23 once again takes up the drinker, but this time of a different variety. It describes those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in strong drink. That could be taken as they get bold and braggart about what they would do in battle from the safety of the bar stool or those who are just so heavy drinkers that he's giving them sarcastic super titles for it. Either way...not good to be on this list. These same hero/mighty drinkers are also indicted for justifying the wicked for a bribe to the detriment of those who were in the right.
Ryrie says these are drunken judges, which makes sense. It also adds 24-25 to this "Woe". These judges of 22-23 (or maybe all of the "Woes") will be like grass in a fire because they rejected the Lord and His Word.
Verse 25 even more graphically describes how He will stretch out His hand, the mountains will shake, and their corpses will litter the streets.
And His anger is still not spent. His hand is still stretched out.
Wow. That is the single most terrifying image ever. The grim side of "God's not through with you yet."
Verse 26 starts a new paragraph in which God calls to foreign armies and they come strong, equipped, and ready. "It growls as it seizes the prey, and carries it off with no one to deliver it."
My human instinct is to cringe and wonder if God is doing the right thing. Only because I know I have earned that wrath and I'm accustomed to the visible grace of Jesus. But then I remember all of the sin, and the taunting, and the seeking of their own (and me my own)...and I know that God is just and righteous. We have to know Him as this God to understand the whole story; and the remarkable sacrifice of Jesus.
He drank the cup of that wrath for me!
Chapter 5 ends the discourse that ran from chapters 2-5. Now, I think, the timeline shifts and we're going back to Isaiah's calling in the famous chapter 6.