Saturday after the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Isaiah 5:1-25 (NKJV)
1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. 2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes.
3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? 5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, but there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it.”
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help. 8 Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land! 9 In my hearing the LORD of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield one ephah.”
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them! 12 The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their feasts; But they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the operation of His hands. 13 Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; Their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure; Their glory and their multitude and their pomp, and he who is jubilant, shall descend into it. 15 People shall be brought down, each 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 who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness. 17 Then the lambs shall feed in their pasture, and in the waste places of the fat ones strangers shall eat.
18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as if 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 near and come, that we may know it.”
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, 23 who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man! 24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them and stricken them, and the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.
God’s justice is fair. He has every right to punish and destroy those who corrupt His will, because all His works and ways are for the good of all mankind. Those who poison His designs with careless faithlessness also threaten to harm many others who would otherwise be helped by the Lord’s work. So, His judgments and severe consequences are not like the petty vendettas of man, but the diligence of a holy, benevolent King who seeks the best for all those in His care.
Israel’s sin is not just a simple failure to follow instructions. Their wicked negligence mocked and obscured the mercy that God would bring to the world through His Son. They continued to ignore God’s promises and twist His commands, even to the day that the Christ came to them and fulfilled so many of those promises. But, as Jesus said in His parable, “The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.” (see Luke 20:9-19).
The Lord’s Word is our salvation. It was no small thing that Israel compromised His Word. The message of repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ is of utmost importance, and our Lord’s will to bring that message to us all shows that His mercy and benevolence is greater than His anger and wrath.
We pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your profound mercy shown to us in Jesus Christ. Keep us faithful to Your Word and will so that all nations may learn Your wisdom and be saved by Your Gospel, in the Name of Christ Jesus. Amen.