The Book of Isaiah-Is. 5 :8-13 -“Fruitfulness”

The Song of the Vineyard is an allegory that is to be understood at two levels. It refers to a specific time and place as well as it holds good in general sense since it is hinged on the divine nature. Thus Israel is the vineyard and in general sense the church is to be bountiful being a branch of the vine. (Jn.15:2) Love and Righteousness of God drive the allegory and as in the case of the Parable of the Tares judgment must round it off.
God’s zeal to lead Israel is illustrated by the care the husbandman took to nourish his vineyard. When the prophet speaks of its walls being taken down and hedges displaced in v.5 it is to be understood that the fault lay entirely with the fruits being contrary to all expectation. Divine care and love did not make Israel cleave entirely onto God. So wild grapes must reveal their nature. At the time God would lead the children of Israel with pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night no other nation could have claimed such close relationship. It is characterized as ‘apple of his eye’. Despite of it how easily did they take to the golden calf? As soon as Moses was long in coming from top of the mount they forced Aaron to make one. Next they wanted to have a king they could follow than God whose very voice frightened them. When the prophet says, “I will take away the hedge thereof’, it does not mean in a literal sense but Israel, instead being preserved in the place where they were placed, went after foreign gods and followed the worship and manners of the Gentile nations. So wars and other calamities which are natural to worldly powers would visit upon them. That much is for sure. When we do not care for abiding life as ‘hidden in Christ’ the lure of bling bling must indeed become the bait to trip us up. The epistle of James speaks this lure as lust or greed.(Jas.4:1-4) Indeed Prosperity theology did not come from God but from the manner modern evangelicalism explained away their worldliness with activism could accordingly cobble up a doctrine. James nevertheless calls them as ‘Adulterers'”Know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God:(Jas.4:4)?. The pillars of the church may hasten to the White House and before media glare endorse President Trump as their champion but shall not escape the odium of being worldly. In short what was wrong with Israel is so well established in the worldliness of modern churches.

“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! In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.(vv.8-10)”

Problem of sin does not just go away by lip-service. Israel backslid and in wanting to be like other nations they would make a statement about their material circumstance. What does Haggai say? “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.(Hag.1:6-NIV) Compare this with v.4”Is this time to attend to superficials while the house is caving from within?” is an alternate reading.

“Woe unto them… Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: …(vv.11-13)
Captivity of Israel was foregone conclusion and dispersion of the nation under the onslaught of the Gentile nations is part of human history as their regathering and their final destiny are even now set in motion. God’s Will and its fulfillment is past human understanding and must happen in God’s Time. So shall we learn of their example and watch as faithful servants to be found diligent in our service.
Those who delight in the Word is compared to a tree planted by the waters(Ps.1) Our fruitfulness can never be from hobnobbing with rich and the famous and they are the least illumined by what they seem to possess,- and the foolish would want to be part of their pomp and circumstance. Forget them. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest(Pro.6:6-8)”.Such diligence and industry despite contrary circumstances can only be cultivated by grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

(To be Continued)
Benny

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The Book of Isaiah- ch.5:1-7 “Song of the Vineyard”

“I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.

The song is an allegory in true sense of the word. Imagery of vine is sustained consistent with its purpose, its present state and its future being true: narrative of the Spirit follows a literary device such as allegory but it keeps to Truth which is self-evident. A well nourished vineyard is the result of great care taken on its upkeep. It tells whosoever sees it as owned by one who is industrious. By the same token a foolish man lets his garden run to ground. “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding (Pro.24:30-31)”; In NIV we can see its state: “Thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins”. Foolishness of Israel was in the manner they followed the ways of nations around them than abiding under the protective care of their God. Prophet Isaiah is commissioned by the Lord God to reprove his countrymen for their backsliding. Thus the Song of the Vineyard in our present context is an allegory on the same lines as the Song of Solomon is.
As with parables an allegory has another meaning than its literal lay of the land would present. It is this spiritual basis that gives these parables their value. In the Parable of the Good Wheat the enemy who sowed tares is Satan. So mere literal approach does not present the significance what the Spirit has laid on it. Think of God as the husbandman and nation of Israel as grapes. Similarly the Good Shepherd and his flock reveal a spiritual basis on which both shall agree. In whatever mode the Spirit places the divine Will, there shall be clear indication of it as expression of his Being. While we approach His creative Power the earth which was without form (Ge,1:2) also would reveal His Wisdom. Like the vineyard mentioned here we can see the garden of Eden was an expression where nature of the Father and of Son are both indivisible. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman (Jn.15:1).”
We approach the Song of Solomon as Christ’s love for his Church which is another way of expressing divine Will as Prophet Isaiah does here. He supplies the key so there is no confusion to the Will. In the Song of the Vineyard, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in.(v.7)” When God chose Moses for leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land He revealed his Will. He said, “it is called a land flowing with milk and honey(Ex.3:17.”
“A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year (Deut.11:12). From several examples as to the emphasis the Spirit places on Divine Nature of God, firstly we need to understand where his thrust is. It is for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16). Secondly it is on a need to know basis. So while we study Isaiah we need to keep in mind of the growing threat Assyria posed to the land. It is the historical imperative which must abide by the Sovereign will of the Lord God. For those Gentile nations the problem of sin must call to mind same pressures Israel had faced then. To sum: while expressing divine Will on one single nation the Spirit’s emphasis must for all other nations also sit in harmony with God’s promise to Abraham. “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed (Ge,12:3). So the apostate Israel and the apostate church are both equally condemned in the sight of God.

“He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit(vv.2-3)”
As with the creation day how God preceded the creation of man on the sixth day is consistent with God’s dealing with Israel. Before the children of Israel set out from Egypt God assured Moses that He would drive their enemies only little by little. So patience on their part was the means to develop their faith than insist on immediate solution to their earthly circumstances. By the same token God as the husbandman did all that would insure a bumper yield from his unflagging industry (Ex.23:29-30). Judah was intended as choicest vines but when they failed there must be some egregious problem and it was for the nation to search their conduct and remedy the situation.

“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?(vv.3-4)

“Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it(vv.5-6).”

“The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress (v.7).

(To be Continued)

Benny

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Significance of an hour, and a day, and a month… Re.9:15

“And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men (v.15).”

Firstly let us try to keep in mind that the four angels were prepared for an hour. Glory of the earth as we can see in the creation account is in the spiritual discernment. So when Adam was entrusted with the stewardship of the garden there was an order and blessedness of God was in the creation would multiply themselves and replenish the earth (Ge.1:28). In short the form of the earth was in the relationship of man nature and God. Fall of man certainly affected this bond. We shall see in the manner the glory of the Lord departing man from the case of the mighty Samson. His downfall did not come all of a sudden. His inability to abide in the Nazarite vows was symptomatic of his falling off from his calling. Such downward spiral of individuals, churches are silent, steady but unstoppable descent so one day comes a moment as one of the saddest lines, ever found in the Scripture becomes true in the life of a believer, “And he wist not that the Lord had departed from him (Jud.16:20).” Adversaries of children of God are prepared for an hour and when they do not take heed the hour of temptation rolls over to a day, and a month, and a year. It is the Spirit’s way of saying the path to hell is failure to account the hour of their lives. So the risen Christ’s warning ought to be before each of us, “From whence thou art fallen, and repent…(Re.2:5a)”
Lastly let us understand why the Spirit say that the angels were prepared for a period of time. Certainly not for tempting man.God does not tempt man any more than Delilah was prepared for Samson’s downfall. The epistle of James makes it clear.(Jas.1:13-15).The Spirit as spirit of truth is always there and we have the assurance that he that is in us is greater than that who is in the world. So failure at the hour of temptation cannot be laid on any but in our own spiritual apathy, and if we have been dull of hearing when we were cautioned abundantly beforehand, it is all the more vital to reexamine our lives and set us on the right standing with God.

Benny

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Narrative Mode: a threefold cord

The Spirit while placing the two narrative accounts from God the Father and the Son respectively, gives the Bible coherence by bringing them about the basic attributes of godhead, so events carry people, nations, also heaven and earth along,- whether seen in part or as whole, shall hold true. Narrative mode of the Spirit makes it clear. For an example let us examine Moses and Christ.
Moses is a servant of God while the Spirit introduces Christ as the Servant King.”Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many(Matt.20:28)”.

Moses leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land is like a kangaroo word, holding an incipient idea of Christ leading the redeemed of the earth to throne of God. When the Spirit sets Moses as ‘faithful in all his house as a servant ‘and compares with Christ (He.3:5-6) we know his intention: Moses is set down as an anti-type of Christ. Similarly when the Spirit in a vision (Re.12) shows the woman delivering a man-child we shall appreciate the appropriateness of the symbol. Christ leading the redeemed of the earth to his Father’s throne(12.5) carries another dimension than the narrative solely from the standpoint of the Father and the Son would have given. Moses of Old Testament, Christ of new covenant and the symbol bring all together. ‘A three plaited cord is not easily broken (Eccl.4:12)’ Narrative mode of the Spirit melds Love and Righteousness of God so neither the narrative nor the symbols contradict one another.
ii.
Love and righteousness in the narrative are shown in the manner the Son demonstrated abstract quality of Love. It is what we read in Jn.3:16. God the Father sent his only begotten Son to the world to redeem all those who would be saved. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (He.5:8-9).”Being made perfect his sacrifice fulfilled the requirements of God to accept all who would obey the Son. Love paid the penalty for transgressions of man so Righteousness was appeased. Moses was sent by God to redeem the children of Israel in bondage. Moses is intended as a symbol for the Son. In the epistle to the Hebrews as have additional clues and they are so arranged by the Spirit to leave no room for doubt as to the relationship Moses the servant of God has with Jesus the Savior of the world.
The Church is the reality where heaven and earth are reconciled in the Son and in the Father. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ep.1:4).” (Col.1: 22;Ep.5:27)
Benny

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The Book of Isaiah: Is.4 – “God’s Ways”

“In that day… (v.1)”

This refers to the day of the Lord of the hosts and it ‘shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty (Is.2:12)’. In this chapter while Isaiah continues with dire warnings, he also holds out the blessings that ushers the advent of the Anointed One, the Messiah.
This needs an explanation. The advent of the Son as Servant King and the Messiah are two different events but the prophesy does not see it as such. The reason is simple: it is set in God’s Time. For the same reason while Isaiah pronounces Day of the Lord does not differentiate so many partial judgments, for example the destruction of the old world by great flood, of twin cities of the plains of the past or the Babylonian captivity, destruction of Jerusalem under Titus which lay ahead.
God foreordained His Sovereign Will and He cannot deny His nature like mercy, love and righteousness. (Lam.3:23) One aspect of righteousness is manifest in the many evils that are upon the apostasy of the nation. Wars would bring the daughters of Zion low.
“In that day seven women will take hold of one man/ and say, “…only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!”(v.1) In such distressful time women shall outnumber men who could settle them in families. God’s commandment regarding marriage gives an insight in Deut.25:5-10. One who did not built up his brother’s house was tantamount who brought shame to his tribe. Compare this shame to the idyllic illustration of a happy family. “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table(Ps.128:3). Instead what we see here is normal state of affairs turned upside down. It is a shame when those who ate on piece of bread having to eat whatever they can lay hands on in times of famine. “And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver(2 Ki.6:25).”
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, ….(Isa.30:20; Ps.80:5). These are not an end in themselves but shock tactics to teach people their folly in forgetting the living God. If they do turn back from evil ways God’s ways shall make fountains of water spring up in desert and lead them in a safe way and settle them once again secure in their own land. Their latter days shall twice as much blessed as God blessed the righteous Job.
On the eve of Christmas let us remember the shame Virgin Mary but God gave her grace to submit to His will. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord ;be it unto me according to thy word….(Lk.1:38)”Even such extremities are ways where God can manifest His mercies. “For with God nothing is impossible ((Lk.1:37)
Seven women shall take hold of one man signifies , indeterminate or unspecified number.
Lk.1:30-38)
The Branch of the Lord
2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit[a] of judgment and a spirit[b] of fire. 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory[c] will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

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The Book of Isaiah: Is.3:15-26

“What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts (v.15)”.
Social dynamics of the time in which Isaiah observed the rich and the poor must be familiar to us. Those who sleep out in the rough in the cities are viewed with distaste. Homeless people are 17 times more likely to be a victim of violence, mostly at the hands of the public. In 2016 two cases were reported of being set to fire. Isaiah must have seen in his day similar cases all of which boils down to is this: lives of poor are not worth the straw. On the other extreme we have haughtiness of the rich using every visit to Harrods or any other shop, as a catwalk flaunting their wealth, Isaiah’s words are vivid, “the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:” One does not have to be a social philosopher to appreciate their stark difference. “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all(Pro.22:2-NIV). In the light of this, context in which the prophet was raising voice of God’s judgment on Judah is as valid as today.

War time austerity and post-war economic expansions are but names to indicate great upheavals not only in social or political areas but also point to moral standards. We had discussed earlier a quote from Leviticus. “Thou shalt honor the face of the old man (Le.19:32)” When the old is despised and no one raises an eyebrow it is a symptom much more then any lack of respect would indicate. Similarly ignoring this injunction “If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, you shall not vex him (Lev.19:33)” is not addressing a simple migrant crisis but moral degradation that refuses divine ordinance. “I am the Lord, your God”. At the time of Uzziah both Israel and Judah were poised for economic expansion and the daughters of Zion could certainly buy up branded items of their times as we do now. But Isaiah warns that all their haughtiness shall not stand when God punishes the nation for their spiritual apostasy. Their armbands and leggings are merely fashion accessories but when their moral compass is lost whatever direction they walk in their finery shall only leave the stench of the damned around. “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:(v.16)

“Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts./ In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,…. The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails (vv.16-23).

“And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent;,,,,Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
These warnings apply to us. In the Book of the Revelation when the 7 angels blow their trumpets and pour out vials what they do is to shut down the powers,- one after the other of the might, of prince of the power of the air. It is Satan the old Liar who puts gloss over the sentient beings. In taking away the pleasure of the eyes, ears and taste they would limit the damage he can do to God’s people. God’s Judgment shall purge from the ungodly men all their eye candies so they shall wonder for what sorry stuff they had neglected the study of the word of God. Similarly in everything else. Any right thinking person would agree that there is nothing noble or grace in the arts and culture of today, but tastes of people as they are, whatever that might mean.
In the Vision of the woman clothed with the Son we read that the woman was helped by two wings to escape the red dragon. Grace of Jesus Christ shall help the left-behind church (as well as the Jews) with prayer and supplications. Without his grace in her grave danger how would she otherwise survive in the wilderness? The point is God’s Judgment given through Isaiah was for their own good. So would Babylonian captivity and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 are all different phases of divine wrath. Lucky is the man who would learn in time and escape judgment.

“And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground (v.26).
Sitting upon the ground is a sign of bereavement. We see it in the life of Job.Jb.2:12-13. Misfortune in his case did not make him sin but he gave vent to his plight. Righteousness of God whether the nation of Israel or in the case of an individual is His sole prerogative and it is not to be confused with adversity. God chasten while one may be corrected and saved, Similarly when we are rich in goods, we should not consider it as God’s reward for our seemingly goodness. His long suffering must make the wicked his hell and the children of light the path to everlasting life.
Benny

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The Book of Isaiah: Ch.3:1-10- “Rule of a child”

“For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water(v.1)”.
Isaiah predicts great hardship, that is equated with God’s displeasure with His people. It has come in waves from Nebuchadnezzar, Titus and shall continue towards the latter days. All these are several events but part of divine Plan where His intention is to change them from placing their trust in man and trust in Him.
stay . . . staff–the same Hebrew word, the one masculine, the other feminine, an Arabic idiom for all kinds of support. What a change from the previous luxuries. From the experience of Prophet Jeremiah we get an idea of the besieged city. (Jer.37:21; 38:9)

The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator (vv.2-3).
When God has determined disaster for the nation all the decisions and deliberations of legal luminaries, civil administrators, minister of defense city fathers all wise men and citizens alike are at odds and none of their counsel shall agree. For the reason one only look at the man who is placed over them. “Woe to thee, O Land, when thy king is a child…(Eccl.10:16)” Do we not see it in real time? what it is to have a head of state whose temper tantrums and obstinacy can only point to disaster and it is a downward spiral when the wisdom of the old is dismissed as worthless (Lev.19:32) ? The day of calamity is hastened when politics meddle with vital interest of the nation that goes beyond pressure groups that are for their immediate gains. When a ruler old and yet allow these to weaken the very foundation of the nation must be no better than a child or an imbecile. For this reason when such a state of affairs continues fear the divine Hand that has allowed it. When God speaks of'”Honor the face of the old, He stresses it with these words,”…And fear thy God: I am the Lord.” Honor the face of the old”is given here as reflection of state of affairs all in disarray. When God had decided to destroy King Amaziah He sent a prophet who said to the king,”I know God hath determined to destroy thee …(2 Chr.25:16)” Such turn of events do not augur well for the nation.”…. child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable”. This same idea we see further down,” As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths (v.12)”.
Under such governance societal collapse is signified by neighbors at odds with one another. When an unformed child-prince is set on the throne he shall be led by princes,- all his drinking companions and good governance tends to go out of the window. Gradually rule of law comes under attack and the rulers do not want facts but alternate facts. Litigations shall increase on account of those who bear false witnesses and lodge false complaints on frivolous reasons and those who consider it as a profitable line of business, ” What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts (v.15).”
Isaiah foretold the doom of the city. “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves. Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings(vv.9-10).

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