AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH April 15, 2007 Isaiah 5 with 6, 7, 9
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
THE RISE AND FALL OF VINEYARDS,
AND THE FOLLOW-UP
SUMMING UP FOR JUDGMENT:
IT IS GOOD TO LISTEN,
LEAVING SHOVE FOR LOVE,
AND SHAN’T FOR WILL!
Vineyard, Rapacity for Riches,
Dreamy Delinquents, Ignorant Savants,
Sin Breeders, God Mockers and Moral Transvestites
I THE INDOLENT VINEYARD
For some, it is perhaps difficult to remember the office of love, and in particular, the love of God. We hear so much about number 1, oneself, one’s State or one’s firm or nation, as if to be FIRST was better than to make a good fist of something, that it is almost forgotten that the love of God is far from love-ins, and is the very strength of the fibre and function of mankind. Without it, we would long ago simply have been deleted.
Thus in Isaiah 5 we find, even in the midst of incredible seeming hypocrisy and self-seeking injustice in Israel, the fact that God had “A Song of my Beloved, regarding His vineyard.” It is to His well beloved the vineyard is given, and it is He who now has it, and has it AS the well-beloved! Alas, as to His people, who ARE the vineyard (5:7), He declares this:
"Because they have rejected the law of he LORD of
and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel,
therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people..."
We are reminded of Isaiah 30:8ff., indeed where the very essence of the nation has become one of rebellion!
To be sure, the Beloved whose vineyard it is, is the Well-Beloved, the Son of God (Mark 12:1ff., Isaiah 42:1ff), the covenant to come (Isaiah 49:6), and the King of Israel, as even Pilate began to see. It is He who as Jehovah had brought Israel to greatness, under David. But in that very love had He done it, to which the nation in so much and so many, had not responded.
It had been offered, pressed, presented, in appeals innumerable. Indeed, as you read in the day of Moses writing from the Lord in Deuteronomy 7: “You are .. a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people…”
"Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll,
that it may be for time to come, forever and ever:
that this is a rebellious people,
children who will not hear the law of the LORD,
who say to the seers, 'Do not see!'
and to the prophets, 'Do not prophesy to us right things;
speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits."
The grace of God found Abraham and in His truth He made promises (Genesis 12, 17). Moses presented the two sides even though Israel had already equivocated, as seen in Deuteronomy 27-29, where blessings and curses were read from two different mounts, to distinguish them categorically. But nothing ever breaks the promises of God (cf. Ezekiel 36:22).
In Isaiah 5, then, long after those earlier times, God traces the enormous labours and planning to make an excellent vineyard – and ISRAEL WAS that vineyard; and then declares this:
“It brought forth wild grapes” (Isaiah 5:2).
“What will I do with My vineyard ?” He rhetorically asks. The results for poor Israel are increasingly like, in kind at least, what that recidivist Gentile world is now finding as it makes endless endeavours to minimise its well-structured rebuke, as the wrath of God increases. Look at Darfur: is that not enough! Is there not "a cry!" Do they imagine that God is deaf, that do such things ? Do they ignore the humbling of Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein ? Does the grinding of the mill of God deceive them, that they think it has now grating!
Darfur ? It however is merely a token of Islamic persecution, of corruption and hearts which have something to teach granite for hardness! What of the rest of this writhing, striving, sin-sodden series of salacious, seized, diseased sites where tyranny rules, as in Zimbabwe, where folly raises its head like a Gorgon monster, as in some Western nations, which make morals a malady, and untruth a requirement, whether by law, or by false teaching times.
At times, it is found, yes it proclaims itself boldly, in what were once churches (just as Israel was, in ancient times, once a nation of glory in the Lord), at times in what had the semblance of righteous nations. Holland once so religious, is now a leader in immorality, where even euthanasia is taking the wings so long foreseen. England is taking orders from a morally diseased Europe (cf. Wake Up World! Your Creator is Coming Ch. 3). In Canada, male marriages appear part of the fabric, while an Episcopal Church in the USA is finding it rather to much to abstain from blessing male unions, and to desist from making homosexual BISHOPS!
So with ancient Israel a prototype, the Gentile world avidly follows that corruption, seemingly indifferent to the plight which followed for Israel, when it reached its climax in their killing of their King; which, in spirit, is wrought by so many in so many lands now, as they drift with remorseless indifference, to a moral vacuum, filled now increasingly with legal violence to subdue all objection, and hearts that stone might envy.
Thus we see in the prototype situation, in Isaiah, some withering words, few here, but deeply incisive.
Indeed, the Lord says this: “He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry” (Isaiah 5:7). And what a cry ascends to heaven as man destroys every bridge he can see, to reach it. The results, the Lord indicated, were coming. They came… !
2 RAPACITY FOR RICHES AND DREAMY DELINQUENTS
Some make a sport of adding field to field, callowly increasing their net wealth, but their affliction comes. This reminds us of recent statements about the possible time when seaside residences will become virtually worthless, because of salt and rising tides, storms and general disorder. What is to be found ? This: “The harp and the strings … wine in their flasks, but they do not regard the work of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands.” They see chances for pleasure and profit, but not the integral meaning of designs, in the artful and brilliant contrivances of which, in the flight of birds, their migration or our own intricate anatomy, there is need to consider: WHY did God make it ? WHAT am I supposed to do ? Find God and live in Him, that is what, and cease pretending. England loved to pretend that Hitler didn’t really ‘mean it’, until the bombs fell. He did. They found out. They did not consider the operation of his hands. Now as then, there are millions, billions, who do not consider what God has done, is doing and what is to come and WHY! Hitler ? He went; God remains (Zechariah 9:7, Psalm 90:1, 102:25-28).
3 IGNORANT SAVANTS, SIN BREEDERS
Already in Israel, by Isaiah’s day, there had been defeats and captivity. Indeed, Israel in the North had already gone into another land, beaten, broken, and not merely exiled from their land, but removed to outposts of an empire, not their own! So have peace and purity, righteousness and morality in this our land been far removed; and stress, tension, inward fatigue because of soiled intentions and aspirations, boldness of appetite, and disregard of God, in name or even more in commandments and design specifications: these have come like self-induced fog.
Depression becomes a major disease, and confusion is like a cloud cover to cut out the light of the sun, that spiritual sun, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Counsellor for man, who without Him, is as lively in wisdom as rampaging buffalo herd. How many nations seem keen to imitate the same rampaging heedlessness, in the ferment of vinous spirits, and seething ignorance of heart!
What did God say about this, in Isaiah’s day ? It was this. “Therefore My people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…” That is one reason why your pastor has put up on the Web his 135 volume work on the word and work of the Lord, on His truth and the assurance of its magnificence and necessity for man. Ignorance festers, like a wound not anointed with oil! While this lèse-majesté, this disregard of the sovereign strength and startling love of God in word, in the Bible, in deed, in Christ Jesus our Lord, proceeds like a racing pulse, there are results that begin not only to mimic the offence, but to mock it. Thus the Lord declares (Isaiah 5:14-16):
“Therefore hell has
enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure:
their glory and their multitude and their pomp, and he who is jubilant,
shall descend into it. People shall be brought down, each 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 who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.”
4 GOD MOCKERS and MORAL TRANSVESTITES
People rarely contain themselves when on lust, passion bent, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual. How can they MOCK God ? Isaiah mimics them. First he discloses the quality of their fallen lives:
“Woe to those who
draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as if with a cart rope…”
Then he shows their wantonry: “… 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 near and come, that we may know it.”
They summon God in their spiritual intoxication, in order to mock Him, as did the soldiers manufacture diabolical means to bring torment to the captured Christ! They did not realise that He had allowed them to seize Him, though He had said just that (Matthew 26:52-56); and they did not think that they would answer for their additions of contempt to injustice, mockery to madness. But for every statement, act of man, there is an answer from Him who is divine.
Nor is this all. They begin to say it is GOOD to do EVIL, to call DARKNESS some kind of LIGHT, BITTERNESS a SWEET thing (Isaiah 5:20). Woe to them, says the Lord, and to those who “are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
If some want to change their clothes to look like those of the gender they do not have, what is to be said of those who want to change their very humanity, to look like some abortion, instead of the creation of God, some self-made thing, nothing its mentor and no-wisdom its manufacturer, where they lay down the morals! This is all, and to themselves they commit themselves: they do not lay down their lives for the brethren, as I John 3:16 advises for the love which drives the people of God, but they lay down the law, their own, the opposite of goodness and mercy, for themselves.
Thus does even a government become a party to the little legalism of moral transvestism. They change the clothes of morality, dress it up differently, calling good evil, and evil good, confusing such things as gender, while even affronting truth or making its declaration illegal, as if a moral system founded on desire, could take over judgment from one founded in God and His word over the millennia, applied as He has spoken: and it will be applied. It is like drug-taking, where no amount of reason will be heard; for the lust is on… How terrible are those who speak of health and danger, is the immoral mouthing of many This, they say: It deserves fines, or even imprisonment. Such is life in the day of death! In Israel, it was nothing less as you see in Isaiah 6:10-13.
They declare it for others, their own rebellious immorality: they make it legal to be illegal, and illegal to be lawful. They torment truth and make sexual relationships a pleasure item, or cruise, an experiment, and family life a trifle to be torn apart for the sake of hedonistic satisfaction. Such is the direction of our own country, and this, our own State very nearly went in this very direction a month or so ago; and while resistance came from many, and an Upper House majority was able for the time to stop it, yet while the will was there, we must not assume it will not once more try to surface. In this, it is like an alien submarine in the peaceful waters of the State, or like a tanker, about to rip asunder, and deposit its gigantic bad oil slick, with careless stupor, upon our coasts.
Consider then this word of God found in Isaiah 6:
“Make the heart of
this people dull,
and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
That, blindness, like that of those who stare at the sun, was the first instalment for their wilful closing of the eyes! Then there came the result of it all, seen as we complete Isaiah 6:10-13:
“Then I said, ‘Lord, how long?’ And He answered:
‘Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
Consider the extent of this judgment. A beautiful tree – like many now in Adelaide, some of which already suffer, but through the mercy of the Lord, are not yet spoiled – is cut down. That stands for the fall of the land. It is not removed entirely ? No, for though, as with an oak, its tendrils of Spring lace, and its leaves of tender green and beautiful craft no longer appear, though the acorns no more cry out concerning the wisdom implanted in them, and as small, no more signal for the grand things to come from so little by the wisdom of the God who made all: there is some residue! Though the tree is cut down: yet its stump is there. God did not use a stump remover on it. Not at that time …
Now for the beautiful part … In Isaiah 7, there is the prophecy of the Virgin, in an event beyond all mere human conception, comparable with any miracle, staggering; for she is to bear a Son in whom we will have this: GOD WITH US, Immanuel. Then in Isaiah 8:21-9:7, we find that in the very midst of torment and anguish (and Isaiah 6 has shown enough of it, with Isaiah 5 the cause of it!), there is to come light, with peace and gladness, and the dominion of the mighty God, in the very person, amazing as it is, of His own Son, one also to be called the Mighty God. Here is the Messiah, the one sent from heaven to earth, bringing the holiness of heaven with Him, and its pardon. For ever is His time, without end is His kingdom (Isaiah 9:7).
We have just experienced one more blessed Easter, and praise God, in our State, they even stopped trading on Easter Monday, one of the most encouraging signals for a long time! Perhaps we will get a little more rain now! Already God has been merciful. That is the season in which the climax of this Son, this Prince of Peace’s coming was commemorated, His death and resurrection proclaimed. His return is the next vast index of judgment, when the ills foretold before it, will recede: for in these evils, there is hope; but when that comes, for those who have rejected Him, there is none.
What is worst in all life ? It is this: the INABILITY to be saved, the FINALITY of judgment and the REMOVAL from the light! This is what is most horrible, awesome, but what ? If in this time, in this clime, the light of Christ is rejected, though His words control the earth and invent history before its time, and will judge (John 12:48-50, Acts 17:31), is there no result ? Far from it.
says Paul, “has appointed a day
on which He will judge the world
in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained: He has given assurance
of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Such is the divine manifesto manifesting its mission; and He who is that Judge, has the divine mandate, the very brightness of divine glory, God manifest in the flesh. Without Him, is the predictable squabble, stubble, height from man's exalted creation status, depth from his hideous decline. What neglects the necessary merely confirms its status.
Recently, we were talking to someone who spoke of having some belief, some faith, but when it came to hell – indeed there was another even more emphatic – this held less appeal. But why should a god be invented, to replace the living God, so that heaven is permissible from His mouth and power, but not hell, the crucifixion of Christ, but not of one’s own life in obedience to His will; resurrection, but not realisation of the way that does not live in, with and by, yes and for Christ, in its end ? Will a man begin and not end, aim and not fire, call evil good and good evil, say - Let God hasten His work that we may see it! and not find where mockery belongs, and live there! Is bounty to be received, and judgment omitted ? Is truth to be loved, but its impact negated!
Is a man to invent his own god ? Why then talk of Christ; but if Christ be followed, let hell not be lost in the middle of some muddle of vain words, as if cancer were a myth, and reality a dream.
Enough of dreams. Let us live for Christ!