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? — Isaiah 5:4
My husband and I are from opposite sides of the continent. We come from different countries; we were raised in different cultures, but we live for the same God! After we were married, I moved with him back to his hometown. In his culture, one tradition that has been passed down for many generations is that of baking bread. Skill in this area was a sign of a good housewife. Prior to this, the only breads I had ever made were quick breads like banana or zucchini bread. Baking multiple loaves of yeast bread was a whole different technique.
About a week after we arrived, I spent a day with my mother-in-law learning how to produce perfect loaves of bread. It obviously was important, as my new husband felt he needed to take pictures of the event! The directions weren’t written down; you just had to remember. Certain amounts of water, butter, salt, flour, and sugar — my mother-in-law didn’t use measuring cups, just little handfuls and overflowing handfuls. I started to panic. My handful certainly would be different from hers!
However, by carefully following all of the directions she gave, my yield was successful. My husband pronounced the bread good, and for the next few years, I continued to bake bread for our household consumption.
Today’s verse presents an opposite outcome to my bread-making experience. God, through Isaiah, was asking a question regarding the unsuccessful results of His working with Israel. Isaiah used a word picture of a husbandman working with a vineyard to make his point. The master of the vineyard had done everything right — the hill was very fruitful, he fenced it in, took out the stones, used the finest of vines when he planted it, built a tower so he could watch over the vineyard, and a winepress. He followed a recipe for success, but the results were not good. In fact, they were horrible! The vineyard brought forth wild grapes, and the question was posed, “What else could have been done?”
God gave Isaiah this illustration to express His frustration and anger at the sinfulness of Israel. They were God’s chosen nation, and He had done everything He could to nurture them. However, instead of bearing spiritual fruit, they were a wild and sinful people. The problem certainly was not on the part of God. It was a problem with the nation itself.
God has invested time and effort into our lives as well. He nurtures us and helps us grow, desiring that we bear good fruit. Let’s examine our own lives today and be sure we are yielding a crop that is pleasing to God.
Despite the fact that Isaiah was a newcomer in the field of prophesy and warnings, with God’s help, his message had an impact on the people of his day. First, he captured the attention of his listeners by giving them a parable. Then he delivered his stirring message with conviction. This chapter starts with a clear picture of a vineyard whose master had taken great care to ensure that it would bring forth good fruit. Despite all of his efforts, it produced wild grapes. The parallel was drawn between the care the master of the vineyard took and the care that God took over Israel. However, the people of Israel turned their backs on Him and chose a way of sin.
In verses eight through twenty-five, six particular sins are highlighted. Each topic on the list brought to light wrongdoings on the part of Israel. The word “woe” preceded each statement. Greedy landowners, those who spent their days drinking, those who flagrantly flaunted their sin, those who were vain and self-absorbed, and those who were calling good evil and evil good, would all be judged.
Verse 10 gives several measurements. A bath was a liquid measure equal to the dry measure of an ephah — about eight gallons. A homer was approximately eighty-three gallons. The judgment being pronounced included crops that would not produce the expected yield. A crop bearing one tenth of what was planted would certainly be considered a failure.
In verse 26, Isaiah explained that God would summon Israel’s enemies to seal their punishments, raising an ensign (banner) and hissing (whistling) to bring them from near and far.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
A. Prophecies related to Judah
3. God’s illustrative pronouncement of doom (5:1-30)
a. The parable (5:1-7)
b. The pronouncement of woes (5:8-23)
(1) For greed (5:8-10)
(2) For intemperance (5:11-17)
(3) For presumption (5:18-19)
(4) For moral insensibility (5:20)
(5) For self-conceit (5:21)
(6) For injustice (5:22-23)
c. The penalty of judgment (5:24-30)
(1) The anger of God (5:24-25)
(2) The promise of invasion (5:26-30)
What type of “grapes” are growing in the vineyard of your life? Pray that God will help the fruit you bear to be sweet.