|Throughout the Bible, God often speaks. Sometimes He pauses to ask questions. We can learn much from examining those questions. In Isaiah chapter five, God describes His people as His vineyard and Himself as the owner and caretaker of the vineyard. He declares His love for the vineyard. God chose a fertile hillside and cleared it of stones. He planted the choicest of vines. He watched over it and protected it. He prepared for an expected harvest of good grapes, but His vineyard yielded only bad grapes.
This yielding of only bad grapes led God to issue a challenge to His people. He commanded them to examine themselves and render a judgment between Him and themselves. Isaiah 5:3-8 "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men 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? 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. The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land." NIV
What sad questions God asks in verse four! Without forcing us to accept His offer of salvation, there is obviously nothing more that God could have done to save you and me. He has done it all. He has cared for the vineyard as no earthly caretaker would. He has created the earth as a specially designed place to be the perfect place for us to live. Our sin has caused this paradise to degenerate. He put a longing in our hearts so that we would realize that we do have a Creator. He designed all of creation to testify of His existence. He gave us the Law to point out our guilt, proving our need for a savior. He gave us a conscience to testify against us, reminding us of our need to be saved. He has declared His love for us over and over again through His spoken and written Word. He delivered the greatest possible evidence of His love for us by sending His Son to live among us and be killed by us as the perfect payment for the debt we owed. He not only redeems us but adopts us into His family. He set His written ord over us in the Bible to watch over us, protect us, guide us, and safely lead us to Him. He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell us and to fill us. He doesn't immediately take believers to heaven, but rather leaves them here as a witness to the rest of us. He sets pastors over us to lead us. He sends angels as ministering spirits to aid us. We have no excuse for not accepting His offer to be His sons and daughters.
God asked a second sad question in Isaiah 5:4. He wants us to examine ourselves to see why we have produced only bad fruit. Isaiah 5 tells us that God was specifically looking for justice, righteousness, and benevolence. Instead, He saw bloodshed, distress, and greed. God detailed the consequences; punishment would be swift and certain. God said He would make His vineyard an overgrown, deserted, arid, wasteland. We would do well to examine our own hearts to see if they have become overgrown, deserted, arid wastelands.
Commentary by Pastor Steve Ellison, Harvey's Baptist Church, Hot Springs, AR