Isaiah 5:1–14comment (0)
February 26, 2009
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Isaiah 5:1–14
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Meet Divine Expectations
Many adults want to have a voice in setting their goals and standards. When expectations are imposed on these people, they often view them as unreasonable. Nevertheless some of us are motivated by the expectations others hold for us, especially if the expectations are from the Lord. As Creator and Judge of all human beings, the sovereign Lord possesses the right to set goals and standards for His people. Consequently He expects His people to live according to His expectations. Since we are His by virtue of creation and Jesus’ death and resurrection, persistent failure will bring God’s disciplinary judgment as the Old Testament prophet Isaiah points out.
Acknowledge the Lord’s Expectations (1–2)
Isaiah served in Judah as a prophet in the royal court between 740 B.C. and 690 B.C. He began his ministry as Assyria began to flex its military muscles in the ancient Middle East, posing a threat to Judah. However, God had promised His people He would protect them if they stood firm in trusting Him. But the nation turned away from God, living lives of moral, political and civic corruption.
Depicting the gravity of the nation’s sin, Isaiah told a parable in the form of a song about a vineyard. The prophet pictured God’s people as a vineyard, which belonged to the Lord. God had done everything for His people so that they might be blessed. He had given Judah agriculturally productive land. He had thrown out the stones, expelling the Canaanites who rendered the land barren. He had fenced His vineyard by giving the nation His law, thus separating it from all other nations. He had planted the very best vines, having given gracious promises to Abraham and David. He had built a tower to protect His vineyard by sending prophets to call the nation to loyalty to the Lord. He had hewn out a vat to receive the juice of the grapes, picturing the worship the Lord should receive.
The Lord waited patiently for the prosperous outcome of His cultivation of the nation. Instead there appeared only the small bitter berries of the wild grapevine. If we are to meet the Lord’s expectations, then we must acknowledge He wants us to live spiritually productive lives.
Anticipate the Lord’s Response (3–6)
Isaiah spoke God’s word as the Owner of the vineyard. God set the case before the listeners for their judgment. Whatever may have been the response of the hearers, there was no doubt as to what the Owner would do. He would not only abandon His worthless vineyard but also would assist in its destruction. He would break down its protective hedge and wall so the vineyard would be open to grazing animals and destructive men. The vineyard would become a rainless waste. If we are to maintain our motivation for meeting the Lord’s expectations, then we must recognize the different outcomes that result from faithful living versus unfaithful living.
Adopt the Lord’s Standards (7–14)
Isaiah interpreted the song/parable. The vineyard was the nation Israel. The fruit of God’s work was not the practice of justice and righteousness but oppression, violence and murder. Isaiah declared six oracles of judgment upon various segments of Judah.
First Isaiah denounced selfish greed, seen in those who gobble up lands and houses, aiming at agricultural monopolies (vv. 8–10). Second he denounced the playboy lifestyle of self-indulgence and pleasure seeking (vv. 11–17). Third he spoke against scoffers, those who, out of cynical materialism, challenged God as if He were powerless to intervene in history (vv. 18–19). Fourth Isaiah reprimanded the morally twisted, who call good evil and evil good (v. 20). Fifth he pronounced judgment upon those who exalt themselves with intellectual pride and self-sufficiency (v. 21). Sixth he admonished those corrupt judges who took bribes and were drunkards (v. 23).
Isaiah’s words give examples of how His people had failed to meet God’s standards. If we are to meet the Lord’s expectations, then we must adopt His standards as our goals and seek to achieve them by His grace.