What God Expects from His Beloved People

A sermon idea based on Isaiah 5:1-7.

Isaiah 5:1-7 NRSV

[1] Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. [2] He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

[3] And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. [4] What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?

[5] And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. [6] I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

[7] For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!


The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

What God expects in response to his love, provision, and care, is justice and righteousness. What he often sees is just the opposite.


Information about the text that matters to the message…

As with any prophetic scripture in the Old Testament, it is essential to remember that this word of prophecy was written to a nation that had been chosen and blessed, but which had turned out to be unfaithful to God’s desired kingdom way of life.

It’s easy for us to make two interpretive errors in our present context. We apply the positive and affirming verses to our own idealized view of culture and we apply the negative and corrective verses to the aspects of culture with which we don’t identify. Both are wrong.

The real question for those of us who, today, are seeking to follow Jesus, is how did Jesus ultimately fix all of this brokenness?

In other words, this passage describes what it looks like for God to prepare a wonderful earthly home for the humans he created to love, and then to see those same beloved creatures make it wild and dark and violent.

Ultimately, we lose out on God’s best blessings as a people when we fail to pursue justice and righteousness.

But Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to show us God’s love in reality and God’s will in action. So we get to make a different choice today. In light of what Israel learned the hard way, we get to apply the teachings of Jesus to our daily lives to create a new and better reality for ourselves and our neighbors.

We get to reject violence and pursue human flourishing.


The big call-to-action in the message…

How are you working to promote peace and healing in the world God created around you?


About the Cover Art: Gogh, Vincent van, 1853-1890. Red Vineyards near Arles, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

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