Monday, April 26, 2010

Isaiah 5

There is so much in this text that I think I’ll take it in two parts, Verses 1 – 7 today and the balance of the text tomorrow.

Isaiah 5: 1&2
1 Now I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a rich and fertile hill.
2 He plowed the land, cleared its stones,
and planted it with the best vines.
In the middle he built a watchtower
and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks.
Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes,
but the grapes that grew were bitter.

Throughout Scripture the “Vineyard” is used many times in teaching. In the New Testament we are encouraged to remain “in the Vine” and to produce good fruit, and pressed even further to produce much or abundant fruit.

John 15:5 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Here in Isaiah the Vineyard story goes sour. The vineyard Owner spends much time preparing the way for the vines, clears the stones, selects the choices of vines to plant his vineyard, fences it in, places a watch tower in the middle to keep the wildlife out that might try to come and rob the fruit as it grows. But something strange happens, how do choice vines planted in the riches of soil become “wild (sour) grapes”?

Isaiah 5:5-7
5 Now let me tell you
what I will do to my vineyard:
I will tear down its hedges
and let it be destroyed.
I will break down its walls
and let the animals trample it.
6 I will make it a wild place
where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed,
a place overgrown with briers and thorns.
I will command the clouds
to drop no rain on it.
7 The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
The people of Judah are his pleasant garden.
He expected a crop of justice,
but instead he found oppression.
He expected to find righteousness,
but instead he heard cries of violence.

"O you that profess to be his people, what more could Christ have done for you? What more could the Holy Spirit have done? What richer promises, what wiser precepts, what kinder providences, what more gracious patience?" Has it been so with us? Have we rewarded the Well beloved thus ungratefully for all his pains? Have we given him hardness of heart, instead of repentance; unbelief, instead of faith; indifference, instead of love; idleness, instead of holy industry; impurity, instead of holiness?" (Spurgeon)

The grapes in Isaiah’s prophecy are the people of Israel who resisted the hand of the God. They chose their own way over His, they chose rebellion and idols over the love and protection of God Most High. When God created us He gave us hearts that could make choices, and minds that could reason because He wanted a people who chose to love Him, chose to obey Him. He didn’t create robots. Though He gave them the best that He had to offer, God eventually gave them what they wanted; to be set free to do as they will, and in that freedom the selfish heart lost its original beauty, and its luster and fragrance He had given it. The wild (sour) grapes that they became were pungent and foul before Him. And seemingly once again the garden/vineyard He created would in essence be shut down.

Throughout Scripture God provides an environment to have a relationship with His people, and time and time again we muck it up.
• The Garden of Eden; shut down and locked up, Adam and Eve cast out.
• The world He created then populated, turns to evil and not to the God who gave them life, Noah and his family are ushered into an ark along with two of every kind of animal, the rest, lives are taken in a flood.
• He travels day and night with the people of Israel in a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, eventually instructs them to build a temple so He can dwell with them forever, and once again the relationship is cast aside for SELF, and God takes His Cherubim and heads back to His throne in heaven.
• He comes in the form of a baby, grows to become a man who would walk among us, give His best in the way of miraculously healing the sick, feed the hungry, teaching the Truths of His Father, and He would be despised and rejected, hung on a cross by the ones He came to save.
• Over and over He pursues us for relationship, offers us Himself, the best of the best. The choices of intimacies, and continually the ones He created reject Him.

He is willing to prepare the soil (our heart), to plant the choicest of vines there, (the salvation gift of Christ) to place a watchtower in the very heart of us (the Holy Spirit) and prune us so that we produce abundant fruit. (Sanctification). What will become of our vineyard? Will it produce good and abundant fruit? Or will we muck it up with our rejection of the Master over the vineyard?

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