Scripture Spotlight 1: Isaiah 5
So I decided to create the blog category “Second Saturday Scripture Spotlight”, where once a
month I will write a blog on some Scripture I’ve been reading and how it’s struck me. This is not because I’m all like “I WILL TEACH YOU WISDOM, PEOPLE!” No, hehe, it’s because I want to get back into reading Scripture better than I have been, and I think committing to writing about it publicly at least once a month will help me stay motivated. If it works well, or I feel like I need an extra push, I may do it twice a month, but for now I’ll start off slow.
Disclaimer: Hopefully my future SSSS’ will be a little more put-together. I kind of just edited my original jumbled thoughts and posted them for you to read, so I apologize if this post feels extra rambly or sporatic. Hopefully they’ll make more sense in the future. 🙂
Anyway, so last fall I started reading through Isaiah randomly and journaled about it for a little while, but I ended up getting sidetracked and didn’t get very far. So the other day I picked up where I left off, in chapter 5. I was planning on reading the whole chapter, but the first 7 verses stuck way out to me. Here are my thoughts on them.
1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
2 He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.
3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
4 “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5 “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6 “I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
Well, as I was trying to figure out what this analogy meant, my first thought was “The ‘H’ on ‘He’ is capitalized, so clearly it’s talking about God”. 🙂 (Thank you NASB for doing that!) So that helped to make that clear. But then of course, the last couple of verses kind of EXPLAIN the analogy. So, so much for the glorious genius of THAT observation.
So this parable (is it a parable?) is about how God is viewing Israel. My favorite phrases in it are, “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?” and “Judge between Me and My vineyard.” I think they’re really interesting.
However, as I started writing about it, I got myself a little confused. Well… let me just show you my thought process. Here is a slightly more coherent version of what I first wrote when I was journaling about this passage:
“God doesn’t say He’s going to remake the vineyard or ‘prune’ it. He’s going to destroy it, and let it become a waste and a deserted garden. This is quite an interesting analogy about God. …. So, He’s God and all, but He’s basically saying that they (Israel) became evil and worthless of their own choices. It wasn’t because He hardened them, because He did everything He could to produce good grapes. Clearly, it wasn’t out of His control because nothing is… but isn’t that what this implies?
“You have to take this with all the knowledge of God, of course. But with this, you have to understand that He prepares and works and does what He does, but choices are still made. And… He lets it happen? But He didn’t WANT the bad grapes!
“I know, I know, I can’t take this one parable and base all my knowledge of God on it. I know that God is all-powerful and so there’s no way that this is ‘out of His control’. And there’s context and the rest of the Bible and all that. But this IS a picture of God versus people. And there is some way in which He lets us “take control” and do our own thing, and become whoever we are to become. How does this fit? Who is our God? How much does He allow, and how much does He try to prevent?”
As I was wrestling with my thoughts, and putting this newfound passage together with what I know to be true about God, it suddenly started making sense. And the answer was in the passage.
“Well…. perhaps it’s because God LETS them grow. He could have snapped His fingers and made good grapes, but instead, He wanted to prepare a vineyard and let them grow however they would. Just like we can go buy grapes if we want to be sure to get good ones when we want them, but sometimes people choose to make them themselves, understanding the risk but still willing to make the sacrifices in the hopes of what will come.
“So, like a farmer, God did everything that one does when preparing a vineyard, but then He let the natural process take place. His desire was not to just snap a perfect feast into place, but to create opportunities for growth and then allow us as free-will beings to become good or bad. And THEN He took action, depending on how the grapes (His people) turned out.
I’ve had a lot of discussions with people over the past couple of years about free will versus predestination. And even though the term “free will” doesn’t show up in the Bible and the term “predestination” shows up multiple times, there appear to be clear examples and evidence for both. From what I can gather from this passage, God sees Israel as a people that He guarded and protected, set apart and fed in every possible way, and yet they still refuse to listen to His prophets and they turn away in rebellion, idolatry and bloodshed. This is all a part of what God’s ultimate plan is and everything works out for good, but the fact that He created them to make their own choices doesn’t mean that those choices are pleasing to God. It is part of His plan for consequences to come after the choices.
My final random thoughts:
“In this passage, because the grapes were bad, clearly we’re going to see His wrath. But again, who is “we” and when is all this? Has all of this prophecy happened, like during the exile of the Israelites? Or is it perhaps end-timesy stuff? No clue. But I thought this part was really interesting.”
SO! 🙂 That was my first Scripture Spotlight. Hope it made sense for the most part. Anyway, talk to y’all later. 🙂