Isaiah 5, continued

I thought I finished with Isaiah 5 yesterday, but as I was scanning it in order to get into chapter 6 this morning, I discovered there was a lot more to be learned from chapter 5!

18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with(AA) cords of falsehood,
who draw sin as with cart ropes,
19 who say:(AB) “Let him be quick,
let him speed his work
that we may see it;
let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
and let it come, that we may know it!”
20 Woe to(AC) those who call evil good
and good evil,
(AD) who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are(AE) wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are(AF) heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 who(AG) acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right! (ESV)

After considering this section of verses some more, I see a depth of depravity described which is astounding – and convicting.

The presumption of the attitude in 18-19 takes my breath away–because it has described me in the past… and not too long ago. Matthew Henry says this about 18-19:

Those are here said to be in a woeful condition, 1. Who are eagerly set upon sin, and violent in their sinful pursuits (v. 18), who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, who take as much pains to sin as the cattle do that draw a team, who put themselves to the stretch for the gratifying of their inordinate appetites, and, to humour a base lust, offer violence to nature itself. They think themselves as sure of compassing their wicked project as if they were pulling it towards them with strong cart-ropes; but they will find themselves disappointed, for they will prove cords of vanity, which will break when they come to any stress. For the righteous Lord will cut in sunder the cords of the wicked, Ps. 129:4; Job 4:8; Prov. 22:8. They are by long custom and confirmed habits so hardened in sin that they cannot get clear of it. Those that sin through infirmity are drawn away by sin; those that sin presumptuously draw iniquity to them, in spite of the oppositions of Providence and the checks of conscience. Some by sin understand the punishment of sin: they pull God’s judgments upon their own heads as it were, with cart-ropes. 2. Who set the justice of God at defiance, and challenge the Almighty to do his worst (v. 19): They say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work; this is the same language with that of the scoffers of the last days, who say, Where is the promise of his coming? and therefore it is that, like them, they draw iniquity with cords of vanity, are violent and daring in sin, and walk after their own lusts, 2 Pt. 3:3, 4. (1.) They ridicule the prophets, and banter them. It is in scorn that they call God the Holy One of Israel, because the prophets used with great veneration to call him so. (2.) They will not believe the revelation of God’s wrath from heaven against their ungodliness and unrighteousness; unless they see it executed, they will not know it, as if the curse were brutum fulmen—a mere flash, and all the threatenings of the word bugbears to frighten fools and children. (3.) If God should appear against them, as he has threatened, yet they think themselves able to make their part good with him, and provoke him to jealousy, as if they were stronger than he, 1 Co. 10:22. “We have heard his word, but it is all talk; let him hasten his work, we shall shift for ourselves well enough.’’ Note, Those that wilfully persist in sin consider not the power of God’s anger.

Talk about bondage to sin… the irony of presumptuous sin like this! You chase after your pleasures and lusts, thinking there is “freedom” in them, only to end up working for them like cattle “pulling a team” (as in plowing a field, I think).

JF&B have this to say about verse 18:

18. Third Woe–against obstinate perseverance in sin, as if they wished to provoke divine judgments.
iniquity–guilt, incurring punishment [MAURER].
cords, &c.–cart-rope–Rabbins say, “An evil inclination is at first like a fine hair-string, but the finishing like a cart-rope.” The antithesis is between the slender cords of sophistry, like the spider’s web (Isaiah 59:5, Job 8:14), with which one sin draws on another, until they at last bind themselves with great guilt as with a cart-rope. They strain every nerve in sin.
vanity–wickedness.
sin–substantive, not a verb: they draw on themselves “sin” and its penalty recklessly.

The presumption reaches new heights in verse 19 where the men of Judah (as described by Isaiah here–could be me or you today) actually call upon God to show His hand and judge them, as He promises to do! Wow. But what else does such presumptuousness communicate to God?

There’s much more–calling evil good and good evil (just requires a little rationalization), exchange light/dark, sweet/bitter… being wise in their own eyes (hmm…), bragging about their excess, who cover guilt with the judicious application of bribes…

Lord, forgive me for my presumptuous sins in the past–keep me from them in the future–lead me in Your way.

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