Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 8

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah 
Day 8

Isaiah's song yesterday was a parable about a man who lovingly planted and tended a vineyard but it yielded only bad grapes. After singing the song, Isaiah revealed that the vineyard symbolized the nation of Israel and the plants were the nation of Judah. Now that the people know the song is about them, Isaiah makes a list of their bad behaviors and the discipline that is going to result from them.

"Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field til no space is left and you live alone in the land." (Isaiah 5:8) The more they got, the more they wanted. I don't think the Lord is telling us it's wrong to own property but in this case the people were greedy and covetous. In the book of Isaiah the Lord has already stated that the poor were being oppressed. The cases of the widow and the orphan weren't being heard because the rulers took bribes from the wealthy. A lot of this land was probably gained by dishonest means.

"The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: 'Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine; a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.'" (Isaiah 5:9-10) The land is going to be unproductive. Their labor will go to waste. Because they have been an unfruitful vineyard for the Lord, He will make their vineyards unfruitful.

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night until they are inflamed with wine." (Isaiah 5:11) The people no longer know how to do anything in moderation. All their habits are excessive. They start drinking as soon as they get up in the morning and continue til they fall asleep sometime in the night.

"They have harps and lyres at their banquets, pipes and timbrels and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of His hands." (Isaiah 5:12) They like a good party. At night they sing and carouse as they celebrate the work of their own hands. I picture the men bragging about shady business deals, laughing and slapping each other on the back. I picture the women just as Isaiah described them a few days ago, decked out in the finest that money can buy, "flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips". (Isaiah 3:16) They are using their sex appeal to urge their husbands on to even more dishonest exploits, while at the same time making eyes at the other men in the room. 

Because of all these things, the Lord has decided what to do. Like the vineyard owner of yesterday's passage, He is going to stop tending these vines. "Therefore My people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched of thirst." (Isaiah 5:13) These are siege conditions. The Assyrians will lay siege to Samaria, the capitol city of the northern kingdom of Israel, for three years. The Babylonians will lay siege to Jerusalem, the capitol city of the southern kingdom of Judah, for ten months. The sole purpose of siege is that the people become so hungry and thirsty they surrender. Why batter walls down and engage in hand-to-hand combat, suffering the loss of lives, if you can simply starve people to the point of surrender?

Despite being told by the prophets to surrender and live, the kings of Israel and Judah hold out against their enemies. The nobles and officials of the land refuse to bow to anyone, not even God Himself. "Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers. So people will be brought low, and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled." (Isaiah 5:14-15) Some versions of the Bible translate the word "death" here as "hell", but the accurate translation is "death" because the original word is the Hebrew "sheol" which simply means the abode of the dead. The Lord is predicting much death will result when the enemies of Israel and Judah come against them. Death will come to those who have made wealth their gods, who brag without shame of how they cheated the poor widow, who heap up treasures for themselves at the expense of those they wronged. The Lord Jesus spoke against this type of greed and said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) If our heart is in heaven with our Lord, we are free to enjoy any material blessings He gives us. We can enjoy them in the right way because God is the Lord of our lives, not our money or possessions. But when we refuse to give our hearts to the Lord, no amount of worldly goods will satisfy us. Our greed can never be filled up. We have a hole in our hearts that was meant for God but if we reject Him we will find ourselves falling into many obsessions and addictions. We will be overcome by covetousness and will do anything we have to do in order to get more earthly treasure.

The prideful will be brought low, "But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by His justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by His righteous acts. Then sheep will graze in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich." (Isaiah 5:16-17) The Lord wouldn't be holy if He didn't judge right from wrong. His righteous character is proven by His judgment. 

We can bow voluntarily at the feet of our Maker and Reedemer. We can willingly humble ourselves before an almighty Creator who loves us. Or we can be made to bow. "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'" (Romans 14:11) It's because of His great love that He urges us to surrender all to Him. He knows we need someone bigger than us to count on. He knows we need a Redeemer to make us right, a Helper to instruct us, and a Father to protect us. God loves us. God wants what's best for us. And what's best for us is Him.

Here is our worship song link for today.

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