Sunday, March 11, 2012
Isaiah Chapter 5 (part 2)
Isaiah Chapter 5:5-7
- “Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it.”
- Last week we talked about how Israel rejected God as husbandman. They took all of His provisions for granted and eventually, they decided not to accept any of them at all. They wanted God to still be their protector, their provider, etc. But they didn't want to have to serve Him in any way in return. They wanted to “have their cake and eat it too”, so to speak. They didn't want to have to give up their fleshly pleasure seeking in order to keep God on their side.
- In verse 4, God said “What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done?” God did EVERYTHING for them. And they turned away from Him in scorn.
- So now, He will take away His protection. He will tear down the walls of fortification. He will tear down the hedges.
- The Targum says "and now I will declare to you what I will do to my people; I will cause my Shechinah, or Majesty, to remove from them, and they shall be for a spoil; and I will break down the house of their sanctuary, and they shall be for treading.''
- God was removing His presence from the people of Israel because of their unbelief.
- A footnote on this verse in “Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible” says that the punishment was going to come “for abusing what they had received.” They were given good gifts... and they used and abused them... and then threw them aside like a child who is tired of the newest toy. They then went in search of the next new fun thing to quell their appetites for a time... They put themselves on the throne and refused to accept God's Lordship over them as a people.
- In effect, they signed their fate. By removing God's protection, they invited their destruction.
- Have you ever had a garden? Small animals that get into gardens are annoying... They sometimes eat just enough of something to make it unusable. Or cows... ugh. They get in and walk all over everything. They sometimes don't even really eat much... they just get in and walk everywhere. And deer are just as bad. They walk on things and eat as much as they possibly can.
- One year, we had skunks in the garden. They were after the corn. Well we put electric fence up to stop them from getting in. They got into the fence and of course it shocked them and then they got mad... What they didn't tear down or eat, they sprayed. NOTHING was edible.
- What little fruit that will bear, will not be for their sustenance... they will be providing food for other nations. Even small insignificant nations will be able to have their part in the destruction and ransacking of Israel. Whether it's the trampling, the beating down of a nation of people, or whether it's the siphoning off of all their resources and abilities... Everybody will take a little part.
- II Chronicles 36:11-21
- Ezekiel 17:1-24
- “I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.”
- The ground will become overgrown. Weeds will grow up to strangle the good vines.
- If you've ever had a garden, you'll know that the weeds will literally kill the other plants. They take up space and their roots will fight for space. They will literally strangle the other plants in their conquest of the garden space. If nothing else, they will grow faster than the good plants and cover them over so that they receive less sunlight and rain. It is necessary for a gardener to keep the weeds cleared out for the health of the other plants.
- Pruning. Pruning is the process of systematically cutting away the parts of the vine that are not bearing fruit. If the vine is allowed to branch off in any way it likes with as many tendrils as it likes, then the nutrients and sap of the vine goes towards making vines, rather than making fruit. And even if you only leave the fruit bearing vines, if you have too many of them, then your fruit will not become all that it could... it will be smaller, less juicy, and less tasty because the sap will be more spread out among the clusters of grapes.
- Wow what an analogy. When Jesus uses the vine as a parable in John... He talks about pruning.
- “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:1-8)
- Notice... when we produce MUCH fruit, we become true disciples... well in order to produce much fruit... we're going to have to be pruned down. Which means that all of our extra non-fruit bearing parts... need to be cut off... gotten rid of... Like... oh... Lust. Covetousness. Slothfulness. Hatred. Gossip. Anger. Etc.
- To be true disciples, we're going to have to get rid of the things that bind us to our sinful lives. Hebrews says “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” (Hebrews 12:1)
- The Israelites refused to allow the Husbandman to prune away their sins. So now, their sins will abound. Their vines will run wild. Their branches will grow wherever they like... without direction, without purpose, without reason.
- Can you imagine the picture of this place?
- Vineyards always have rows of latticed vines. They grow in their place and there's enough room so that you can get between the rows to pick the fruit. There's room for the sun to shine on the lower fruit. But now... the vines are growing anywhere they please. What was a nice, neat, orderly vineyard, has become a mass of intertwined vines. And growing in, around, and through the mess of vines, are briers and thorns...The weeds and brush that have started to come up. It creates a place so dense that you can't get from one side to the other... you have to go around. What little fruit there is, can't be used, because it can't be reached. The animals may be able to get to it... but nothing else will reach it.
- The true life, the true virtue of the vine... is lost amidst the jungle of purposeless growth.
- This verse also talks about the ground not being hoed.
- Now our garden, has really hard ground. We live in a place that abounds with clay dirt. When we plant our beans for example, we sow A LOT of them REALLY close together... because otherwise, they won't be able to break through the soil. Instead, the plant will start to grow... and then break off before it makes it through the surface. But there are strength in numbers and as a group, they can break through the topsoil.
- Hoeing the ground helps break up the dirt so that the roots will grow deep and so that the water can more easily get to the roots of the plant. In addition, generally when hoeing, you hoe OUT the weeds away from the plants.
- Without preparing the ground, some plants can have a really hard time growing. Their roots won't go deep enough. They won't get the water they need. Or the sun will come out hot and they will wither because of their lack of roots.
- But Israel was refusing to plow up their hard ground. In chapter 4, Jeremiah warned the people of Judah and Jerusalem to “plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.” (verses 3 and 4)
- And now... the rain stops... “I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.” No more provision. No more life in the land. The land will lie dead. The crops will turn to dust. The earth will cry for water, but none will come. Though they become desperate... God will not turn back to them, for in their hearts, they have rejected Him. And even though they cry out to Him... it is not out of repentant hearts... He is just a means to an end...
- In Hosea 8 God said “Now Israel pleads with me, 'Help us, for You are our God!' But it is too late. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them. The people have appointed kings without my consent, and princes without my knowledge. By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold, they have brought about their own destruction.... They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is any grain, foreigners will eat it.... Israel has built many altars to take away sin, but these very altars became places for sinning! Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don't apply to them. The people of Israel love their rituals of sacrifice, but to me their sacrifices are all meaningless. I will hold my people accountable for their sins, and I will punish them.... Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces, and Judah has fortified its cities. Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities and will burn up their fortresses.”
- In Job 35, Elihu is reminding Job of God's justice... “People cry out when they are oppressed. They groan beneath the power of the mighty. Yet they don't ask, 'where is God my Creator, the One who gives me songs in the night? Where is the One who makes us smarter than the animals and wiser than the birds of the sky?' And when they cry out, God does not answer because of their pride. But it is wrong to say the Almighty isn't concerned. You say you can't see Him, but He will bring justice if you will only wait.”
- And in chapter 36, Elihu continues his defense of God's character... “If they listen and obey God, they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant. But if they refuse to listen to Him, they will be killed by the sword and die from lack of understanding. For the godless are full of resentment. Even when He punishes them, they refuse to cry out to Him for help. They die when they are young, after wasting their lives in immoral living. But by means of their suffering, He rescues those who suffer. For He gets their attention through adversity.”
- Israel could have called out. But in their pride... they refused. As Elihu pointed out... if they had listened and obeyed God... then they would have been blessed... but because they rebelled... they will be punished. I love that it says that “He gets their attention through adversity.” He tried to turn their hearts and minds back to Him... but instead... they continued on their path of rebellion. So NOW that they cry out... it is too late. They have rebelled too long, they have mocked God too much. Now, God in His justice, must deal out punishment. God does not compromise His morals or His values... His justice... is unbending.
- However, God does not turn a deaf ear to a sincere heart... In Luke 18:7, Jesus said “So don't you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith?”
- So can we repent? Sure... God sees our hearts. He knows what our motives are. And if we truly turn to Him with repentant hearts... He will answer us. But in our pride... if we call out... but refuse to change our ways... If our hearts are still clinging to the old man... then God knows that. God knows if we are calling out just for handouts... or if we really do want to learn the trade and become an apprentice to the walk.
- Amos 9:8-15
- Jeremiah 12:1-15:21
- “The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven's Armies. The people of Judah are His pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead He found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead He heard cries of violence.”
- You reap what you sow right? God planted good things... and He expected good things to grow... but instead... when He went to harvest His garden... He got the opposites of what He had planted.
- Does your fruit reflect the seed? Are you tainting your fruit with your lifestyle? Or your attitude? Are you growing fruit on unpruned vines? What kind of change does God ask of your heart?
- Jeremiah 34:8-22; 6:1-30
- Isaiah 30:1-33
- Romans 7:4-6
- Matthew 3:4-12
- Mark 4:13-25
- Luke 8:4-18
- Ezekiel 22:1-31