Rev. Neil Wehmas, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ida Grove, Iowa, joins host Rev. AJ Espinosa to study Isaiah 5.
It begins as a beautiful love song fit for a vineyard wedding reception, but it quickly turns into an accusation fit for Good Friday: “When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?” Israel had been unfaithful to her God, and the bloodshed of injustice flowed like wine.
The sung prophetic poem of Isaiah 5 is different from the previous prophecy, but it seems to be set in a similar time, around the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz or even during the reign of Uzziah. During this time, wealth and idolatry blinded the people to God as the true source of all goodness, so Isaiah here predicts the Assyrian invasion and the exile of the northern tribes. It seems like the Exodus is reversed, with God summoning the armies of Pharaoh instead of fighting against them. As we repent for the same kinds of sins, we can only look to Jesus, who took God’s accusations on Himself on Good Friday that our bloodshed might be forgiven.
Thy Strong Word is a daily in-depth study of the books of the Bible with host Rev. AJ Espinosa and guest pastors from across the country. Thy Strong Word is graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and produced by the LCMS Office of National Mission.
The Vineyard of the Lord Destroyed
5 Let me sing for my beloved
my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more was there to do for my vineyard,
that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?
5 And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;[a]
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and briers and thorns shall grow up;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;[b]
but behold, an outcry![c]
Woe to the Wicked
8 Woe to those who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is no more room,
and you are made to dwell alone
in the midst of the land.
9 The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing:
“Surely many houses shall be desolate,
large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.
10 For ten acres[d] of vineyard shall yield but one bath,
and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.”[e]
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
as wine inflames them!
12 They have lyre and harp,
tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord,
or see the work of his hands.
13 Therefore my people go into exile
for lack of knowledge;[f]
their honored men go hungry,[g]
and their multitude is parched with thirst.
14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite
and opened its mouth beyond measure,
and the nobility of Jerusalem[h] and her multitude will go down,
her revelers and he who exults in her.
15 Man is humbled, and each one is brought low,
and the eyes of the haughty[i] are brought low.
16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted[j] in justice,
and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture,
and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich.
18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
who draw sin as with cart ropes,
19 who say: “Let him be quick,
let him speed his work
that we may see it;
let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
and let it come, that we may know it!”
20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!
24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,
and the mountains quaked;
and their corpses were as refuse
in the midst of the streets.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
26 He will raise a signal for nations far away,
and whistle for them from the ends of the earth;
and behold, quickly, speedily they come!
27 None is weary, none stumbles,
none slumbers or sleeps,
not a waistband is loose,
not a sandal strap broken;
28 their arrows are sharp,
all their bows bent,
their horses’ hoofs seem like flint,
and their wheels like the whirlwind.
29 Their roaring is like a lion,
like young lions they roar;
they growl and seize their prey;
they carry it off, and none can rescue.
30 They will growl over it on that day,
like the growling of the sea.
And if one looks to the land,
behold, darkness and distress;
and the light is darkened by its clouds.
- Isaiah 5:5 Or grazed over; compare Exodus 22:5
- Isaiah 5:7 The Hebrew words for justice and bloodshed sound alike
- Isaiah 5:7 The Hebrew words for righteous and outcry sound alike
- Isaiah 5:10 Hebrew ten yoke, the area ten yoke of oxen can plow in a day
- Isaiah 5:10 A bath was about 6 gallons or 22 liters; a homer was about 6 bushels or 220 liters; an ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters
- Isaiah 5:13 Or without their knowledge
- Isaiah 5:13 Or die of hunger
- Isaiah 5:14 Hebrew her nobility
- Isaiah 5:15 Hebrew high
- Isaiah 5:16 Hebrew high