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Repent or Perish

volume 21, number 34, August 25, 2022

“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.” -Isaiah 5:5

Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet from Israel, living and preaching to both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah respectively, around 740 B.C. The southern kingdom of Judah was facing an impending invasion by the Assyrians but Yahweh miraculously delivered them in a mighty manifestation of His power (Is.36-39). In Isaiah 5 we find the prophet putting forth a song of love by Yahweh (the true and living God of the covenant of grace) for his well beloved Israel, the apple of His eye. This song is introduced in verse 1. “Let me sing now for my well beloved a song of love for His vineyard.” Isaiah puts down the indisputable fact that Yahweh loves His covenant people. This is vital to remember because of all that He says about His people, what has been happening to them and what will happen in the future if they choose not to repent and come back to Him. 

In verse 2 we observe how the prophet declares the great care by the Lord for His covenant people. He says that His well beloved has a vineyard on a fertile hill. Yahweh purposely placed them there. He goes on in verse 2 to say that He dug around the vineyard, carefully removing all the stones in the vineyard. When living in Connecticut Wini and I always loved looking at the numerous stone fences around the countryside of Hartford, the Farmington Valley, and in the Connecticut River Valley. The stones were gathered years ago when farmers were preparing the ground for crops. 

After removing the stones Yahweh planted the choicest, most beautiful, most fruitful, most delicious, and most satisfying vines of anywhere in the Middle East. He also built a tower in the middle of the vineyard, no doubt to serve as a watchtower to warn His people of the approach of any unsavory characters, but also to look upon the beauty He had wrought in their presence. He built the vineyard and it was very good. He went further, in order to make the vineyard as productive as possible by making the full project “in house.” A wine vat was hewn out of stone right in the vineyard area. There was no need, therefore, to send the grapes elsewhere to be crushed and prepared for making wine. He did all of this to insure that the vineyard would produce the very best grapes possible and that His people would enjoy the bounty of His goodness. Wine is always a picture of feasting and rejoicing in the Bible. However, in spite of all His efforts to make the vineyard very prosperous, the vineyard only produced worthless grapes.  

At this point, beginning with verse 3, Isaiah the prophet lists six major problems in the culture of his day which clearly affect each one of us in today’s world. What is Isaiah driving at? The specific context in verses 1-6 is the nation of Israel in her disobedience. Yahweh has graciously and magnanimously supplied His people with the vineyard leading to their prosperity and success, but they have squandered it due to their disobedience. The big picture of Isaiah’s message here is that God made mankind in His own image. Man is the crown of God’s mighty creation. God planted us in a beautiful world, the Garden of Eden, the paradise of God, a garden of utter and complete perfection. Like Israel of old, we are His choicest vine. We are the Imago Dei, the image of God. Yahweh wants us to enjoy the beauty of His love forever. Yahweh’s care and provision for His people is not unlike parents who provide their children with everything they need, showering love upon them. Like Yahweh, these parents rejoice in their children. 
But mankind produces worthless grapes, just like the people of Israel and Judah. How so? According to verse 7 Yahweh was looking for justice, for people to treat each other with equity and fairness, to conduct honest business practices, to live with integrity, but instead He found bloodshed. He was looking for righteousness, another word for justice, to treat the “little people” with dignity, but He found only a cry of distress from those who were being oppressed. 

And Yahweh proclaims in verse 5 that due to their rebellion against Him, He will remove His protection from the vineyard. The hedge and wall which kept out the wild animals was removed. The vineyard would go untended, uncultivated. Destruction would soon follow. 

Is there a message here for us in today’s world? While it certainly is true that the U.S. is not a theocracy surely we can see principles which apply to us today. More specifically, Israel was the covenant people of God and now the church of Jesus is that covenant people. There is a message here for us as well. In fact we must remember that judgment begins with the household of God (1 Pet.4:7). I have long said that our myriad of moral problems in our country must be laid at the feet of the church and her pastors. We have failed, generally speaking, for well over a hundred years to keep the main thing the main thing, namely to preach Christ crucified, to evangelize and disciple, and to build up the saints in gospel holiness. We have allowed our desire to grow numerically to cloud our judgment. Consequently we have compromised the message and accommodated to the culture. In short, we have squandered the inheritance our Puritan forefathers left us. We have jettisoned the great work of revival led by men like Whitefield, Edwards, Gilbert Tennent, Samuel Davies, and Daniel Baker and exchanged it for the decidedly “American gospel” of the word of faith, CRT, Side B homosexuality, hyper grace, and health, wealth, and prosperity. 

God is giving us over to reprobate minds because we have embraced homosexuality (Rom.1:28). Murder, strife, deceit, malice, slander and so many more wicked and godless deeds are now upon us. Five people in the last ten days have been murdered in Fairfield, Alabama, a town on the westside of Birmingham. The Lord has removed the hedge of protection around the church and our nation. I wonder if the recent bill which is enlisting 87,000 armed IRS agents to descend upon the middle class like locusts is part of the hedge being broken down. This may get ugly real fast.

Preacher and church member alike, it is time to warn people of the absolute necessity to repent or they will surely perish. To repent means to turn around, to quit running from God and to run to Him in grace through Christ. It means to hate sin and forsake it. It means to think differently, to think Biblically, and to be doers of the word. It is time to warn friend, family, neighbor, work associate, and anyone you can that judgment has come to our nation. Not just a physical and financial judgment but surely an eternal judgment in the lake of fire if we refuse to repent. 

Most people still don’t believe this is possible. It is always amazing for me to see how positive and optimistic people can be in the midst of impending doom. Consider these words from Elie Wiesel. 
Elie Wiesel writes of Moishe the Beadle, an odd eccentric Jewish man in his village who was deported by the Hungarian police, picked up by the Nazis, and shot in a forest with hundreds of other Jews. Moishe escaped with only a slight wound because his murderers thought he was already dead. So he came back to Elie’s hometown of Sighet in Transylvania to warn the other Jews of the atrocities which were awaiting them if they did not flee to Palestine while they still had time. 

Moishe was not the same. The joy in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted pity, that he was imagining things. Others flatly said that he had gone mad. 
As for Moishe, he wept and pleaded: “Jews, listen to me! That’s all I ask of you. No money. No pity. Just listen to me!

I was saved miraculously. . . I wanted to return to Sighet to describe to you my death so that you might be ready yourselves while there is still time. . . I wanted to come back to warn you. Only no one is listening to me. . . “

Then Wiesel writes, “This was toward the end of 1942. Thereafter, life seemed normal once again. London radio, which we listened to every evening, announced encouraging news: the daily bombings of Germany and Stalingrad, the preparation for the second front. And so we, the Jews of Sighet, waited for better days that surely were soon to come.” [1]

My friend, warn people everywhere. Risk being considered crazy. Warn them to repent, to flee to Jesus for refuge, for if they refuse the will surely perish.

  1. Night, Elie Wiesel, page 7,8.

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