Scripture reading – Isaiah 4; Isaiah 5

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Our study of the prophecies of Isaiah brings us to Isaiah 4 and 5. As we begin our study, I agree with some that Isaiah 4 appears to be the conclusion of the previous chapter’s prophesy of the judgment that would befall Jerusalem. Remember that chapter breaks and verse numbers are editors’ efforts to assist Bible students in their studies.

Drawing a vivid picture of God’s judgment, Isaiah described the desperation of Israel and Judah in his day. It was prophesied in Isaiah 3 that so many men would perish in battle, that there would be seven women to every man (Isaiah 4:1). Isaiah 4 continued with the prophecy of a future time when Israel would be restored to the land and Christ Himself (“the branch of the LORD”) would reign (Isaiah 4:2).

The LORD’s Loving Preparation for Israel

Isaiah 5

 

Employing an agricultural parable, Isaiah described God’s love and care for His people (Isaiah 5:1-7). With the LORD pictured as a farmer, His loving favor for Judah was portrayed as his “well-beloved.”

The LORD’s Loving Preparation for Israel (Isaiah 5:1-2)

God promised to plant his vineyard (a symbol of Israel) upon the best ground, “a very fruitful hill” (Isaiah 5:1). “He fenced it,” and removed stones [heathen nations] that would hinder the growth of His “vineyard,” and chose the best vines (Isaiah 5:2). He built a “watchtower” (the Temple) in the midst (Isaiah 5:2c).

The LORD’s Disappointments (Isaiah 5:2-4)

Yet, when the LORD inspected His people (“vineyard”), He found “wild grapes” in the midst (Isaiah 5:2). What were the wild grapes? The people’s sins, for they had broken His covenant and were guilty of idolatry and wickedness (Isaiah 5:3-4).

Two Consequences that Befall a Nation That Rejects God (Isaiah 5:5-7)

The first consequence that befell Judah was God’s promise to remove His loving, providential care of His people (“take away the hedge…break down the wall” – Isaiah 5:5).

The LORD promised He would eliminate the nation’s economic prosperity and “lay it waste” (Isaiah 5:6). Judah would become like an untended vineyard, overgrown with “briers and thorns” (Isaiah 5:6). Leaving no doubt, the prophet was warning Israel and Judah the judgment that would befall those nations, we read: “7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah his pleasant plant: And he looked for judgment [justice], but behold oppression [shedding blood]; For righteousness, but behold a cry [distress](Isaiah 5:7).  

The wealthy were guilty of greed and covetous

Six Woes: Elijah’s Warning of God’s Judgment (Isaiah 5:8-23)

Among the sins that provoked God’s wrath, six called for His judgment. The wealthy were guilty of greed and covetous and exploited the people (Isaiah 5:8-10). They were never satisfied and clamored to own houses and fields (“house to house… field to the field,” 5:8). They were like the billionaires in our day who buy up vast swaths of land and take the lands and fields that belonged to others for generations. God declared their greed would be rewarded with calamities and desolation (Isaiah 5:9), and their investments (“vineyard”) would be unprofitable (Isaiah 5:10).

A second woe was pronounced concerning those guilty of pursuing a selfish, drunken lifestyle. They would rise “early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink,” and continue until night (Isaiah 5:11). Their drunken feasts were accompanied by seductive music so that they gave no thought of the LORD and His providences (“the operation of His hands,” Isaiah 5:12). So the prophet declared Judah would be taken “into captivity” (5:13), and hell would open its mouth and receive the proud (5:14).

The third woe was declared against those deceived “with cords of vanity” (Isaiah 5:18), for they mocked the LORD and defied Him (Isaiah 5:19). A fourth woe was directed at those who rejected God’s Law and Commandments and refused moral absolutes. Such people lack spiritual discernment and call “evil good, and good evil; That put darkness for light, and light for darkness; That put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

The fifth woe was for the arrogant and conceited who are “wise in their own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21). They are proud and unteachable and believe they are wiser than their teachers. The last woe was reserved for those who perverted justice, exploited the innocent and weak, and would “justify the wicked for reward [bribes] (Isaiah 5:23).

 

Tragically, the sins and wickedness that invited six woes against Judah are present in our society. Leaders who are greedy and covetous rule our nation and courts (5:8-10), while the rich impoverished the people (5:8-10). Drunkenness and drugs permeate our homes and society (5:11-14). Men and women mock God and defy His Law and Commandments (5:18). Innocence and moral purity are scorned, and the immorality God called an abomination is embraced (5:20). The proud are “wise in their own eyes.” There is no justice for the common man (5:23).

Warning: God’s Judgment Was Imminent (Isaiah 5:24-25)

Warning: God’s Judgment Was Imminent (Isaiah 5:24-25)

The “wild grapes” of Israel had provoked God’s judgment, and the fruit of that nation was rebellion, idolatry, and immorality. The leaders did not fear the judgment of God, and Isaiah warned that the LORD had “stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them” (Isaiah 5:25).

 

The Instruments of God’s Judgment (Isaiah 5:26-30)

Though not named here, Isaiah warned that the LORD would bring enemies against Israel and Judah that would come swiftly and show the people no mercy. Their adversaries would not tire (Isaiah 5:27), and like the roar of young lions, they would thirst for blood (Isaiah 5:29). The armies of their enemies would sweep over the land like the waters of a storm (Isaiah 5:30).

 

Closing thoughts –

History reveals all the judgment Isaiah prophesied came to pass. The Assyrians were the first to come, taking Israel (the northern ten tribes) captive (2 Kings 17:1-41). More than a century later, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, led his army against Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and took away the people into captivity (2 Kings 25:1-30).

What lesson should we take from our study?  

Woe to the nation and people who reject the LORD, His Law, and Commandments!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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