Read Isaiah 5.
This chapter has warnings of things for us to avoid. Verse 1 states: Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. God was planting a vineyard.
Verse 2: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. (1) God fenced it in and kept a watch over it lest anything hurt it. (2) He gathered stones out of it for a good field. (3)Then he planted the best vine, symbolizing a pure religion. He executed the law and ordinances of God. The laws are for our own benefit. He is not angry with us. (4) The tower was built in the midst to protect against any violence that could become it. (5) The winepress was the altar for the sacrifice of the vineyard grapes. Yet, after all this, it still brought wild grapes. God wants a good product, not wild grapes. He wants us to be a branch connected to the Vine to bring forth fruit.
In verse 4 God asked: What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? Israel kept getting farther and farther away. And in verses 5 and 6 he said: And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. God removed the hedge and the enemy could get in. God allowed his beloved Israel to be taken by an ungodly nation. Is this harsh? He’d done all he could but the hope was for the end result that Israel would come back to God. We don’t know what God is doing today, but can we not hope for the same result?
Five sins were instrumental in leading Israel to their captivity. They are prevalent today and leading people to judgment. If we don’t respond in the U.S. we are headed to judgment. (1) We see covetousness in verses 8-10: Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. Woe to those who set their happiness in the world and wealth. This world cannot satisfy a person. Riches will not satisfy. Apart from Jesus Christ there is no true happiness. They now would plant 10 acres and only got a harvest that meant the land was worthless. We take it for granted that we can go to the grocery store and get what we want. If God doesn’t send rain and sun, there would be nothing to feed us; the pigs and chickens would have no food. We’d starve. God made the land barren because of three things. (a) Live to get. It was “get all you can” but give nothing back. This is a violation of the tenth commandment. If not careful we’ll covet what our neighbor has. Be content with what you have. Be satisfied. (b) Their only attempts were to improve their culture, their education and their appearance. There is nothing wrong with these, but some will do anything for it, for popularity and fame. (c ) The “live to serve” must be done for us to be Christ-like. We are to be servants of the living God. Covetousness led Judas to betray Jesus that ended up with him hanging himself. No doubt he’s in hell. It caused Acan to steal the spoils. It caused Gehazi to lie as well as Ananias and Sapphira. David’s family suffered for all generations. He repented but judgment never left his house. Covetousness can be cured through the power of Christ. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who coveted all he could get. He met Jesus in Jericho as he made his final journey to Jerusalem. After meeting Jesus he promised to give back fourfold restoration for what he took falsely. Are you covetous or self-serving? Do you seek only what pleases you or what pleases the Lord?
(2) We see pleasure seeking in verses 11-12: Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. They thought of nothing but a good time. Actions of pleasure were a way of life. There is nothing wrong with having a good time. I enjoy life. I have fun. God has blessed us with good health to enjoy life. If all or our interest is in having a good time, it is wrong. That has brought the decline of empires. It undermines the home. Don’t bring your kid to church and only let others teach your children. Do it at home too. The need for this lifestyle brought higher and higher taxes. A few working people can’t take care of a nation. They collapsed. Where are we headed? We see people paid not to work. We see a mad craze for pleasure and sports. More and more. This brings a decay of religion. People are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Having fun is not to dominate our life; our service for God is.
(3) In verses 18-19 we see presumption. Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! They chose a culture bound to their sins. If I was going down the road carrying a heavy load and you came by with a pickup and offered to carry the load, I’d let you. Why should I continue to carry it? In the story of Pilgrim’s Progress we see one man’s journey to glory. Christian carried a load. He found the cross and the load rolled off his back. Why carry a load? Cast it on Jesus and leave it there. He cares for us.
(4) In verse 20 we see evil distraction. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! There was the attempt to destroy God’s right and wrong in regard to man’s values. If God says it’s right, it’s right. If he says it’s wrong, it’s wrong. And if he says it’s wrong, there is no need to pray about it. In the 70’s there was a song with lyrics that said “it can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” In other words, if I want to do it, I will do it. We’re told to leave things like abortion and homasexuality out of our messages because they are political, but God’s Word says they are a sin. You can twist the Bible to say what you want, but that doesn’t alter it. They took bitter as sweet and dark for light.
(5) We see pride in verse 21. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! The Bible says pride goeth before a fall. God hates the sin of pride. It will keep you from the Lord. Some think they can make it on their own. I hear “me and God have got it all worked out.” Do you? Some say “I’ve had it so bad on earth, surely I won’t go to hell.” That’s not how it works. You must be saved. God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to take Israel into captivity. Concerning his kingdom he said in Daniel 4: Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? In his pride he said “I did it.” It was his power, his majesty. For this sin God drove him into the field. He ate grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. Pride will be judged by God. After all this the king praised God whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. Pride keeps many from God.
All these led to captivity. What more could God do but let an enemy overtake them? We can easily fall into these. Pray that God will open our eyes and keep us from these sins.