Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, 20 May Edition

(Posted early again, because who knows whether I get around to sitting down here tomorrow, or not?)

Isaiah chapter 5 (first seventeen verses):
Let me sing a song for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
And He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it,
And He hewed a wine vat in it;
The He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.

"And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. And I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it."

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress. Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, until there is no more room, so that you have to live alone in the midst of the land! In my ears the Lord of hosts has sworn, "Surely, many houses shall become desolate, even great and fine ones, without occupants. For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine, and a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain." Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may pursue strong drink; who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! And their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of His hands.

Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst. Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; and Jerusalem's splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry, and the jubilant within her, descend into it. So the common man will be humbled, and the man of importance abased, the eyes of the proud will also be abased. But the Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture, and strangers will eat in the waste places of the wealthy.
Again, the plain sense of this passage (and the book of Isaiah in general) is that it concerns the apostasy of ancient Israel and the desolation to which it leads, and also the mercy of God and His ultimate redemption of His rebelling people. But, once again, while "the plain sense is the main sense," some generalization is legitimate, I think. There's nothing unique about the corruption of Israel. When and where have people ever been consistently obedient to God? The answer seems easy: never and nowhere. God says here, through the prophet, that the people of Judah are, collectively, His "delightful plant," set up in a wonderful vineyard and lacking nothing. But wasn't Adam the original such plant, and do not all people share in that common heritage of Adam's disobedience? The spoiled vineyard is ancient Israel, and it's also every land that is or ever was, definitely including my home. The worthless vine is the people of Judah; but it's also me, and you, and every other person who's ever drawn breath, except One.

The book of Job isn't ordinarily the first place one might turn for words of comfort. But in this case, let's turn to Job 19:25-27, and sing along with that afflicted man:
"And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand upon the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh shall I see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and Whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within me."
Yes, indeed.

Click here for other Words for Wednesday.


Rebecca said...


My heart cry as well!!! And Job is a really great place to find comfort, I think. ;) 2 Cor. 1:4

Great post.

Jim Wetzel said...

Thank you so much, Rebecca! It's good to "hear" from you. I'll now go and read yours, before the lunch break expires.