At God’s Behest

20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.

22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
and champions at mixing drinks,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.
24 Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty
and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people;
his hand is raised and he strikes them down.
The mountains shake,
and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.

26 He lifts up a banner for the distant nations,
he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Here they come,
swiftly and speedily!
27 Not one of them grows tired or stumbles,
not one slumbers or sleeps;
not a belt is loosened at the waist,
not a sandal strap is broken.
28 Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses’ hooves seem like flint,
their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
29 Their roar is like that of the lion,
they roar like young lions;
they growl as they seize their prey
and carry it off with no one to rescue.
30 In that day they will roar over it
like the roaring of the sea.
And if one looks at the land,
there is only darkness and distress;
even the sun will be darkened by clouds.

Isaiah 5:20-30

The judgments against Judah would be swift for they were a rebellious lot.

They mocked at sin.
They perverted right and wrong.
Their world was upside down and inverted morally.

Then, Isaiah’s word picture changes. God whistles and Judah’s enemies are ready and willing to come charging, all with the Lord’s blessings! That had to sting Judah.

We can relate in the West because we see corruption and injustice and think that no one will ever be held to what is blatant sin.

We have the media – which knows the truth – brazenly covering up for politicians and causes they root for and negative press for those they don’t like. The corruption and deceit is widespread and endemic to our society.

It seems like a cop out to suggest that ‘they’ll get their punishment, maybe not in this life but in the life to come.’

While the statement about punishment is 100% true, it doesn’t prevent the wheels of society from doing what is right when it can. Otherwise, we would just have to throw our hands up and give in to the whims of the politically powerful and connected.

Then again, the way things are going, we could certainly envision foreign entities descending upon godless nations at the behest of God.

We do live in interesting times.

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The Vineyard and the Vintner

I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.

3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
5 Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
6 I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”

7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Woes and Judgments
8 Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.

9 The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:

“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.
10 A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine;
a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.”

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning
to run after their drinks,
who stay up late at night
till they are inflamed with wine.
12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
pipes and timbrels and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord,
no respect for the work of his hands.
13 Therefore my people will go into exile
for lack of understanding;
those of high rank will die of hunger
and the common people will be parched with thirst.
14 Therefore Death expands its jaws,
opening wide its mouth;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
with all their brawlers and revelers.
15 So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled,
the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
16 But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
17 Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture;
lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.

18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
and wickedness as with cart ropes,
19 to those who say, “Let God hurry;
let him hasten his work
so we may see it.
The plan of the Holy One of Israel—
let it approach, let it come into view,
so we may know it.”

Isaiah 5:1-19

Isaiah paints a story picture of something everyone would be familiar with: a vineyard and a vintner.

The nation of Judah had everything going for them, but they rebelled and their land was not able to bear much fruit at all.

Isaiah continued to use the wine and vineyard analogy through this passage, letting them know that their activities were corrupt and fruitless. Their justice towards one another was appalling, and they disrespected God’s work.

The Lord was not pleased with what they were doing and was not bashful in telling them so. The people would be humbled and many would go into exile.

Again, the subject of justice and injustice comes up, especially as it relates to leaders and leadership.

I’m not sure we fully grasp the significance of justice as God sees it.

Once we become believers, the change of heart will change the thinking and actions as well. What you didn’t care about before might now be front and center.

Justice isn’t the only thing we concern ourselves with and the church shouldn’t be militant about it, but God has a special place in his heart for those who are just towards those who can’t help themselves.

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OT Parable of the Weeds

2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. Isaiah 4:2-6

What we saw in chapter 3 and the first verse of chapter 4 is the harsh judgment God would have for Judah and Judah.

Recall the parable of the weeds in the New Testament (Matthew 13:24-43). During harvest time everything was gathered and separated in weeds and wheat.

Similarly, some of the godly in that day would have to endure some of the judgment of the nation.

However, Isaiah encouraged those in the midst of the harsh judgment that the Messiah would come and ultimately the godly would be saved, maybe not in the midst of their trial, but he would come nonetheless. All would be well with their world.

The rain falls on the sinner and saint alike. We go through the same problems our non-believing friends go through. We, however, have a redemption waiting for us, probably not now, but a redemption nonetheless.

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Take Away Our Disgrace

1 In that day seven women
will take hold of one man
and say, “We will eat our own food
and provide our own clothes;
only let us be called by your name.
Take away our disgrace!”

Isaiah 4:1

Isaiah is still referring to the women of Judah who will remain after many men are killed in battle.

There will be so many women clamoring for protection that they’d be willing to provide their own food and clothing just for the privilege of protection and a name that is honored.

Of course, the marriage they seek wouldn’t be one of true love and mutual sacrifice but one for honor and protection. With so many women clamoring for marriage, it puts the men in awkward positions to need to enter into polygamous relationships.

In a general sense, it’s a warning that people can and do date and marry for the wrong reasons. We see it all the time in the secular world and unfortunately has crept into the Christian world.

But all hope is not lost for in the next few verses, we will see a renewed Judah for both the men and women. Isaiah had to paint a bleak picture before the dawning of a new day for Judah.

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No Respecter of Persons

16 The Lord says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the Lord will make their scalps bald.”

18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, 19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, 21 the signet rings and nose rings, 22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses 23 and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.
25 Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will lament and mourn;
destitute, she will sit on the ground.

Isaiah 3:16-26

Isaiah’s words against the women of Judah was scathing, perhaps more so than anything in all of Scripture directed at them.

He wanted them to know that they were not immune to the lures and lusts of the world. In fact, they were relishing in them. Take a look at the list of items he calls out specifically. It wasn’t as if they were wrong in and of themselves, but they went to great lengths to purchase them and use it for their own purposes.

He calls out their arrogance, extravagant spending on themselves, and lustful and flirtatious behavior, all designed to lure and entice men.

It seems this passage is directly opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman. Everything the Proverbs 31 woman should be, the women of Judah weren’t.

We can learn from this judgment that the Lord is not partial to men being punished for their behavior and actions. When judgment comes, it will be for all.

Continue ReadingNo Respecter of Persons