I. The vineyard as a symbol of Israel (5:1-2; Ps. 80; Jer. 12:10; Mark 12:1-10)
A. “My Well-beloved” = God
B. “The choicest vine” = Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
C. “Wild grapes” are poisonous and toxic
II. A song of lament (5:3-6)
A. Similar in method to Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-15) and Jesus (Matthew 21:33-43; Mark 12:1-9)
B. Limits of God’s power: He will not violate man’s free will (Matthew 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9)
III. The meaning of the parable (5:7)
A. Paronomasia (pun in which the words sound similar but have different meanings)
B. Justice (mishpat) vs. oppression/bloodshed (mispah)
C. Righteousness (sedakah) vs. a cry (seakah)
IV. The first woe (5:8-10)
A. Against land-grabbing (Micah 2:2; Jeremiah 22:13-17; Habakkuk 2:9-12)
B. Drastically reduced harvest (Lev. 26:20; Deut. 26:15, 18; Haggai 1:5-6)
V. The second woe (5:11-12)
A. Against drunken revelry (1 Peter 4:1-4; Eph. 5:18; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19-21)
B. God was not a priority (Amos 6:1-7; Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:1-2)
Read Isaiah 5:1-7
Isaiah’s Parable of the Vineyard
When we hear the word “parable,” our minds typically turn to the New Testament parables Jesus employed in his teaching. However, there are examples of parables in the Old Testament as well. Isaiah uses the image of a vineyard to teach a message about God’s care for and disappointment in His people.
God is portrayed as “my Well-beloved,” the one who has planted a vineyard. Isaiah says that this vineyard is “on a very fruitful hill” (Isaiah 5:1). God gave this vineyard every advantage to succeed: “He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes” (Isaiah 5:2).
“My Well-beloved” expresses His disappointment in the vineyard. “What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:4).
With all the advantages given to Israel, why did they fail? Was God to blame? He called on them to judge for themselves (Isaiah 5:3), then proceeded to explain His intentions going forward. “And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; and break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned or dug, but there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it” (Isaiah 5:5-6).
Judgment was coming. God wanted His vineyard to succeed but “wild grapes” were the result. Still today, God wants to save lost souls. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
He will not violate man’s free will and force compliance. It is each person’s choice whether they will serve God or become modern-day “wild grapes” like Israel of old.
Isaiah’s Parable of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-12)
- 5:1-2 – The vineyard as a symbol of Israel (Psalm 80; Jeremiah 12:10; Mark 12:1-10)
- Isaiah adapts his delivery but not the message
- “My Well-beloved” = God
- “The choicest vine” = Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
- “Wild grapes” are toxic/poisonous
- 5:3-6 – A song of lament
- Similar in method to Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-15) and Jesus (Matthew 21:33-43; Mark 12:1-9)
- Limits of God’s power: He will not violate man’s free will (Matthew 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9)
- 5:7 – The meaning of the parable
- Paronomasia (pun in which the words sound similar but have different meanings)
- Justice (mishpat) vs. oppression/bloodshed (mispah)
- Righteousness (sedakah) vs. a cry (seakah)
- 5:8-10 – The first woe
- Against land-grabbing (Micah 2:2; Jeremiah 22:13-17; Habakkuk 2:9-12)
- Drastically reduced harvest (Leviticus 26:20; Deuteronomy 26:15,18; Haggai 1:5-6)
- 5:11-12 – The second woe
- Against drunken revelry (1 Peter 4:1-4; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21)
- God was not a priority (Amos 6:1-7; Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:1-2)
1. What had God done to ensure the success of the vineyard?
2. How did God respond to the vineyard’s failure?
3. What is wrong with acquiring houses and fields?
4. What are some popular songs that Christians should avoid because of content?
5. Jesus warned against a preoccupation with the “riches and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14); what is the result of such according to Christ?
Christians must be aware of the world around them. Inspiration teaches, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Our awareness of the world will help to guard us against falling prey to Satan’s schemes, and prepare us to help others find God’s truth.
NBC premiered a new program called Rise in March. The show focuses on Lou Massuchelli, an English teacher put in charge of his high school’s drama club. His first act is to announce the production of the controversial musical, Spring Awakening, which addresses several issues of teenage sexuality.
Rise includes a male homosexual student, a transgender female transitioning to male, and a straight male who is cast in a role that requires him to kiss another male. All of these are presented as completely normal, acceptable lifestyles to most of the other characters. The few that object are portrayed as narrow-minded people. Showrunner Jason Katims released a statement in which he affirmed the producers are “firmly committed to LGBTQ inclusion” and that Rise “portrays positive depictions of LGBTQ characters and stories…with honesty and sensitivity.”
In a recent episode, a parent asked the teacher, “What do you believe in?”
Lou responded, “I believe in the kids I teach. I believe in the truth. I believe in helping them to grow up in the sun and not in the shadows,” further reinforcing the character’s view that homosexuality and transgenderism should be accepted by everyone.
I am reminded of the prophet who cried, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
Fornication — whether heterosexual or homosexual — is wrong, regardless of age. Transgenderism is wrong. Brother Ben Giselbach published an informative article about transgenderism in 2015 on his website, “Plain Simple Faith” (plainsimplefaith.com/2015/06/transgenderism).
Christians, be aware that many of your co-workers (adults) and classmates (youngsters) believe in the acceptance of deviant sexual behaviors. Be ready to defend the Biblical truth on these matters (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3).