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Let’s look back at the vine in Isaiah 5:1b-2,

“My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.”

This choicest vine represented Judah. With all God had done for and through His people, they still did not have it in themselves to produce the fruit needed to glorify who God really is. The Vinedresser was not the problem. The vine was. Sinful man just cannot bear good fruit. So what is the answer? Jesus! He said in John 15:1,

“I am the true vine,
and My Father is the vinedresser.”

Judah ceased to bear the wondrous fruit of God and declare His glory when she walked in her own ways, wandered from His commands, and worshipped things other than Him. So God sent His Son to be that perfect Vine – the perfect Man – through whom perfect fruit could be born. When the True Vine was planted on the cross of calvary, he made a way for much good fruit to be born. Through salvation in Christ, we find life, cleansing, and oneness with Him. We are now the branches abiding in Him to bear much fruit for God’s glory.

“Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine,
so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
John 15:4

And that is the absolute truth.

 

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“Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.”
Isaiah 5:1

This well-beloved Vinedresser is ours, too; God our Father. For God’s part, this would be a song of joy. Because of the sinful nature of people, it will turn to sadness. Yet as we saw in Isaiah 4, God has an ultimate plan of victory through Christ. The Vinedresser chose a fertile hill. Let’s look at the work He puts in from Isaiah 5:2,

“He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.”

How could this be? Isaiah 5:3 goes on to say,

“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.”

Plants can’t be obstinate, but the people represented by this vineyard can.

So can we.

If we’re judging between God and anything, we can already know that God is in the right.

“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?”
Isaiah 5:4

Why, indeed. The excellent fruit would have made His name known, causing other nations to see that He is the Lord. But Judah misrepresented His care for them by their choices. For the next couple of days, we will spend time here to learn more about our Vinedresser and how this visual can apply to us. Think about the work God did. Lord, let us be a blessing to You and not a blight!

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Continuing in Isaiah 4:5,

“then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion
and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke,
and the brightness of a flaming fire by night;
for over all the glory will be a canopy.”

This provides much to look forward to. It also helps us understand our relationship with Christ right now as He provides all we need for our Kingdom assignments. And it brings back precious memories of Israel’s birth from Egypt. Exodus 13:21 describes what it was like after God delivered them with great power and an outstretched arm,

“The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day
to lead them on the way,
and in a pillar of fire by night
to give them light,
that they might travel by day and by night.”

He provides us with light, direction, and protection, so that we can continue to move forward with Him no matter what comes our way. Isaiah 4:6 goes on to say,

“There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day,
and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

This sounds like Revelation 7:16-17,

“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore;
nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and will guide them to springs of the water of life;
and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

I can’t wait. Our eternal home will be beyond our wildest dreams. Yet even today God is our shelter. He is our refuge and protection. When we obey the teachings of Christ, no storm can move us from our strong foundation.

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Isaiah has been reminding us of the devastating effects of sin. We rejoice that Jesus would come to set us free from its hold, and cleanse us from its filth. If we’re tempted to think any sin is cute, remember it sent Jesus to the cross. That’s how horrific sin is. It leads to destruction and demands death. Romans 6:23 says,

“For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That is amazing news! Think about that as we read Isaiah 4:4,

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion
and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst,
by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning,”

How? First, by the spirit of judgment – God is just, and the punishment for sin is death. Jesus died in our place, taking our sin on Himself, so that we could be just before God. Let that soak in as we read Romans 5:8,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.”

That is amazing love. Isaiah 4:4 also says this washing and purging is accomplished by the spirit of burning. The same God who provides warmth of heart and refining for His own, destroys evil. Hebrews 12:28-29 says,

“ 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken,
let us show gratitude,
by which we may offer to God an acceptable service
with reverence and awe;
29 for our God is a consuming fire.”

Washing. Purging. Paid in full. Free gift. Eternal life. Genuine love. Christ died in our place. Refining fire. An unshakable Kingdom. Let us show gratitude, indeed. Lord, thank You.

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Continuing in Isaiah 4, we see Israel’s waywardness. She was unable to save herself or even realize she needed saving. That is our story, too. Unless the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we cannot see. But for those who receive God’s salvation in Christ,

“It will come about that he who is left in Zion
and remains in Jerusalem
will be called holy—
everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 4:3

How could a people full of reproach and arrogance be made holy and recorded for life? By the grace and mercy of God. Jesus is the way.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

The women in Isaiah 4:1 offered to wear their own clothes and eat their own bread if they could just have a man’s name to remove their shame. Through salvation, Jesus not only gives us His name, but provides His Beloved with all we need. Our attempts at spiritual provision fall short, but His never do. Revelation 19:8-9 says,

“ 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean;
for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

9 Then he said to me,
‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”’
And he said to me,
‘These are true words of God.’”

How’s that for food and clothing! He is our everything, and this promise is sealed and secure. The end of Isaiah 4:3 sounds like Psalm 87:6,

“The Lord will count when He registers the peoples,
‘This one was born there.’ Selah.”

Born into God’s Kingdom through the blood of Christ; recorded forever in the Lamb’s book of Life!  Lord, thank You for salvation, provision, and security.

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Israel was in terrible shape, choosing her own way over God’s. Isaiah 4:1 sounds strange, but appears to be a turning point,

“For seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying,
‘We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes,
only let us be called by your name;
take away our reproach!’”

What about remaining single? Are they crazy? Historical and cultural implications aside, this is the Word of God, so let’s dig in.

These women aren’t looking for food or clothing, but a name that removes shame. Above all, we humans need our shame removed. We try to hide our sin, but in truth, it’s still there. We try to convince ourselves it’s not sin; maybe insist others agree. But our reproach isn’t gone, even if the whole world says there is no shame in our sin.

“ 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you,
and now tell you even weeping,
that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite,
and whose glory is in their shame,
who set their minds on earthly things.”
Philippians 3:18-19

But of the ones desperate for salvation, Isaiah 4:2 says,

“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment
of the survivors of Israel.”

Jesus is the Branch. He’s the only Man whose name is able to remove shame and is enough for all of us. I think “seven” represents completion – seven women desperate for that name. When the times are complete, the entire Bride of Christ will be gathered to her Groom, named by Him, complete in Him, joyfully free from shame – because their eyes were open to see their need for salvation. Praise Him!

True Beauty is only found in the Lord. We can imagine we’re looking pretty good in our rebellion, but God does not see it as attractive. We’ll allow Isaiah 3:16-26 to reveal what happens when the pride of rebellion bears fruit,

“ 16 Moreover, the Lord said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,
17 Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the Lord will make their foreheads bare.”
18 In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments,
19 dangling earrings, bracelets, veils,
20 headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets,
21 finger rings, nose rings,
22 festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses,
23 hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.
24 Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction;
Instead of a belt, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;
Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty.
25 Your men will fall by the sword
And your mighty ones in battle.
26 And her gates will lament and mourn,
And deserted she will sit on the ground.

Obviously we should take care of our appearance. But outward beauty doesn’t compare to the eternal beauty of receiving Christ and becoming His bride through His atoning work on the cross. He will present her (men and women) whole without spot or wrinkle; carrying His fragrance rather than putrefaction; receiving freedom instead of bondage; victory instead of defeat; safety in His eternal Kingdom; never alone. The pleasure we find in sin doesn’t hold a candle to that.

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