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Lowell Brueckner

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God Exalted in Judgment


Remember: We will not be writing the whole portion of Scripture in the article, so you will have to have your Bible open and follow along, as I attempt an expository lesson.

6. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 5:1-16

This message is sung by the prophet. Intimate love between God and His people is the theme of the entire revelation of God in the Bible. Isaiah, the prophet, sings to his well-beloved source of inspiration in this “Gospel of Isaiah” (v.1). John, the beloved disciple, wrote his Gospel of intimacy (“I have called you friends,” John heard Jesus say), based on the word that he found in the Old Testament. He learned it from Isaiah and the Psalmist, from the Song of Solomon, from the beloved Daniel, from Abraham, the friend of God (Is.41:8), and from Moses, whom God spoke to, “just as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex.33:11). What John personally experienced of the holy love of God, from being at the Savior’s side, had already been declared in the sacred Scriptures. It was the purpose of creation.

Isaiah receives from the Lord and he ministers to the Lord in song. It reminds me of Psalms 45, which is called A Song of Love: “My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King…” The heart of the Psalmist overflows, as God fills it with revelation concerning the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. What the Lord gives him, he returns to the King. In the primitive church, their primary purpose was to minister to the Lord (Ac.13:1), and from that intimacy, the church was edified and ministry flowed out to the world.

The Vineyard

Not long ago, our son, David, included this passage in a message, which he delivered to the church in Swanton, VT, and I have it now on our blog at this link: . Please read it, if you haven’t already. When our children were young, I hope they learned from us, but now in their maturity, we learn from the wisdom of God given to them. Dave saw that when Jesus gave a parable to the chief priests, scribes and elders about a vineyard, they knew immediately that he was bringing an accusation against them, because they were familiar with Isaiah 5. Jesus, of course, was an expert in Old Testament Scripture, as He stated, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (Jn.7:16). The entire New Testament Gospel is based on the doctrine of the Old.

Just as in Jesus’ parable, the Well-beloved revealed to Isaiah His vineyard. He determined its location, dug it, removed the stones, planted it, built a tower and hewed out a wine vat (v.2.  Compare with Mk.12:1). It’s the same vineyard, you see, so the leaders in Jerusalem knew exactly, of what He was speaking and were incensed by his intimation. He was speaking precisely of the men of Judah and Jerusalem and they couldn’t miss His application.

At no point had the Lord given the deed to the vineyard over to men and we ought to learn from this Bible lesson that He never has turned the Church, or any part of it, over to men. I’m writing this, because I happen to know that this is being done today by daring and spiritually arrogant men. Dave preached that the wicked husbandmen fulfilled the parable, exactly as Jesus said, seized the inheritance, killed the beloved Son sent to them, and cast Him out of the vineyard.

He went on to say that Jesus went into the temple, drove out the businessmen and claimed that it was His Father’s house. The Pharisees and Sadducees had gotten used to dominating temple activity, so they were totally taken by surprise, when Jesus did this. They asked on whose authority He was acting, because it certainly wasn’t on theirs.

The Lord, moving through Isaiah, challenged all of Jerusalem and Judea to do some serious thinking over the situation… to use some logic (I hope that word doesn’t frighten you). What is the cause behind the failures? Here’s His question: “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?” (v.3-4). After God created and maintained his work, He gave His Son to die for it. “Where has God failed?” I ask you.

Oh yes, “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God,Peter said in his letter that had so much to do with the living stones of the church. In Isaiah, God promised action (v.5,6) and He fulfilled His word. The hedge and wall of protection were broken down and the enemy entered. He turned His back on it and it was not pruned or hoed, and briars and thorns thrived. There was no rain and it was left desolate.

The temple and city of Jerusalem were destroyed and the inhabitants were taken captive to Babylon. In the age of the gospel, Jesus asked, “What will the owner of the vineyard do?” Thirty-seven years later, Titus came, destroyed the temple and city, and the Jews were scattered throughout the earth. They defeated the Lord’s purposes and insisted on doing things their way. They didn’t follow the scriptural blueprint, therefore Jesus finally turned it all over to them: “Your house” - the Bible shows that when men insist, God finally lets them have what they want. It is now their house. There are answers to ‘prayers’ that are a curse and not a blessing - “is left unto you desolate” (Lk.13:35).

Look at verse 9 in our chapter: “Many houses shall become desolate, even great and fine ones, without occupants.” And it is happening again today. I promise you, the roof is going to cave in, where man has claimed ownership over God’s house. Let’s stop being so impersonal and give an example: What happened to that marvelous Crystal Cathedral of Robert Shuller? It was not long ago that it went bankrupt. His Hour of Power was stripped of its strength and overthrown in judgment.

The passion of love that is spurned

Why is the judgment so severe? We have seen from the first verse that our God is a God of passionate love and in verse seven He calls His people ‘His delightful plant’. Beware the consequences of a love that is spurned. If you have any doubt about this biblical principle, please listen to Jesus, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Lk.13:34-35). Again Luke shows the Lord approaching Jerusalem with tears and again He defines its destruction with exactitude (Lk.19:41-44).

Now I have gleaned most of these thoughts from Dave, but they are also my convictions. I sense the Spirit of God speaking these things, as a timely message to His church today. I will warn as many of God’s people that I possibly can, whether they are disposed to hear or not. We will see in chapter 6 that the Lord informs Isaiah that his message would be rejected.

I think we can see from these parallels that there is nothing obsolete or irrelevant about the Old Testament, is there? It has the same Author as the New and it runs on the same principles as the Old. “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Co.10:11). We had better be ready to fight the current, if we hope to escape the consequences, because they lie ahead… a lot closer than we might think.

Did you know that the Bible teaches against monopoly? “Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field” (v.8). Greed motivates men to buy up houses and lands, until their only neighbors are servants. It is not God’s way and the Bible provides safeguards to keep it from happening among His people. If these are not heeded, God then brings desolation and judgment. The produce of the land will be greatly reduced (v.9-10). It begins naturally in the monopolization process, as houses are emptied and the expanses of land are bought by a single owner and treated wastefully. The small landowner carefully makes use of every corner of his fields and manages them with his own hands, so that it will yield the highest production.

The waste of land and buildings is shameful, but to waste time is much more serious. Possessions can be replaced, but when time is lost it will be gone forever. Take a look at your calendar and your clock. This hour and this day will never be repeated and there is no price, with which you can buy it back. Drinking parties and banquets with musical entertainment are mentioned (v.11-12) as time-wasters, but anything that draws attention and effort away from the will and work of God is a waste of time.

God exalted in judgment

The people have been misgoverned and the cause behind the faulty government is ignorance… voluntary ignorance. The economy has crashed and the want reaches all levels of society. The upper class are hungry and the common people suffer from thirst. The prophet sees them in advance on their way to captivity, following a period of wasted resources and time (v.13).

This easily translates into the spiritual realm, where authoritarian leadership robs the common church member of his personal relationship with God. The leader demands submission and obedience to satisfy his pragmatic vision. Success is his goal as he provides everything for his followers, except what they need the most. He has never spent enough time in the presence of God or in a serious study of the Word, Old Testament and New, in order to know the “deeds of the Lord”, therefore the people lack a knowledge of the reality of God, and they do not seek a direct “work of His hands”. The spiritual monopolist may be as shrewd as a fox in management and organization, but he is an ignoramus, when it comes to the ways of the Spirit of God. The deceived people are left with hunger and thirst on all levels. They pass from Laodicean poverty and blindness to Babylonian slavery.

The end is a tremendous increase in the death rate, whether we are looking at literal physical death or its spiritual counterpart, “Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure” (v.14). If God is permitting deception as the judgment that begins at His house, then we are already under it and spiritual death is widespread as a result. Was Jerusalem deceived? Read the book of Jeremiah and see how the ruling class hated him for predicting 70 years of captivity. They listened to the positive encouragement of their false prophets, who led them happily into the jaws of death. They didn’t even see it coming.

When eyes were finally opened, as the prodigal, and people “came to themselves”, the common man was humbled and the man of importance abased, the eyes of the proud were also abased (v.15). If the Lord has been ignored in the good times, then He will be “exalted in judgment” (v.16). He will publicly display His holy righteousness. He displayed it on the cross in the person of His Son, “writhing in anguish and pain”, as the song says. Beaten beyond recognition, blood streaming from His head, His side, His hands and feet, God is being exalted in judgment and shown to be absolutely just. “This was to demonstrate His righteousness” (Ro.3:25), whereby God is declaring, “This is how I treat sin. Even when it is found upon My Son, I cannot overlook it. It will be punished.”

“This house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them’” (1 Kgs.9:8-9). Jesus said to His church in Laodicea, “I will spit you out of My mouth” (Rev.3:16).


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