The Song of the Vineyard illustrates the broken relationship between Israel and the Lord. God had desired the best for His people and had prepared everything to accomplish that desire (See “Eden, Garden of”). The story then depicts a lamentable history of self-imposed destruction by Israel. The very best quality vines were planted. The owner had every right to expect a bountiful and quality harvest (5:1-2). Then God asks Israel why the failure, but there is no response from Israel. The reason is clear (5:3-4).
Since Israel turned away from what God intended, the produce will be given to outsiders. The vineyard will become a wasteland. Notice the “I will’s” of verses 5-6. Just as God took full initiative to prepare the vineyard, so does He take the initiative to lay it waste (5:5-6). Isaiah points the finger of blame directly at Israel (5:7). He uses a wordplay that Israel could not miss: God looked for “justice” (mishpat), but found “bloodshed” (mispach); God looked for “righteousness” (tsedaqah), but found only “a cry of distress” (tseaqah). Wordplays are intended for recall of a prophecy by pricking one’s conscience upon hearing it at a later time.
In 5:8-25 six “woes” are directed at Judah. The first rebukes the powerful in Judah who dominate others (5:8-10). Her society is marked by a “party atmosphere,” and they have no time to reflect upon the work Yahweh has done for them (5:11-12). Thus, exile and death await many (5:13-15). Yahweh alone will be exalted in the day of judgment (5:16-17). Further woes are directed against popular conceptions of God that are less than respectful. The people charge that God assumes too much for himself (5:18-19). They reverse His order of right and wrong (5:20). They declare themselves intellectually independent of God (5:21). They promote substance abuse (5:22) and overturn legal protections (5:23). All of these sins were directed against God and His law (5:24). Future judgment is spoken of in the past tense to underscore the certainty of its coming (5:25a). Judah and Jerusalem were truly in a “woeful” condition.
Judgment would come. God could “whistle” for the Assyrian army whenever He chose them to be His instrument of judgment (5:25b-26). The Assyrians were massive in number, highly trained, and experienced in battle (5:27-29). Isaiah observes of them, “Even the light is darkened by its clouds” (5:30).
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: email@example.com
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