Today covers a parable of a vineyard and God's response to the vineyard, which is Israel.
Isaiah Chapter 5
Wild and Tame Fruit
If you see a vineyard, the grape vines are encouraged to grow upward to a rope or support beam. Then the branches spread out along the support to bear fruit. Wild fruit, on the other hand, has to support itself and grows however it is able. It is unruly and sprawled about every which a way.
God is the true vine. He gives us the means to grow upwards unto a sturdy support where we can bear fruit and spread our wings. But so many people, the Israelites of Isaiah's time included, reject God's way and try to grow however they please. The result is wild fruit.
If I want to be healthy, grounded, and well-supported, I need to stay on God's structure.
Evil to Do Good?
You've heard the expression, two wrongs won't make a right. This is absolutely true. So, what do we make of the end of this chapter, where God says He will strengthen an invading army to destroy His people?
This portion of Scripture is one of the many examples where God uses an ungodly king to do His will. I Kings 17:1-23 describes God using the king of Assyria to come and take captive Samaria because of their sins. God is not endorsing the actions of these kings on a moral level. Instead, He is allowing these kings to commit evil acts against His people as a form of punishment. When they have fulfilled their purpose, God will punish them for their own sins.
As Jesus Himself said,
God raises up kings, gives them strength, power, and military might, but what they do with it is their responsibility. God will require at their hand the consequences of their choices.
Let me repeat, God is not endorsing the actions of evil kings. As we will read later on in Isaiah, He punishes each of these kingdoms that destroys Israel.
God has this wonderful ability to take what is sinful, wickedness, and down right evil and find someway to turn it around to create a good. Consider the story of Joseph.
Joseph was thrown in a hole in the desert by his brothers, sold into slavery, but in the end elevated to second in command of Egypt where he was able to save countless lives through his preparations for the great famine. He later told his brothers, "ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Gen 50:20).
So we find that God has and will use the evil intent of invading armies to perform the good task of purging Israel from sin and refining Israel to those who have faith in God. Plainly put, people seek God in times of trouble. The farther you are from Him, the bigger the trouble has to be before you turn to Him.
May we never get so far from God that we have to be invaded and squashed as a country before we seek Him.
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Verse by Verse Commentary
1-2 Isaiah tells us a story between God and Israel. Israel is the beloved of God, yet instead of bringing forth good fruit, it brought forth wild fruit.
3-4 God did everything He could to give Israel what it needed to thrive and to do good, but they squandered that opportunity and brought forth wild grapes.
6-13 God explains His judgment against Israel and why He is judging them.
14 God does not want anyone to go to hell. He designed it for Satan and the rebellious angels (Mt 25:41), so every time a human soul is sent to hell, He has to enlarge it.
15-17 In contrast to man's haughtiness causing him to be humbled, God will be exalted because of His judgments and righteousness. When God is exalted, everything is in order and the lambs and strangers are provided for.
18-20 God pronounces "woe" unto those who seek wickedness. This includes people who teach wicked deeds or sins as if those deeds were good; in other words, false teachers.
21 The woes are expanded to those who are prideful.
22-23 Not only is drunkenness condemned but also the twisted logic of such people who justify their actions in their own sight. On example would be those who rationalize why they need an illegal pill to alleviate their pain. These people find a reason why they need it or why the action really isn't that bad.
24 God will judge the wicked because they have turned away from the law of God and have chosen to do evil. He will uproot them, and they will be destroyed quickly. Compare to Jesus' parable of the two builders (7:24-27). Those who do wickedly may think they are on solid ground, but, when tested, they crumble under the truth and presence of God.
25-30 Because of the choices of the wicked, God will send his anger against them in the form of an invading army. God Himself will strengthen the army to fulfill His purpose of judgment.
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