Read Isaiah 5
The Song of the Vineyard
5 I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 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.
3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 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?
5 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.
6 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.”
7 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
8 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.
9 The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.
10 A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath[a] of wine;
a homer[b] of seed will yield only an ephah[c] of grain.”
11 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.
12 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.
13 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.
14 Therefore Death expands its jaws,
opening wide its mouth;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
with all their brawlers and revelers.
15 So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled,
the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
16 But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
17 Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture;
lambs will feed[d] among the ruins of the rich.
18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
and wickedness as with cart ropes,
19 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.”
20 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.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.
22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
and champions at mixing drinks,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.
24 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.
25 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.
26 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!
27 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.
28 Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses’ hooves seem like flint,
their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
29 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.
30 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.
The New English Translation of the Bible subdivides this chapter with the headings of “A Love Song Gone Sour” (v. 1-7) and “Disaster is Coming” (v. 8-30). These befitting titles nicely outline the chapter. Isaiah 5:1-7 describes a metaphorical love song. The prophet, Isaiah, taking on the role as best man, composes a love song for his friend on the occasion of his wedding. The vineyard is Israel (the bride), and the owner/lover/bridegroom of the vineyard is God. Israel is expected to bear good fruit and uphold justice, but instead produces “bad fruit” (v. 2). Specifically, God, through Isaiah, condemns the Israelites for exploiting others (v. 8-10), drunkenness (v. 11-12, 22), taking pride in sin (v. 18-19), mocking moral standards (v. 20), pride/conceit (v. 21), and perverting justice (v. 22-24). Isaiah prophesizes that judgment, in the form of destruction by one of Israel’s enemies, is coming. No longer would God protect Israel from its adversaries. In 587 B.C, over 150 years after Isaiah’s prophecy, Babylon invades Jerusalem, and destroys Solomon’s temple. Tradition holds that because of his harsh prophecy, Isaiah was eventually martyred.
The Israelites in the day of Isaiah neither glorified nor enjoyed God. Instead, God accuses them of many things, including exploitation of the poor by the unjust accumulation of land (v. 8). God does not condemn real estate endeavors per se, but he does condemn the way in which the rich bureaucrats accumulated property. The Israelites forgot that the land belongs to God. As punishment, their palatial vineyards would eventually be destroyed, and farm animals allowed to graze amongst the ruins. The nation would be transformed from an affluent agricultural society into a thoroughly pastoral one.
In verses 11-12, we see God condemning drunkenness. God does not categorically condemn the consumption of alcohol (after all, in John 2:1-11, Jesus turns water into wine), but the depravity of Israel is evident by early morning drinking, a mark of debauchery. Later in the text, Isaiah states, “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks.” (v. 22). Further evidence of Israel’s depravity is evidenced when they mock the Holy One of Israel (v. 19), “call evil good and good evil” (v. 20), and equate darkness to light and light to darkness (v. 20). In Ecclesiastes 1:9, we read that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Although the book of Isaiah was written over 2,500 years ago, the warnings of Isaiah are as relevant today as they were to the people to whom the book was first written.
Isaiah promises that “the grave” (v. 14) would be the end result of God’s judgment. The Hebrew word translated “grave” is Sheol and is the place of the dead, or more precisely, the place of the unrighteous dead. The word has the sense of a serious engagement with the reality of death, mortality, and the way one’s life impacts one’s destiny.
- What wickedness do you see playing out still today that Isaiah warned against?
- What does it mean to glorify and enjoy God?
- What does this passage teach you about the character of God? What does it teach you about humanity?
By the Way
The concept of bearing fruit appears multiple times throughout scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 7:19-20 that the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced. Galatians 5:22-23 discusses “fruits of the Spirit”.
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6 thoughts on “Isaiah 5”
As I picked up my copy of scripture and began to read Isaiah 5 this morning, a wave of awe came over me of what a privilege it is to be instructed by God’s word. That it is “alive and active, sharper than any two edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Our perfectly holy God loves us too much to leave us to our own demise. Through Isaiah we see that he confronts sin and offers comfort and hope afterwards. God’s word is the standard and clearly provides the moral code we must choose to live by. What a miracle that he takes away our sin and replaces it with purpose and an invitation to join him in building his kingdom here on earth!
God had a plan of having a beautiful vineyard, He prepared it perfectly. But He chooses to let His people have freedom of choice to want to desire to follow Him and to choose Him over the world and things of this world, but they do not so His vineyard sows bad grapes. Be careful with the things of the world because you reap what you sow. God wants the best for us hence Jesus, but there will come a time again that His woe will be in full force.
Thank You God how You have made the way for me to be Your child in such a time as this. Thank You for continuing to help me with my obedience in following You to do Your will. Thank You for working and my seeing you in my life in such a consistent manner that I literally am knowing it Thank You for the BUT GOD moments to give You all glory and honor in Jesus name
Thank you Amy for sharing your heart today. I am reminded of the call to have mercy on all people, uphold the weak, and seek justice. I am also reminded of the parable of the sower and the seed. We may toil under the sun in our own efforts to sow seeds of righteousness and tell others about God but the seed will only take root and bear good fruit in a heart that is prepared and open to the Lord’s leading. Keep loving others with your momma hugs and prayer. Your field is full of fruit and it is a beautiful thing g to learn from you the humility and peace in obedience to Jesus.
In Isaiah 5, God’s people are compared to a soon to be destroyed vineyard, who, despite His effort, attention, & care, have yielded wild grapes. His people have gone their own way, chosen the things of this world above the things of God, & are full of unrighteousness & sin.
In John 15, we get another description of a vineyard, but this time God’s people who abide in Him are attached to the Vine Himself & bear much fruit.
The people aren’t different in these 2 vineyard descriptions. We’re just as sinful as the people described in Isaiah 5 (many of us struggling with the exact same things the Israelites struggled with)… AND YET, we get a different ending. Instead of destruction, we get to bear fruit that lasts.
The difference isn’t us, it’s Jesus. He redeems our barrenness & restores our broken branches & gives us another chance to bear fruit by abiding in Him.
Praising God for this truth today & asking Him to continue to make His home in me. I want to bear good fruit, but I know I can’t do it without Him. On my own I will only reap wild grapes, like we see in Isaiah 5. May we stay attached to the Vine & remain in His love today, so we can bear good fruit that lasts. God help us- we can’t do it without you!
What a great thought, Kathy. I love this!
“Oh Lord, that you would redeem our barrenness and restore our broken branches!”