THEY CALL EVIL GOOD. Isaiah chapter 5
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.
Isaiah (5:1-2) relates a parable of his friend who bought a vineyard and invested heavily in its development and upkeep but the vineyard only brought forth worthless fruit.
A "tower" or WATCHTOWER: In Hebrew "Migdal (Tower) Notsrim (Watchers)" old remnants of which such are still found all over Israel. These buildings are sometimes quite large and closely resemble similar towers (brochs) found in Ireland, Scotland, and southwest Britain and dating from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Britain i.e. somewhere between 500 and 100 BCE.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
The Commentators Abarbanel and Malbim believed that this section was prophesying the future destruction and exile of the northern kingdom of Israel in which the Ten Tribes dwelt. According to the simple meaning of the verses the southern Kingdom of Judah was called upon to be the Judge between God and the Ten Tribes. Later it is said that the same fate would befall Judah. The northern tribes were to be exiled by the Assyrians and after them there remained the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin who were later exiled by the Babylonians. .
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.
Jerusalem and Judah are that vineyard which will have to be demolished (Isaiah 5:3-6).
A WASTE: After the Israelites were exiled a remnant of Judah remained. Later Judah too was exiled. The Land of Israel when Israelites or Jews (of Judah) do not occupy it eventually becomes a waste.
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.
God wants the good and righteous living of both sections of his people.
The parable however applies even more so to The House of Israel (The Ten Tribes) who spill blood and lack justice (5:7). Judah was supposed to bring forth good fruit through association with the House of Israel but both sides failed (5:7).
8 Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field,
Until there is no more room,
So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
"ADD HOUSE TO HOUSE": This may be considered an Ecological plea for the preservation of open spaces.
9 In my ears the LORD of hosts has sworn, Surely, many houses shall become desolate,
Even great and fine ones, without occupants.
10 For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine,
And a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain.
Depletion of the soil happens due to over use of fertilisers and over cultivation. This occurs quite frequently. It is easily preventable. Some of the claims of the ecologists may be exaggerated. Some of them have "liberal" political agendas, etc. Even so a lot of what they say makes sense. It appears with a little good will and effort and some public education a lot of damage could be prevented. Western man is suffering from pollution and chemicalised foodstuffs. It does not have to be this way to such a degree.
bath. This is a Hebrew word. It is a liquid measure. This is where the English word, "bath", comes from.
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink,
Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!
12 Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine;
But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD,
Nor do they consider the work of His hands.
They who pursue development at ecological expense are condemned (5:8) alongside they who devote themselves to self-indulgence and partying (5:11-12).
A lot of young people live on music and substance abuse, so do some housewives and others. Pills and alcohol are destructive.
13 Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge;
And their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude is parched with thirst.
Because of these offences the People of the Almighty are sent into Exile due to their own lack of knowledge. Hunger will strike them both in the physical and spiritual sense (5:13).
"for their lack of knowledge": A lot of people want to do good and would be only too happy to fix their lives up. They do not know how. We are all lost without leaders and unable to lead. The Bible may not always be a complete solution in itself but it does help point the way.
14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure;
And Jerusalem's splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it.
15 So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased,
The eyes of the proud also will be abased.
16 But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment,
And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.
At this stage God will be exalted (5:16).
[It is a recurring theme in Isaiah that from the depths of despair will emerge salvation and everything be turned over again from bad to good].
The truth of God will be vindicated.
17 Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture,
And strangers will eat in the waste places of the wealthy.
18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood,
And sin as if with cart ropes;
19 Who say, Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it;
And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near
And come to pass, that we may know it!
Isaiah condemns they who continue to sin and look forward to the End Times or defy the bad results of their actions (5:19).
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
"CALL EVIL GOOD": It is one thing to acknowledge evil but decide that you personally cannot resist it. It is another thing to try and justify what you or others do by saying that it is actually good when it is not. Promiscuity is bad and should not be justified.
"CALL EVIL GOOD": This also applies to those who call death and humiliation "Peace".
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine
And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
"HEROES IN DRINKING WINE" In certain cultures young men are encouraged to drink a lot. It has a certain attraction but on the whole more harm than good comes out of it. Everyone can get caught up in bad habits that later may be difficult to abandon.
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!
They call evil good and good evil both in ideology (5:20) and in deed (5:21-23).
24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble
And dry grass collapses into the flame,
So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust;
For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
They are traitors to the People of the LORD GOD of Israel (5:24).
25 On this account the anger of the LORD has burned against His people,
And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down.
And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets.
For all this His anger is not spent,
But His hand is still stretched out.
They shall be punished just as they caused punishment to come upon their fellow men (5:25).
"AGAINST HIS PEOPLE": Even when God is angry the Israelites are still His people.
26 He will also lift up a standard to the distant nation,
And will whistle for it from the ends of the earth;
And behold, it will come with speed swiftly.
"FROM THE ENDS OF THE EARTH": Chinese hordes of male warriors without female partners because all baby daughters have been killed off? Oliver Cromwell said, "Praise the LORD and pass the ammunition". Maimonides said that the Jewish Commonwealth founded by the Maccabees lost its independence because they depended on astrology and did not learn warfare. In other words we should all do repentance, learn more, pray more, (support organizations like Brit-Am Israel), and also encourage our governments to improve our defences and offensive capabilities.
27 No one in it is weary or stumbles,
None slumbers or sleeps;
Nor is the belt at its waist undone,
Nor its sandal strap broken.
28 Its arrows are sharp and all its bows are bent;
The hoofs of its horses seem like flint and its chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
"The hoofs of its horses seem like flint ": Steel treads on armored vehicles?
"and its chariot wheels like a whirlwind": Churning tanks?
its chariot wheels like a whirlwind. Helicopters?
29 Its roaring is like a lioness, and it roars like young lions;
It growls as it seizes the prey
And carries it off with no one to deliver it.
ITS ROARING: The sound of war machines?
30 And it will growl over it in that day like the roaring of the sea.
If one looks to the land, behold, there is darkness and distress;
Even the light is darkened by its clouds.
Hordes of foreigners from a distant nation at the geographical extremity of a continental land mass (5:26) will attack with rockets, guns, armored vehicles and flying machines (5:28). They will take captives and darken the sky (5:30).
We are being warned. We need to repent and to better ourselves.
This applies both at the national and at the individual level.