FIVE WOES UPON THE WICKED

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: ISAIAH 5:8-24




INTRODUCTION:


  1. Every year about this time, the president gives his state of the union speech. And the governor gives his state of the state speech.
  2. Since we are only a few days from 2004, and God only knows how many days from the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, I am going to preach my state of the nation message today.
  3. I have entitled my message, "Five Woes Upon the Wicked." Actually six woes are mentioned here, but since the second and sixth are similar I have combined them.
  4. These woes were pronounced upon Israel and let me emphasize that God has already judged them for the sins enumerated here in Isaiah chapter 5.
  5. However, the application can be made for the United States of America today. It is a fact that God has been banished from the government schools; He has been banished from the courtroom; He has been banished from politics; and He has been banished from the media.
  6. It is obvious that when God has been removed, the devil takes over. This is Godís judgment upon a nation that has turned its back on Him. It happened to the nation Israel and it is happening here in America today.

 

I. THE FIRST WOE: BECAUSE OF THEIR COVETOUSNESS AND GREED (ISA.5:8).

    1. Covetousness has always been a problem (cf. Ex.20:17; Col.3:5).
    2. There is nothing wrong with working hard. In fact, God expects us to be industrious. But the people of Israel were becoming greedy land-grabbers who joined (added) house to house, and field to field (5:8).
    3. They were taking advantage of the poor. The prophet Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, condemns them for this also (cf. Mic.2:2).
    4. They were living in selfish isolation while the poor had no place to live. And so God judged them for this (Isa.5:8,9).
    5. The judgment was pronounced on those who selfishly seek to accumulate houses and lands for themselves, showing no consideration for the poor and needy. I read in the several years ago about Yasir Arafat, the head of the PLO, and how he owns several huge mansions, with helicopter pads, indoor swimming pools, etc. while most of the Palestinians are living in dire poverty.
    6. I believe Arafat himself is Godís judgment upon both the Jews and Arabs for rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ. And God judged this little terrorist, and he is now in hell where he belongs.
    7. The punishment threatened was famine, war, and desolation, with ten acres of vineyard yielding only one bath (about eight gallons of wine according to Scofield), and an homer of seed yielding only an ephah (less than 1/10 of what it normally would produce).
    8. In other words, the captivity would leave many houses empty, and the land would yield very little because of the famine which would decimate the crop.
    9. Let me apply this to our situation today: for too many people, Christmas is nothing but a time for covetousness, greed, and mindless materialism Ė it has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of our Lord.
    10. I saw a headline in the newspaper that said: "Holiday Swapping Spree." Most of the so-called "holiday" stories and shows have very little or nothing to do with the birth of Christ.

 

II. THE SECOND WOE: DRINKING AND REVELRY (5:11,12,22,23).

    1. If mindless materialism is the biggest sin of America, then drinking must be #2.
    2. We are hearing much about the dangers of tobacco (and that is good), but we hear practically nothing about the dangers of booze.
    3. This is such a serious sin that two woes are pronounced upon it (5:11,22).
    4. It is such a serious sin that it resulted in God punishing them with captivity (5:13).
    5. It is such a serious sin that those who indulge in it are thrown into hell (5:11-14; cf. I Cor.6:9,10).
    6. Some people are so enslaved to alcohol that they even "rise up early in the morning" to start drinking (5:11; cf. Prov.23:29-35).
    7. Then they proceed to drink all day, to "continue until night, till wine inflame them!" (5:11).
    8. Please note that word "inflame." Wine inflames the drunkard, and burns away his brain cells, and burns away his good manners, and burns away his morals and his health and his decency and his ambition, till he is nothing but a burnt-out wreck, to be discarded into hell like a bag of rubbish (5:14).
    9. Some might object and say, "Pastor, you are too rough on the drinking crowd." Is that so? Tell that to the mother who had her little child ran over and killed by a drunk driver! Tell that to a wife who has been beaten by a drunken husband, who spends his paycheck on booze, who hangs around the tavern like a bum!
    10. All drinkers care about is fun and games, parties and revelry. They "regard not the work of the Lord" (5:12). They are have no time for God. "The work of the Lord" means nothing to them.
    11. They disregard the Lordís day; they avoid church; they do not read the Bible. Drinking has deadened all spiritual perception; it has hardened the conscience. They are what the apostle Paul refers to as "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (II Tim.3:4).
    12. Because they regard not the work of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands, God shall destroy them (5:12; cf. Psalm 28:5).
    13. I was saved out of a background of heavy drinking. My grandfather owned a tavern in Woodside. I believe the best way to go is total abstinence. Young people: do not take the first sip of this vile poison Ė it could destroy you. And it is a bad testimony for a Christian to drink (5:22,23; cf. Pro.20:1; Hab.2:15,16).

 

III. THE THIRD WOE: DEFYING GOD AND PROVOKING HIS WRATH (5:18).

    1. Some sinners are very obstinate. God keeps trying to warn them but they keep on sinning. They keep on defying God Ė they "draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were a cart rope" (5:18).
    2. This description is both poetic and sarcastic. The obstinate sinner is pictured as a beast of burden pulling his heavy wagon of sin.
    3. What makes matters worse is that these shameless slaves to sin have the effrontery, the audacity, to taunt God. They say, "Let Him make speed, and hasten His work, that we may see it" (5:19).
    4. These same kind of taunts were repeated at the cross (cf. Matt.27:39-44).
    5. Thank God, one of the thieves repented and got right with God and was saved. Unsaved friend: what about you?
    6. This crass and obstinate unbelief continues today. It is a mark of the last days (II Peter 3:3-5).

 

IV. THE FOURTH WOE: CALLING EVIL GOOD, AND GOOD EVIL (5:20).

    1. This fourth woe is against those who attempt to destroy Godís standards of right and wrong by substituting their own twisted and perverted standards.
    2. It is amazing to me that as I study this passage in Isaiah, written over 2,700 years ago, it sounds like it was written yesterday!
    3. Certainly if you read the newspapers or popular magazines, or watch TV, you must have noticed that a growing segment of our population considers evil good, and good evil.
    4. For example, if you consider homosexuality normal and something that should be promoted and encouraged, then many today would say that you are "good."
    5. But if you happen to consider homosexuality disgusting and vile, abnormal and sinful, then you are considered "evil." They have even invented new words to promote this perverted way of thinking. Today sodomites are no longer homos or perverts, they are "gays." Today, those opposed to this wickedness are no longer normal, decent people, but "homophobes," dangerous enemies of the state.
    6. This devilish confusion is not new. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for doing what is now prominently displayed on TV and in the movies.
    7. God does not want us to obliterate the clear moral distinctions between good and evil (cf. Prov.17:15).
    8. Wicked Christ-rejecting sinners are spiritually blind. They stumble around in the darkness, they "put darkness for light, and light for darknessÖ" (5:20).
    9. The Word of God is sweet but they despise Godís Word (Ps.19:10; 119:103). They have "put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter" (5:20).
    10. Unsaved friend: salvation is sweet, but sin is bitter. Godís forgiveness from sin is sweet, but Godís punishment for sin is bitter.

 

V. THE FIFTH WOE: UPON CONCEIT AND ARROGANCE (5:21).

    1. I have talked to people about the Lord and have had them say to me: "Oh, if I were simple-minded like you, I might believe the Bible Ė but I am too intelligent for that, I am too brilliant, I am an intellectual, etc."
    2. God says: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent (clever) in their own sight!" (5:21).
    3. God says: "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom.1:22).
    4. We are surrounded on every hand by these conceited and arrogant fools!
    5. Someone said that conceit is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the one who has it.
    6. This world is full of arrogant blowhards, who cannot be told anything. They think they know everything; they have all the answers.
    7. God condemns this worldly way of thinking (cf. Pro.3:7; Rom.12:16).

CONCLUSION:

  1. One night many years ago a well-known preacher in Bristol, England preached a good sermon on the text, "Ye must be born again."
  2. A young man in the church that night came under great conviction, and almost got out of his seat to come forward. But he procrastinated and finally decided not to get saved.
  3. Many years later he wound up in prison for larceny and a preacher went to visit him. The preacher told the convict about he was saved as a young man at a meeting in Bristol, England. He told how the preacher preached from the text, "Ye must be born again." He told of how he became convicted of his sin and came forward and trusted Christ.
  4. The prisoner looked down at the floor and said: "I, too heard that searching message. I felt my great need of the Saviour, but I rejected Him." Then he said remorsefully, "A life without God is a wasted life!"




Pastor James J. Barker
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