11/19/2010

What More Could God Do? (Isaiah 5)

Isaiah chapter 1-5, the introduction to Isaiah, contain pronouncements of judgment and hope, where God mainly confronts Judah's sins and guilt (Isa. 1:1-31; 2:6-4:1), and gives her hope (Isa. 2:1-5; 4:2-6). Isaiah 5:1-30 concludes the introduction by condemning Judah with an unsparing assertion of her sins along with the devastating consequences. By comparing God's people to a vineyard which God tenderly cultivated (Isa. 5:1-7), God could not but lament in Isa. 5:4, "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?"

Isaiah 5:1-7 (What More Could God do)
God loves his vineyard dearly (Isa. 5:1), doing all he can to to make it bountiful and fruitful, yet the result was dismal (Isa. 5:2-4). As a result, God could not but decree desolation upon it (Isa. 5:5,6).

Isaiah 5:8-30 (6 Woes and 4 "Therefores")
This section translates the metaphorical "wild grapes" (Isa. 5:2,4) into literal realities. The 6 "woes" lament the bitter fruits of Israel's character, and the 4 "therefores" anticipate the inescapable consequences. They are:

  • 1st "woe" condemns greed, those who "add house to house and join field to field" (Isa. 5:8).
  • 2nd "woe" condemns drunkenness, those who "run after their drinks"  (Isa. 5:11).
  • 3rd "woe" condemns those who mock and defy God as they sin (Isa. 5:18).
  • 4th "woe" condemns moral corruption, "those who call evil good and good evil" (Isa. 5:20), whose perspective are the opposite of God's true perspective.
  • 5th "woe" condemns pride and self-righteousness, "those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight" (Isa. 5:21).
  • 6th "woe" condemns those who pervert justice, "who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent" (Isa. 5:22,23).
  • 1st "therefore" promises exile (Isa. 5:13).
  • 2nd "therefore" is "Sheol" - the grave - which portrays death as a terrible beast (Isa. 5:14) that devours anyone without regard to social class, both "those of high rank" and "the common people" (Isa. 5:13).
  • 3rd & 4th "therefore" (Isa. 5:24,25) announces God's action in sending a mighty army against Judah to conquer and leave the land in darkness and distress (Isa. 5:24-30)

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