Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Jacob Will Take Root in God's Vineyard
By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is at: https://youtu.be/Q2aP21vw4m8
The scripture reading for this teaching is Isaiah 27:6-28:18, 29:22-23
Isaiah was a prophet to the kingdom of Judah during the reigns of four kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. During the seventy or so years that Isaiah prophesied in Judah, Judah was at odds with Israel. In the kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam the second ruled when Isaiah began to prophesy. At the time of Isaiah’s prophecies in chapters 27 and 28, Israel still existed as a nation, but judgment was quickly coming. In the midst of prophesying about judgment, Isaiah brings God’s words that judgment won’t be forever; restoration will come.
Isaiah 27:6 NAS95 6 In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, And they will fill the whole world with fruit.
But this restoration was for a future time and Isaiah turned his attention to what was going on in Israel and Judah in the present. We know that the kingdom of Israel from the time of its inception under Jeroboam did evil in God’s sight. They continued to do so during the time of Isaiah. But what about the kingdom of Judah; were they following in the ways of David or doing evil like the kingdom of Israel? In what way did Isaiah chastise Judah in this passage What judgment was in store for Judah?
Of the four kings of Judah that reigned during the period of Isaiah’s prophecies, all but Ahaz are recorded as following in the way of their father David. Ahaz reigned in Judah for only sixteen years, yet during those years, Ahaz brought about calamity in both Israel and Judah as recorded in second Kings Chapters 15 and 16. Israel, who was already paying tribute to Assyria, allied with Syria to defeat Judah. This is like a fish gobbling up a smaller fish even as a bigger fish is ready to devour him! Judah, like a smart little fish, saw the big fish Assyria coming, and approached Assyria promising to be the servant of Assyria if Assyria would take care of both Syria and Israel. Through Ahaz’s actions, the eye of the mighty empire of Assyria fell on the lands of Israel, Syria, and Judah!
Assyria set about the defeat of Syria and the captivity of the tribal land of Naphtali which reached from the town of Dan in the north along the entire western shore of the Sea of Galilee. But, Assyria, also, had the land of Judah in its sights.
2 Chronicles 28:21 NAS95 21 Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the LORD and out of the palace of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.
Now, we turn to Isaiah’s words as we examine them in this historical context. This section of the haftarah focuses on Israel or Jacob as a nation. Although Isaiah relayed God’s promise to firmly plant Jacob in the land, this would not occur until after God struck them in judgment.
Isaiah 27:7 NKJV 7 Has He struck Israel as He struck those who struck him? Or has He been slain according to the slaughter of those who were slain by Him?
These two rhetorical questions demand a vehement “no” answer. God has not and will not strike Israel as He struck or will strike the nations that seek to destroy Israel. Any judgment falling on Israel will not totally destroy the house of Israel. Amos writes that although the nation will be destroyed, the people will survive in the nations where God scatters them.
Amos 9:8-9 NKJV 8 "Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," Says the LORD. 9 "For surely I will command, And will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
Jeremiah tells us that the nations where God scatters his people will be totally destroyed, but Israel’s exile is not to destroy them, but to punish and correct them.
Jeremiah 30:11 NKJV 11 For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, And will not let you go altogether unpunished.'
Isaiah frames his pronouncement of judgment and restoration in terms of God’s vineyard. The promise in verse 6 is that in the days of restoration, Jacob will take root. In the verses leading up to this, we learn that Jacob will take root in God’s vineyard.
Isaiah 27:2-3 NKJV 2 In that day sing to her, "A vineyard of red wine! 3 I, the LORD, keep it, I water it every moment; Lest any hurt it, I keep it night and day.
But, before Jacob takes root, he is first driven away. The vineyard is destroyed by the strong destructive east wind common in the region leaving only the roots behind.
Isaiah 27:8-9 J.P Green Interlinear 8 You will contend with her by driving her away, by sending her away. He shall take away by His harsh wind, in the day of the east wind. 9 By this, then, the iniquity of Jacob will be covered, and this is all the fruit, to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in pieces; Asherim and sun-pillars shall not rise.
The result of Jacob’s punishment is atonement for his sins. The word for “covered” is the Hebrew word “kaphar”, number 3722 in Strong’s Concordance meaning to cover or make atonement. This is the same word used for the blood of the sin offering making atonement for the people. Returning to the imagery of the vineyard, the fruit of this atonement and taking away of Jacob’s sin is that all the altars to foreign gods would be removed from Israel.
Isaiah describes the state of God’s vineyard before bringing destruction. Instead of bearing good grapes to produce the red wine described in verse 2, the vineyard produced only worthless grapes.
Isaiah 5:1-2 NAS95 1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2 He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.
The literal translation of the Hebrew word translated as “worthless ones” is actually a much harsher indictment of the vines in God’s vineyards. The Hebrew word is b’oo-sheem, number 891 in Strong’s Concordance meaning poison berries. The root word means to stink! The grapes are not just worthless, they are poisonous!
In our haftarah portion, Isaiah goes on to describe the judgment of Jacob in terms of the destruction of the vineyard.
Isaiah 27:11 NKJV 11 When its boughs are withered, they will be broken off; The women come and set them on fire. For it is a people of no understanding; Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, And He who formed them will show them no favor.
The boughs, withered by the strong east wind, die and break off. They are burned as part of the cleaning out process of the vineyard. Isaiah, then, looks ahead to “that day” when Jacob will be restored.
Isaiah 27:12-13 NKJV 12 And it shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will thresh, From the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; And you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel. 13 So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
Yeshua refers to this day when He describes the time of His second coming.
Matthew 24:31 NKJV 31 "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The next section of the haftarah portion focuses on the leaders of Israel as they sit in the vineyard getting drunk on the wine. Remember, Isaiah prophesied in Judah not the northern kingdom of Israel, and that there was enmity between the two nations. King Ahaz thought he had an agreement with Assyria that Assyria would destroy Israel and Syria for him. Isaiah may have been addressing a gathering of Judah’s leaders to celebrate that agreement! Isaiah gets the attention of his audience by starting off talking about the leaders of the northern kingdom not the leaders of Judah.
Isaiah 28:1-3 NKJV 1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower Which is at the head of the verdant valleys, To those who are overcome with wine! 2 Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand. 3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, Will be trampled underfoot;
Isaiah is pretty clear; the northern kingdom of Israel, represented by Ephraim, will be trampled underfoot! It seems that King Ahaz’s appeal to Assyria is working in his favor. Isaiah seems to be confirming that Assyria will take care of Judah’s enemies. Once again, Isaiah uses the imagery of destruction of the vineyard by natural forces. This time, it is a great storm with hail and flood waters. Those who exploit the vineyard, drinking excessively from the fruit produced will be destroyed in the storm.
Isaiah reassures his listeners that restoration follows judgment. The crown of pride is replaced by God’s crown of glory, and exploitation is replaced by true justice.
Isaiah 28:5-6 NKJV 5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty To the remnant of His people, 6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
But Isaiah is not finished. Just when the leaders of Judah relax because Isaiah is not talking about them, Isaiah shifts the focus directly onto them!
Isaiah 28:7-8 NKJV 7 But they also have erred through wine, And through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8 For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean.
Now, Isaiah is speaking about the prophets and priests of Judah! Not only are the leaders of Ephraim drunkards; so are the prophets and priests of Judah! They are exploiting the fruit of the vineyard drinking up all the wine and hoarding it for themselves! Like any drunkard, their judgment is severely impaired! The prophets don’t “see” correctly and the priests don’t rule correctly in judicial matters.
The prophets and priests take issue against the words of Isaiah and assert that they are not babies who don’t understand the Torah! Who is Isaiah to be teaching them knowledge?
Isaiah 28:9 NKJV 9 "Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?
Isaiah answers them with words indicating how superficial their actual understanding is.
Isaiah 28:10 NKJV 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little."
First Fruits of Zion in Torah Club Volume Three examined the Hebrew behind this verse and explain that Isaiah’s condemnation of them is even more severe—they don’t understand the Torah at all!
“While some of these syllables might be translatable, for the most part, they are not words, but simply untranslatable sounds, like the sort of verbal sounds that a baby or young child would make.[i]
Isaiah, then, gets more sarcastic with them, telling them if they won’t listen to a message directly from God, God would send them a message they would listen to.
Isaiah 28:11-13 NKJV 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, 12 To whom He said, "This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest," And, "This is the refreshing"; Yet they would not hear. 13 But the word of the LORD was to them, "Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little," That they might go and fall backward, and be broken And snared and caught.
The word translated as “stammering” is the Hebrew word “la-ayg” number 3934 in Strong’s Concordance. It comes from the word “law-ag” number 3932 meaning to deride, mock or scorn. These stammering lips were lips that mocked and scorned Jacob. The NKJV Study Bible comments on these verses explaining the judgment that was to come.
“The stammering lips were those of the Assyrians, who would become the teachers of Israel because of Israel’s own failed leadership… The word of the LORD would take the shape of discipline in the form of foreigners with stammering lips teaching their morals to Israel, who should have learned from God.[ii]
Second Kings Chapter 18 records the mocking and scornful words of Assyria as they attempted to take Jerusalem! Moses prophesied about God allowing Assyria to attack Israel even before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 28:49 NKJV 49 "The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand,
Because Judah would not hear the words of God through Isaiah and the other prophets, God sent them a message they would understand—destruction and captivity! However, when Assyria confronted Judah with mocking words at the gates of Jerusalem, they were met with a king who listened to God and His prophets. King Hezekiah tore his clothes and covered himself in sackcloth and ashes before the LORD.
2 Kings 19:1 NKJV 1 And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.
Because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness and the heart of the people to follow Hezekiah, Judah was not destroyed by Assyria. However, judgment did eventually fall on Judah at the hands of the Babylonians, the empire that replaced Assyria. The haftarah reading, then, skips over more of Isaiah’s words indicting Judah for not listening to God. The portion ends as it began, with the promise of restoration.
Isaiah 29:22-23 NKJV 22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale; 23 But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel.
The LORD redeemed Abraham by taking him out of the Ur of the Chaldees and bringing him into the land He had promised to give to Abraham and his descendants. So, also, God will redeem Jacob. After being scattered to the nations, Jacob will see God working in their midst. Perhaps this work is the restoration of the nation of Israel going on now and God’s miraculous hand in the protection of the nation. Perhaps, this work is those of the Jewish people who are finding their Messiah and eagerly sharing it with their families and others in their Jewish communities.
Although the haftarah portion ends with verse 23, the next verse takes us back to the leaders of Judah.
Isaiah 29:24 NKJV 24 These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine."
The leaders of the Jewish people that Isaiah had chastised for not hearing God’s word will come to understanding and will learn from the prophets like Isaiah. They will receive understanding and instruction!
Isaiah used the analogy of a vineyard being pruned down to the roots to illustrate the upcoming judgment on Israel and Judah. Paul used the analogy of an olive tree to symbolize the same thing. The Jewish people who refused to hear the words of Yeshua and rejected His identity as Messiah were pruned out of the olive tree. However, those who were pruned out can be grafted in again.
Romans 11:24 NKJV 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Isaiah said that Jacob would be gathered again and take root in God’s vineyard. Paul says they will be grafted back into the olive tree. Isaiah says that Israel will fill the whole world with fruit. Paul says that the restoration of Israel will be life from the dead.
Romans 11:15 NKJV 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
The Jewish people have been in exile for a long time. We can see the signs that God is beginning to gather His people. We see the signs that Jacob is beginning to hear the words of their Messiah and turn to God in greater numbers. May God continue to turn the hearts of His people, both Jew and Gentile, back to Him, and may they see their Messiah.
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Shemot Exodus 1:1-6:1?
2. How are all the judgments God makes against His vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7 reversed in Isaiah 27:2-6? King Ahab seized a vineyard owned by Naboth in 1 Kings 21. How is this account a metaphor for God’s vineyard?
3. How does Yeshua use the imagery of the vineyard in John 15:1-11? What is Yeshua’s role in God’s vineyard?
4. Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11 in 1 Corinthians 14:21. In context, Isaiah 28:11 is about sending a message through destruction and captivity that the leaders of Judah would have to listen to because the words of the prophets that God sent were merely gibberish to them. What, then, is Paul really saying to the Corinthians when he uses this verse.
5. Isaiah 29:23 says Jacob would hallow God’s name. Yeshua instructed us to pray that God’s name be hallowed in the LORD’s prayer in Luke 11:1-4. How did Isaiah describe Jacob as hallowing God’s name? How do we hallow God’s name?
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[i] First Fruits of Zion Torah Club: Messianic Commentary on the Parashot HaShavuah. Volume Three: The Haftarah. ©1999 First Fruits of Zion. P222.
[ii] NKJY Study Bible. General Editor Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D.©1997,2007 Thomas Nelson, Inc. P 1080.