Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
I. "He looked that it should bring forth grapes." This is surely not unreasonable. It is exactly what you and I should do. It will not be denied by anybody that we are receiving the highest advantages that ever fell to the lot of the world. God might challenge us to say what He has left undone. We live (1) in the day of full revelation, (2) under the highest civilisation. "It brought forth wild grapes," and yet everything was done for it that could be done. The possibility of a man going down to darkness through the very light of the sanctuary, the possibility of taking the rain and dew and light of heaven and transforming them into poison, and offering a bitter disappointment to the heart of God, is a fearful thought.
II. Notice what becomes of the vineyard. "I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down." And if God do so with the vineyard which He planted in the ancient time, what shall He say to the clouds, what shall he say to the earth, what shall He say to all the influences of our life, when we have taken counsel together and slain His Son, and steeped the vineyard in the blood of His well-beloved?
Parker, Penny Pulpit, No. 384.
References: Isaiah 5:1-7.—Homilist, Excelsior Series, vol. v., p. 107. Isaiah 5:1-30.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 276.
Isaiah 5:2To us God says, as to Israel of old, "What more could I do to My vineyard that I have not done? Why, then, when I looked for grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?"
Is not this indictment true? No true patriot, much less Christian, can look without grave anxiety on the tastes and tendencies of the times in which we live. Wild grapes, offensive to God, mischievous to others, and ruinous to us, are being produced on every hand. The husbandman describes some of them.
I. The excessive greed of gain—the oppressive selfishness that tramples under foot the claims of brotherhood and the rights of men.
II. The crying sin of intemperance.
III. The headstrong rush after pleasure; the follies and frivolities of the tens of thousands whose whole time and tastes and talents are wickedly laid at the shrine of sensual delights.
IV. Sensuality in its grosser and fouler shapes.
V. Infidelity. "Woe unto them that regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operations of His hands."
VI. Fraud, falsehood, and dishonesty. "Woe to them that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter," etc.
Such are some of the elements of moral mischief which threaten the ruin of our beloved land. If England lives on, and grows in lustre as she lives, it must be because the King Immanuel is undisputed monarch of the national heart, uncontrolled director of the national policy and the national will.
J. Jackson Wray, Light from the Old Lamp, p. 241.
I. Consider the distinguishing features which, in God's allegory, separate the grape from the wild grape. (1) The good grape is not in a state of nature; the wild grape is. Either it has had no culture, or it has not responded to its culture. Therefore it is wild. The secret of its state lies in that one word "wild." (2) The wild grape does not grow or ripen into use. It springs, it hangs on the bough, and it falls, for itself. No man is the better for it. None gather strength or refreshment or delight there. (3) The wild grape has not the sweetness of the true. It is harsh and sour, because (4) the wild grape has never been grafted.
II. The first thing of all, without which everything else in religion is only a blank, is, and must be, a real living union with the Lord Jesus Christ. By that union, the life which was unchanged, selfish, tasteless or bitter, and without Christ, becomes a new, expansive, loving, Christlike life, and the wild grape in the desert is turned into the true grape of paradise.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 95.
Isaiah 5:4I. The first way of putting, or rather of vindicating, the question of our text is when we contend that Atheism has a far better apology for resisting the evidences of a God which are spread over creation, than worldly-mindedness for manifesting insensibility to redemption through Christ. Atheism may ask for a wider sphere of expatiation and for a more glowing stamp of divinity, for it falls within our power to conceive a richer manifestation of the Invisible Godhead. But the worldly-minded cannot ask for a more touching proof of the love of the Almighty, or for a more bounteous provision for human necessities, or for more moving motives to repentance and obedience. What has been done for the vineyard, regard being had to the augustness of the Being who did it, proclaims us ruined if we bring not forth such fruits as God requires at our hands.
II. We may affirm that as much has been done as could have been done for the vineyard, regard being had to the completeness and fulness of the work, as well as the greatness of its Author. Has not much been done for the vineyard, since redemption thus meets the every necessity of the guilty, the helpless, and the wretched—for creatures whom it found in the lowest degradation, and leaves them not till it elevates them to the noblest exaltation?
III. Much of what has been done for the vineyard consists in the greatness of the reward which the Gospel proposes to righteousness, and the greatness of the punishment which it denounces on impenitence. It was not redemption from mere temporary evil that Jesus Christ effected. The consequences of transgression spread themselves through eternity; and the Saviour, when He bowed His head and said, "It is finished," had provided for the removal of these consequences in all the immenseness, whether of their magnitude or their duration. Much, exceeding much, has been done by God for the vineyard, seeing that He has opened before us prospects for eternity, than which imagination can conceive none more brilliant if we close with the proffers, and none more appalling if we refuse.
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1796.
References: Isaiah 5:4.—C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical p. 219. Isaiah 5:6.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 219. Isaiah 5:9.—W. V. Robinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 148. Isaiah 5:18, Isaiah 5:19.—R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, vol. i., p. 82.
Isaiah 5:20I. The sin against which I would warn you is the sin of disregarding, and even of in the least degree underrating, the eternal distinctions of right and wrong; it is, in one word, the sin of viewing things in their wrong aspects, or of calling things by their wrong names. To talk otherwise than sadly and seriously of sin is sin.
II. The cause of the sin is a faint appreciation of moral evil; a tampering with it, a destruction of that healthy instinct which revolts at it. It is the very nature of sin, that the more we know of it the less we know it; the more we are familiar with it the less do we understand its vileness.
III. The punishment of this sin is nothing less than the failure of all life—the waste, the loss, the shipwreck of the human soul—the sapping of every moral force and every vital instinct. And this is death. This is the worst woe that can befall finally those who have learnt to call things by their wrong names—to call evil good, and good evil.
F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 129.
References: Isaiah 5:20.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 36; F. W. Farrar, Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 178.
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
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, neither consider the operation of his hands.
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
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 nigh and come, that we may know it!
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
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.
Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.