Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 20, 2012

A Song with a Zing

Songs are used for many purposes. There are love songs, worship songs even political protest songs. Isaiah who I think we could call the “singing prophet” composed an unusual song here. Once you have listened to the whole song you realize it is not what you first expected.

It has been called a Trojan horse song because it seems like it will be a love song between God and His people. Isaiah uses this song in much the same way the Greeks destroyed the city of Troy. The Greeks built a wooden horse and presented it as a gift. The soldiers were hidden inside the wooden horse. They gained entrance into the city and Troy was defeated and burned.

Isaiah gets the attention of God’s people with this song. The people listened to the song and loved the song. There is a problem that they don’t really find out about until the end of the song. They themselves are the scoundrel referred to in this song.

Isaiah is preaching a strong message of rebuke. Instead of a fiery sermon Isaiah uses an easy listening song to get the message to them.

There are many ways to communicate God’s truth. There is drama, video and song among other ways. If Isaiah had gone in shouting judgment this message may have never hammered home like it did here getting behind the city walls of the minds of the Israelites with the gift of this song and then releasing the hidden message of judgment.

Isaiah 5:1-7
I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
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?
5 Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
6 I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty
is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Isaiah begins his song with God’s provision. It may have been the harvest festival when he introduced this song. He spoke of his “loved one” or friend who had a vineyard. This friend the people would soon find out is God. The vineyard is God’s people.

God the owner spared no expense in His care and provision for Israel the vineyard. The fertile hillsides were the best for the vineyard where they could get the right sun with good rich soil and proper drainage.

God himself had give Israel a chosen land. It was the ideal location at an int ernational crossroads. In this location all who passed through could see the distinct people God set apart.

The owner of the vineyard cleared the stones. The Palestine fields were laden with stones. There was a rabbinical legend that an angel spilled a bag of stones on Palestine. God prepared Palestine for His people and gave them victory over their inhabitants.

The vineyard owner planted the best vines. He chose a particular vine that could produce the sweetest grapes. He put up a wall and a watchtower to protect the vineyard. There would be a guard placed in the watchtower to protect the fruit when it was ready for harvest. The owner even hewed out a wine vat.

If you purchased a costly field with the best soil and conditions for grape harvest and worked to prepare the soil and removed all the stones from the field then planted the best vines protected the crops and protected everything for harvest you would expect to harvest the best fruit.

God gave Israel the finest loving care. His hope was to see the fruit of justice and righteousness in his people.

As believers in Jesus Christ we are God’s vineyard. We have the best and far surpassing what was prepared for Israel. We have salvation made available. Mercy has been given to us and the presence and potential fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

There is an expectation to produce the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy peace patience, goodness, gentleness and self control.

They rejected God’s provision. Rather than the fruit of righteousness only bitter fruit was produced. It is not the harvest that would be expected. There was an orange tree in south Texas that produced sour fruit. The owner just used the fruit for target practice with their gun. What use was the bad fruit to the owner?

The owner did everything to produce good fruit. What went wrong? The vines were bad.

Now Isaiah is going to identify the parties of this song. The beloved owner is God. The vineyard are the people of Judah. The people failed to meet the expectations of God. Isaiah uses a play on words in this song. Instead of justice there is bloodshed. Instead of righteousness there is a cry. There is only one letter difference in these words in the Hebrew. But the meanings are worlds apart.

The expected harvest was justice and righteousness. Instead of this there was bloodshed and cries of distress from those oppressed. Mistreatment of their fellow man with violence and oppression were the norms in Isaiah’s day.

There was a servant why had a huge debt he cannot pay. He begged for mercy and the debt was forgiven. This forgiven servant also had someone in debt to him for a small amount. He showed no mercy.
Matthew 18:23-35

Those who have been forgiven much in Jesus Christ, who have been shown untold mercy through the cross and forgiveness of sins by repentance and faith Christ should show mercy to others. Followers of Christ are expected to show fruits of righteousness.

Now for the harsh part of the message that Isaiah had prepared them with a song to hear. There are consequences for rejecting God’s provision.
Isaiah must have felt here approaching Israel with their sin much like Nathan felt in approaching King David about his sin with Bathsheba. Nathan told David the story of a Rich man with many sheep took one and only ewe from a poor servant. The rich took the lamb of the poor to prepare a meal. The sword would not depart from David’s house.  2 Samuel 12:1-12

The only appropriate result for worthless vines is judgment. Isaiah puts a question to the people. What more could have been done? They must have cried out for their own judgment. As long as it is day it is never too late to turn back to God.

The wall of protection in the vineyard is coming down. Anyone could come in now and ravage and trample the vineyard. Without care the vines go wild and the weeds choke it out. God’s judgment is to give them over to their own desires and lusts and leave them to destroy themselves.

Instead of uprooting the vineyard the owner will no longer care for it. A neglected vineyard will be destroyed by the neglect. The wrath of God can come to the wayward who is simply left to destroy themselves in their own desires. The sinner wrecks their own life.

God withdrew his presence from his wayward people. In 1 Samuel 4:21 the child of the priest is named Ichabod because, “The glory of the Lord departed from Israel.”

We should not think as children of God that when we harden our hearts toward God it is no big deal. We are left to destroy ourselves in our own desires and sins. What is there that God has not done for you?

When God looks at you does He see the fruit of righteousness in your life? If not you need to turn back to God. That was Isaiah’s message in a song.

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