Isaiah 5-8 Israel and Judah are the LORD’s vineyard

From Isaiah 5-8

Isaiah kneelingToday Isaiah gives another judgment from the LORD. Like many sermons he describes his audience in colourful terms. Today Judah is a vineyard.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

5 Let me sing for my beloved
my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes. (Is 5:1–2)

China VineyardIn the analogy Isaiah describes the LORD as his beloved and Judah as his vineyard. Its a song. Isaiah’s beloved prepared a fertile plot of land for his vineyard. He did all the work before hand to make sure it would produce fruit and he could watch over it and protect it. But when the time came for it to produce the fruit he wanted, it produced something else. Wild grapes instead of cultivated grapes. After all the work he had done the vineyard let him down.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more was there to do for my vineyard,
that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes? (Is 5:3-4)

Since the vineyard has not borne the fruit he desired it raises the question whether the Beloved is at fault or whether the vineyard is. Isaiah asks the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah who is at fault. The Beloved who did so much for the vineyard? Or for the vineyard which did not produce the cultivated grapes? Why did it yield wild grapes?

The analogy of course presupposes that the LORD has done so much for Judah in rescuing her from Egypt, giving her the law and the promised land, sending her judges and kings. That Judah should have been faithful and obedient to the LORD in response. But Judah hasn’t. So Isaiah is using the analogy so they will recognise what the LORD has done for and understand what he will do next.

5 And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and briers and thorns shall grow up;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it. (Is 5:5-6)

The Beloved will remove the protections he earlier provided for the vineyard and stop giving it the nourishment it needs. It will be consumed, crushed, grow wild, dry out and die. Ouch! This is not good news for Jerusalem and Judah.

7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;
for righteousness,
but behold, an outcry! (Is 5:7)

Isaiah makes it clear he is speaking about Israel and Judah. They will be punished for abandoning the LORD. The LORD looked for (cultivated grapes) justice and righteousness among Israel and Judah, but he found bloodshed and injustice instead. They did not produce the grapes he desired so he will punish them.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Isaiah gives many warnings and judgments. Sometimes he gives them opportunity to repent and ask forgiveness. At other times he just says they will be punished. This is the case here. The LORD will allow foreign armies to come into the promised land and Judah will be given into their hands. They will die, they will be taken over.

The LORD did many things of Israel and Judah for them both before it came to this. They had every opportunity. The LORD is righteous and good. But except for a faithful remnant they rejected him. So he punished them and eventually he sent them into exile.

Story of Jesus

Jesus uses several analogies that communicate the same theme. Like Isaiah he gave warnings and judgments. This parable is one such warning and exhortation to use what the LORD has given us for his glory. He is describing what the kingdom of heaven will be like.

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mt 25:14–30)

Be thankful for what the LORD has done for you in sending Jesus. Let it change and direct your life.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.