woe & wrath: a love song

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What makes a long song a love song? Would you say it involves expressions of affection? Sweet emotion? Longing? Happiness? Commitment and devotion?

In the context of a startling vision, Isaiah’s eyes are opened to the reality of the rampant wickedness of the people of Israel. They have forgotten God. They have turned to their own way and busied themselves with idols of their own making. They have become proud and confident in their own strength and skill.

Their end is destruction. Apart from true repentance, they will be brought lower than they could bring themselves. Humbled to dust.

Those who turn to the Lord, on the other hand, are granted abundant mercy and forgiveness, bestowed true holiness, and exalted with honor.

Insert love song.

“Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard . . .”

First, a somber melody: expressions of disappointment.

His vineyard, the house of Israel, did not meet His righteous expectations.

“What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?

When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?”

Next, a rousing chorus: harsh depictions of impending judgment.

“And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard . . .

. . . it shall be devoured.”

Then, six stanzas of repeated warnings: because of their evil and their unwillingness to obey, appropriate and deserved punishment will result.

Woe to those who live in luxury. They will live in want.

Woe to those who feast on plenty. They will go hungry. And hell will not.

Woe to those who live in sin, all the while pretending to please God.

Woe to those who confuse truth with lies, wickedness with righteousness.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes.

Woe to those who mix valor with deceit and fraud. Their end is rottenness.

And the finale: a climax of holy outrage.

“Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them . . . and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets . . . and his hand is stretched out still.”

Wrath.

Darkness.

Distress.

And with that, the last note is sung.

See Isaiah 1-5 for further study.


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