God expects vineyard fruit from those who enjoy vineyard privileges,
not the mere leaves of profession, or the wild grapes of hypocritical performances in religion.
God will deny His grace to those who have long received it in vain.
The curse of barrenness is the punishment of the sin of barrenness.
1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: 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 his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
8 ¶ Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
9 In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.
11 ¶ Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.
13 ¶ Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
20 ¶ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
26 ¶ And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
Isaiah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Isaiah 5:1-17 – A Disappointing Harvest
In a picture of great beauty, Isaiah describes a vineyard situated on one of the sunny heights visible from Jerusalem. Every care which an experienced vine-dresser could devise had been expended on it, but in vain. The vine-dresser himself is introduced, demanding if more could have been done. When God selects a nation, a church, or an individual for high and holy work in the world and expends care and pains on the preparation of the instrument, and His plans miscarry through no failure on His part but through the obstinancy or obtuseness of the human soul, the measure of what might have been is the gauge of its doom. The worst weeds grow on the richest soil. This picture is the counterpart of Paul’s dread of being a castaway, I Corinthians 9:27.
The six woes which follow, arising from drunkenness and avarice remind us of sorrows that menace the selfish heart. How different such a lot to the blessedness of the humblest soul that possesses God and is possessed by Him! “Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate” Psalm 34:21-22.
Isaiah 5:4—What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?
This is what the Owner of all souls will say of his dealings with each when the discipline and husbandry of time are over. Each of us is God’s vineyard, and for each God has done the beat possible. At the end of all things God will have no reason to feel that had He adopted some other method, the barren waste of some heart would have brought forth fruit. It will be seen then, Omniscience itself being witness, that every soul of man had the chance of becoming a fruitful vineyard; and if he became the reverse, it was due to no failure in either the wisdom or grace of God.
It is hard to believe this, hard to think that you would not have done better in some other circumstances; but it is nevertheless true that God could not have done better or more. He has trenched for water, gathered out stones which had hindered your fruitfulness, and planted you with slips from the True Vine. There has been the tower of his protection, and the wine-press of suffering! Ah, how eagerly He has looked that you should bring forth grapes! The pity of it is that there has been nothing but the wild growth of nature! But God cannot take the blame for this. He could not have done more than He has done. Alas that we should have so often thwarted Him!
“When I looked.” “The Father seeketh,” our Savior said (Isaiah 5:4; John 4:23). He comes down the garden path full often, seeking from us the fruits of the Spirit, the grace of prayer and supplication, the plants of his delight. “Let us see”, He says (Song of Solomon 7:12), “if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth.” Too often it is as when Jesus looked for figs—there was nothing but leaves! —Our Daily Homily
Isaiah 5:18-30 – Warning against Pride, Intemperance, and Corruption
The wild grapes of Judah are here continued: blind atheism, Isaiah 5:18-20; proud self-conceit, Isaiah 5:21; drunkenness, Isaiah 5:22; injustice in the courts, Isaiah 5:23-24. What a terrible description is that given in Isaiah 5:18 of the inevitable progress of sin! The bacchanalian procession which is seen, in Isaiah 5:14, descending with music and flowers into the open gates of Hades is described in Isaiah 5:18 as being drawn down by a cable. Men begin with a thread, but the thread of habit becomes a rope, and the rope grows to a cable, which ultimately lands a man in the pit. From Isaiah 5:25 onward we have the description of impending judgment. Earthquakes, armed raids, civil strife, and famine fever, the devastating inroads of hostile invasion, a desolate land and a hungry sea such would be the forces of destruction which Judah’s sin would unloose. Recent events have revealed the terror of such a visitation. Remember that the wrath of love is as severe as a consuming fire.