The Lenten reading for the 2nd Monday of Great Lent from the Prophecy of Isaiah 5:1-7:
Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?
I find Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard to be for me, deep in my heart, a most troubling and unnerving story.
For God is asking us to answer the very question so many of us ask Him, WHY?
Why does Israel yield wild grapes instead of good ones?
Why are there such problems in the Church?
Why does evil so often seem to prevail?
Why, asks God, after all that I did, did you fail to bear fruit?
Doesn’t HE know? Does He really think we should know?
Why doesn’t God do something about what’s wrong with the church – with hypocritical Christians and failed leaders and those who are aggressively ambitious and those who are in the church but are just plain evil?
And God is troubled about the same things we are and He asks us to explain why, to give account for ourselves and our church.
He is not at all pleased and demands an accounting of us. We are equally displeased and wonder why doesn’t He correct the problems and deal with the malefactors?
Synergy versus stalemate. God is not going to do for us what we need to do for ourselves. As the Lord tells Moses when Moses believing he is following God’s will leads the people out of Egypt into the entrapment between Pharoah’s army and the Sea of Reeds: “Why do you cry out to me? YOU tell the Israelites to go forward” (Exodus 14:15). God has high expectations for His people.
And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
Oh Lord, remember how to be merciful to us, as you headed the plea of the murderer Cain who complained his punishment was too harsh and you put your mark on him to protect him. Lord, save us from your wrath and from ourselves. God asks us why we, the vine which He planted and so meticulously cultivated, have failed Him? It is Lent, this has to break our hearts. We cannot answer, but we can weep for the state of affairs we are in.
“O Lord GOD, forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”
The LORD relented concerning this; “It shall not be,” said the LORD.
This is what the Lord GOD showed me: the Lord GOD was calling for a shower of fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said,
“O Lord GOD, cease, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”
The LORD relented concerning this; “This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.