The Song of the Vineyard
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 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.
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 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?
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. 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.”
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
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. The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: “Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine; a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.”
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. 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.
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. Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers. So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts. Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.
Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, 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.”
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.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.
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.
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. 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! 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. Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hooves seem like flint, their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
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. 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 is a hard book. Sometimes it seems like a harsh book, full of destruction, judgments and tribulations. But it seems as if God keeps warning the people, “come on children! If you don’t start understanding my love for you, this is going to happen. Come back to me, and it will be so good. Listen!”
God is a God of absolute love that we humans can’t even begin to understand or fathom. I mean look at us. Look at ourselves. If we’re honest, we’re pretty pitiful creatures. We can be mean, spiteful, arrogant, and downright nasty. Maybe some are better than others, and not quite as bad, and some more evil and heinous, but still, we all have the tendencies to follow our own desires, which leads to things contrary to what God wants for us.
But He is also a gentleman who won’t intrude into our lives ‘uninvited’. If people ignore Him long enough, He gives them over to their own devices. The devices they choose for themselves, and have no one to blame but themselves when that turns their lives in to destroyed messes.
He is a Holy and Righteous God, and a jealous One. Some people would read from books like Isaiah as vengeful, maniacal, insane, and accuse God’s jealousy as being pathetic and moronic. Believe it or not, some people have accused Him of being a lot of these things and more. But they use human terms for something… Some One they don’t know. They are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. And yet they have no wisdom or understanding.
God may not intrude, but He does have ways of displaying His glory, and evidence of Himself in this world. Because He loves and desires that all would have a right relationship with Him. He created humans to have a relationship with Him. He loves so much that even before the fall, He knew, and yet provided the Perfect Sacrifice who was sent so we could believe, receive and be restored.
It is hard to read about the destruction, that through History, we know happened. But we also know that the people were stubborn and wandered after gods of their own making.
Isaiah is a hard Book to do a commentary or study on, but the more I read it, the more it reads of a lament with so much promise that it’s easy for those of us who are believers to think that the people back then were stupid for not seeing it. For not seeing God’s love through the warnings. But when we look around in our time, people are still stubborn, still following whatever gods that feel good to them, and still scoffing and ignoring their Creator who loves them so much… that He died, even for them.
We need to keep praying for those, who are deaf and blind, that they will hear and see, and repent- so they can be restored. The only other thing I can say about this chapter is to see the love behind the woes, and the kindness of an absolute Holy God to give warnings when He didn’t have to.
Have a blessed day all!