God’s love song - Isaiah 5

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the Riverside Church service on 28th September 2014.

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God’s love song

Isaiah 5:1-30

 

There are some discoveries that do not surprise us at all. Other discoveries complete shock us. For example, if you decide to sell your car you won’t be surprised not to see it parked outside your house in the morning. If you park your car in the garage overnight, take every precaution to keep it safe, then you will be shocked not to see it in the morning!

 

This morning we’re going to be examine the behaviour of God’s people at the time of the prophet Isaiah. It was really bad. Although the people were very religious in day to day life they were very rebellious. Our danger is that this is what we have come to expect from God’s people and so we are no longer shocked by it. But we should be. And the reason why we should be is presented to us in the first seven verses of Isaiah chapter 5. So let me show you…

 

The reason why we should be surprised (Vs 1-7)

 

Look at vs 1. Read vs 1a.

 

Do you like love songs in the charts? Do they make you sick?

 

The prophet Isaiah is about to launch into a love song for the one who has his heart. Who is this? It’s none other than the God of Israel. 

Why does Isaiah get so passionate about the way his own people are treating God? Why does it seem that he is so bothered by it? It did bother him. His heart was stirred because his heart was saturated with a concern for God’s honour and glory.

 

If we want to bridge the gap between the mental assent and emotional intensity then we need to pray for a heart like Isaiah’s.

 

Let’s listen to his song. Look at how it continues. Vs 1. Read vs 1b-2.

 

Everything is building up to the expectation of great success and long term sustainability.

  • Fertile hillside.
  • The ground had been cleared.
  • Planted with the choicest vines
  • A watch tower. Protect it. Permanent structure.
  • Cut out a winepress.

 

If this was a music video then we should surely expect to see the owner finally enjoying a glass of the best vintage.

 

But he looked for a crop of good grapes but it yielded only bad fruit. Literally – stinking fruit. The video would be raising a glass of what would be the finest Shiraz only then to fill your glass with foulest sick. That’s the first verse of the song.

Now in the second verse we have a change of voice. Did you notice that in vs 3-6? Read vs 3-6. Emphasise the personal nature of the words.

 

The beloved himself is singing in the song. The big emphasis of his words is why? Why the bad fruit? Why the smell? God has done everything for his people so why does their behaviour leave a stench in his nostrils? As a consequence he is planning to bring devastation to it.

 

Third verse clears up any confusion anybody might still have about the identity of the vineyard and what exactly is this bad fruit. Look at vs 7. The people of God – northern and southern tribes.

 

What was the bad fruit? He looked for justice but saw bloodshed. He looked for righteousness but heard only cries of distress.

 

Justice and righteousness. God wanted his people to live as he instructed. Not to earn their way into his good books. But to experience his blessing. There was a right way to live. God has created human according to a certain design. Therefore, it couldn’t be a free for us if things we going to work out properly.

 

But when God examined his people in Isaiah’s day he didn’t see what he was looking for. Not justice but bloodshed. Not righteousness but cries of distress.

You see on your handout that I’ve written down the original Hebrew words that were used in his part of the Bible.

  • Justice (mispat) and bloodshed (mispah)
  • Righteouness (sedaqah) and distress (seaqah)

 

Why is this significant? Not just a play on words. Similar sounds that make the point stick. Say something profound.

 

God’s people were still very religious. And it seems they probably didn’t think what they were offering God was very different from what God was demanding. But in reality they were living unholy lives before a holy God.

 

One way to get this truth across is by talking about mispat and mispah or sedaqah and seaqah. On paper they look really similar but in truth they were worlds apart. That was just like the behaviour of God’s people. From one point of view they seemed to be living exactly as God wanted. Lots of time in the temple. But in reality their lives were far from what he wanted.

 

But why? Before I tell you 6 reasons why God’s people were living such unattractive lives, let me first tell you who wasn’t at fault. It wasn’t God’s fault. He had done everything for his people. He was passionate about them. He had provided for them.

He had protected them. Should have been fruit. We should be shocked. There wasn’t. Who was to blame? The opening 7 verses scream out to us – it wasn’t God’s fault. Do not point your finger at him.

 

Who was to blame? It was the people themselves. They had made choices that led to a lifestyle which was revolting. In general terms – they had turned their backs on the voice of God. What were they doing instead? Verses 8-30 reveal 6 attitudes and actions that led to bad fruit.

 

This is important for us to hear – God expects us to bear good fruit. We are to be holy because he is holy. If you want to be holy then avoid these 6 things.

 

The reasons why the people were stinking (Vs 8-30)

 

Woe – a warning to you.

 

  • Woe 1 – a desire for more stuff (Vs 8-10)

 

Read vs 8. Accumulation of property. It then consumes your every thought and passion.

 

How is this working out in your own life? Mark 4:18-19, “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

  • Woe 2 – the pursuit of pleasure (Vs 11-17)

 

Read vs 11-12.

 

The pursuit of pleasure. Of course ultimate joy in God. Not wrong enjoying the good gifts of God. but when these become the things we live for we miss out n the joy of God, we misuse the gifts and we become unfruitful. We only have so much time and energy – this is given to our greatest passions and priorities.

 

  • Woe 3 – an irreverent view of God (Vs 18-19)

 

Read vs 18-19. They show no reverence for the God of the universe. So wonder their behaviour is so bad. They may think about what they hear but they don’t act because their view of God is too low.

 

  • Woe 4 – a renaming of sin (Vs 20)

 

Read vs 20. Can you imagine someone changing the labels on your bleach bottle and marinade bottle?

 

How dangerous is a reversing of Gods revelation. God’s word is the definer of good, the light we need and a sweet taste for our souls.

 

Of course we see this in the world but it’s even worse when we see it within the church. It’s rare that people are so blatant. Their ways are often more sophisticated. All about interpretation or culture. Beware of when something you think is so clearly portrayed I scripture as wrong is now said to be right.

A change here lead to unholy lives.

 

  • Woe 5 – pride (Vs 21)

 

Read vs 21.

 

Pride leads to unfruitful living. Not so much about academic abilities. It’s about an attitude to God’s word. The humble make progress, the proud do not.

 

  • Woe 6 – wrong values (Vs 22-30)

 

Read vs 22-23.

 

What does our culture give out medals for? People then run after those things. It depends on what part of the culture you live in.Look good on paper. Education. Employment.

 

If we follow these 6 ways then we will produce bad fruit. How can we avoid living like this so that we can bear good fruit? I don’t want to say to you, “Don’t do these things.” One big thing we can do that will result in us not wanting to do these things. John 15:5,  “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.”

 

Stick close to Jesus as the way through your life.

 

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