PLEASURE PALACES

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, remind me of your demand for holiness as I meditate on your Word today. I want to serve you without compromise, bringing you glory in all that I do.

Read ISAIAH 5:8–30

Woes and Judgments

Woe to you who add house to house
    and join field to field
till no space is left
    and you live alone in the land.

The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:

“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
    the fine mansions left without occupants.
10 A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath[a] of wine;
    a homer[b] of seed will yield only an ephah[c] of grain.”

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning
    to run after their drinks,
who stay up late at night
    till they are inflamed with wine.
12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
    pipes and timbrels and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord,
    no respect for the work of his hands.
13 Therefore my people will go into exile
    for lack of understanding;
those of high rank will die of hunger
    and the common people will be parched with thirst.
14 Therefore Death expands its jaws,
    opening wide its mouth;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
    with all their brawlers and revelers.
15 So people will be brought low
    and everyone humbled,
    the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
16 But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
    and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
17 Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture;
    lambs will feed[d] among the ruins of the rich.

18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
    and wickedness as with cart ropes,
19 to those who say, “Let God hurry;
    let him hasten his work
    so we may see it.
The plan of the Holy One of Israel—
    let it approach, let it come into view,
    so we may know it.”

20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.

22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    and champions at mixing drinks,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    but deny justice to the innocent.
24 Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
    and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
    and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty
    and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people;
    his hand is raised and he strikes them down.
The mountains shake,
    and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.

26 He lifts up a banner for the distant nations,
    he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Here they come,
    swiftly and speedily!
27 Not one of them grows tired or stumbles,
    not one slumbers or sleeps;
not a belt is loosened at the waist,
    not a sandal strap is broken.
28 Their arrows are sharp,
    all their bows are strung;
their horses’ hooves seem like flint,
    their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
29 Their roar is like that of the lion,
    they roar like young lions;
they growl as they seize their prey
    and carry it off with no one to rescue.
30 In that day they will roar over it
    like the roaring of the sea.
And if one looks at the land,
    there is only darkness and distress;
    even the sun will be darkened by clouds.

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Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 5:10 That is, about 6 gallons or about 22 liters
  2. Isaiah 5:10 That is, probably about 360 pounds or about 160 kilograms
  3. Isaiah 5:10 That is, probably about 36 pounds or about 16 kilograms
  4. Isaiah 5:17 Septuagint; Hebrew / strangers will eat

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Truly, God alone is the One who ‘satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.’1

Think Further

Rampant consumerism, hedonism, disregard for God, being convinced of our intellectual superiority, and making decisions based on our own whims. You may think that’s a description of contemporary society. In fact, it’s an exposé of Judah (vv. 8–24) which results in a complaint (v. 7). The Lord sees a lack of justice and righteousness. He sees oppression of people whose cries for help are ignored. These verses contain six woes that Isaiah utters against the people:2 woes that are as much a cry of pain for abysmal behavior as they are expressions of condemnation.3 Justice fails and righteousness fades when self-indulgence rules.

Self-indulgence can quickly cut us off from the cries of others. Isaiah describes mansions in their own grounds, gated communities without any connection to their local community. They will end up like homes that were once stately but are now abandoned to ruin. There will be large outlays with minimal return (v. 10). Pleasure-seeking also inures us to the needs of others. Wild parties give little time for regarding the deeds of the Lord or ‘the work of his hands’ (v. 12), which must include people made in his image. Only sharing the plight of the displaced in exile (v. 13) or death itself (v. 14) will be enough to shake these people. Humbling becomes a priority when people mock God’s judgment (v. 19). All this will serve to prove God’s holiness, meaning not just his exalted status but also his righteousness. His purpose will prevail and as the Mighty God he can even draw on heathen nations to accomplish it (v. 26). These nations will act unknowingly on his behalf, to prune his recalcitrant people. Isaiah’s first section thus ends in despair.

Apply

We must be careful not to allow this passage to become a basis for taking the moral high ground and criticizing society. It must lead to self-reflection and tears.

Closing prayer

Father, forgive me when my heart does not reflect you and when my priorities are not yours. Help my attitudes and actions please you and bring you glory.

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by kingstar

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