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Last week we saw in the Parable of the Vineyard in chapter 5 that God could in no way be blamed for the coming judgment on the people of Judah. What more could He have done? The reality was that the choice vine He planted and cultivated and protected produced rotten, stinking grapes.

The prophet goes on in our section today to deliver six stinging indictments against the specific sins of the people. These are perversions that are especially shocking since the guilty party is not some pagan nation but the chosen people of God. He introduces each of the descriptions of the nature of this rotten, stinking fruit with the attention-grabbing emotional declaration of “Woe.”

TWOT: An interjection, usually of lamentation. It occurs fifty times in the prophets and once elsewhere. Six usages refer to mourning for the dead (as 1Kings 13:30), and forty involve negative warnings or threats of God’s physical chastisement.

This word usually appears in funeral or lament contexts related to death; or used by the prophets to anticipate coming doom – “How horrible it will be” – the opposite of the word “Blessed” that you see in the Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount. Judgment is coming; judgment is deserved; and judgment will be a devastating work of the Holy One of Israel.

Most of us are probably familiar with the biblical record of the famous 7 Deadly Sins. (The currently recognized version of the sins are usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.) Here we have the less famous but overlapping and equally pervasive 6 Condemned Perversions. Just as the prophet is trying to get Judah’s attention and motivate them to turn from their sinful ways, these six woes have very direct application and relevance to the current sin climate here in the United States. It should be sobering to us in our study today to make the connection to our own rotten, stinking fruit that issues from the same heart of rebellion and indifference to the requirements of a holy God. God is not mocked … whatever a person or a nation sows, that they will also reap. Our apparent prosperity is only temporary; what is coming down the road apart from revival will not be pleasant.



A. Sin (and its Opposite) – Greedy Materialism vs Godly Contentment

“Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field,”

Lack of Contentment; Anxiety over future security; no faith in God’s provision of daily bread

Despicable taking advantage of the poor; lust of the eyes

Chrysostom: covetous men, if they could, would willingly take the sun from the poor

Oswalt: According to the Torah all the land belonged to God, and while he allowed families to possess parcels of that land, it was never theirs to dispose of as they wished. It had to be kept in the family. In the extreme event that keeping the land in the family was impossible, then it should be bought back as soon as possible. Failing that, it must automatically return to the heirs of the sellers in the Jubilee, or fiftieth year (Lev. 25:23-28; Ezek. 46:16-18). . . Isaiah accuses the landgrabbers of wanting to possess everything in sight until they could live by themselves in their own little world.

1 Kings 21:1-16 Ahab coveting Naboth’s vineyard and Jezebel plotting to acquire it

Amos 3:15 “I will also smite the winter house together with the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish and the great houses will come to an end”

B. Unintended Consequence or Outcome — Loneliness

“Until there is no more room, So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!”

No neighbors or friends


C. Divine Judgment – Desolation, Isolation, Decreased Productivity

“In my ears the LORD of hosts has sworn, ‘Surely, many houses shall become desolate, Even great and fine ones, without occupants. For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine, And a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain.’”

Ten acres (yokes) = amount ten teams of oxen could plow in one day

Preceptaustin: in the California Napa Valley, one acre yields about 120 gallons of wine; so 10 acres would yield 1200 gallons (vs. the 6-12 gallons in one bath of wine)

Beall: would yield only an ephah (1/10 of a homer, or 3/5 of a bushel) of grain. A reverse tithe will take place!

Houses are intended to house occupants – not stand deserted

D. Parallel References —

– Parable of the Rich Fool — Luke 12:13-21 (vs. Luke 12:22-34)

“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. . . So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Matt. 23:14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” (cf. TV televangelists who make their pleas for money)

Young: The condemnation is not of the purchase of property as such, but of monopoly and the acquisition of what belongs to a poor owner… not content until they had obtained all the property which they could. . . Inasmuch as the land had been promised to the descendants of Abraham, each descendant should have had a place in which to reside. . . the owners must now live alone.


A. Sin (and its Opposite) – Intoxicated by Strong Drink and Sensual Over Indulgence (vs. Self Control)

1. Intoxication

“Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink;

Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!”

Wrong Priorities

Drunkenness could be associated with all of these perversions; not the root problem; seeking satisfaction somewhere else other than in God; lust of the flesh; party animals; out clubbing day and night

Grogan: Most societies consider early morning drinking a mark of moral degeneracy; for the man who thinks first of drink when he wakes is in its grip, and he cannot pull his weight in the work of the day




Eccles. 2:1-2 “I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.’ And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?’”

Eccles 10:16-17 “Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time – for strength and not for drunkenness.”

Amos 6:4-6

2. Sensual Over Indulgence

“And their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine;”

Young: Isaiah is not condemning music as such. Music is one of God’s greatest gifts to man. What is condemned is the usage to which musical instruments are put at the drunken carousals, so that the noise of these instruments, as it were, would drown out the voice of conscience.

B. Unintended Consequence or Outcome – Neglect of What Really Matters

“But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD,

Nor do they consider the work of His hands.”

Van Parunak: The phrase “work of the Lord” emphasizes primarily his work in judgment. Compare Ps 46:8 “Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth.”

Fat and Happy – don’t consider that they are really poor and naked

C. Divine Judgment –

1. Deprivation

a. Exile

“Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge;”

Preceptaustin: Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (experiential knowledge of the living God. To know God is to live in harmony with His will = obedience to His illuminated Word. Loss of the knowledge of God leaves a destructive vacuum in personal and national life). Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

b. Famine

“And their honorable men are famished,”

c. Thirst

“And their multitude is parched with thirst.”

Young: By means of a pagan manner of living the nation has profaned the holy and promised land. Consequently, the people will continue to live in a heathen manner in a foreign land. Eating and drinking had been made to serve their evil purposes; they would therefore face hunger and thirst. Living sensually like animals and without the use of their understanding, they were now to go into their punishment without an actual understanding of the true nature of what was taking place.

2. Devouring

a. Sheol’s Appetite

“Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure;”

Grogan: The midnight revelers, their mouth open for more food and drink, will suddenly find that they have become the food of that hungriest of all monsters – death.

b. Feasting on Jerusalem

“And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry, and the jubilant within her, descend into it.”

3. Humiliation of Man / Exaltation of God

a. Humiliation of Man

“So the common man will be humbled, and the man of importance abased, he eyes of the proud also will be abased.”

Motyer: The eyes are the organs of desire (Gn. 39:7; Ps. 123:2), referring back to the covetousness of verse 8 and the greed of verses 11-12. Judgment falls where it is merited.

Matt. 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

God resists the proud

b. Exaltation of God

“But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.”

Motyer: both justice and righteousness are the outshining of holiness

4. (:17) Replacement Theology – Animals and Foreigners

“Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture,

And strangers will eat in the waste places of the wealthy.”

Eccles. 6:2 “a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.”

D. Parallel References —

2 Pet. 2:9-10 “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority”

Matt. 23: 25-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.”


A. Sin (and its Opposite) – Blatant Defiance Against God

1. (:18) Flaunting Sin

“Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood,

And sin as if with cart ropes;”

Young: Iniquity is a severe taskmaster. No taskmaster of Egypt ever ill-treated the Israelites more severely than did their own iniquity. These cords of vanity could be broken only b the Lord. Man can weave these cords, but he cannot unweave them.

Van Parunak: In terms of Num 15:27-31, they are sinning presumptuously, not out of ignorance.

Oswalt: the prophet exposes the underlying cynicism which is responsible for the people’s refusal to live in obedience to God’s nature. They doubt that God really is active in the world and they imagine that they are better able to determine what is really right and wrong than he is. The result is a perversion where values are reversed. . . They are sinning with a “high hand” and not out of mistake or ignorance. They are pulling the iniquity to themselves with ropes. They have not fallen into it. They are consciously choosing evil and exerting concerted effort to make that choices.

2. (:19) Mocking God

“Who say, ‘Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it;’”

“’And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that

we may know it!’”

Why doesn’t God do something? Taunting expression of irreverence; you prophecy of God’s work of judgment – but I don’t see it – where is it?? I will never believe what you are saying until I see it come to pass

Preceptaustin: Woe – Number three is directed to their defiant attitude and deep attachment to their iniquity and sin.

Archer: these backslidden people dragged along their idol of iniquity, challenging the Holy One of Israel as if he were powerless to intervene in human history and exercise his sovereignty.

Vine: However presumptuously they might glory in their ungodliness, it would bring the inevitable punishment. The description is sarcastic. Vaunting themselves in their evil in word and deed they failed all the time to apprehend the retribution it was bringing upon them.

B. Parallel References —

2 Pet. 3:3-4 “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’”


A. Sin (and its Opposite) –

1. Perverting Goodness

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;”

– spanking and properly disciplining your children labeled as physical abuse and outlawed

– marriage between people of the same sex praised and promoted – values training

– abortion and contraception supported by public funds – shouldn’t a woman have a right over her own body to make choices that involve murdering her unborn child – Shocking – but this is what people want (a life of no accountability); shouldn’t our teenagers have access to free contraceptives provided by public funds – they are going to engage in sex anyway (Abstinence is not viewed as an option) so let’s help make it Safe Sex – eliminate all accountability

– legalizing drugs like marijuana – our campaign not so long ago was “Just say No to drugs”; soon it will be “Just say Yes so we can tax the products and use the revenue for bigger government”

2. Perverting Light

“Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;”

3. Perverting Sweetness

“Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!””

We have lost our moral compass – conscience is now out of whack; no more due north by which we can navigate; everything is turned upside down and is morally relativistic

Van Parunak: This kind of sophistry is common in academic analyses of Scripture, and is particularly common in writings of the so-called “Christian feminist” and “Christian gay” movements. It is a refusal to believe that Scripture means what it clearly says. Ultimately, it leads to the modern deconstructionist movement, which argues that language has no meaning. (In the process, of course, it invalidates all use of language, including itself.)

Preceptaustin: Reversing God’s standards of right and wrong characterizes times of apostasy and precedes times of divine judgment. This phenomenon is increasingly characteristic of Christendom today. These verses paint a perfect picture of the “modern morality” with its glossing over of evil, and its re-dressing of wickedness to give it the appearance of righteousness. This insensitivity to moral decay is the sign of deepest corruption.

B. Parallel References —

2 Tim. 3:1-5 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

Rom. 1:32 – give hearty approval to those who practice these things

John 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”

Mark 3:22-29 – Pharisees attributed the miracles of Christ to Beelzebub


A. Sin (and its Opposite) – Conceited

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

And clever in their own sight!”

Pride of life – professors in academic world; those in positions of power who think they can make the rules and then even live above them; self righteous commentators in the media who love to expose the faults of others; comedians who poke fun at everything and anything

We are a people who are wise in our own eyes – we were not there at Creation … but we expect everyone to believe some preposterous explanation called Evolution that multiplies chance by time and comes up with fish growing wings and evolving into birds and monkeys growing into humans despite no evidence of any transitional links – you are branded as an ignoramus if you do not accept such human wisdom as the final, authoritative word on origins – no wonder that we are so foolish in rejecting God’s message regarding human destiny as well

Van Parunak: In using this phrase, Isaiah shows his knowledge of Proverbs. The expression “wise in one’s own eyes” appears five times in Proverbs (3:7; 26:5, 12, 16; 28:11), and only there.

Prov. 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. “

B. Parallel References —

John 9:41 speaking to the Pharisees “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

1 Cor. 3:18-21 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that hem ay become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before god. For it is written, ‘He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness;’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.’ So then let no one boast in men.”


A. Sin (and its Opposite) – Corrupted Power

1. Champions of Intoxication

“Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine,

And valiant men in mixing strong drink;”

Look at our TV commercials – We make heroes and champions out of the strong drinkers:

Wikopedia: “The most interesting man in the world” — The advertisements feature a bearded, debonair gentleman roughly in his 70s (portrayed by actor Jonathan Goldsmith). with Frontline narrator Will Lyman conducting voiceovers. As Ottmar Liebert’s “Barcelona Nights” plays in the background, the advertisements featured a montage of daring exploits involving “the most interesting man” when he was younger.

The precise settings are never revealed, but he performs feats such as: freeing an angry bear from a painful-looking bear trap; shooting a pool trick shot before an Indian audience (by shooting the cue ball out of the mouth of a man lying on the pool table); catching a marlin while cavorting in a Hemingway-esque scene with a beautiful, young woman; winning an arm-wrestling match in a South American setting; surfing the killer wave; and bench pressing two young East Asian women in a casino setting, each woman being seated in a chair. The voiceovers themselves are intended to be both humorous and outrageous (“if he were to punch you in the face, you would have to fight off the strong urge to thank him”; “he can speak French, in Russian”; “even his enemies list him as their emergency contact”).

At the end of the advertisement, the interesting man says, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” Each commercial ends with a signature sign-off: “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

2. Champions of Injustice

“Who justify the wicked for a bribe,

And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!”

Prov. 17:15 “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.”

Leaders cannot afford to have their judgment compromised by intoxication

Famous for all of the wrong reasons

How many politicians have we seen get in trouble for unethical behavior?

Motyer: So what is life like on the basis of unaided human wisdom? First, success is measured by the degree of self-satisfaction achieved and indulgence enjoyed. Heroes and champions is sarcastic use of terms of military honour

B. Parallel References —

James 5:5-6 “You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”


Isaiah in Chap. 6 – Exclaims “Woe is me!”

Sees the holiness of God and is broken over his own sin so that he is not a self righteous prophet here; but only a sinner who has experienced forgiveness of sins and volunteers to bring the message of God’s saving grace to his fellow countrymen.