6/03/2015

What More Could God Have Done (Isaiah 5:1-7)

Isaiah 5:1-7, 1, 4 (1-7, 8-25, 26-30) [Reading of Isaiah 5:1-7 with pictures - 1 min)]

"I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside." "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?" (Isa 5:1, 4, 7).

Outline (5:1-30):
  1. The Song (1-7): Love and grace.
  2. The Woes (8-25): Laments of sorrow.
  3. The Judgment (26-30): Defeat and darkness.
I will sing for the one I love (1). "I" is Isaiah. "The one I love" or "my beloved" (ESV) is God (1a). Isaiah had an intimate relationship with God. The prophets, including Isaiah, are touched by the pathos of God. God is passionate for his people. He is jealous for them. Yet they seemed determined to have their own way at all costs. It is like Isaiah is entering into the heart of God, feeling the very heart of God as God looks at his vineyard (1b).

Judah is good only for growing grapes (2). The land is only good for vineyards, while Israel had some land that was good for wheat and barley and pasture. Isaiah's audience would have immediately resonated with vineyard. It would be 3 years before you received your first crop. The first 2 years was mainly for clearing the land, especially clearing the rocks. Then they build watchtowers or people will steal your grapes (2a). After all that work the grapes are bitter (2b).

Worthless Christianity: God's grace that accepts us, but not transform us. Why does Paul urge us not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor 6:1)? Because God’s grace not only accepts us, it also transforms us. But if all we want out of God is acceptance without transformation, we are receiving his grace in vain and our Christianity is worthless.

The power of grace is not automatic. Each of us lives out of our own inner  world that is shaped by our personalities, culture, upbringing and experiences. These may be obstacles to God which may be formidable. Our intuitive ways of thinking, the tilt of our very desires — these powerful internal structures can hinder the advance of God. Isaiah 5 helps us by identifying six ways we resist God’s grace.

A Vineyard Song of Love and Rejection. The function of this song (5:1-7) reminds the reader of the function of Nathan's parable about the poor man who had only one lamb and the rich man who had many (2 Sam 12:1-10). Both stories aim to trap the unsuspecting listeners who do not expect the final shocking application of the story (Isa 5:7; 2 Sam 12:7). The song presents evidence against the vineyard and requests a judgment.
  1. Tender care (1-2).
  2. Decision requested (3-4).
  3. Destruction planned (5-6).
  4. Identification revealed (7).
Meaning hidden initially. The people mentioned in this parable are initially and purposely disguised so that the audience does not recognize the singer's ploy until the end of the song. Isaiah was probably trying to hide the full import of his words from his listeners at the beginning of his song (Isa 5:1-2). He wanted them to agree with his anger at the vineyard (Isa 5:3-6) before they perceived the full application of his final indictment in Isa 5:7.

Entirely by grace. This song reminded the listener that God is the lover who poured out his love for his special vineyard (Isa 5:2). The vineyard was specially created, planted, and continually cared for entirely by God's grace. People deserve no credit for their election or their privileged status, for it happened totally by grace.

Expecting good fruit. Once God chooses a people, he tenderly cares for and protects them. He patiently waits for his people to produce good fruit in their lives (Isa 5:2b, 4b, 7b). God views all fruit as either rotten or good according to his standards--not ours (Mt 7:15-23). God's protection and care may be withdrawn from those who fail to produce godly fruit (Jn 15:1-7). God is especially severe on privileged people who mistreat others through injustice.

Evaluate the fruit of your own life. Jesus uses a somewhat similar parable of the vineyard (Mk 12:1-9) to indict those who were supposed to take care of God's vineyard. People who are true to God produce good fruit, walk in the ways of justice, exalt God alone (Isa 2:11, 17; 5:16) and honor God's Son.