I’m going to focus on the Isaiah readings on the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Readings in these next posts…
God has grape expectations. Isaiah 5 starts with a parable of a vineyard lavishly attended to, yet bearing bad fruit. God lavishes grace on us and expects fruits.
“Don’t receive the grace of God in vain”, warns Paul in 2 Cor 6:1. How could we do that? Grace is God’s all forgiving kindness to us, how can we receive it in vain? Grace accepts us and transforms us, but if we only want the acceptance without transformation, then we are receiving grace in vain.
Isaiah 5 shows us 6 ways we resist God’s grace, so we can avoid that and four ways God disciplines grace resisters if we don’t go for transformation!
v1-7 – a parable of the vineyard to show us a picture of grace
v8-30 6 laments
i) Reckless ambition v8-10
ii) Self indulgence v11-12
iii) Deliberate sinning v18-19
iv) Wilful perversion
v) Self admiration
vi) Recklessness produces injustice v22-23
These 6 “woes” are the opposite of “blessing”
Parable of the vineyard
Verse 1-7 are a love song, but just like Nathan and David in 2 Sam 12 this is going to end with a punch! God is lavish with his grace and there is a disappointing outcome. The farmer cultivates his vineyard with every good thing, but the yield is wild grapes – in Hebrew “stinking grapes”.
The failure lies in v3 either the farmer or the vineyard. V1-2 he has been generous and good, v4 what more could he do?
We make excuses “If only I…” – but all of them imply a criticism of God as if he hasn’t already given everything we need 2 Peter 1:3. A look at Romans 8 will show us the amazing riches of God’s grace for us.
God is amazing! What do we do with what He has done?
Looking at our lives – God has lavished every spiritual blessing on us, but are we growing in Christ? Are we becoming more like him?
Looking at the church in the UK which suffered a loss of 1000 people per week in the 80’s and 90’s, she didn’t bear fruit. And what she did bear was wild grapes – verse 7 uses a wordplay to talk of a lack of justice and bloodshed as the fruit. We want God’s Church to bear an abundant harvest sweet fruit – salvations, changed lives.
What is wrong? Why sour grapes?
Isaiah holds up 6 bunches of rotten fruit to help us see. 6 Whys answered with 6 woes.
V8-10 Reckless Ambition
The rich getting richer the poorer getting squeezed out. All the earth is the Lords and yet the wealthy of Judah were amassing property for themselves and so living as if God was worthless.
Greed dis-empowers grace and dissolves into emptiness.
How are we drinking in God’s grace and looking after the poor?
i) Foodbank – we can bless the local poor with food parcels. Please bring non-perishable food items to our Sunday gatherings
ii) Pathways from Poverty – why not help finance a micro-business in Kenya
through our apostolic sphere’s partnership with Edward Buria
V11-12 Self Indulgence
In Romans 8 Paul talks of those living according to the flesh and those living according to the Spirit.
The flesh is drawn to entertainment, the Spiritual to worship. Isaiah berates self indulgence in drink and etertainment.
Ray Ortlund “The power of grace does not lie in spiritual moderation, but in deep, repeated gulps of the Spirit”. So go on being filled with the Spirit and worship, a lot!
v13-17 matches the first two woes with two therefores. Living in a grace diminishing way impacts life.
Drinking and excess leads to hunger and thirst. Land grabbers will be swallowed up in Sheol (hell)
Isaiah is calling us to courageous life change!
v18-19 deliberate sin
Sin is a burden, like being attached to a heavy cart by ropes instead of horses.
Sin promises to make life better, but instead it is a drag.
v20 Wilful perversion
Humans love to rationalise sin and change the definitions.
v21 Misplaced confidence
Woes to those who are proud – wise in their own sight.
v22 Recklessness produces injustice
You may not put together drinking and social injustice, but they go together. Isaiah was writing at Israel’s economic heyday with a dark underbelly.
Social justice thrives when we have more of a sense of God’s goodness than expertise at mixing cocktails!
verses 24-30 are two final therefores
Firstly they have rejected God’s word v24 – God had delighted in them bit they had despised Him.
Secondly judgement will come from the Assyrian army invading
John the Baptist challenged us to produce fruit in keeping with repentance – Luke 3. It was frustrating for him to see how little fruit repentance with out the power of the Spirit who is Holy, who produces fruit in our hearts.
How is your fruit bearing?
I’m finding Ray Ortlund’s Isaiah God Saves Sinners so helpful going through the book. Please click on the image to the left, to buy from Amazon.co.uk*