‘Woe’ to You if You Forget the Lord and His Deeds

Isaiah 4-5 SCC 3/3/13



            The purpose of judgment is always restoration

Verse 1 is a high point of the horrors that were to come. It suggests that war has caused so many men to die in Israel that women would be desperate for male companionship and support. They would be willing to humiliate themselves to escape the reproach of being unmarried and childless. Long gone is the hope to gain a man through seduction of the eyes. All this will happen on “that day” namely, when God judges His people for trusting in other human beings and themselves rather than Him.

Verse 2 "In that day" refers to a future time when the Lord comes (for blessing or judgment) to His people. The ‘Branch’ is a name of Christ, used in a fourfold way: (1) ‘the branch of the Lord’ (v 2) belonging to the Lord; (2) ‘the Branch’ of David of the royal house; (3) the Lord’s ‘servant, the Branch’ in incarnation; and (4) the ‘man whose name is THE BRANCH’ that is, His character as Son of man. “The fruit of the earth” probably refers to the fruitfulness of the earth that God would provide through Israel and, specifically, the Messiah in the Kingdom Age. The ‘survivors of Israel’ refers to those who would live through the judgments mentioned earlier in this passage but also on into the final judgments when this branch would bring bounty to the land while ruling there.

Verse 3 reveals divine judgments that God will bring on the Israelites in the future (in the Tribulation). This will have a purifying effect on many of them, specifically the elect. Those left alive to the end will be holy in conduct as well as set apart by God for His purposes.

Verse 4 has two metaphors for spiritual cleansing; ‘washing’ and ‘purging’. This will be the outcome of ‘judgment’ and ‘burning’. The filth, that is, the seductive immorality and idolatry, and bloodshed, that is, the exploitation of others as well as premeditated murder, of Jerusalem, will be targeted by God.

Verse 5 is a historical allusion to the Lord’s personal presence and care during the Exodus and Wilderness Wandering Periods. It refers to the Shekinah cloud of glory (a protective covering over the whole of the people, like the Exodus and Wilderness Wanderings). He would personally lead His people again and provide for all their needs.

Verse 6 has several metaphors combined to show the Lord’s protection (from heat and storm). Often these metaphors refer to the Lord’s as a protective mother bird (i.e., under the shelter of its wings) and a high fortress or stronghold. Believers can trust the protection and tender care of their covenant God! He is with us and for us, if we only repent, believe, obey, serve, and persevere. The covenant has promises (benefits) and responsibilities (obligations). Both have consequences!

NB: History has shown that some of the predictions of judgment found partial fulfillment in the exiles of Israel that preceded Messiah’s appearing. However most of the judgment, and the entire blessing connected to Messiah, lies in the future from our perspective. It is mainly the Tribulation and Messiah’s blessing of Israel in the Millennium to follow in view here.



            God’s people are in danger of becoming bad fruit 1-7

Verse 1-2 is a song used to draw the attention of the passers-by, so that they would stop and listen. ‘Beloved’ is mentioned 3 times referring to a dear friend for which the owner had special expectations. The man double-fenced his vineyard and built a watchtower and a wine vat in it indicating that He intended it to satisfy him for a long time. Yet all His work was for nothing. His finest vines disappointed Him. He was really describing God’s careful preparation of Israel to bring forth spiritual fruit.

Verse 3-4 asks them for their opinion. What more could he have done to insure a good crop? Why did his vines produce worthless (sour) grapes? In view of what the owner had done (vv. 1-2), the answers would have to be, you could have done nothing more than you did. The grapes were the cause of the disappointment, not you. God did everything for His people, but they rejected Him.

Verse 5-6 God explained what he would do to his disappointing vineyard. He would stop protecting it and abandon it to the elements and to its enemies. He would invest no more labor on it and would even stop providing it with the nourishment it needed to flourish. Furthermore, he would assist in its destruction.

Verse 7 identifies the characters in his parable by name. His well-beloved and the owner of the vineyard was Lord of hosts, not some unnamed friend. The vineyard was Israel, not his friend’s wife and the people of Judah were the individual plants in this unresponsive vineyard. The good fruit God looked for was justice (the righting of wrongs) and righteousness (right relationships), but the bad fruit the vines produced was oppression (the inflicting of wrongs) and violence (wrong relationships).


            Sin can overwhelm their way of life 8-25

Yahweh’s crop was worthless because it produced wild grapes that manifested six blights related to a very bad crop indeed:

Verse 8-10 Greedy Land Owners: The Israelites were buying out their neighbors, as they had opportunity or made the opportunity, to increase their land holdings. The wealthier or smarter members of the community took advantage of their less fortunate brethren and so deprived them of their opportunity to live on land that God had given them. The expectations of the greedy rich and exploitive elements of society will not materialize. They will not enjoy their ill-gotten gain! God would judge the farmers by decreasing the productivity of their crops. The land-hungry would become hungry. No matter how many acres a person may own, God still controls the weather.

Verse 11-12 Pleasure-seeking: These people were “party animals” who paid no attention to the Lord or His works. Judah, during most of Isaiah's prophetic ministry, was an extremely successful and prosperous nation. This prosperity brought spiritual weakness and a dependency upon human resources, naturally leading to forgetfulness and thankfulness, giving God no credit!

Verse 13-17 is an explanation of further judgment to come due to the greed and pleasure seeking:

(1) The exile will drive the people out of the land so they cannot be greedy and indulge any longer in it.

(2) Instead of pleasure-seekers opening their throats to drink wine, Sheol (the place of the dead) would open her throat to drink down the pleasure-seekers v 14.

(3) The offenders’ actions showed that they really did not know the Lord in any life-changing way; the knowledge of God had had no practical effect on the way they lived v 15.

(4) In contrast to the humiliation of the Israelite proud, the Lord would enjoy exaltation because what characterizes Him is the opposite of what marked His people, namely, justice and righteousness. This difference between God and His people is an aspect of His holiness. When God’s people were humiliated and He would be exalted v 16.

(5) Innocent lambs and unknown strangers would enjoy the property that the proud sought to secure. The ruin of their illegally procured land has made it public land now v 17.

Verse 18-19 Willful Sinning: They had not innocently fallen into sin, but they were pursuing it willfully. Rather than fleeing from it, they were holding it close to themselves. Even worse, they were doing so in an attempt to bait God to respond. They believed that He would not punish them. Their ties with sin were like the cords that the people used to lead their animals and the cart ropes that were much stronger and harder to break.

Verse 20 Perverse: The people were calling good what God called evil, and vice versa. They were mocking God’s ways publicly and privately. They refused to accept the standard of God’s revelation.

Verse 21 Arrogance: They thought they were wiser and cleverer than the Lord.

Verse 22-23 Corrupt Values: The more a person could drink, the greater the people honored him. They thought it “smart” to profit from the misfortune of others even though that ran counter to God’s will.

Verse 24 is an explanation of further judgment based on these sins. Fire is a metaphor for judgment and cleansing. He would also be an internal disease to them that decimates a whole plant, from roots to shoots. The reason for judgment is the people’s rejection of the Lord of Hosts revealed will. It was the willful, purposeful rejection of the Judean people of their covenant God.

Verse 25 many judgments had already come against Judah in her history. Nevertheless the nation had not repented, so more judgment would come. Carcasses and quakes the norm.



            The only outcome is thorough judgment that may seem to exhaust Gods mercy 26-30

Verse 26 reveals that the Lord, as sovereign not only over their nation but also over all nations, was preparing to call a foreign power to punish them. All He had to do was raise a flag, as in battle to summon troops, or whistle and they would respond swiftly, even though they resided in a remote part of the earth.

Verse 27-29 describes the invincible invading army. God is against His own covenant people! He will fight on behalf of the invading pagan enemy. The judgment will descend like a destructive storm with the attendant terror, horror, devastation, and loss of life.

Verse 30 says the enemy’s attack would be as irresistible as the pounding of waves on a shore. Israel would find no help anywhere, not from the sea or from the land. This is the case at the end of the Tribulation as Jesus predicts in Matt 24-25.


So What?

1. No one can expect to get away with his or her sin. We can never be novel enough to get God to look the other way. Colossians 3:25 says, For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of he wrong which he has done and that without partiality. Victory in the spiritual life is coming to terms with the fact that I am not in charge of determining what is in my best interests. God is.


2. God’s discipline of or judgment of my sin will be relentless. There is simply no way of God will stop short of my having to live with sins consequences or either deal with my sin. It will be either/or.


3. If you choose a life of sin, you will inevitably leave God out of your life, forget him, ignore him, marginalize him, challenge him, and be ungrateful to Him. That will get you in a heap of trouble with him. Always include time to praise God, thank God, when you pray. Begin your prayers by paying attention to His deeds in history, in the Bible, and in your own life.



1. Look sin in your life squarely in the eye. Call it what it is. Name it.

2. God will and he will also do something about it.

3. Sin is possible because you set God aside so instead remember him and thank him.