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Isaiah 5:1-7 1
1I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. 3″Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? 5Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 6I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” 7The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

clip_image150Background 2

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1), the kings of Judah. Uzziah reigned fifty-two years in the middle of the 8th century BC, and Isaiah must have begun his career a few years before Uzziah’s death, probably in the 740s BC. He lived till the fourteenth year of Hezekiah (who died 698 BC), and may have been contemporary for some years with Manasseh. Thus Isaiah may have prophesied for the long period of at least forty-four years.

In early youth Isaiah may have been moved by the invasion of Israel by the Assyrian monarch Tiglath-Pileser III (2 Kings 15:19); and again, twenty years later, when he had already entered on his office, by the invasion of Tiglath-Pileser and his career of conquest. Ahaz, king of Judah, at this crisis refused to co-operate with the kings of Israel and Syria in opposition to the Assyrians, and was on that account attacked and defeated by Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Chronicles 28:5-6). Ahaz, thus humbled, sided with Assyria, and sought the aid of Tiglath-Pileser against Israel and Syria. The consequence was that Rezin and Pekah were conquered and many of the people carried captive to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29, 16:9; 1 Chronicles 5:26).

The last years of Hezekiah’s reign were peaceful (2 Chr 32:23-29). Isaiah probably lived to its close, and possibly into the reign of Manasseh, but the time and manner of his death are not specified in either the Bible or recorded history. There is a tradition (reported in both the Martyrdom of Isaiah and the Lives of the Prophets) that he suffered martyrdom by Manasseh due to pagan reaction.

Biblical Truths 3

Christ is God’s beloved Son, and our beloved Saviors. The care of the Lord over the church of Israel, is described by the management of a vineyard. The advantages of our situation will be brought into the account another day. He planted it with the choicest vines; gave them a most excellent law, instituted proper ordinances. The temple was a tower, where God gave tokens of his presence. He set up his altar, to which the sacrifices should be brought; all the means of grace are denoted thereby. God expects fruit from those that enjoy privileges. Good purposes and good beginnings are good things, but not enough; there must be vineyard fruit; thoughts and affections, words and actions, agreeable to the Spirit. It brought forth bad fruit. Wild grapes are the fruits of the corrupt nature. Where grace does not work, corruption will. But the wickedness of those that profess religion, and enjoy the means of grace, must be upon the sinners themselves. They shall no longer be a peculiar people. When errors and vice go without check or control, the vineyard is unpruned; then it will soon be grown over with thorns. This is often shown in the departure of God’s Spirit from those who have long striven against him, and the removal of his gospel from places which have long been a reproach to it. The explanation is given. It is sad with a soul, when, instead of the grapes of humility, meekness, love, patience, and contempt of the world, for which God looks, there are the wild grapes of pride, passion, discontent, and malice, and contempt of God; instead of the grapes of praying and praising, the wild grapes of cursing and swearing. Let us bring forth fruit with patience, that in the end we may obtain everlasting life.

Items for Discussion

  • What would be the modern day equivalent to a vineyard?
  • What parallels can you draw between the story in Isaiah and other things found to be non-productive in our society?
  • What was God looking for in His people?
  • Where does the world fall short today?
  • If we were Isaiah today, what should we be saying to the world around us?
  • Of the sins in Isaiah’s time, can you find examples in today’s world that are the same?

For further ideas see my story on My First Home

 

Luke 12:49-56
49″I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

Background 4

Luke wrote two books of the New Testament (NT). Luke’s Gospel tells the story of the life and work of Jesus. Luke’s second book, Acts, continues the story after Jesus went back to heaven. The two books amount to a quarter of the NT. This is even more than Paul wrote.

Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He was often Paul’s companion in his travels. The book of Acts contains passages in which the author includes himself as a companion of Paul (‘we’ in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16).

uke shared Paul’s work (Philemon, verse 24). He was a loyal friend. In prison, Paul says, ‘only Luke is with me’ (2 Timothy 4:11).

Luke was a Gentile and came from Antioch.

Bible Truths 5

Verse 49 – Jesus had come to bring God’s judgment. It was like fire that destroys things that have no value. This judgment would take place at the cross, where God would judge people’s sin. Jesus came to rescue people from sin. He wished that his work had already begun.

Verse 50 – He referred to his death as a ‘baptism’. The word baptism sometimes means suffering. (Look at Mark 10:39.) Jesus knew that he would suffer and die. He felt great strain as he thought about it. He wanted it to happen soon.

Verses 51-53 – Jesus did bring peace. He made people at peace with God. However, his message also divided people. Some people accepted his message. Other people refused to obey him. This would even divide some families. Jesus used words like those in Micah 7:6. He said that in one family there would be three people on his side and two people against him. Or it would be the other way round. A father will decide one way, a son another way. Mother and daughter will not agree. In a family, people must be loyal to Jesus first. Their family must take the second place.

Verse 54 – Jesus said that people could understand the weather. They saw the evidence that it would change. Sometimes the clouds came from the Mediterranean Sea. Then they knew that it would rain.

Verse 55 – The south wind from the desert would bring extremely hot weather.

Verse 56 – They were hypocrites. They knew how to judge the evidence of future weather. But they refused to understand the ‘signs’ that Jesus was talking about. The Greek word for ‘time’ here is ‘kairos’, which means ‘the right time’. People were not deciding to follow Jesus while they had the opportunity.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the commonalities between Jesus’ death and a baptism?
  • Jesus talks about a lack of discernment in people – How is discernment learned?
  • How does the Gospel’s message divide people?
  • If Christ came to make people choose, then where are the places the modern Christian church can offer these lessons?
  • Where are the places the modern Christian church fails?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the role of each Christian in promoting “the choice” that Christ brought to mankind? 
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