With this part of the chapter we enter the six "woes".
This is a collection of warnings about sins that the people had committed that had provoked God's displeasure.
Verse 8 says, "woe to those who join house to house and field to field until there is no more room, so that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!"
What Isaiah is talking about here is that the rich would buy up as much land as they could and use it to build large mansions, and large vineyards. They did not want neighbors. They wanted the land all to themselves. They wanted to live "alone" in the land. This is what people, and the world of real estate, has always been like. It is still like this today. The rich have lots of land and big beautiful houses and the poor have very little. We think of this as normal, but the land of Israel is different. It has been different since Abraham walked the earth. The Lord is angry at the children of Israel for doing this because the land had come to them as a gift from God with a promise that it would always be theirs,(Gen. 13:14-17, 17:18) but also, there were restrictions attached to the ownership of every parcel of land.
Leviticus 25:1-34, lists the specific requirements that the Lord gave regarding the land. This passage in Leviticus explains the sabbath year rest for the land and the requirements of what was to happen to the land in the year of Jubilee. The year of Jubilee was supposed to be celebrated every 50 years. No matter what, in the year of Jubilee, land that was bought, sold, bartered or changed hands in anyway, had to be given back to the original owners. If they could redeem the land earlier and buy it back they were aloud to do so, but if they couldn't, the original owners were supposed to be given back their land when the year of Jubilee came. It's ownership would revert back to
the original family that was given the land when the children entered the promised land.
It was part of a families inheritance and heritage and it was supposed to return to them no matter what the circumstances. The only exception was actual buildings that were built within the city walls. Those did not have to revert back to the families at the year of Jubilee. Some people would buy up these houses and connect them together, "til there is no more room".
Behind all of this is a condition of the heart, greed and covetousness, over the land that the Lord had given to them, with no regard for others.
Verse 5:9, is very interesting. Remember in chapter three how we discussed the fact that only the poorest people of the land were left behind when the captivity of Jerusalem took place (2Kings 25:12)? And, in chapter 3, of Isaiah it tells us that ,"the plunder of the poor is in your houses". Here we see that the poor got their chance to plunder the houses of the rich. Verse 5: 9 says" surely many houses will become desolate. Even great and fine ones without occupants"
This second woe in verses 5:11-12, is pretty self explanatory. There were people who lived for their ability to party. There lives revolved around there pleasures with no consideration of the Lord and His works in their lives.
"Therefore my people go into exile" verse 5:13-15. It's a done deal, the people haven't figured this out. They are hungry and thirsty for what is important, but they don't know it. (And we know that they did go into exile for 70 years).
I worked at a bank a number of years ago. The small town I worked in had a disproportionate number of very wealthy people living there. There was one man imparticular whose story I can't forget. He had a lovely wife who was about 15 years his junior. They had 2 very cute, small children under the age of 5. They also had an incredible amount of money in our bank. The money they had with us was just their spending money. They had investments and other bank accounts all over the world. The man's job was to manage his money. I saw the wife more than I saw the man. When I usually saw him, it was in the afternoon. Then one day he came in in the early morning. He was disheveled and shaking badly. He looked 10 years older than he usually looked. It was obvious that he needed a drink to calm his nerves. When I mentioned his shaking to one of the other girls who worked with me and actually lived in the town where we worked, she said that it was common knowledge that he was an alcoholic. She said that he had recently gotten in trouble again for drinking and driving and he and his cute little family were going to take a get away trip to Australia to help him dry out.
He was hungry and thirsty, but he had no idea what he was seeking. He had no consideration for the Lord's work in his life .
Verses 5:14-17, The Lord says; Therefore Hell is ready, it is plenty big enough for the vast amount of people who will slide into hell from this sin. All of Jerusalem would be welcome including the revelers and the jubilant. (I cant help but think of New Orleans) . The people will be humbled and the important people will be brought even lower. But this judgement will show the holiness of the Lord.
Then the lambs will graze in their pastures (5:17) unaffected by the tragedy happening around them and strangers, people the wealthy owners don't even know, will eat and be sustained by their wealth, fields and property.
The poorest of the people, those left behind in the exodus of the captivity, were able to be sustained from what the wealthy had owned and cherished.
The next woe is verse 5:18." Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes".
The next verse, 5:20, is as relevant today as it was when Isaiah recorded this. " Woe to those who call evil good and good evil". They had sons and daughters dedicated to be temple prostitutes. Some who were even in the temple of the Lord. (1st Kings 14:24,15:12, 2Kings23:7). India still has children who are dedicated to be temple prostitutes. They also had temples in Isaiah's day which were for the express purpose of sacrificing their infants to other gods. (1Kings 11:7, 2Kings23:10, Lev.20:2). We do also, they are called abortion clinics.
Just as they called what they were doing worship. Our society says they are doing women a great service by getting rid of the children they don't need or want.
"evil good and good evil"
Verse 5:21, says woe to the people who think too much of their intellect.This is about people who think they are too smart to believe in God or any type of religious beliefs. They think they are too wise to be fooled into believing in anything but themselves. They believe that only people of low intelligence would believe in God.
"While a man thinks humble of himself, there is a chance that he may repent and amend. When he is "wise in his own eyes" he does not see why he has to change."
The pulpit commentary
WM. B. Eerdmans
The last "woe" verse 5:22, at first, seems to be a repeat of the second "woe" but with a closer look we can see that there is a big difference. This woe addresses the corruption of a man who does not spend his days languishing at the banquet table to drink, but goes about his daily life with impaired morals and decision making abilities. His conscience is dulled by the strong drink he consumes. Verse 5:23, He is a man of authority who the people should be able to rely on for fair judgements and moral justice. Instead, he is able to be bribed and has no feelings of compassion and fairness. His decisions can be bought. "he takes away the rights of the ones who are in the right".
Remember; these "woes" are a lament, some of them sterner than others but the idea is that of a heart felt pity and regret for the situation. It shows a desire to have the situation be different and an emotional warning . Consider Matt. 24:19 "but woe to those who are with child and nursing in those days!". Jesus doesn't say this because He is displeased with pregnant women and nursing mothers. He is lamenting the sad situation and the hardship they will inevitably face when this time in history comes.
Always, God's heart is to love us and bring us to Himself.
Keep reading your bibles!! This book is long and complicated but it is so much easier to see the connections in the bible as you spend more time reading and studying. The Lord speaks to us from His word.
God bless you precious ladies.
I'm praying for all of you