Ignorance and Judgment
I can’t tell you how many times I have started a project thinking I had all I needed, only to realize that I do not.
I either don’t have the right tools or the right equipment or even the right know-how.
It’s one of the reasons I always take a look at the instructions before building something—if there are instructions.
If I’m cooking or baking something, I want to make sure I’m following that recipe closely (especially if I’m baking something).
There have been many times when I would start something, then quickly realize I don’t have all the ingredients—I’m not a fan of the recipes that leave some out in the ingredients list because we oughta have some on hand.
And maybe we should know that if we have had experience with it.
After all, the more experience you have with home improvement projects or cooking, the better you will be at it. You gain knowledge and know-how, knowing what to look for and how to do things.
There are two types of ignorance.
One is an innocent ignorance, something that you simply don’t know, and didn’t know you needed to know.
Such an ignorance can only get you so far, though.
You might make a mistake out of this kind of ignorance, but you’re expected to learn from it.
If you keep making the same mistake over and over again, your ignorance then becomes willful, an ignorance without excuse.
When it comes to God’s Law, there is no excuse.
The Jews had it written down, and yet they still disregarded it.
Not only that, but God sent prophets such as Isaiah to remind them of that Law.
For us, the Bible has consistently been the best-selling book of all time.
While it may be the best-selling, it’s also the least-read—do you know what that’s called? Willful ignorance!
Judgment came to those in Judah for their willful ignorance. Are we any better than they?
Last time we talked of God’s expectations for Judah not meeting with reality.
He expected good grapes, but small, bitter, wild grapes sprung forth.
Of course this was an illustration, and God’s people were the grapes in that vineyard.
Then Isaiah detailed the sins they were guilty of: greed, revelry, hubris, immorality, pride, drunkenness, and injustice.
Ignorance got them there, and now we’ll see where it will lead them.
When we get to our conclusion, we will find that, while there may not have been hope for Judah, there is hope for us.
Sheol is Enlarged.
The Lord’s Anger (5:24-30).
Sheol is Enlarged (5:13-17).
Isaiah again speaks in the prophetic perfect tense.
The captivity wouldn’t begin for another 150 years, and yet it was treated as a certainty.
You see God knows what’s going to happen, and it will happen because… they have no knowledge.
Knowledge is so important for us to have.
Last week, on Sunday evening we talked about the importance of spiritual maturity from Heb. 5:12–6:3, and how that kind of knowledge can guard us against apostasy.
Tonight we will discuss the danger of that apostasy in Heb. 6:4-12.
Without knowledge, we fall. Hosea says that God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge, after all (Hos. 4:6).
As a result, Sheol has enlarged itself.
This is a figure of speech to indicate that many people are going to die.
Sheol was the Hebrew word for the grave, also translated as Hades in the NT.
Since only 4600 people are carted away into Babylon and the rest are killed, certainly one could say that the grave had gotten a lot bigger (2 Chron. 36:20—those who escaped the sword were taken away; Jer. 52:28-30—4600 people were taken in all).
After all, Agur tells us that one of the things that is never satisfied is Sheol, the grave (Prov. 30:15-16).
Those who survive will be humbled, taken into captivity (5:15).
Jeremiah foretells that this captivity will last for 70 years, something later confirmed by Ezra (Jer. 25:11; 2 Chron. 36:21).
Through it all, the holy God will be hallowed to righteousness (5:16).
Sometimes the things that happen in our lives are designed to humble us, to make realize we are not in charge, but that He is in charge.
Before the Titanic’s maiden voyage, she was lauded as unsinkable.
The sheer hubris that was on display back then, just as we see in Judah at this time. Not much has changed, has it?
Especially since we know what happened to the “unsinkable ship” in the wee hours one icy morning in April 1912.
God doesn’t care what we think is unsinkable or impossible—if it’s His will, it’s happening!
God is going to be glorified one way or another, either through the people praising and honoring Him, or by His judgments (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11; Eze. 28:20-22).
Such judgments are brought about when the Lord’s anger is aroused.
The Lord’s Anger (5:24-30).
What does it mean for the Lord to be angry?
Think about what happens when you get angry.
Usually it’s about something you just found out about or something that’s been festering inside you for some time.
Think of the teenage boy who punches a hole in the wall—perhaps that was you.
But what does that look like for an omniscient being who is perfectly just and righteous?
Just like with the disappointment we talked about last week that He felt about the wild grapes forming in His vineyard, it shows something else.
While that disappointment showed the Jews at this time they had no excuse for their idolatry and other transgressions, His anger shows His judgment upon them for the same idolatry and transgressions.
As one commentator describes it: “the emotions of man are ascribed to God in order to represent the attitude of infinite justice towards disobedience” (Jackson 18; cf. Lockhart 182).
Here we see that the Lord’s anger manifests itself in fire and destruction.
We know ultimate destruction is coming one day.
The elements will melt with fervent heat, destroying the earth (2 Pet. 3:10).
And a fiery fate awaits those who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8-10).
Why? “Because they have rejected the law of the Lord” (5:24).
This is evident when they call good evil and evil good, or when they cry out to God, “Hit me with your best shot.”
He even calls other nations to come and destroy them.
I love the language here—it says He “will whistle to them,” basically calling their attention to the land of Judah (5:26).
Not that He really had to, this is some prime real estate.
It connects Asia and Europe with Africa—this is a major trade route and has the potential to make whoever owns it very wealthy.
Israel made the best of it under Solomon, but squandered that advantage throughout most of its history—largely due to their unfaithfulness to the Lord.
While it has that potential, it also makes them a target, and many nations tried to conquer that area.
And as long as the people of God were faithful, God protected them.
But soon a time would come where that would no longer be the case, and they would be taken away, as we see in about 150 years.
Where is the hope? I mentioned there would be hope, so where is it?
Well, we talked of the hope in Isa. 2:1-4 and Isa. 4:2-6.
But that was for a future hope for Isaiah that we are now experiencing.
The hope for us comes in the next chapter.
Isaiah finds himself in the magnificent presence of the Lord, and in his humility he says—Isa 6:5.
He recognized his sin and the sins of his people and knew he was not worthy to be there.
After his sins are covered, we see Isa. 6:8.
The hope of this country, the hope that we have is us.
Of course the only reason we are that hope is because of Christ, so let’s not think too much of ourselves.
But if there are more of us out there like Isaiah, willing to stand up to the wicked, sharing the light of the gospel, how much better would this world be?
Maybe no one listens, maybe some will, but all we can do is improve this world one soul at a time.
This section of Isaiah ends on a rather gloomy note.
But we see many similarities between Judah and our nation today.
These ancient prophets have a message that modern man must hear: repent.
I don’t know what God’s plans are for this country, but I do know that whatever happens, we better be on the right side of things.
We need to be on the side of Christ.
Even if the wicked appear to prosper, God will judge us all perfectly on the Last Day.
That’s where Isaiah’s message comes in: repent.
Turn away from our greed, our revelries, our hubris, our immorality, our drunkenness and injustice.
We may not have fallen prey to some of these things, but we do live in a society that celebrates many of these things and it’s very easy to get caught up in it.
We, as His church, are His vineyard—we need to act like it.
Let us not take refuge in so many things in this world, but in Christ.
Let us make ourselves good grapes, ready for His winepress, so that He will make us what He wants us to be.
We can do this by obeying His gospel—repentance definitely included, and sharing the gospel with others as well.