Monday, June 16, 2014

A song about God's Vineyard

Read Isaiah 5.

Not all the songs of the Bible are in the book of Psalms.  Here is one from Isaiah.  The introduction compares Israel to a vineyard.  The owner planted it, cultivated it, protected it, and prepared for the day when he would enjoy its fruit.  But instead, the product was disappointing and unusable.

We are not left in doubt as to its meaning.  God is the owner and caretaker.  The vineyard is Israel and Judah (v.7).  Because they rejected and despised God's word (v.24), they people turned to their own way.  Their sin had multiplied to the point where God decided to no longer cultivate them as His people.  He would let them go as an untended vineyard.  Not only that, He would remove all protection of them.

In a series of six "woes", God's plan of judgment is revealed.  Some of the people died in the process.  Most experienced exile.  Surrounding nations such as Egypt, Syria and then Babylon were used by God to put increasing pressure upon them until finally the kingdom fell.

What was the root problem and what was God's purpose?
1. The root problem was pride. (v.15)
When a person says, "It is my life and I will live it in the way I want to.  I do not need the LORD telling me what to do," the pain and brokenness are sure to follow.  Indeed, in verse 19 they even dared God to do something about it.  "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6)

2. The purpose was that He would be exalted. (v.16)
He is lifted up when His word is obeyed and His character is reflected in personal behaviors.
-He is a God of justice.  But the nation had turned justice into bloodshed. (v.7)
-He is a God of holiness.  But the nation had turned aside to sinful "filth". (4:4)
-He is a God of righteousness.  But it is impossible to do what is right before God if one rejects His word.

The LORD wants us to learn and shape our character to be like Him in a sinful world.  "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16)

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