“Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his
vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:”
The speaker is
Isaiah, his “well-beloved” is Jehovah, the vineyard is Judah as represented
here by Jerusalem, and the fruitful hill is Mount Zion, the complete
symbolic picture being of God’s earthly people represented here by Judah,
who is in turn a figure of the Church which is the corporate body of His
chosen people of this present dispensation of grace. The “fruitful hill”
speaks of the unique blessedness of those who comprise the Church. They are
the bride of Christ, and are as described in Ephesians 1:3 “blessed with all
spiritual blessings in heavenly places (things), in Christ.”
“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 out a
wine-press therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it
brought forth wild grapes.”
fenced speaks of God’s protecting care; the removal of the stones portrays
His removal of all that would make difficult their being fruitful
spiritually. The planting occurred when He brought the people into Canaan,
they themselves being His choicest vine, chosen from among all the other
people on earth. The tower in the midst may represent Jerusalem, which
means peace, and which portrays “the peace of God which passes all
understanding,” Philippians 4:7, into which faith in Christ brings the
believer; and since wine is a biblical symbol of joy, the wine-press speaks
of the happiness God meant them to enjoy in the good land He had given them.
Few will have
difficulty seeing in all of this a typological picture of what God wants men
to enjoy through conversion which “has delivered us from the power of
darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,”
Colossians 1:13. By the new birth we have been brought spiritually
out of the world of business and pleasure represented by Egypt, into the
spiritually rich realm represented by Canaan, but literally we remain
in that same evil world, which has now become for us a spiritual wilderness
through which we travel on our way home to heaven.
Israel as a vine in the vineyard of Canaan, God looked for spiritual fruit:
gratitude expressed in obedience. We as believers have had the spiritual
equivalent of that planting, and God looks for the same expression of
gratitude: an obedient life; but sadly, He must be as much disappointed in
us as He was in Judah, for we too have brought forth “wild grapes,” setting
His teeth on edge as it were, instead of giving Him pleasure.
Israel however, instead of producing the fruits of righteousness represented
by the cultivated grapes, brought forth wild grapes, symbolic of what is
sinful; and we are deceived if we fail to see in this the foreshadowing of
our own delinquency. How much that is unrighteous, how little of what is
righteous, have we produced in our own lives!
“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you,
betwixt me and my vineyard.”
exhortation is the equivalent of the self-examination enjoined relative to
eating the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week, “... whosoever shall
eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty
of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so
let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup,” 1 Corinthians 11:27-28.
The fact that self-examination is to be followed, not by absenting oneself
from the Table, but by eating the Lord’s Supper, implies very clearly that
the examination should bring repentance and abandonment of the sin.
“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
The Church is
the equivalent of the vineyard, and the same question might well be posed
relative to what God has done for her. Every member has been redeemed by
the precious blood of God’s only Son. What more could He have done or
given? Surely remembrance of the price paid to redeem our souls from
eternal death should impel the grateful response, “Thanks be unto God for
His unspeakable gift,” 2 Corinthians 9:15, the reality of our gratitude
being demonstrated in the presentation of an obedient life.
“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:”
“... now go
to” is an archaic way of saying “permit me, and I will....” or “attend to
what I am about to say.”
fulfilled in the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, and again in that of the
Romans under Titus in 70 AD, the latter conquest leaving the rebellious
nation scattered across the earth until 1948 when Britain gave Palestine to
be a homeland for the Jews, their return to it continuing today, and
signifying that the Great Tribulation is imminent.
“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.”
pruning and digging results in lack of productivity, with the result that
the ground is taken over by briers and thorns, symbols of the curse, see
Genesis 3:17-18, drought contributing to the barrenness. And this has a
spiritual counterpart: failure to read, study, and obey the written Word
results in a barren spiritual state, the existence of which is all too
apparent today, not only in professing Christendom, but also in the lives of
genuine believers, multitudes of whom fritter away precious hours, not in
grossly sinful activities, but in those that contribute nothing to the
advancement of Christ’s kingdom, e.g., business, hobbies, sports, the arts,
politics, to name but a few.
It would, in
fact, be a healthy exercise to ask in regard to everything we do, other than
our necessary work, “Will this contribute in any way to the advancement of
Christ’s kingdom?” If the answer isn’t Yes, then we may be sure that that
activity will bring no commendation at the judgment seat of Christ.
“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.”
condemnation thus far has been of negative wrong: sins of omission, Judah’s
failure to do right; but now the Lord takes up the matter of her active
evil. He had looked for justice, equity, right rule, integrity,
righteousness, but had found only murderous iniquity, bloodshed, anarchy,
oppression, and had heard only the cry of the oppressed. In our educated,
wealthy, sophisticated, pleasure-loving, modern world the same evils
continue to provoke His righteous anger.
“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!”
God’s disapprobation of the mercenary unscrupulous landowners who under any
pretext seized the property of the poor in order to extend their own
holdings, and make themselves the sole occupants of large estates. Relative
to this the JFB Commentary states that “The jubilee restoration of
possessions was intended as a guard against avarice.” The avaricious breed
however, continues to thrive today, both in Christendom, and world wide.
“In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be
desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.”
The ears were
Isaiah’s, he being the one to whom God was revealing the future of
rebellious Judah described in the preceding verses. The day was coming when
the unscrupulous land-grabbers, together with their unfortunate victims,
would be killed or carried into captivity, leaving many houses to become
ruins; and it isn’t difficult to see in this a preview of the desolation
that will be worldwide at the end of the Great Tribulation.
We are missing
an important part of the lesson however, if we fail to remember that after a
few brief years on earth, we too will have to leave this scene, and a
question we would do well to ponder is whether we will be leaving behind us
what we had foolishly thought was treasure, and will be going out into
eternity as spiritual paupers because we failed to set our hearts on those
things which are of eternal value, having ignored God’s command, “Lay not up
for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and
where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures
in heaven ... for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,”
“Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer
shall yield an ephah.”
proportionate yield differs according to which Bible translation is used,
but the clear general statement is that there will be terrible famine
throughout the world in the Great Tribulation, for the judgments that have
fallen upon rebellious Israel and Judah are but precursors of those still
future, and that will be universal, see e.g., Revelation 6:5-6.
“Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow
strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”
has been a scourge of society almost since the dawn of history, but never
has it been so pervasive as during this twenty-first century, its victims
including both sexes whose addiction begins in their early teens. And who
can begin to measure the misery that has been its concomitant!
“And the harp, and the viol, the tabor (tambourine) and pipe, and wine are
in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider
the operation of his hands.”
described here is not that appointed by God in the days of David for the
expression of worship, see 1 Chronicles 15:16-19; 16:7; 23:1-5; 2 Chronicles
7:6; 8:14; 29:25-27; 35:15,. This was the OT counterpart of the cacophony
which passes today for “music,” but which inflames passion, and offends the
ears of all but its duped devotees.
We might note
in passing that Scripture is significantly silent relative to music in the
Church, the biblical injunction being “And be not drunk with wine, wherein
is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to
the Lord,” Ephesians 5:18-19, and again, “Let the word of Christ dwell in
you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,”
orchestrated music, which plays such a prominent part in the so-called
“worship” of Christendom, quickly developed under Roman Catholicism, and is
one of the many unscriptural affixments appropriated by Protestantism from
that same evil source. And so intent are the devotees of apostate
Christianity on replacing the Divine order with their own agenda that they
never take the trouble to even examine God’s, or to carefully consider all
the evidence supporting belief in His existence.
“Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no
knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried
up with thirst.”
abandonment of God had resulted in His abandoning them, and delivering them
into captivity, the certainty of the event being indicated by its being
spoken of here as an accomplished fact though it was still about 150 years
in the future.
differ relative to the meaning of “because they have no knowledge.” Some
take it to mean that the people were unaware of the judgment about to
overtake them; others, that they didn’t know how much God had done for them;
and others, that they had lost the knowledge of how God was to be served and
men” were the leaders; and “the multitude,” the commoners. Multitudes would
perish in the famine.
Again, it is
easy to see in this literal famine a picture of the spiritual state of
present day professing Christianity, for the bread and water are types of
the Scriptures as the spiritual food and drink of genuine believers; but
unbelief can’t assimilate that spiritual sustenance, hence the spiritual
famine raging today in professing but unbelieving Christendom.
“Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure:
and their glory, and the multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth,
shall descend into it.
clauses are metaphors emphasizing the certainty of the eternal punishment of
all who thoughtlessly ignore God, or who deliberately reject His authority.
“And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be
humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled.”
here refers to the common man, and “the eyes of the lofty” refers to the
haughty. In that fast approaching day the judgments of God will not
discriminate between rich and poor, high and low. All would be compelled to
acknowledge their own nothingness, and His supremacy. He is a wise man who
voluntarily makes that confession here on earth, and trusts in the Lord
Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.
“But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy
shall be sanctified in righteousness.”
armies, and as a title of God it emphasizes His omnipotence, He being
glorified by the impartiality of His judgment, the only way to ensure His
favorable judgment being for the sinner to trust in Christ as Savior, He by
His vicarious death having laid a basis of perfect righteousness upon which
God can acquit the believer of all guilt, since Christ’s death has expiated
all his sin.
“Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the
fat ones shall strangers eat.”
is to the abundance that will characterize the Millennium, “the waste places
of the fat ones” being the ruins of what had formerly been the estates of
the unbelieving rich.
“Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were
with a cart rope:”
whom this woe is pronounced are they who love sin, they being pictured as
hauling behind them with a rope a wagon filled with their evil deeds. It is
an apt picture of the unbeliever on the roadway of life dragging along his
ever increasing load of sin, to his eternal condemnation, ignorant of the
fact that faith in Christ as Savior would “empty the cart,” and enable him
to stand in God’s presence guiltless and unashamed.
“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
the attitude of multitudes today. They sneer at the mention of God, and
deny His existence, their mocking response to the Gospel being, “Show us
proof of His existence, and we’ll listen to your message.” Sadly, many
genuine believers are unable to produce that proof because of their
ignorance of Scripture which assures us that “We have also a more sure word
of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that
shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your
hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19. By far the greater part of prophecy has been
fulfilled, that completion being the assurance that the small remaining
fragment will just as surely be accomplished.
“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
of Scripture was never more prevalent than in today’s sophisticated society,
but the day is near when God will fulfill His Word relevant to His
punishment of those who would tamper with His Word, see Revelation 22:18-19,
“... If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the
plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from
the words of this book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of
the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are
written in this book.”
Man has a
polite euphemism to disguise the true nature of what God calls sin, but the
futility of the substitution will be revealed at the judgment of the Great
White Throne where all the sins of those arraigned there will be exposed in
the blazing light of Divine righteousness.
“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own
Every age has
had its complement of such proud complacent men, but never more so than
today, for advanced education has inflated man’s opinion of himself to the
point where he despises God, and denies His very existence.
“Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle
“Woe to those
who are ‘heroes’ when it comes to drinking, and boast about the liquor they
can hold,” is Taylor’s rendering of this verse, nor could any description of
today’s society be more accurate. See comments on
to mingle strong drink” relates to those who are skillful in concocting
mixtures of wines and/or liquors.
“Which justify the wicked for reward, and take the righteousness of the
righteous from him!”
here is to crooked judges willing to render verdicts in favor of the
litigant paying the largest bribe, thus robbing the poor of their legal
rights. It is unnecessary to say that virtually every court today is also
tainted with at least some measure of corruption.
“Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the
chaff, so their root shall be 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.”
Stubble is the
worthless root stump of grain or hay left in the ground after the harvest
has been reaped, and it was usually burned. The blossom going up as dust
refers to the withering of plant buds or flowers before coming to fruition,
and their becoming like dust so that the wind blows them away. Such were
the rebels addressed by the prophet, and so likewise would be their end.
They had produced no fruit for God’s glory, but simply cumbered the ground,
so He would remove them from the land by war, drought, famine, and disease.
In all of this God would have us see the foreshadowing of what will be in
the Great Tribulation.
“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 carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For
all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
of the hills may be a poetic description of earthquakes, or may refer to the
terror and trembling of the rulers who are frequently represented in
Scripture by hills and mountains.
The tearing of
their carcasses in the streets is generally understood to refer to the
devouring of the dead bodies by dogs or wild animals. It is yet another
dark color on the metaphoric canvas depicting conditions in the coming Great
“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
fulfilled when God brought the Babylonians against His rebellious people,
but it also describes His gathering of many nations eager to destroy Israel
in the Great Tribulation, as recorded in Revelation 16:16, “And he gathered
them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
“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:”
Here we have
pictured the insatiable eagerness, and the invincibility of the invaders to
destroy Israel. They will let nothing stand in their way.
“Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall
be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind,”
This is poetic
language describing not literal bows and arrows, and horse-drawn carriages,
but rather modern weaponry, and the swiftness of the invading armies.
“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.”
description of the weaponry is couched in the language of his own time since
he could have had no concept of modern armaments, and the thrice repeated
reference to roaring is a particularly appropriate symbol of the sound of
modern weapons, the power of which is perfectly conveyed under the figure of
a rampant lion.
“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.”
The roaring of
a raging sea depicts the intensity of the nations’ hatred of Israel; and the
darkened heavens and earth are symbolic of the dread with which that sorely
beset nation will await the breaking of the terrible storm of Gentile
animosity about to engulf her in the Great Tribulation.