Isaiah begins chapter 5 with a song about God as the “beloved” who owns a vineyard. This vineyard’s fruitlessness represents the waywardness of Israel. When a vineyard produced little fruit in Isaiah’s day, there was little one could do but tear down the vineyard and use the land differently.
In the same way, God intends to bring judgement to Israel for rejecting God’s great grace. God promises to judge those “who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Isaiah lists the characteristics of God’s chosen people which bring their judgement, including acquitting the guilty for a bribe (Isaiah 5:23) and rejecting the laws of the Lord (Isaiah 5:24). Israel has proven fruitless and even to have produced bad fruit for God, the owner of the vineyard.
This picture of God’s people being part of a vineyard extends into the New Testament also (John 15). Everywhere this imagery appears in the Bible, God is teaching us our need to depend upon the Lord to fulfill our created purposes. May we start out today with a desire to bear good fruit, thus leading us to renewed dependence on our God and King.