You successfully added to your cart! You can either continue shopping, or checkout now if you'd like.

Note: If you'd like to continue shopping, you can always access your cart from the icon at the upper-right of every page.



Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 1

Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Isaiah 5: The Vineyard

Chapter 16: The Song of the Vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-7 is the Song of the Vineyard, which Jesus used later in His parable of the vineyard in Matt. 21:33-43.

We read in Isaiah 5:1, 2,

1 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.
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.”

Perhaps the prophet had composed a tune to go with this lyric. If so, it was lost long ago. The vineyard is “the Kingdom” (Isaiah 5:7), by which is meant the House of Israel as a whole. The vine itself is Judah, because the prophet was addressing Judah and Jerusalem.

This vineyard was said to be planted in the land of Canaan by God Himself. Of course, we understand that Joshua was God’s agent who brought Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua is the one who prepared the way by removing the stones (obstacles, the opposing tribes of Canaanites), planted the vineyard, built the tower for its defense, and hewed out the wine vat to receive the fruits of his labor.

The Only-Begotten

Joshua, in turn, was a type of Yeshua—Jesus Christ, who was named after the original Joshua. Hence, the prophet was referring prophetically to Jesus Himself, who planted the vineyard. The vineyard was intended to be the inheritance of “my well-beloved,” which is a reference to Jesus, “the only-begotten God” (John 1:18).

The term “well-beloved” is from the Hebrew word, yediyd, which is derived from dowd, “love.” David’s name was also derived from dowd and means “beloved.” Hence, the underlying thought here is to connect the “vine” (Judah) with King David, the beloved one.

David was also called an only-begotten son, Yechiyd, which is derived from yachad, “to join, be united, solitary, unique, one/only.” Psalm 22:20 and 35:17 calls him Yechiyd, which the NASB renders “only life,” putting life in italics to show that it was added. The KJV reads, “darling.” Young’s Literal Translation reads, “only one.”

The word refers to the heir, the one to whom the estate was to be given. For example, Isaac was the heir, the only son of Abraham, even though he had an older brother, Ishmael. The word picture is of a son who was “one” with his father in purpose and understanding.

This is why Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Father, said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). They were not the same Person but were of one mind and purpose, and for this reason He was the “only-begotten Son,” the Heir of all things—even though we too are called sons of God (John 1:12). We too are begotten by God, but Jesus is the unique, only-begotten (yechiyd) Son of God.

So the “well-beloved” (yadiyd) is related to the “only son” (yachiyd), and I have no doubt that Isaiah had this in mind when he wrote prophetically of Christ as the Heir to whom the vineyard was to be given. Jesus was the Heir of His father David, the beloved one.

The Description of the Vineyard

The vineyard was planted “on a fertile hill.” Hills and mountains speak of small and large nations or kingdoms, as we saw in Isaiah 2:2. He removed the stones, which represent the various tribes of Canaanites who were obstacles standing in the way of the Kingdom of God on account of their adherence to idols and false gods.

The “choicest” vine is from soraq, in the sense of its redness (saruq). That is, it produced red grapes from the choice species of vine.

Towers, or watchtowers, were built in the middle of many vineyards. These were elevated stages or platforms from which a watchman could protect the vineyard from men and animals that might want to steal the grapes or even destroy the vineyard. Towers thus represent prophetically the defense of the Kingdom.

The Owner of the vineyard, of course, expected to receive the fruits of His labor, so He built a wine vat or winepress (yeqev). This can refer either to an upper vat where the grapes are trodden and pressed out to release the juice, or to the lower vat into which the juice flows.

Stinkberry Juice (Yum, Yum!)

The Owner did everything right and could expect to receive good wine at the time of harvest. But when the harvest came, something was dreadfully wrong. The grape juice was so sour that it was undrinkable. Isaiah uses the word be’ushiym, “stinkberries.” from be’oshe, “to stink.”

So what went wrong? Isaiah 5:3, 4 continues,

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? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes, did it produce worthless ones [“stinkberries”]?

That is the big prophetic question. How is it that Israel (and particularly Judah and its monarchy) produced stinkberry juice instead of good grapes for God’s communion table? The answer, of course, lies not in anything God did. The problem was that they were functioning under the Old Covenant, where the will of man was necessary to obtain the blessings of God. Anything that depends upon our flesh will only produce stinkberries.

The vineyard was in need of a New Covenant, based upon the will of God, rather than the will of the flesh (John 1:13). The fruit of the Kingdom is ultimately the sons of God. The question is how to beget sons of God. Are they begotten by natural means? Are they begotten when a man and a woman decide to have sexual relations and beget children after their own image and likeness, which in turn is derived from Adam? Or can sons of God only be begotten by the Holy Spirit through a spiritual begetting by hearing the word through one’s ears? The New Testament gives the answer. Sons are begotten by the seed of the word (1 Peter 1:23-25).

The Verdict

Isaiah then tells us the decision of the Owner of the vineyard. Isaiah 5:5, 6 says,

5 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. 6 I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.

We see that God intended to destroy His vineyard. First, He said He would “remove its hedge” and “break down its wall”—things not described earlier in the construction of the vineyard. In other words, the defense of the vineyard was removed to allow enemies to come in and destroy it. Hence, Israel itself (the vineyard) was to be destroyed by the Assyrians, and most of the people of Judah too were taken to Assyria (2 Kings 18:13). The destruction reached its apex a century later when the Babylonians destroyed the nation.

This essentially ended the original form of the Kingdom of God in its Old Covenant form. After it was laid waste, God said that “it will not be pruned or hoed.” The purpose of pruning was to cut off dead branches so that it would bear more fruit (John 15:2). The purpose of hoeing was to dig out the “briars and thorns” which represented ungodly people, usually a reference to the idolatrous foreigners (Num. 33:55).

Isaiah will have more to say about “thorns” later in Isaiah 7:23-25, as we will see. The point being made here in Isaiah 5 is that God Himself refused to hoe the vineyard in order to allow briars and thorns to grow in it. Hence, the briars and thorns were not the problem. Judah’s problem was their rejection of God and Jesus Christ.

No Rain

Finally, God said that He would “charge the clouds to rain no rain on it,” so that it would dry up. This is a judgment taken from the law of tribulation in Deut. 28:23, 24,

23 The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

God had warned them earlier in Deut. 11:16, 17,

16 Beware that your hearts are not deceived and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them, 17 or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord God is giving you.

The purpose of rain is to cause the vineyard to bear fruit. Rain represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that comes down from heaven. This is one of the main themes of the prophet in Joel 2:23, 28, 29. The early and late rains were vital in bringing forth crops and fruit.

The law of tribulation tells us that God Himself will withhold the rain (Holy Spirit) when His people refuse to be obedient to His word. The law says that when Israel was exiled to foreign lands on account of its rebellion against the law, they were to worship false gods. We see this in Deut. 28:64,

64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.

In other words, God would see to it that the people in exile (except for the remnant of grace) would worship the false gods that they had desired while living in the land of Canaan. He would give them their heart’s desire, so that they could eat the fruits of their own religion.

During this time, they would not receive the rain of the Holy Spirit. Neither would they be able to bring forth the fruits of the Kingdom that God desires and demands.

So we find that the late rain came in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost as the result of the remnant who believed in Jesus Christ. This began to produce the sons of God in those who believed and received the seed of the word that Jesus preached. The final rain, called the “early rain” will come at Tabernacles in conjunction with the second coming of Christ. It is “early” in the sense that it will be the start of the greatest move of the Spirit the world has ever seen, which will produce huge numbers of the sons of God in the age to come.

Isaiah’s Interpretation

Isaiah 5:7 concludes,

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice [mishpat], but behold, bloodshed [mispach]; for righteousness [tsedeqah], but behold, a cry of distress [tsaaqah].

The vineyard is the Kingdom itself, and Judah is the “delightful plant.” The prophet then uses similar words as puns. He looked for mishpat but saw only mispach. He looked for tsedeqah but found only tsaaqah.

God was looking for good grapes for His communion table—that is, “justice” and “righteousness.” Instead, the vineyard produced “bloodshed” and “distress” which were pictured as stinkberries.

God thus gave His vineyard a new name: Stinkberry Farms.