In Isaiah chapter five the
Prophet lists six outstanding sins of Judah. The Lord particularly
mentions these as marks of a decadent society.
Each "sin" paragraph is
introduced by the word "woe!"
Let me show you what I
Let's read Isaiah 5:8-10.
them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no
place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine
ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate,
even great and fair, without inhabitant. Yea, ten acres of vineyard
shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah."
The sin is apparently one
Wealthy "land grabbers"
are buying up the acreage and houses of the poor! They buy this house
... then the next ... and the next ... all the way down the road until
their holdings join one another! One farm after another falls into
their hands! Forget the poor people whose possessions are being taken
This is sheer greed!
I have been reading this
week about the real estate market in America's large cities! There are
now apartments that sell for ten to fifteen millions dollars each in the
high rise mansions of our land! There are company leaders who get
richer and richer while their poor laborers barely subsist on meager
And obviously, they want
a little bit "more" and then "more" and even some "more" after that.
(The Greek word for covetousness combines two little words which mean
"to have" and "more!" That's the New Testament view.)
BUT God plans a little
surprise here for such wicked men.
Their great houses will
eventually be empty! The Hebrew word for "desolate" ("shammah") can
mean wasted or empty ... but also has the idea astonishment or
Either by death or by
military action (war) or by weather or by some other means God will
guarantee that the crooks who stole such homes will not enjoy them!
In fact, the inhabitants
of Judah will themselves ALL (but the very poorest anyway) be taken
captive to a foreign land (Babylon) in a few years! Due to their
hard-heartedness and sin!
And the lands they seized
... something can be "legal" yet not "moral" ... will NOT yield the
crops one would have expected!
Ten acres of grapevines
will only yield one bath of juice ... just eight gallons! (Less than a
gallon an acre! Something is wrong!)
And instead of their seed
multiplying when planted ... producing a hundred or a thousand fold ...
it only grows one tenth of its original quantity! An "ephah" is about a
tenth of a "homer," which is about six bushels!
God is in the farming
business it seems! He can bless or He can diminish. It's simply up to
Him! "For promotion cometh neither from
the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the
judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." Psalm
Hear me today!
Greed is wrong!
We are NOT to covet those
kinds of worldly things!
God has forbidden it!
And, I fear, America is
Our nation has gone money
Some suffer while others
prosper (or so they think)!
Judgment is coming!
Both here on earth and
finally ... in the Presence of God Himself!
Why would we Christians
want and want and want?
We have Jesus!
That's God's solution to
the "coveting" issue! "Let your
conversation be without covetousness; and be content with
such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5
See it? Do NOT covet
... I AM WITH THEE!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Isaiah the Old Testament
Prophet was not afraid to preach against sin!
He did so often, but in
the fifth chapter of his inspired prophecy he really exposes the
iniquity of his people.
Using the sobering
exclamation "woe" six times ... this man of God details life in 700 BC
Here's an example:
"Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may
follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame
them!" Isaiah 5:11
These folks are using
strong drink, intoxicating beverages, from early morning until late
night! That of course is a sin! Here it's a national epidemic!
Additionally, they are so
careless they "party" along with their drinking ... adding music of all
kinds to their revelry! "And the harp, and the
viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts ...."
Yet they forget one
thing, the most important thing! "But they regard
not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands."
They have forgotten God! They do not "regard" ("nabat" in Hebrew) or
"consider" or "respect" the work of God. They ignore intricate deeds of
His Hands! They fail to see that God is preparing them for judgment!
But sin always has
consequences! "Therefore my people are gone into
captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable
men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst."
(Isaiah 5:13) God has "exposed" (one meaning for the word
"captivity") their evil by removing their freedom! For seventy years
they would be under Babylonians domination. Isaiah is so sure of this
yet future event that he writes of it in the past tense! And notice
that even the "top" layers of society (the "honourable men") are
And many thousands of
them die and go to Hell! "Therefore hell hath
enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory,
and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall
descend into it." (Isaiah 5:14) "Hell" or "sheol" is the
underworld and could include either that place of literal eternal fire
and torment ... or the very grave itself. So many die that Hell is
pictured as having "to make more room" (the Hebrew word "enlarged") for
them! Look where they are now!
And no one is excepted!
"And the mean man shall be brought down, and the
mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be
humbled." (Isaiah 5:15) The adjective "mean" is once translated
"hypocrite" in the King James Bible. It literally is the Hebrew word
But ... while the sinning
nation is brought LOW, Some One will be exalted!
"But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is
holy shall be sanctified in righteousness." (Isaiah 5:16) Wow!
No matter what happens in this old world ... let God be uplifted! And,
even in His judgments, He will be! Revelation 19:2 repeats one of the
cries of eternity: "For true and righteous are
His judgments!" They are indeed!
Then lastly (in this
one point of Isaiah's great sermon) ... little animals and
poor foreigners will enjoy the lands vacated by a sinning nation of
Israel (Judah to be exact)! Lands too often given to sin and
degradation! "Then shall the lambs feed after
their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat."
(Isaiah 5:17) The "fat ones" are the wealthy Jews who forgot God!
Former cities become vacant lots and are pastureland for sheep!
The word "woe" expresses
great surprise and amazement!
No wonder Isaiah began
this paragraph with it!
(Back in Isaiah 5:11)
And if such "woe" was due
to backslidden Judah ... what about backslidden America?
Will not some day many a
"woe" be pronounced over our beloved nation as well? Unless we repent
... an event that is looking less and less likely every day!
Thank you, Isaiah, for
preaching the Word of God without compromise!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
We are living in a day of
So did Isaiah the Prophet!
He one day preached on
such an attitude in the fifth chapter of his prophecy.
unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were
with a cart rope: that say, Let Him (God) make speed, and hasten
His work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of
Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!" Isaiah 5:18-19
Let's analyze these
In Scripture a "woe"
almost always indicates pending judgment.
But what have the Jews of
Isaiah's day done that is so bad?
The Preacher is using a
word picture here.
The people of Judah have
developed an aggressive attitude toward sin. They do not wait for sin
to come to them! They don't even wait for temptation! They go to sin!
They seemingly get ahead of the devil himself!
They immediately collect
sin, by the wagon loads ... or here, cart loads! And the weight of
their collected sin is heavy, very heave! So heavy that it can't simply
be carried ... but must be "drawn" with cords! Hence,
"They draw iniquity
with cords of vanity!"
And note that the
specific type of sin Isaiah has in mind is
"iniquity," although in reality all sin falls into this
category. The Hebrew word is "avon" (pronounced aw-vone') and means
that which is "twisted" out of its normal God-intended shape. That
which is perverted.
This truckload of
perversion or wickedness is so vast and so massive that it must be
pulled with ropes or "cords." And Judah
wants to sin so badly ... wants to rebel against God so deeply ... that
she gladly tugs day by day on that heavy and deadly cargo!
Notice that she is even
pulling the weight of sin with cords of "vanity!"
The word here is "shav" in Hebrew and means emptiness or worthlessness
or even falsehood! In our context here it likely means "false!" As
Judah and her people pull harder and harder on their accumulated sin ...
they have to call it by a different name than rebellion or iniquity or
unrighteousness! (They have to lie about its nature!) Instead of
calling science an anti-Genesis or anti-creation issue ... it's just
evolution or natural selection, survival of the fittest! Instead of
being in favor of "baby-killing," one now can simply be "pro-choice!
And in the place of being one who "twists" God's moral law ... one is
today a "progressive" who believes in "alternate lifestyles!" That's
"vanity" all right! And maybe even a
little dose of stupidity too!
Next Isaiah further
develops his sermon by using the term "cart rope."
Now their sin has grown to the point that they can't just pull it ... it
must be loaded upon a big wagon ... and animals hitched to it (mere
beasts of burden) to pull and tug on it, bringing it home! A cart rope
is bigger and stronger than a regular rope. (I think Isaiah just
likened these habitual sinners to slaves or donkeys or oxen pulling
their loads ... beings who are servants of some master. And here the
master is sin and the devil!)
I'd say that one really
wants to sin a lot ... to be willing to exert such effort and go to that
extreme to accommodate this degree of evil! (Yet Jesus says that His
"burden is light!" Matthew 11:28-30)
But next listen to what
these rebels say, these pursuers of ungodliness.
"Let God hurry. If
Isaiah is right and God is about to judge, let Him go ahead and do so!"
They actually invite the Almighty to give it His best shot! Let that
"Holy One" of Whom Isaiah speaks go ahead and keep His word! It won't
phase us! That's the import of verse 19 --- "That
say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it:
and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that
we may know it!"
rebellion for sure! (Not to mention taking God's Name in vain!) But
doesn't it sound just like America's words today? Authors of books,
professors at the university and news readers on television (plus many
so-called preachers too) fit into this mold!
They now may be mocking
Isaiah also, that old fundamentalist Prophet!
They are literally
"daring" God to judge them!
And He obliged!
Yes, He did so ...
To get an idea of how
they talked then (after God moved in fiery judgment) ... just read the
Book of Lamentations!
What I need to say today
is just this. The sins of Judah in 700 BC and the sins of America the
early 21st century seem a lot alike!
Will our judgments be
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Can a nation ever become
so twisted that she even looses her sense of right and wrong?
God's people in the land
of Judah did so according to the Prophet Isaiah!
Here's what he said to
them in a sermon he preached long ago: "Woe unto
them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light,
and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for
bitter!" Isaiah 5:20
The verb "call" is in
Hebrew spelled "amar" and just means to say or to speak. It here implies
simple normal conversation. The Israelites had lost their moral
foundation! They had been so desensitized by sin that any discernment
between right and wrong they once possessed was literally reversed!
They had "seared" their God-given consciences, rendering themselves
They had believed the
lie! Evil ("ra" in Hebrew) had usurped the throne and "good" had been
exiled! That little noun "ra" suggests sin in its most vile and
dangerous form! Sin that is active and spreading and most deadly!
To them (at least at
times) lying had become a better thing to do than telling the truth!
After all, you wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, would you?
And the rights of a
Mother to murder her unborn fetus far outclassed the little baby's will
to live! The Jewish Mothers boiled and ate their own infants when their
city was under siege! (Americans, remember ... Mom can vote! She has
political clout! The baby can't do so!) In this case somebody had in
their own mind legalized murder (calling it good) and outlawed a little
baby's' health and well-being (calling it evil)!
That little word "good"
(in Hebrew = "tov") means beneficial or pleasant or favorable or right
or even happy!
In expanding this pointed
word picture Isaiah adds that these folks "put
darkness for light and light for darkness!" Remember what Jesus
said: "Men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19) What God called sin
had been pronounced acceptable (even pleasant) by the doomed inhabitants
And they further even
exchanged "bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"
This may be the ultimate stage of perversion. Those in their society
who should have been admired and honored (treated "sweetly") have been
vilified and hated! And those who should have been ignored (or even
punished) have been placed on pedestals and applauded! Their "tastes"
have been absolutely ruined! In such a world of course ... godly
Preachers are "out" and reprobate rock stars are "in!"
But isn't this exactly
what the devil started doing way back in the Garden of Eden? What God
called evil he called good. God said to Adam and Eve that if they ate
of the tree of knowledge of good and evil ... they would die! The devil
said the exact opposite! "And the serpent said
unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die." (Genesis 3:4) And
Satan has been reversing nearly everything God has said ever since! And
guess what? God was right! Adam and Eve died! They died spiritually
the moment they disobeyed and physically some years later.
And what the people in Isaiah's day did
moderately ... Americans are now doing excessively!
And God judged Israel ...
even driving her from her land!
Will He judge our nation
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
As King Solomon wrote the
Book of Proverbs, the Holy Spirit led him to list the seven things God
First on that list is ...
PRIDE! ("These six things doth the LORD
hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying
tongue ...." Proverbs 6:16f)
The word used there for
"proud" is in Hebrew "rum" (pronounced "ruwm") and literally means that
which rises higher and higher or is exalted or lofty!
The word "look" is the
noun "ayin," the Hebrew word for "eye."
The Prophet Isaiah, also
under God's direction, preaches against the sin of pride.
In the well known fifth
chapter of his Prophecy he lists six "woes" which are associated with
the blatant sins of Israel.
Here's one of them:
"Woe unto them that are wise in their own
eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:21
"Woe" indicates surprise
or amazement in Hebrew. It's even translated "Ah" seven times in the
King James Bible. "Alas" two more times and "Ho" four times.
Isaiah is astounded at
the pride of his people.
Elsewhere in Scripture
"woes" are also associated with the coming judgment of God.
"Woe be unto thee." Jeremiah 48:46
In Isaiah's sermon here,
the people of Judah have rejected God and His Word (thus His Wisdom too)
and have substituted in its place their own wisdom!
The noun used for "wise"
here (in Hebrew = "chakam") is the same word that's used many times
elsewhere for God's Wisdom! These folks are stripping God of one of His
attributes ... and claiming it as their own! (Isn't that line of
thought the basis for Satan's first temptation to Eve in the Garden of
Eden? "For God doth know that in the day ye eat
thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods,
knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:5)
America today has
committed this sin with utter abandon! We are wise in our own eyes ...
perhaps more than any nation ever! Yet, the Bible does speak of a group
who ... "Professing themselves to be wise, they
became fools." (Romans 1:22) God is now ignored or even
belittled ... and man is exalted!
The adjective "prudent"
in Isaiah 5:21 implies one who is discerning or capable of seeing
different layers of information in a given matter. ("Biyn" means to
distinguish or separate mentally.)
And the noun "sight" is
the common Old Testament word for "faces!" In their own estimation they
are prudent! (That's how they see themselves!)
It's about time we all
rediscovered Proverbs 3:7 which says: "Be not
wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil."
With each new medical
discovery or each additional technological breakthrough or each new
university degree earned ... our nation gets worse and worse in her sin
of pride. God is excluded from our national life ... altogether
excluded by millions! And this is sin!
The heart of such pride
is the complete rejection of God and rebellion against His precious
Maybe we had better go
back and get the two verses that introduce Proverbs 3:7.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own
understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall
direct thy paths."
As we Believers seek to
cultivate and maintain a humble attitude, let us also pray for our
Nation. She is intoxicated on the sin of pride ... and that sin God
Can judgment be far away?
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Ultimately this is true:
As goes a nation's system of justice, so goes that nation.
In the days of the great
Prophet Isaiah miscarriages of justice had become quite commonplace.
So much so that he
preached about it!
unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to
mingle strong drink: which justify the wicked for reward, and take away
the righteousness of the righteous from him!" Isaiah 5:22-23
"which justify the wicked" catches my
attention. This expression is imported from the courtrooms of Judah!
Their whole justice system; judges, courts, witnesses and all, had gone
badly astray. The guilty now go free!
The verb "justify" (in
Hebrew = "tszadaq") means to clear one legally! It is framed as a
Hiphil verb in the Old Testament ... meaning that it is "causative" in
nature. There is here some compelling reason (or cause) behind such a
verdict being given. And the Bible tells us that reason:
"for reward!" The Law has nothing to do
with it any more ... just personal gain! Popularity! Or money! Or
favors! The Hebrew word for "reward" is "shachad" and means gifts or
bribes or presents!
The noun for "wicked" is
great too! "Rasha" means evil in an active sense. These are crimes that
harm others. (Like unborn babies or little children or innocent
bystanders or whomever! Major crimes! Probably like murder or child
molestation or robbery!)
But ... wait a minute!
The Bible even tells us
WHY they do such things.
They are intoxicated!
They are "on" something!
Specifically Isaiah here
mentions "wine" and
"strong drink." Both terms describe different kinds of fermented
beverages. They drink heavily! And such behavior clouds their
Yet it is Biblically
possible for being "drunk" to represent other forms of delusion too!
One can be drunk on his or her own pride! Or lust! Or love of money
and base gain! (For example, in Deuteronomy 32:42 God, using a great
"word picture," says: "I will make mine arrows
drunk with blood ...." This is God on the attack against evil!
Don't you see the symbolism?)
Judges can become drunk
on their own power! Or their own godless philosophies! Or sheer
hatred! Or their own wicked lifestyles!
Note one more "sign" of
the times here.
These men are called
"mighty" in their drinking!
"Men of strength!" No longer are they
intellectually mighty! Or morally so! Or mighty in integrity or
leadership of love of country! They're just mighty in their ability to
hold their booze!
"Gibbor" (mighty) means
champion or chief or giant! Not many real giants are left in the land
... except in the area of sin!
And men of "strength" (in
Hebrew = "chaiyl") indicates a person of valor or like an "army!" This
word is translated "army" 56 times in the King James Bible. (They are
childish when it comes to justice ... but very militaristic when it
comes to drinking!)
If the events that
occurred in Isaiah's beloved land, Israel to the north and Judah to the
south, are repeated in America, get ready! We will see such things as
juries setting criminals free. And judges killing babies (and also
extinguishing grown women for that matter)! Why, in such a society all
the foundations will eventually crumble and anarchy will reign!
"If the foundations be destroyed, what can the
righteous do?" Psalm 11:3
Not much ... except
faithfully wait for Jesus!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Isaiah the Prophet expresses his complete
amazement at the sins of Israel. In fact, he does so six times in the
fifth chapter of his great Prophecy. He makes wise use of the word
Now Isaiah earlier in
chapter five has rebuked the people for their covetous land grabbling
and all kinds of drunken partying ... plus their aggressively seeking
after sin and then their reversing the roles of evil for good! Next he
continued preaching with sharp denunciations of their self-centered
pride and resultant stupor that induced a corrupt legal system! And
through all this they were also boldly irreverent to Almighty God!
But ... even after these
rebellious acts have all been described ... what are their consequences?
The Major Prophet of old
does not leave us wondering!
"Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth
the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their
blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the
LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel."
They as a people will be
"devoured" and "consumed!"
"Devoured" as a fire
consumes chaff or useless straw, the useless husks of the wheat! This
verb is "akal" and means to eat or feed upon! God raises up "devourers"
to judge Israel! (He can withhold such devourers too!
"And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your
vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of
hosts." Malachi 3:11)
Then "consumed" as trash
in the flames of a hot roaring blaze! This verb "consumed" translates
the Hebrew "rapha" which really means to wilt or to faint or to abate or
make disheartened! (Which fire does to a substance ... just before it
God warns Judah that both
their root and their fruit will be ruined!
"Their root shall be as rottenness, and their
blossom shall go up as dust." The one problem comes from too
much rain ... the other from drought! The root pictured her PAST and
the blossom represented her FUTURE! Both are now gone ... because of
God summarizes it in the
closing words of our verse ... "Because they have
cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the
Holy One of Israel."
To "cast away" (in Hebrew
= "maas") the Law means to despise or reject it! It can even mean to
hate or abhor! The word is first used in Leviticus 26:15 where we read
about God saying: "And if ye shall
despise ("maas") my
statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all
my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do
this unto you ... " The Lord then goes into a long list of
judgments sure to fall on the little nation! Judah, through her sinful
acts, has set herself in position to experience the sure avalanche of
God's cascading punishments!
Then she did something to
the Word of the Holy One of Israel. She "despised" it. "Naatzs" means
to spurn or condemn! This sounds like the so-called "higher criticism"
of the Bible that has been occurring for decades now! (We had best let
the Bible alone and let IT criticize us!) This verb is in the Piel stem
too! That verbal form suggests aggressiveness and vehemence on the part
of these rebels! (Whereas the previous verb is in the Qal stem, a much
more calm action being depicted! The more one sins ... perhaps the more
aggressive and bold and unashamed he or she becomes in plying their
The Law ("torah") and the
Word ("imrah") of God define the Scriptures as Judah then knew them.
They had no New Testament at that time and some of the Old Testament was
yet to be penned too.
I fear America also had
desecrated the Book of God!
Sin does have
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell