Isaiah 5

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 7, 1999


In Isaiah chapter 2, we began a section that had to do with the "day of the Lord" (Is. 2:12). Though there are aspects of this prophecy that would apply to Isaiahís day, there is a greater sense in which it is applicable to the last days. This current chapter seems to be the final portion of this same prophecy.

:1-7 The Vineyard Song

:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song Ö

Isaiah is singing this song to the Lord. He is Isaiahís "wellbeloved".

Itís interesting that on Sunday night weíre in Deu. 32, where Moses has written a song for the people to sing, a song that is to remind them about the Lord, a song that will be a testimony against them when they disobey the Lord.

:1 My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

Jesus also told some parables that were very similar to Isaiahís song. (Mat. 21:33-41; Luke 13:6-9)

:2 it brought forth wild grapes.

wild grapes Ė b@'ushiymĖ stinking or worthless things, wild grapes, stinkberries, "bad fruit". Weíre going to see in verses 8-23 six "woes", describing what the "wild grapes" were.


Sometimes itís not the parentsí fault.

This vineyard was in a "very fruitful hill". There was no problem with it being in the wrong "environment". Everything was done for it to make it succeed.

Parents Ė itís not always your fault. Sure, there are going to be times when a childís disobedience is directly related to a sin or mistake of the parent. But there are also going to be times when youíve given them everything they need to succeed, and theyíre still going to choose the way of sin.

Look at Godís record as a parent with Adam and Eve. Could there have been a better Father?

:7 and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression Ö

We donít get quite the full idea as in the Hebrew. Isaiah is using a couple of plays on words:

judgment Ė mishpat / oppression Ė mispach

righteousness Ė ts@daqah / cry Ė tsa`aqah

God came to look for good fruit in His vineyard. He looked for one thing, found something close to what He was looking for, but not quite what He was looking for.

This was God looking at Israel. But thereís quite a similarity with us as the church.


True fruit.

God is still looking for fruit in His vineyard. Heís looking for the right kind of fruit. No substitutes allowed.

(John 15:1-12 KJV) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. {2} Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

This is simply the way you tend a vineyard. You prune back the things that arenít producing fruit so the fruitful branches can bear more fruit.

{3} Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

"Clean" means "pruned". The disciples were already pruned back because of Jesusí Words to them. We too are pruned as we spend time in Godís Word. He continually shows us what does and doesnít belong in our life.

{4} Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. {5} I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The key to producing fruit in your life is simply to stay connected to Jesus. Thatís the idea of what it means to "abide". Just stay put.

{6} If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Israel received a similar warning from Isaiah that the walls would be broken down and the vineyard spoiled. God is serious about us producing fruit, and the right kind of fruit. Itís not that we need to be fearful and trembling, but we ought to take it seriously.

{7} If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. {8} Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Again, look at the place of Godís Word. Get into Godís Word. Itís a key to producing good fruit.

{9} As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. {10} If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. {11} These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. {12} This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. {13} Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I believe the main fruit the Lord is looking for in our lives is His love. As you stay close to Jesus and stay in His Word, you will see more and more of His love for you, and you will find yourself loving others.

But be careful that itís not just the "close to the real thing" kind of fruit. Itís got to be Godís kind of love. Itís got to be lay-down-your-life kind of love, not just the fake plastic huggy kind.


A preacher visits an elderly woman from his congregation. As he sits on the couch he notices a large bowl of peanuts on the coffee table. "Mind if I have a few" he asks. "No, not at all" the woman replied. They chat for an hour and as the preacher stands to leave, he realizes that instead of eating just a few peanuts, he emptied most of the bowl. "I'm terribly sorry for eating all your peanuts, I really just meant to eat a few." "Oh that's all right" the woman says. "Ever since I lost my teeth all I can do is suck the chocolate off them."

I apologize for the sick, gross joke. But I told it for that specific reason. Things arenít always exactly quite what you think they are. What started off as a nice bowl of peanuts actually starts to make you kind of sick when you think about it. God is looking for GOOD fruit. Heís looking for His kind of love in our lives.

:8-23 Six Woes

We take a look at the six "stinkberries".

:8 Woe unto them that join house to house Ö

(Isa 5:8 NLT) Destruction is certain for you who buy up property so others have no place to live. Your homes are built on great estates so you can be alone in the land.

The first "woe" (Hebrew "hoy") is to those who are out to make huge estates for themselves, not leaving room for anybody else. Stinkberry #1 = "greed".

:9 many houses shall be desolate

These great estates of the land barons would be desolate.

:10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath Ö

(Isa 5:10 NLT) Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine. Ten measures of seed will yield only one measure of grain."

As a judgment to these land barons, God would send a famine.

:11 Woe Ö rise up early in the morning Ö strong drink Ö

Stinkberry #2 = drunkenness, those addicted to alcohol. They have to drink just to start the day. If you have to start your day with a little drink, itís time to do something about it.

: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

feasts Ė mishteh Ė feast, drink, banquet.

In their "feasts", they had lots of music, as well as wine.

Some translations have "banquets" or "parties" here. Iím afraid that cheats us a little on the word used here. Though this word can be used to describe a drunken party (1Sam. 25:36), it can also be used to describe very joyous but holy moments as well:

When Solomon first became king and received Godís wisdom through a dream:

1 Kings 3:15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, [it was] a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

God is saying that these people had great parties, but they missed the Lord and the things of the Lord. They might have just been secular parties, but I kind of wonder if some of them couldnít have been their "religious" parties as well.


Donít miss the Lord in the ecstasy of worship.

There are Bible scholars who have an interesting "take" on some of the prophets in the Bible. They refer to the time when a prophet might be speaking for the Lord as a time of "ecstasy". There are references that certainly can give this impression. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon King Saul, he had a very unusual reaction to the Spirit of God on him:

(1 Sam 19:23-24 KJV) And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. {24} And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?

There is no evidence that this was the normal reaction of a prophet to Godís Spirit, but it certainly was Saulís. I can see how some scholars refer to the "ecstasy" of Godís Spirit.

I think thereís a sense in which I believe we too experience from time to time, a kind of "ecstasy" during our "worship" time. Thereís a great joy that comes as we worship God. I think that part of that joy comes directly from Godís presence, as the Psalmist says:

(Psa 16:11 KJV) Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

But I think thereís a measure of joy that comes from the music itself. Music has the potential of being quite an emotional as well as spiritual stimulus.

The prophet Elisha understood this. There was a time when he was being asked by a king to prophesy, and the first thing he did was call for a musician to play for him, to "get him in the mood" (2Ki. 3:15). We also think of David playing his harp for Saul, the music being a calming influence on Saulís demonic oppression (1Sam. 16:23). Music can carry quite an emotional high with it.

Please hear me out on this. Iím NOT against the emotional part of worship. Iím a musician, remember? I believe that musical worship is a very important part of our time together. But thereís more to worship than emotional music.

The very idea of "worship" in both Hebrew and Greek is that of bowing before another. There are other ideas as well, but this is by far the majority of what worship is all about. Itís the idea of humility before one greater than you. Itís the idea of putting yourself into submission to the Greater Oneís wishes. Itís the idea of total surrender of yourself to God, allowing Him to speak, and then following His commands.

I have a concern that we, as a "musical" kind of church, as a church that is learning how to truly worship God, that we can get the idea that weíve worshipped when weíve achieved some kind of emotional high, or the music sounded particularly "hot" that day. Wrong. Weíve worshipped when weíve bowed our hearts to the Father.

:13 Ö because they have no knowledge

Hosea, about the same time as Isaiah, wrote,

(Hosea 4:6 KJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge Ö

Hereís the way to not miss out on the Lord.


Grow in your knowledge of Him through the Word.

This is why our "worship service" is more than just music. Itís also a time when we get into Godís Word, to grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him.

Later on in the chapter, Isaiah reiterates this:

(Isa 5:24 KJV) 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.

When you start getting really busy in your life, and you realize that you need to set some priorities in life, you have to cut off all the excess and just go with what is most important. This is what the apostles had to do when the early church began to grow:

(Acts 6:4 KJV) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Itís not just opening the Bible and taking a verse here and a verse there. Itís learning to know all the Word.

There are plenty of people who will get you to listening to them (or watching them on TV) because they quote lots of Bible verses. But the true test is whether they are taking you through the entire Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter. You can back up any crazy idea with Bible verses, as long as you donít bother to explain the rest of the chapter that the verse was taken from.

:17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner

The grand mansions will be broken down and the flocks will come through them grazing.

:18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity

(Isa 5:18 NLT) Destruction is certain for those who drag their sins behind them, tied with cords of falsehood.

Stinkberry #3 = bondage to sin.

:19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work

(Isa 5:19 NLT) They even mock the Holy One of Israel and say, "Hurry up and do something! Quick, show us what you can do. We want to see what you have planned."


God doesnít always work at your speed.

I know that sometimes we just want God to get us out of our mess. And sometimes God does indeed deliver people instantly. But He doesnít always do things that way.

I know many people who are holding out for the instant deliverance when God wants to take them through a gradual process. They never reach the deliverance because theyíre on the wrong railroad track, waiting for an "instant engine" to show up, yet a long time ago they could have gotten out on the sure, steady track and have been delivered.

If God wants to take a couple of weeks to get you away from your sin, is that okay with you? Does it have to be "now or never"?

:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil

Stinkberry #4 = Redefining evil. They were justifying wickedness. Saying itís "okay" when itís not. Right is right. Wrong is wrong.

:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes

Stinkberry #5 = Intellectual pride. There are people who feel that they are an expert at just about everything you could ask them about.

(Prov 3:7-8 KJV) Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. {8} It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

:22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine

(Isa 5:22 NIV) Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,

This makes me think of how the world lifts up a person who can "hold his liquor" or who can "drink you under the table". Thereís nothing to be proud of here.

:23 Which justify the wicked for reward

Stinkberry #6 = drunken judges.

:24-30 Godís response in judgment

:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble Ö

Judgment comes because of a disregard for Godís Word. Having a respect for Godís Word is more than just keeping your Bible on a special shelf. It means reading it and letting it change you.

:26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far

Talking about the nations that God would raise up to come and bring judgment on Israel.

:27 nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:

This wonít be some cheap, rag-tag army.

:30 and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow

This can sound pretty scary, depending on where youíre sitting. It all depends on what kind of fruit your "vineyard" is producing. Is it Godís kind of fruit, or just imitation wax fruit? God is serious about finding the right fruit. If your life is nothing but a bunch of stinkberries, they youíve got something to worry about. But if youíve come to the point where youíve received Jesusí forgiveness for your sins, then youíve nothing to worry about.

(John 3:17-18 KJV) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.