Friday, April 21, 2006

Isaiah 5 - What the Lord has done for His vineyard

Isaiah 5 is a pretty big chapter and full of lots of interesting things.   I feel like I could write a few posts about the things I was getting from it, but I will just touch on a few.

I love the poetry in the first four verses.  It makes me want to cry:  In particular I want to point out verses 2 and 4:


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.

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?


Indeed, what more could God have done?  Here is how I interpret what the Lord did:


gathered out the stones – removed those people who would not hear the word
planted it with the choicest vine – raised up righteous people to start things out
built a tower in the midst of it – built a temple for the people
made a winepress therein – established the priesthood


Of course, the Lord has done the same things for us in our day.  Will we bring forth wild grapes? 


This poetry continues through the chapter to verse 13:


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.


Predictably, the footnote on knowledge refers to “the knowledge of God”.  I think we can assume, as in Christ’s time, that there were plenty of Jews who knew the scriptures.  I think the “honourable men” spoken of here are like the Pharisees in Christ’s day- they were well-read in the law, they knew all about what the scriptures said about God.  We must assume, then, that knowledge of God is not simply knowing about Him, because that was common.  No, it must be a personal and intimate knowledge.    Isaiah is saying, “you guys think you know what’s what, but really you don’t know anything, and you are like prisoners, like people who are starving”. 


Isaiah continues this wake-up theme in verse 20:


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!


It seems crazy that people would do this, especially people who should know better, but it really happens, and the people who are guilty of it often do not think that they are.  Nephi had similar language with his brothers.  He and Lehi were constantly trying to get them to wake up to what was really happening.   The message I get from Isaiah is that I need to always be on guard with myself and make sure the subtle philosophies of the devil don’t twist my thinking in a similar way.  I believe the key is daily, sincere prayer and mediation. 


Now to end on a positive note, I will proffer verse 25:


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.


I gather from this that the Lord, following the pattern of the priesthood, is showing forth greater love to those whom he has chastised.  He may be angry with us, but he still loves us and His hand is ready to offer help at the moment we choose to have it.  I believe this is the case because for the rest of the chapter, we see the mighty prophesies of Isaiah concerning the blessings, power, and majesty that will be afforded to the righteous, who will be gathered by the mercy of God. 


Let me just say that I love the words of Isaiah.   The spirit continually bears witness to me of the truth of them and it is a joy to read them and write my thoughts.

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