The Book of Isaiah
James J. Barker


Lesson 7
THE PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD

Text: ISAIAH 5:1-7; MATTHEW 21:33-46


INTRODUCTION:


1.     Isaiah chapter 5 completes the address, which the prophet Isaiah began in chapter 2 (cf. 2:1).

2.     Our text tonight is prophetic and it is a parable.  It is poetic – “Now will I sing…” (5:1).

3.     This parable vividly describes the apostasy of Israel.   The vineyard represents the nation of Israel (5:7).

4.     “My beloved” (5:1) is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The vineyard is “his” (5:1).  It is God’s vineyard (5:3, 4).  The Lord brought them out of Egypt and planted them in the Promised Land.

5.     The vine in Scripture is a symbol of Israel in her spiritual privileges.   Symbolically, Israel is called a vine, planted by God Himself in the Promised Land to grow luxuriantly.

6.     The prophet Isaiah is declaring the imminent captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel into Assyria, and of the southern kingdom of Judah into Babylon.

7.     In Matthew 21, our Lord gave a parable of the vineyard, which referred to the unbelief of Israel in His day.  Both Isaiah and our Lord refer to God’s judgment upon Israel (cf. Matt. 21:41-46).

 

I. THE GREAT CARE WHICH GOD HAD SHOWN FOR ISRAEL

1.     God’s care of His vineyard is shown in five different ways.  First, God planted this vine (Israel) “in a very fruitful hill” (5:1), i.e., the land of Canaan – the land of milk and honey.  Many Bible teachers say that the “fence” represents the law.  We have many people today who are trying to climb the fence, and tear down all the fences.

2.     Secondly, God carefully cultivated the land.  “He fenced it, and gathered out the stones” (5:2).  God removed the Canaanites and the other heathen.  Stones in a vineyard impair growth.

3.     Thirdly, God “planted it with the choicest vine” (5:2).   Symbolically, this represents their spiritual heritage – the great Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the prophets; the law; and their numerous blessings and privileges (cf. Rom. 9:4, 5).

4.     Fourthly, God protected Israel from their enemies – “and built a tower in the midst of it” (5:2).   Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”  Isaiah 5:5 refers to the hedge and the wall God built for them, again symbolizing divine protection.

5.     Fifthly, God provided all their needs.  He “also made a winepress therein” (5:2).  This represents the overflow of God’s blessings.  Many have identified the winepress with the temple in Jerusalem.

6.     Summarizing Isaiah 5:1, 2, we could say that God had done everything possible for His people that they might be blessed in glorifying His name, and fulfilling His will.

7.     The Lord separated Israel from all the heathen nations. The Lord protected Israel from all their enemies.  The Lord gave them the law and the prophets.

8.     Can we apply this to the church?  God has blessed us abundantly.  Jesus said in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

9.     God has placed us in a local church for worship, fellowship, preaching, teaching, edification, the ordinances, prayer, soulwinning, and many other blessings.

10. He has given us His Holy Spirit, and He has given us His Holy Word – the Bible.

11. God is looking for fruit (cf. Isa. 5:2-4).  Our Lord said in John 15:8, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

12. Our Lord said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

13. The Lord is looking for good fruit (Isa. 5:2b).   In Israel He found only “wild grapes” (Isa. 5:2b, 4).  The idea behind “wild grapes” is bad, inferior grapes.  Hosea 10:1 says, “Israel is an empty vine” (cf. Jer. 2:21).

14. It is interesting to note that the same Hebrew word translated “wild grapes” in Isaiah 5:2 and 5:4 is translated “stink” in Isaiah 34:3.

15. God is looking for good fruit and all he finds is a nasty stink!

 

II. GOD CALLS ON THEM TO JUDGE THEMSELVES (5:3, 4).

1.     This is an important Bible principle (cf. I Cor. 11:28-32; I Peter 4:17-19).

2.     The Lord is speaking here to the “inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah” (5:3); i.e. “my vineyard.”

3.     The Lord is appealing to their sense of fair judgment (5:3, 4).  Psalm 50:4 says, “He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.”

4.     Divine retribution was inevitable.  God’s judgment was impending (Isa. 5:3-6).

5.     In Matthew 21:33-46, the chief priests and Pharisees understood what Jesus was teaching, but rather than repent “they sought to lay hands on Him” (Matt. 21:46).

6.     Our Lord followed that parable with another (Matt. 22:1-14).

 

III. GOD PROMISES JUDGMENT UPON THEM (5:5-7).

1.     The judgment of God would come in various ways.  First, God would remove His divine protection – “I will take away the hedge thereof” (5:5).  Both men as well as animals would now come in and eat up the grapes.   This means Israel would become an easy prey to their numerous enemies, who had long been waiting for a opportunity to attack (cf. Psalm 80:8-14).

2.     Secondly, Israel would be scattered and dispersed.  Her land would become a wasteland (5:6).  This is taught throughout the Bible, in both the OT and NT (cf. Ezekiel 15:1-8; Matt. 21:33-46).

3.     Verse 7 is the key to the parable.   The vineyard belongs to “the LORD of hosts.”  The vineyard is Israel (5:7).  It does not belong to the Arabs.  It belongs to the LORD, not to “Allah.”

4.     The men of Judah (from where we get the word “Jew”) are the LORD’s “pleasant plant” (5:7).

5.     The LORD wanted good grapes from His vineyard, but found only bad grapes (5:2b).  This means He looked for judgment (justice), but found oppression (5:7).  He looked for righteousness, but found crying (5:7).

 

CONCLUSION:

1.     The rest of Isaiah 5 details the terrible sins for which God judged Israel. 

2.     These sins include covetousness (5:8), drinking (5:11, 22), and failing to distinguish right from wrong (5:20, 21).

3.     Doesn’t this sound like modern day America?



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