Isaiah: Chapter 5 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome, Family! We're spending 2024 with the prophet Isaiah. While we claim no expertise, we're excited to sit with you as we both learn at the feet of Jesus. Each month, we offer a calendar that outlines daily exercises (adapted from Jenn Wilkin's Women of the Word Bible study process) to progress through Isaiah. Download January's calendar to begin with us and witness what we uncovered in our weekly "Wolfe Note" postings:

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapters Three & Four

A wave in the background with the first part of Isaiah 5:30 as text overlay.

Contents:

  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between CEB and NKJV.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research On God's vineyard.
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I memorized Isaiah 5:30.
  6. Reflect What Chapters 3-5 reveal about God and myself.
  7. Respond As a follower of Jesus to Chapters 3-5.

Different Versions

I read Chapter Four in the New King James Version (NKJV) and the Common English Bible (CEB). The NKJV is a word-for-word translation and the CEB is a thought-for-thought translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • the plantings in which God delighted (CEB) v. His pleasant plant (NKJV). Verse 7. In Hebrew, neta and shaashuim. Meaning "planting, plantation, or plant" and "delight or delightful". *They are saying the same thing. It was the past tense of delight that threw me, like God no longer delights in them. I prefer the translation in the present tense given the context of the rest of the verse.
  • bloodshed (CEB) v. oppression (NKJV). Verse 7. In Hebrew, mispach likely meaning outpouring or bloodshed. This is the only occurrence of the word in the Bible.
  • young goats will feed (CEB) v. strangers shall eat (NKJV). Verse 17. In Hebrew, guwr: abide; to sojourn. Other interpretations use lambs, fattened sheep and young goats, nomads, resident aliens, and inhabitants. Ellicott suggests the meaning is either that strangers, i.e., invaders, will devour the produce (Isaiah 1:7) or that the *meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). *Both translations are popular. Either attempt is to illustrate the sharp contrast between a thriving city and desolate ruins where the humble and meek benefit.
  • Tyre and the Nile (CEB) v. And the light (NKJV). Verse 30. In Hebrew, or: a light as in Genesis 1:3 KJV: "Let there be light". No Bible Hub commentary mentions Tyre or the Nile. Commentators, do however agree that the translation of this clause. Got Questions notes that Tyre was supposed to be part of Asher's inheritance (Joshua 19:24-31), but the Israelites never conquered it (2 Samuel 24:7). The Israelites retained close ties with Tyre, King Ahab even marrying the Phoneician princess, Jezebel. Tyre's demise is detailed in Ezekiel 26:4-5. And Jesus uses Tyre as in illustration of an unrepentant city (Matthew 11:21-22). Tyre was destroyed and has never regained its status as a superpowered commercial city. *CEB took liberty to replace "light", preferred by nearly every other version, with "Tyre and the Nile" here. I'm uncertain as to why. It can lead people to read it literally when its not meant to be literal. Perhaps it is so people wouldn't interpret this verse to mean that God's light is being extinguished, staying true to John 1:5 CEB: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn't extinguish the light."

Annotation

Notes on my process*Denotes my thoughts alone. ! Denotes a connection. Researched quick answers are in italics. *Indicates a topic with more extensive notes under the research heading.
  1. God's Vineyard (v1-7)
    1. The Preparation (v1&2) ! Proverbs 24:30-34 presents a picture of poor preparation.
      1. ! Made a place in the field. (Proverbs 24:27)
      2. *Removed obstacles to growth. v2
      3. *Placed it to prosper. v2
      4. *Guarded it. v2
      5. *Prepared to collect its fruits v2
    2. The Failure (v2) - ! fall of man; eating of the tree (Genesis 3) v2
    3. The Request (v3&4) 
      1. ! Like Job, tell me, since you're so wise...(Job 38) v3
      2. *Shows God's frustration (What more?) and disappointment (When I expected...) v4
    4. Prophecy (v5&6)
      1. *Removal of God's protection from Israel.
      2. How are the hedge and wall different? Is the hedge to keep out animals, who would ruin it, and the wall humans, who would trample it? v5 In Hebrew, wall is used interchangeably with hedge and the word for hedge here only appears one other time - Proverbs 15:19 NKJV: "The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway." *So blocks, or hinders, as a wall would also do. But maybe not as effectively? Pulpit notes that in some cases, a vineyard was protected by both a hedge of thorns and a wall, but most often one or the other. Having both a hedge and a wall around God's vineyard indicates His supreme protection of it.
  2. God's Judgment on Israel's Sin (v8-24)
    1. Israel's Sin
      1. *Greed (v8-10)
      2. *Indifference (v11-17) 
        1. *The only thing on their mind is feeling good, having fun, or shirking responsibility. (v11)
        2. *Not only do they not participate in God's work, they refuse to see it! (v12)
        3. *They "die of hunger" because they don't feast on the bread of heaven (John 6:51) and are "dried up with thirst" because they don't accept the living water (John 7:37-39), which without you die eternally (Philippians 3:18-19). (v13-14)
        4. *Even though they seem happy now, it will not end well. (v14)
        5. Does "the eyes of the exalted laid low" mean that what they sought after or looked up to would be destroyed? (v15)
        6. What does it really mean that God will be "exalted in justice" and "show himself holy in righteousness"? That all will finally look to Him to set wrongs right and accept His standards of holiness? (v16)
        7. Israel = "lambs" and those who follow God with humility "young goats"? (v17)
      3. *Ignorance. They allow sin to run their life and refuse to rid themselves of it, to the point of convincing themselves they have no sin and are righteous. (v18-20) 
      4. *Corruption (v20)
      5. *Pride (v21)
      6. *Deceit (v22-24) Despised & rejected, they hung Him - the word - on a cross, (Isaiah 53:3-12; Acts 8:32-35and they did it with a bribe (Matthew 27:3-10). (v24)
  3. End Result (v25-30)
    1. *Redemption for all (v26)
    2. *People "from the end of the earth" now excitedly come for they recognize the good that Israel failed to see. (v26)
    3. *We will not rest or grow weary (Isaiah 40:31)! (v27)
    4. *We are dressed in God's armor; equipped with His weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18)! (v27)
    5. *Led by Jesus - the lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Roaring because of who He is with faith like a child (Matthew 18:3). (v29)
    6. *Our prey is Satan (I Peter 5:8) and we will know permanent victory (Revelation 20:7-10) when he is thrown into the sea (Revelation 20:3). In the end, all we'll see is God exalted in justice, holy in righteousness (Isaiah 5:16).

Research

*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
How is the house of Israel God's vineyard and how has God tended it? 

  • God's Vineyard is used throughout scripture as a metaphor for His people.
    • Isaiah 5:7 CEB: The vineyard of the LORD of heavenly forces is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are the plantings in which God delighted. God expected justice, but there was bloodshed; righteousness, but there was a cry of distress!
    • Proverbs 31:16 KJV: She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (Interpreting "she" as "Wisdom".)
    • Song of Solomon 8:12 KJV: My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. (Wolfe Stew interpretation)
    • Jeremiah 2:21 CEB: Yet it was I who planted you, a precious vine of fine quality; how could you turn into a wile vine and become good for nothing?
    • Hosea 10:1 CEB: Israel is a growing vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he build; the richer his land became, the more he set up sacred standing stones.
    • The Parable of the Tenant Farmers in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. My paraphrase and conclusions follow:
      • *Paraphrase: Stewards were chosen to care for a landowner's vineyard. When the landowner sent servants to collect the fruit, the steward beat, killed, and stoned them. Then, the landowner sent his son believing the stewards would respect him. But they cast out and killed even him. The landowner is God, the stewards are the Pharisees, the servants are the prophets, and the son is Jesus.
      • *Conclusion This parable, spoken to the Pharisees, is Jesus' attempt (like God's attempt in Isaiah 5:3-4 "So now, you who live in Jerusalem, you people of Judah judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I haven't done for it? When I expected it to grow good grapes, why did it grow rotten grapes?) to get the Pharisees to realize that God has trusted them with His people but they were evil leaders. Now, there is only one solution left, to: totally destroy those wicked farmers" (the Pharisees) and give the vineyard to others - all of us who willingly believe and obey. (In Isaiah 5:5, the solution was removing God's protection and allowing it to be destroyed.) 
  • God as the Landowner (from Bible Hub commentaries on Isaiah 5:2 and 5:5)
    • Fences us in to protect and govern us so neither men or beasts would spoil through laws, care, keeping us separate from others, and making a covenant with us to keep us accountable for staying within the boundary.
    • Removes stones like heathens, our own stubbornness and stupidity, & idols we worship
    • Chooses the best vine. Originally stemmed from the seeds of Abraham, Joshua, and Caleb who fully followed God; *and now Jesus: John 15:1-2 CEB: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don't produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit."
    • Builds a tower in our midst to reside with us, like the temple, as such towers were often for the owner's use. Could also be to guard us, or to remind us of the monarchy of David.
    • Expects to collect in His winepress. For the temple expects to receive joy and adoration. (Ephesians 5:18-21); Could also be where we stir and exhort each other to performance of good works (Hebrews 10:24).
    • Watches for good grapes because of how He nurtured us, we should yield righteousness and holiness or at least justice, equity, humility, meekness, love, patience, and contempt of the world.
    • Sees wild grapes, or wolf grapes that are sour & hard, poisonous, offensive like pride, passion, discontent, malice and contempt of God
  • Conclusion from Theology of Work: "We belong to God through Christ, so we are his vineyard. Each individual Christian is a branch on the vine of Jesus (John 15:1-8). Jesus shows us that we are to bear much fruit. Indeed this is the sign of true discipleship."
*Conclusion: Here, God expresses frustration with His chosen people. He set them up with every reason for success and they still grew rotten. Now, God works on a new vineyard, the choice vine being Jesus, and cuts off anyone who does not abide in Him. Some other choice vines: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joshua & Caleb, and now the lasting vine: Jesus.

Summary

God's carefully attended people yielded rot. So, God will call in another nation to utterly destroy them.

Memorize

I chose to memorize Isaiah 5:30 CEB:
On that day, they will roar over it like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks toward the land, there's darkness. Tyre and the Nile will be darkened by the clouds.

I read this verse as our (Christian's) final victory over Satan's deception. Here's my interpretative breakdown:

  • On that day: God's judgment day. (See research notes on Chapter 2)
  • they: God's army - That's us!
  • will roar: Like the lion of Judah! "You've got a lion inside of your lungs..." (lyrics from "Gratitude" by Brandon Lake)
  • over it: Their prey: Satan's deception. (Note warning signs for Satan's deception)
  • like the roaring of the sea.: Mightily, like when the sea is parted; powerfully, like when mountains crumble into it. (Look at all the ways God handles your mountains).
  • And if one looks toward the land,: - As in Sodom and Gomorrah (See Isaiah 1:9-10Genesis 19)
  • there's darkness.: - The light (life) of pride is extinguished.
  • Tyre and the Nile: - Bastions of men's pride
  • will be darkened: - Destroyed
  • by the clouds.: Like a pillar of clouds, for example? (See Isaiah 4:5-6 and Exodus 13:21-22) - God is in this story!


Reflect

On what chapters 3-5 reveal about God's and myself.

Chapters 3 and 4

  1. God gives and God takes away, (Isaiah 3:1-5) blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21) I do not always bless the name of the Lord through both the good and the bad. I need to work on remembering and trusting that God knows all, and I don't need to. He will work everything for good, even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment, and I must rest in that truth.
  2. God sees the truth. Though I find my own solutions, (Isaiah 3:6-7) dress myself up in pride, (Isiah 3:16-23), and put my trust in the wrong places, (Isaiah 3:7 &12), God will reveal my unrighteousness (Isaiah 3:24-26) so I can "forget the fake and relish the real" ("Decision One" in The Men We Need by Brant Hansen). I can trade my foul frocks for robes of righteousness. 
  3. God never leaves me. I forget He's there. I leave His way, thereby rejecting His name. But He always offers a way to escape (Isaiah 4:2 & I Corinthians 10:13). I need to learn to take hold (Isaiah 4:1) of Him always because only He "takes away my reproach", (Isaiah 4:1) makes me holy (Isaiah 4:3) by washing away my filth (Isaiah 4:4), covers me completely (Isaiah 4:5) and protects me eternally (Isaiah 4:6).

Chapter 5

  1. God meticulously and elaborately cares for us, His carefully considered vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-6), field, (See notes on Proverbs 31:16) or household (See our revision of Proverbs 31:10-31). I do not recognize or give praise to how elaborate His care for me is. When I grumble, I must learn to see and remember His placement of me was on purpose (Isaiah 5:2 & Acts 17:26), I was chosen to be grafted into the divine vine (Isaiah 5:2 & John 15:5) the hedge of His protection around is always around me (Isaiah 5:5 & Isaiah 4:5-6), the rocks - and even mountains - He removes hat impede my growth, (Isaiah 5:2 & Mark 11:23), the plowing and pruning He's done to promote a yield of goodness in me (Isaiah 5:2, 6 & John 15:2), how He constantly watches over me (Isaiah 5:2 & See Proverbs 31:27 notes ), and in return anticipates a harvest of greatness (Isaiah 5:2 & Ephesians 2:10).
  2. God has strict expectations for how we live (Isaiah 5:8-25). I often fail to meet His standard, but if I am open to His tending and allow Him to prune, He will enable even me to bring forth good grapes again.
  3. God will restore order and He will use believers to do it. (Isaiah 5:26-30) I must remember that sometimes the order being restored is within myself.

Respond

As I follower of Jesus, I will:
  1. Accept that I am in need of refining, when I feel unrest or struggle, recognize God is pruning so I can produce a yield of good grapes.
  2. Seek the way out when I am tempted to sin, trading my worn, tattered, and faulty ideas for His truth, then running to take hold of Jesus: the one my soul loves.
  3. Remember to bless the Lord at all times - in the good and the bad, seeking to understand (and remember) how He cares for me when it doesn't feel like He does.

In Closing

Father God, though You painstakingly care for, equip, and position us, we still fail to meet Your expectations. Yet, You show us grace. Jesus is our way out, our escape, our failproof way to remain in You. I'm cleaving to Him, Lord. Thank you for Your provision, Your love, Your mercy.


Learning with You,

Ready for Chapter 6?

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