A theme easy to find in Isaiah is judgment. It comes for the enemies of Israel and the neighbors of Israel, but it also comes for Israel itself. One of the images used to identify judgment is the use of YHWH’s “outstretched hand or arm” indicating his sovereign power not only to save, but judge. The King of the universe can be found in several parts of Isaiah as a presiding judge in a courtroom, presenting the facts of the case against His enemies, including Israel, His chosen people. We might imagine a courtroom with Perry Mason, Judge Judy, or our favorite version of Law & Order, but we should think more of a similar biblical scene. Imagine the wisdom of Solomon as he hears the arguments of two women who claim an infant as their own. No attorneys. No court reporter. Just a king on his throne interpreting the facts, identifying what is needed to produce his desired outcome, and rendering a decision— “Cut the baby in half.” The sovereign, decisive “power of a king delivering royal judgment compels immediate response, but Isaiah shows us that Israel as a nation is not easily moved.
5 Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! 8 Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. 9 The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: “Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.” 11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! 12 They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands. 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her. 15 Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low. 16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. 17 Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture, and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich. 18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, 19 who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! 22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, 23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! 24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. 26 He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come! 27 None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistband is loose, not a sandal strap broken; 28 their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind. 29 Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions they roar; they growl and seize their prey; they carry it off, and none can rescue. 30 They will growl over it on that day, like the growling of the sea. And if one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sam Whittaker is our Mission Pastor. His role is to oversee all of SVCC’s missions and charity work, including all of our global Focus Country partnerships. He also serves on SVCC's teaching team and worship team. Sam is a member of the Board of Directors for Hope of the Nations, and serves on the Church Partnerships team at Foster the Bay. Sam has been a lifelong member of the SVCC family, and lives in Gilroy with his wife Christina and their daughter, Jubilee. He loves theology, nature, and guitar pedals.