New American Standard Bible
8 Woe to those who attach house to house and join field to field, Until there is no more room, And you alone are a landowner in the midst of the land! 9 In my ears the Lord of armies has sworn, “Many houses shall certainly become desolate, Even great and fine ones, without occupants. 10 For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine, And a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.” 11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning so that they may pursue intoxicating drink, Who stay up late in the evening so that wine may inflame them! 12 Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, Nor do they consider the work of His hands.
13 Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; And their nobles are famished, And their multitude is parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth beyond measure; And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her noise of revelry, and the jubilant within her, descend into it. 15 So the common people will be humbled and the person of importance brought low, The eyes of the haughty also will be brought low. 16 But the Lord of armies will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. 17 Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture, And strangers will eat in the ruins of the wealthy.
18 Woe to those who drag wrongdoing with the cords of deceit, And sin as if with cart ropes; 19 Who say, “Let Him hurry, let Him do His work quickly, so that we may see it; And let the plan of the Holy One of Israel approach And come to pass, so that we may know it!” 20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! 22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine, And valiant men in mixing intoxicating drink, 23 Who declare the wicked innocent for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!
24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble, And dry grass collapses in the flame, So their root will become like rot, and their blossom blow away like dust; For they have rejected the Law of the Lord of armies, And discarded the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 For this reason the anger of the Lord has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. Despite all this, His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out.
26 He will also lift up a flag to the distant nation, And whistle for it from the ends of the earth; And behold, it will come with speed swiftly. 27 No one in it is tired or stumbles, No one slumbers or sleeps; Nor is the undergarment at his waist loosened, Nor his sandal strap broken. 28 Its arrows are sharp and all its bows are bent; The hoofs of its horses seem like flint, and its chariot wheels like a storm wind. 29 Its roaring is like a lioness, and it roars like young lions; It growls as it seizes the prey And carries it off with no one to save it. 30 And it will roar against it on that day like the roaring of the sea. If one looks across to the land, behold, there is darkness and distress; Even the light is darkened by its clouds.
Isaiah first woe is to those who add house to house and field to field. They are the rich who have taken advantage of the poor. The law of God was meant to guide and direct the affairs of the nation and the lives of the people. They were called to love their neighbor as themselves. But they had allowed greed to take hold of their hearts. They believed their contentment and joy was in adding more to their homes and more to their fields. They had determined their identity and purpose based on what they owned. Their greed caused the innocent to suffer and invited the judgement of Almighty God.
This push to add house to house resulted in the people living alone and their houses becoming desolate. True blessing is only found when our lives are surrendered to God and His ways. When we allow sin and wickedness to take hold of our hearts, it will in the end destroy us. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. When we look at our culture and society today, we see that history repeats itself. Every person who is taken advantage is the result of another person’s greed. Their desire for things trumps their understanding of the value of human life.
It is God who is the author of life and it is God who brings the increase. Because of the wickedness of the people ten acres of a vineyard would only produce six gallons of wine and six bushels of seed would only produce 6/10 of what was sown. It resulted in 1/10 being produced of what was sown. It is God who enables us to produce and gain wealth. It is God who brings the blessing. But in His kingdom blessing is directly connected with obedience. God is concerned about our daily lives and if we are living in rebellion and sin the Lord will do what needs to be done to get our attention. He will bring us to a place of repentance so that our hearts will turn fully back to Him. This is the value of His word because when we spend time in our word it is a mirror by which we can measure our conduct. Without the direction and guidance of His word, we will not understand how to live.
Those who rise early for strong drink and stay up late into the evening begin consumed by the influence of alcohol and strong drink have lost control. The desire for alcohol has consumed their every thought. The bible doesn’t speak against drinking alcohol, it speaks against drunkenness. The reason drunkenness is a issue is because the person who comes under the influence of alcohol has lost the ability to make sound and wise choices. They are opened up easily to the influence of demons and often strong drink and the use of intoxicating drugs have been used in pagan worship festivals and the worship of demons. Every instruction God gives us is for our benefit and our good. When a society and culture is focused on drinking and revelry it is a recipe for disaster. Sadly, this is the case currently in America.
Drinking and feasting had taken the place of the pursuit of God in the hearts of His people. They were concerned with strong drink and chasing after the sinful desires that burned within them. When our focus and pursuit is no longer the Lord and His purposes, our lives are opened to the influence of Satan and the ultimate end is destruction. God’s desire is for our heart, when He has our hearts that means the pursuit and priority of our lives is Him and His kingdom.
God says that His people go into exile because of their lack of knowledge. Their lack of knowledge has to do with the ways of the Lord. They have taken their eyes off the Lord and instead have become consumed with this world and its passions. Every person regardless of their standing would be impacted by the judgement of the Lord. Everyone from those in leadership to the multitude.
The place of Sheol was a place of the dead. It is the place where the dead are kept until final judgement before Jesus Christ. Those who are engaged in revelry and those who are jubilant from feasting on strong drink and wine will be destroyed by their own wickedness. God’s desire is to pour out mercy and that people would choose to repent. God sends forth His word in mercy, but those often consumed by sin and wickedness choose instead to reject the Living God and choose their own way.
When the judgement of God comes everyone will be humbled who stands in pride and arrogance against the Living God. The Lord mentions the common man, the man of importance, and the proud. All of these have rejected the way of the Lord because of pride and arrogance. The only rightful way for God to deal with them is through humbling them. Often for God to get our attention and bring correction, He must break us and bring us to a place of humility.
God’s throne is built upon the pillars of justice and righteousness. God must always deal rightfully with wickedness and sin. God will be exalted in judgement and will show Himself holy in righteousness because when God brings forth judgement, He brings forth correction. Judgement against wickedness is God revealing His character and nature of righteousness. God is perfect and holy and those who reject His mercy and His love, must deal with His judgement and wrath. He doesn’t judge because He is cruel, He brings forth judgement because He is righteous, holy, and just.
When God brings forth judgement those who believe themselves to be important and above the ways of God because of their pride and arrogance will be brought low. The reason the lambs will graze as in their pastures and strangers eat in their waste places is when God brings forth judgement, it will bring forth desolation. Those who continue in wickedness and sin will not be able to stand before the Living God. He will always send out countless warnings before He moves in judgement and righteousness. This is His mercy at work. But when judgement comes, it is His righteousness at work.
Those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood and sin as if with cart ropes have become consumed with being involved with sin. Wherever they go their sin and wickedness infects those around them. Their sin and wickedness have filled them with pride. They question the purposes of God and even if God will act. In their hearts they say let Him hasten His work, that we may see it. They are taunting the Living God, believing that God will not act, and do as He has said He will do. This is the effect that win will always have in the life of a person. It will cause them to believe they are accountable to no one. They are above the law.
When a society gets to a point where they have called evil good and good evil they are on the verge of experience the judgement of God and destruction. The only recipe for experiencing the mercy of God is to repent and humble oneself. If we have come to the place of repentance, then we have heeded the word of the Lord and we have turned from our sin. But this shows us the deceitful work of sin in the life of an individual. The more we give sin a place in our lives and give into temptation, the more we come under the influence of darkness.
Those who are consumed with sin and wickedness become wise and clever in their own eyes. They reject the ways of God, they reject the wisdom of the Lord, and in the end they are destroyed by their own wisdom and their own actions. Through Isaiah the Lord communicated to His people His word. But sadly, many rejected the word of the Lord, because they choose to reject God. The only way we can truly find healing, restoration, and salvation is to humble ourselves before the Lord and surrender our lives to Him. In Christ our lives no longer belong to ourselves.
The Lord says woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and valiant men or champions at mixing strong drink. Those who were known by their ability to drink and produce alcoholic drinks had lives that were directly impacted by this darkness and foolishness. Today we live in a society it seems that honors and glorifies drug dealers and the wicked of our society. But we must remember that this world is not our home. Our home is in Heaven.
Wickedness impacted every level of society of Isaiah’s day. Those who were supposed to protect the innocent and provide justice instead justified the wicked for a bribe and removed the rights of the ones who are in the right. It is amazing how similar our day is to Isaiah’s. But it shows us that the human heart is inherently wicked and when God and His word are rejected, there is no hope against the darkness and wickedness of our day.
The fire of God consumes that which is wicked. It consumes like fire consuming dried grass in the wilderness. If you have ever observed a wildfire. It begins as a small fire but turns into a blazing inferno because of the dryness of the grass that causes the grass to become fuel for the fire.
This is a picture of the fire of God’s wrath and judgement. Today many in the church have a wrong understanding of God and how He sees sin because His holiness and righteousness has been discarded. We instead like the hear about His grace, love, and mercy because it is confronting. But God will always deal rightly with sin, He will always send forth His word before judgement comes, but none the less He will deal rightly with sin.
Here we see that judgement is coming because the people have rejected the law of the Lord of Hosts. They have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. The Lord of Hosts speaks of God’s power and might. When the title The Holy One of Israel is given, it speaks of God’s holiness. That God cannot be in the presence of wickedness and sin. God established a covenant for Israel to live by and when they failed to live by that covenant, correction came.
When God deals in judgement it is not a quick reaction. God in His patience and mercy sends forth His word time and time again. Often the prophets of old were hated and were ignored. But there comes a time when judgement must come. When it does it is the full measure of God’s righteousness and justice. Isaiah speaks of the mountains quaking and the corpse lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. Those who reject God’s mercy fail to understand the full measure of God’s justice. They believe they are their own God and, in their pride, believe they will get away with whatever they are doing, but in the end they will be destroyed by it.
Everything that God does in the lives of His people is because of His love for them. The Lord sent prophet after prophet declaring the word of God to His people. But sadly, the prophets were often ignored. Now God would use nations outside Israel to judge Israel and bring correction. The Lord would raise a standard and would whistle for them to come.
The only time Israel was ever defeated in battle is because God allowed it to happen, and it was due to their rebellion and wickedness. God’s desire is for His people to walk in obedience to His ways. This is where blessing is found. The distant nation spoken of here is Babylon. God would eventually use Babylon to send the southern kingdom into exile. But it was in the place of exile for seventy years that the hearts of the people were turned from the wickedness of idolatry and back to the Living God.
The army that would come would be mighty and fierce. The Lord says that no one in this army slumbers or sleeps, none is weary or stumbles. This army will come forth mightily with the hand of God upon it. Its purpose is not to completely wipe out the nation of Israel but is meant to bring correction to God’s people. God’s discipline is always perfect and is the perfect measure needed to correct the hearts of His children.
Isaiah further goes on to describe the awesomeness and effectiveness of this coming army. All its bows are bent, its arrows are sharp, and the hoofs of the horses seem like flint. This army coming from Babylon would be fierce and effective. But the armies and nations that were used to bring correction to Israel often in their arrogance and pride believed their strength and greatness was found in themselves. They failed to understand that they were simply a mere instrument in the hands of God for His purposes and His plans.
When this army comes through and fully devastates Israel it will seem that there is darkness and distress. They will come forth like a roaring lion. But God has not taken His hand on Israel and God has not forsaken them. For a time they will go into exile because of the depths of their sin and rebellion. But God has a remnant put aside to fulfill every purpose and plan He has spoken concerning the nation of Israel. This should give us great hope knowing that even in the depths of our sin, if we are willing to repent and turn to the Living God, that He will not abandon us, nor forsake us. It is God who saves us and it is God who redeems us. It is God who keeps us by His grace. He calls us to abide in Him because that is where true life is found. Many things in this world will tempt us to turn from God and chase after them. But all that the world offers simply ends in darkness and destruction. May our hearts fully be committed to the Living God. May our lives be built upon His word alone.