Disappointing to God

KEY VERSE: “He looked for judgment, but behold oppression, for righteousness, but behold a cry.” —Isaiah 5:7

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 5:1-7, 22, 23

THIS statement concerning Israel in Isaiah’s day is sad indeed. The Lord was very outspoken concerning his displeasure with the moral decline that had taken place in a nation which he had so carefully brought up and nourished. He spoke of them in parable form as a special vineyard “in a very fruitful hill.” Their land was fenced about, the stones all gathered out, and then planted with the choicest vine. A tower was built in the midst of it, and a winepress built in preparation for the gathering of its precious fruit. The vineyard owner then waited for the delicious grapes to be brought forth, but in place of the expected fruitage, wild grapes came instead.

It is not difficult to see Israel in this parable. Genetically, the children of Israel were the very choicest vine. They were the seed of Abraham, a man of great faith, justified as a friend of God, and to whom wonderful promises were made concerning his children. They were planted in a very fertile land, one flowing with milk and honey. They were hedged about with the special care of a covenant that provided for a continuance of bountiful basket and store. Judges and prophets were sent as a tower in their midst for guidance and protection from the encroachments of the godlessness around them.

The expectations of God, the husbandman, were expressed in the prophetic promises that at the time of Israel’s harvest a royal nation and kingdom of priests would be brought forth. How sad that long before the grapes were ripe it was evident that the vines were bearing wild grapes characteristic of the neighboring Gentile nations.

Some of the further prophecies of this chapter pertain to the calamities which were to come upon the nation of Israel because of its sins. “Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff so, … 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.”—Isa. 5:24

An interesting feature of these statements in Isaiah’s prophecies is that along with the punishment there is also expressed the hope of Israel’s return to the outstretched hands of the Lord. “Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people … and hath smitten them. … For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”—vs. 25

This expression of God’s outstretched hands well sets the stage for appreciating the great bulk of prophecy in this book. While in very colorful and forceful language Isaiah forecasts the coming desolation of the nation and of their land, saying, “Your country is desolate your cities are burned with fire, your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate” (Isa. 1:7), the book is concerned with much more. Intertwined are forecasts of major events in the outworking of their eventual return, and connected with this are prophecies relating to the divine plan of redemption and restoration of all mankind, some of which were thousands of years in the future from Isaiah’s time.

This prophecy tells of the future time when the world, including Israel, will undergo a great change. Then all will come to know and appreciate judgment and righteousness from God’s point of view, and no longer will there be oppression and crying. “But the Lorca of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy, shall be sanctified in righteousness.” (vs. 16) “And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from afar, and will hiss [call] unto them, from the end of the earth.”—vs. 26

How disappointing the testimony of the Scriptures would be if God had only expressed his displeasure with the shortcomings of men. But with equal importance God saw fit to express his great love, by revealing a wonderful plan for their redemption and restoration to favor. God’s Word bears marvelous testimony to the fact that the cruel circumstances of evil experienced now will play an important educational role in choosing between good and evil, and that men predominantly will choose the better part and live.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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