God’s Vineyard

The Vineyard Song

The first few verses of Isaiah 5 are referred to as the Vineyard Song. The song describes a vineyard planted on a fertile hill. It is tended to and cared for, but this vineyard produces thorns and wild grapes instead of the harvest that was expected. Jesus, in Mark 12, recalls this passage as a backdrop for a parable about workers who mistreat their masters messengers and murder the master’s son. Both Isaiah and Jesus deal with how God’s people respond to His care and protection.

Notice the care put into this vineyard. The planter picks a fruitful hill. He tends to it and tills it, picks the choicest of vines. He builds a tower, a hedge, and a wall to protect the vineyard. The landowner goes above and beyond to protect and nurture the vineyard, but this vineyard ends up producing worthless fruit. Through Isaiah, God asks the people what they would do with such a vineyard. He asks what more He could have done. He tells them that He will remove His protection from the vineyard, and He will allow it to go dry. Then He explains that His people are reflected in this vineyard.

Wild Grapes In Judah

God promises destruction upon His vineyard of Israel for the wild grapes of sin that fill their land.

  • In verses 8-10, Isaiah describes how landowners and homeowners continue to expand based on their greed. He says the harder they work, the less they will bring in. This same attitude is addressed in the minor prophets when they describe people who hoard money in a bag only to discover the bag has a hole in it.
  • Verses 9-12 describe individuals who live only for pleasure. They party from morning to night – reflecting carnal and sensuous minds.
  • Verses 18-19 speak of people who pile sin upon sin and have no shame. Verse 20 is similar to this in the promotion of evil, putting down those who are trying to do right.
  • Finally, verse 21 describes people who are proud of their own knowledge, thinking highly of themselves and disregarding the council of God.

Our Application

Hebrews 6:7 speaks of a land that drinks rain from God and tilled by God. The Hebrew author is speaking of us, drawing a direct parallel with the vineyard of Isaiah 5. God gives us His blessings, His promises. He watches over us. I Corinthians 10:13 describes God’s protection for us from temptation. He has placed a hedge around His people. We are that good ground in which He plants the seed of His word. He has cultivated us, but what grapes do we produce?

Do we produce wild grapes like His people in Isaiah 5? Do we make the things of this world main priorities in our lives? Are we motivated by greed and covetousness. II Timothy 2:22 warns us to flee worldly lusts that war with our souls. We can become so carnally minded, we don’t realize we are surrendering our souls. I John 2:16-17 makes a distinction between the corruptible things of this world and the incorruptible things of God.

We must be careful that we are not bearing worthless fruit. Hebrews 6:6 speaks of the danger of falling away, how easy it is to pile sin upon sin and how difficult it can be to turn back to God. We are surrounded by influences that calls good evil and evil good. Being over-tolerant can lead to embracing sin, trying to be like the world. Like the people in Isaiah 5, we can begin to think too highly of ourselves, and Romans 1:22 describes individuals who become foolish in their own perception of wisdom.

Isaiah’s vineyard song is not a happy song, and Jesus delivers some unhappy news in Matthew 7:15-23. He tells of people who claim to honor God but are rejected by Him. They claim to do His will, but their fruits reveal their hearts, their motivations, and their true priorities. We can call ourselves the vineyard of the Lord. We can recognize the Son He sends to us, but we must honor Him and produce for Him lest we wither in His sight.

lesson by Tim Smelser