What does it say?

Isaiah 5 opens with a powerful poetic song comparing God’s people to a vineyard. The Hebrew poetic language is beautifully lilting until a sudden climax in the final line concluding that instead of good grapes, the vineyard produced wild grapes. The rest of the chapter describes that wildness and the coming destruction as a result.

Isaiah is in thematic order, not chronological. Isaiah 6 describes Isaiah’s cleansing and commissioning by God in a prophetic vision during the days of good king Uzziah. This sets the stage for what follows through chapter 39. This is a theological crisis as to whether Israel will put their trust in God or in the surrounding nations.

Isaiah 7 specifically focuses on Uzziah’s grandson Ahaz and his choice to trust God or in the surrounding nations for deliverance from Assyria (2Kings 16; 2Chronicles 28). God gives Ahaz a sign that the prophet’s wife would give birth to a son that he would call Emmanuel (God with us), and that before the child is old enough to discern right from wrong Assyria would not be a relevant threat.  The historic fulfillment of this prophetic sign is the birth of Isaiah’s son recorded in Isaiah 8. A different symbolic name is given to this son as a sign to all the house of Judah. The bulk of the rest of the chapter encourages the people to trust God.

What does it mean?

Isaiah 6 is a key passage that demonstrates that worship and mission cannot be separated. The prophet experiences a worshipful vision of God’s holiness that leaves him confessing his own sinfulness. This confession leads to cleansing and a clear commission to engagement in God’s mission. Our lives should follow the same pattern: more consumed with God’s holiness than our own selves; confession of unworthiness and submission to God’s purposes; and engagement in the commission to be part of God’s mission and speak his truth.

There are several difficulties associated with Isaiah 7-8 that are far beyond the scope of this devotion to clarify. Isaiah’s prophecy has a double fulfillment, not uncommon in the Old Testament. There is the historical fulfillment in the birth of Isaiah’s son, but we also know that this passage finds its ultimate fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:23).

How will I respond?

Is my worship genuine? Does my worship lead me to focus on God’s holiness more than my sin? Does it lead me to a missional lifestyle? Today I will pray for God to give me an opportunity this week to share my story of God’s grace in my life with a person in need of the same.