The Song of the Vineyard Isaiah 5:1-7

The Song of the Vineyard Isaiah 5 1 to 7

Last week Shilpi reminded us of the words of Jesus in John 15, “I am the true vine.” I did not know that when I was planning for this evening but as it happens, this evening brings us to Isaiah chapter 5 and the background to that saying of Jesus.
ISAIAH 5:1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
I say that Isaiah 5 was the background to John 15 but actually Israel had been singing about the vineyard for a couple of hundred years since Psalm 88 had used the same picture.
Psalm 80 8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its boughs to the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River.
In Psalm 88 it seemed as though God had abandoned his vineyard already, in the earlier years when different Kings had rebelled against God and he withdrew his blessing from His chosen people.
12 Why have you broken down its walls
so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
13 Boars from the forest ravage it
and the creatures of the field feed on it.
14 Return to us, O God Almighty!
Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
15 the root your right hand has planted,
the son you have raised up for yourself.
16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
at your rebuke your people perish.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.
Whether it was from Psalm 88 or from Isaiah 5, by Jesus’s time the picture was very clearly established and understood.
GOD’s VINEYARD was the NATION OF ISRAEL
Isaiah 5 is explicit.
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in.

Jeremiah used the same picture of Israel not as the vineyard but of the vine itself.
Jeremiah 2 21 I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?
As also did Hosea
Hosea 10:1 Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself.
So Jesus in John 15 talked about the true vine. But he also used the picture of the nation of Israel as a vineyard in his parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard who refused to pay their rent.
Matthew 21 33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.

The vineyard and the vine represent the nation of Israel. And God loved his Vineyard and took care of it!
ISAIAH 5:1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
my loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

God had done everything he could to help the vine be productive and yield good fruit. But it had all gone wrong.
GOD expects his vine to be FRUITFUL
But it was not!
3 ‘Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?

God expects his vine and his vineyard to bear good fruit. This is what Shilpi was reminding us from Jesus’s teaching on the true Vine from John 15 last week. God expects his people to be fruitful!
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. … No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. … 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
God expects us to be fruitful! What kind of fruit is that? In John 15 it is the kind of fruit which comes from abiding in Christ – remaining in union with Christ.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ..

That could refer to many things but the specific example Jesus gives is in answered prayers. We are fruitful when we stay close to God and our prayers are answered.

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Back in Isaiah 5 God is looking for a different kind of fruit – righteousness and justice, and this is more often the meaning we find of “good fruit” in the Bible.
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

VERSE 7 ends with a play on words. In Hebrew the word for what God is looking for sounds like the word for what he actually finds.
‘Did he find right? Nothing but riot! Did he find decency? Only despair.’
MESSAGE verse 7 … He looked for a crop of justice and saw them murdering each other. He looked for a harvest of righteousness and heard only the moans of victims
God looks to his chosen people for the fruit of righteousness and justice and he blames the bad leaders when that fruit is not to be found.

Isaiah 3 13The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.
14 The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people:
“It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?”

For Isaiah the blame for the injustice and oppression rests with the leaders of Israel.

In the New Testament we find the idea of good fruit again as a picture for holy lives, lives characterised by continual repentance. This began with the ministry of John the Baptist.
Luke 3 7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Jesus picked up the theme in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
The fruit of holy lives. Lives like Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
For the apostle Paul, a fruitful life is one filled with righteousness.
Philippians 1 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Ephesians 58 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
Colossians 1 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work
The fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – all goodness, righteousness and truth. Bearing fruit in every good work. This is what God expects from His chosen people. But Israel in Isaiah’s time were producing only bad fruit, injustice and exploitation.
And here is a sobering warning.
THE VINE PRODUCING BAD FRUIT FACES DESTRUCTION
ISAIAH 5
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?
5 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
6 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds not to rain on it.’

The vine which fails to produce good fruit faces God’s judgment. God will withdraw his blessing and destruction will follow. This is what happened in Israel in Isaiah’s time with the Assyrians and less than two hundred years later with the destruction of Israel and the Exile in Babylon. But less us not grow complacent. Because there are also challenges for us in Jesus’s teaching about the true vine.
15 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. …
5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

The judgment of God fell on Israel in Isaiah’s time. And the words of Jesus will bring us to reflection and if necessary to repentance. Because God expects his vineyard to bear fruit!

This entry was posted in Isaiah.

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