In order to help people understand his warnings, the prophet told this story:
A man decided to plant a vineyard. He chose a fertile hillside. He dug it up, cleared it of stones, and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it, in order that he might guard it against anyone who would hurt the property or steal the fruit. He made preparations for the harvest and the use of the fruit which he expected to have. In other words, he gave every possible attention and care to his vineyard.
What would he expect to receive as a result of this careful work? Of course, he expected a fine harvest of beautiful and delicious grapes. But imagine his disappointment when he took a bunch of the ripe fruit, bit into a juicy grape, and found it 9 sour and foul tasting! How could it be? What an empty, deprived feeling he had!
What do you think he would do?
“I will take away the hedge from the vineyard,” said the man, “and it will be destroyed. I will break down its wall, and it will he trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it”
“This,” said Isaiah, “is an illustration of what has happened between God and His people.”
Isaiah went on to explain that the vineyard represents the people, planted and cared for by a loving God. He did everything possible to help them. He expected them to return love and obedience to Him, but instead they have been rebellious as children scorning their parents. What will God do about this? He sends a warning, Isaiah explained.
This is what God says:
“Rebels and sinners will both be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord will perish.”
“You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water. The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire.”
God is grieved and disappointed, Isaiah continued, because the people failed in three ways:
- They have acted in pride, depending upon their own ways and not upon God.
- They have been greedy and selfish, taking all the good things for themselves and cheating the poor and helpless.
- They have tried to make up for these evils by making animal sacrifices and doing rituals.
They have not understood the meaning and purpose of sacrifice and prayer. The warning voice of God came to Isaiah, saying, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”