Isaiah 5

Isaiah 5  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Chapter 5 begins with what we may call, The Song of Isaiah. If we turn back to Deuteronomy 32, we may read the song of Moses, which is partly retrospective and partly prophetic. Moses uttered his song at the start of Israel’s national history; Isaiah uttered his towards its close. The testimony of both is the same. The failure of the people was complete.
Israel had been Jehovah’s vineyard, and He had ordered everything in their favor. A very fruitful spot had been their location with all necessary equipment. The law, given through Moses, had fenced them about, so as to protect them from contamination from outside, if they had observed it. Moreover they were a “choicest vine”, for they had descended from Abraham, one of God’s choicest saints. Thus everything had been in their favor. What had been the result?
Result there was, but of a wholly worthless and evil sort. Where judgment should have been, oppression was found: where righteousness, only a cry of distress. Once again we have to notice that the charge against them concerns moral depravity rather than lack of ceremonial observances
When the Lord Jesus spoke of Himself as “the true Vine” (John 15:11I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (John 15:1)), the minds of His disciples may well have turned back to this scripture, as ours also may do. Israel was the picked sample of humanity in which the trial of the whole race took place. The condemnation of Israel is the condemnation of all of us; but it was in the cross of Christ that the condemnation was formally and finally pronounced. The first man and his race condemned and rejected. The Second Man, and those who are of Him and in Him, accepted and established forever.
The song of Isaiah ended, the prophet dropped figurative language for the hard, plain facts of Israel’s sin. Six times over does he utter a “Woe” upon them in verses 8-25, and again we notice that it was their moral evils that stirred the Divine wrath. The first woe is flung at the men of grasping covetousness, who aimed at monopolizing houses and lands for themselves. Judgment in the form of desolation for both houses and lands would fall upon them.
The second woe is against the drunkard and pleasure seeker. The judgment awaiting them is described down to verse 17. We may observe that similar catastrophe ever follows a people given over to pleasure and debauchery. The great Roman Empire did it in her later years, and then crashed. If Britain and other nations of today do it— what then?
The third woe (verse 18) is uttered against those who sin openly, violently, in defiance of God. The fourth is against men of a subtler type, who overturn all the foundations of right and wrong. Accepting their ideas and teachings the multitude become confused and perverted, condemning what is good and applauding what is evil; truly a terrible state of things.
This leads, no doubt, to what is denounced in the fifth woe. The men who do thus pervert the mental outlook of their fellows, pose as being the wise and prudent leaders of others. At least they consider themselves to be such. And the effect of their teachings new and progressive, as they would call them upon those who imbibe them, leads to the denunciation of the sixth woe. They go back to their drink and debauchery, and pervert everything that is right in their dealings with others. If they accept the teaching indicated in verse 20, that is what they will do.
After the second woe no details of what would be involved are given till we reach verse 24. Then the pent-up wrath, merited by the last four woes, is made plain. And in verses 26-30 there is revealed how all six woes would bring upon them chastisement from without. The nations that soon would descend upon them like a roaring lion, and were doubtless headed up in the mighty Assyrian of those days, whom the Lord called “The rod of Mine anger” (chapter 10:5).
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