“The God of Angel Armies is always by my side”–This is the ballad song of worship I am singing in the background as I read our next installment of Isaiah’s word from God to those who have left everything that God had taught them and provided for them. Justice will come to unbelievers, the malcontents, the users and abusers among a people who used to be God’s Chosen. The fruit in his Vineyard has become bitter and tasteless.
What does God see inside the hearts of his vineyard called church today? I am pondering that thought as I read. We might sing “let there be peace on earth” without realizing that real peace is “not as the world gives”, says Jesus, but as He gives it—as a gift. (John 14:27) This gift begins with our humbled repentance to the God of Angel Armies who knows all, is in all and loves everyone He has created.
Don’t mess with God, thinking we know what is best for us by moving ahead of God or falling behind, stay attached the Vine (Jesus) in His Vineyard and the fruit we bear will not be bitter.
Isaiah 5, The Message
Looking for a Crop of Justice
1-2 I’ll sing a ballad to the one I love,
a love ballad about his vineyard:
The one I love had a vineyard,
a fine, well-placed vineyard.
He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds,
and planted the very best vines.
He built a lookout, built a winepress,
a vineyard to be proud of.
He looked for a vintage yield of grapes,
but for all his pains he got garbage grapes.
3-4 “Now listen to what I’m telling you,
you who live in Jerusalem and Judah.
What do you think is going on
between me and my vineyard?
Can you think of anything I could have done
to my vineyard that I didn’t do?
When I expected good grapes,
why did I get bitter grapes?
5-6 “Well now, let me tell you
what I’ll do to my vineyard:
I’ll tear down its fence
and let it go to ruin.
I’ll knock down the gate
and let it be trampled.
I’ll turn it into a patch of weeds, untended, uncared for—
thistles and thorns will take over.
I’ll give orders to the clouds:
‘Don’t rain on that vineyard, ever!’”
7 Do you get it? The vineyard of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
is the country of Israel.
All the men and women of Judah
are the garden he was so proud of.
He looked for a crop of justice
and saw them murdering each other.
He looked for a harvest of righteousness
and heard only the moans of victims.
You Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil
8-10 Doom to you who buy up all the houses
and grab all the land for yourselves—
Evicting the old owners,
posting no trespassing signs,
Taking over the country,
leaving everyone homeless and landless.
I overheard God-of-the-Angel-Armies say:
“Those mighty houses will end up empty.
Those extravagant estates will be deserted.
A ten-acre vineyard will produce a pint of wine,
a fifty-pound sack of seed, a quart of grain.”
11-17 Doom to those who get up early
and start drinking booze before breakfast,
Who stay up all hours of the night
drinking themselves into a stupor.
They make sure their banquets are well-furnished
with harps and flutes and plenty of wine,
But they’ll have nothing to do with the work of God,
pay no mind to what he is doing.
Therefore my people will end up in exile
because they don’t know the score.
Their “honored men” will starve to death
and the common people die of thirst.
Sheol developed a huge appetite,
swallowing people nonstop!
Big people and little people alike
down that gullet, to say nothing of all the drunks.
The down-and-out on a par
with the high-and-mighty,
Windbag boasters crumpled,
flaccid as a punctured bladder.
But by working justice,
God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be a mountain.
By working righteousness,
Holy God will show what “holy” is.
And lambs will graze
as if they owned the place,
Kids and calves
right at home in the ruins.
18-19 Doom to you who use lies to sell evil,
who haul sin to market by the truckload,
Who say, “What’s God waiting for?
Let him get a move on so we can see it.
Whatever The Holy of Israel has cooked up,
we’d like to check it out.”
20 Doom to you who call evil good
and good evil,
Who put darkness in place of light
and light in place of darkness,
Who substitute bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
21-23 Doom to you who think you’re so smart,
who hold such a high opinion of yourselves!
All you’re good at is drinking—champion boozers
who collect trophies from drinking bouts
And then line your pockets with bribes from the guilty
while you violate the rights of the innocent.
24 But they won’t get by with it. As fire eats stubble
and dry grass goes up in smoke,
Their souls will atrophy,
their achievements crumble into dust,
Because they said no to the revelation
Would have nothing to do
with The Holy of Israel.
25-30 That’s why God flamed out in anger against his people,
reached out and knocked them down.
The mountains trembled
as their dead bodies piled up in the streets.
But even after that, he was still angry,
his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.
He raises a flag, signaling a distant nation,
whistles for people at the ends of the earth.
And here they come—
on the run!
None drag their feet, no one stumbles,
no one sleeps or dawdles.
Shirts are on and pants buckled,
every boot is spit-polished and tied.
Their arrows are sharp,
The hooves of their horses shod,
chariot wheels greased.
Roaring like a pride of lions,
the full-throated roars of young lions,
They growl and seize their prey,
dragging it off—no rescue for that one!
They’ll roar and roar and roar on that Day,
like the roar of ocean billows.
Look as long and hard as you like at that land,
you’ll see nothing but darkness and trouble.
Every light in the sky
will be blacked out by the clouds.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Isaiah became a troubadour and sang a folk song to the Lord (“to the One I love”). Perhaps the people who had ignored his sermons would listen to his song. He sang about his own people, God’s Chosen, and pointed out how good God had been to them. God gave them a holy law and a wonderful land, but they had broken the law and had defiled the land with their sins and had failed to produce fruit for God’s glory.
Today, we sing, “How Great Is Our God,” but do our lives show His greatness and power working in and through us in our daily living? Are we growing bitter in the fruits we are bearing? The fruit we’re talking about are found in Galatians 5.
Isaiah named the sins that brought judgment on the land. These woes parallel the intensity of Jesus’ words to those who should have known better in his own day (see Matthew). Sin sometimes succeeds for a season, but sorrow is the inevitable long-term result. Justice will prevail for those who follow Jesus relentlessly.
Warren Wiersbe helps us understand and writes about the moral decay of a people bent on selfishness and trickery to gain popularity among the masses:
“Moral standards were destroyed by new definitions of sin (see Amos 5:7), people using God’s vocabulary but not His dictionary. Like today’s doublespeak, this kind of language made it easy to deceive people and avoid a guilty conscience. In today’s world, increased taxes are “revenue enhancements,” and poor people are “fiscal underachievers.” Medical malpractice is not the cause of a patient’s death; it’s a “diagnostic misadventure of high magnitude.”
You get the picture.
Does God anger trouble us? Let’s ponder this, friends. God’s anger is about us! This anger stems from His love for us! God does not want anyone to be without Him and all He has to provide. His “anger” is not like our anger. We get angry when we don’t get our own way. God’s anger comes from watching us go our own way and not His perfect way for us. He knows what is best and wants to give us more than we can imagine or dream.
Consider now, what God did for us through Jesus His Son. God cannot be where sin is because sin is the opposite of all God is. So, when we sin, God turns away. That’s why when Jesus took all our sin on His shoulders to the cross to take our place of punishment, God had to turn away from His Son until the work of the punishment that should have been ours was finished.
God was serious about the nation’s sins. If they would not repent and accept His offer of pardon, then all He could do was send judgment.
Peter reveals the heart of God—”The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
I repent of my own selfishness desires, going my own way, thinking small thoughts about this world in which we live. I turn my thought-life and desires over to you. Make your desires by my desires for living. May the fruits of your Holy Spirit grow abundantly in my life. May others see YOU in me. I count on you to guide me every hour of every day.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen