Old Foes with New Faces
Isaiah 5:2
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the middle of it…

1. As soon as a people become rich, they usually begin to subvert the natural and Divine order to their own selfishness. The tendency of riches is to lead people to do wrong. That may be why it is so hard for a rich man to get into heaven. He makes the mistake of thinking he can buy his way anywhere, and finds at last that character, not gold, is the currency he needs.

2. The sternness of the prophet continues. Those who have grown rich have also grown luxurious. They have learned the pleasures of the wine cup; they tarry long at the wine. The land question is an old one; the liquor question is equally old. Again I ask, Who shall tell why, as soon as men begin to prosper, they begin to do what is worst for themselves and worst for the world? Read that fifth chapter from verse 12 to 17. How true to life! "The mean man is bowed down, and the great man is humbled." The low-bred fellow drinks his fiery liquor and wallows in the gutter; the high-bred and rich say that they can mind their own business, and go to the same disgusting squalor. But Isaiah was speaking of the nation rather than to individuals It was a national shame that such things were tolerated then; it is a disgrace that such things are tolerated now. If Isaiah were alive today, or, better, if Jesus Christ could have your attention for a moment, He would say, How can you justify yourselves in giving so much time to purely economic questions and so little to the devising of means for the abolition of what ruins the finest of our boys, blights homes that would otherwise be beautiful and full of love, and makes so many of our rulers more like swine than the sovereigns they were intended to be? These two old foes are still alive, with new faces — the land question and the liquor question. The lesson which we have to learn is the one which the prophet sought to impress in his time — that both individuals and nations are responsible to God; that responsibility is real; and that there is a judgment seat before which men and nations must stand. "For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still." Let us not forget that we — our community, our state, our nation — are in the moral order of God; that everything we do is making ourselves and all others better or worse; that we are all called to fellowship with the prophets and apostles and faithful souls in all ages, to do something toward bringing in the time when the good things of the world shall belong to all people.

(Amory H. Bradford, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

WEB: He dug it up, gathered out its stones, planted it with the choicest vine, built a tower in its midst, and also cut out a winepress therein. He looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

Isaiah an Embodied Conscience
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