A Song of the Luscious Grape
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Please open your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, chapter 27. We will be reading the paragraph which begins with verse 2, reminding you that the first verse of chapter 27 actually belongs to the paragraph which comes as the last two verses of chapter 26. In other words chapter 27 actually begins with verse 2:

Isaiah 27

2In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.
3I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
4Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
5Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
6He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
7Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?
8In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.
9By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.
10Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.
11When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.
12And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.
13And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

We have pointed out to you since we have been studying this particular section of the book of Isaiah that beginning with chapter 23 and continuing through chapter 27 we are studying what is known as the Little Apocalypse or the Little Revelation . The reason for that is that in these chapters we have material presented to us which is presented to us in the book of the Revelation in the New Testament, principally in that section which begins with chapter 6 and ends with chapter 19. The word Apocalypse means unveiling or revelation , so we have given that particular title to this particular section in the book of Isaiah.

We have reminded you that this section deals with that period of time which is described by the phrase, “in that day.” You find it oft repeated throughout this section, and you find it repeated several times over in this portion of Scripture that we have just read. The phrase, “in that day,” covers a period of prophetic time that begins with the Rapture of the Church—that time when the Lord Jesus Christ comes in the air and catches up to Himself all born-again believers, regardless of their church affiliation or lack of it. The phrase, “in that day,” begins with the Rapture of the Church, or the catching up, and it continues on to the end of time and the beginning of Eternity.

If you are familiar with the prophetic portions of the Word of God, you know that this time described by the phrase, “in that day,” is a time both of tribulation and blessing. The period of tribulation lasts seven years and the period of blessing lasts for 1000 years.

A Period of Blessing

In this particular portion of the Word at which we are looking, we find that Isaiah refers to both of these periods of time. For example, in chapter 24 he refers particularly to the period of tribulation, but in chapters 26 and 27, he refers to the period of blessing.

He refers to the period of blessing in terms of a song that will be sung. In our churches today we sometimes sing, “When all our labors and trials are o'er, that will be glory for me.” Of course, we refer to Heaven. We talk about the time that someday we will be in Heaven and all of our labors and trials will be over, and that will be glory for us. The Israelites in the same sense could sing that song: “All of our labors and trials are o'er, then that will be glory for me,” but he would not be singing about Heaven, he would be singing about the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth. That is the period of time when the nation of Israel will come into its own. It is the period of time when the nation of Israel will be able to sense the glory of the Lord.

Since it will be a time of singing, Isaiah has scattered throughout his prophecies a number of songs such as the one at which we are going to look in this lesson. Now, I am emphasizing that he has scattered about through his writings a number of songs, and I am emphasizing that this is a song, because if you do not understand that, you will not be able to understand this passage of Scripture and the exact meaning that the Holy Spirit had in mind when He wrote it. We might remind you that this is a song that will be sung, but it is a song of response. That is indicated by the word sing , which you will find in verse 2:

Isaiah 27

2In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.

The word sing in that statement comes from a Hebrew word which means “sing with responses.” It wouldn't be noticed, of course, in our English translation, but it would in the original text. Whenever you find a phrase such as this with this word in it, sing with responses , you are going to understand that part of the song will be sung by a soloist and part of the song will represent a response to that which the soloist sings. If you keep that in mind, you will be able to divide the chapter into natural divisions and, in so doing, understand it better.

If you follow the suggestion that I have just made, you will find the soloist singing in verses 2-5. You will find the response in verses 6-9. You will find the soloist singing again in verses 10-11, and you will find the response of the choir in verses 12-13.

Another Song of the Vineyard

As we look at what the soloist sings, we hear him singing:

Isaiah 27

2In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.
3I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
4Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
5Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.

Glancing back over what the soloist has just sung to us, we realize that this is another song about a vineyard. We say another song about a vineyard because if you are thinking, you will remember that Isaiah recorded another song about a vineyard besides this particular one. I think we will be able to notice the wonder of this song if we turn back to Isaiah, chapter 5, because even though the two songs have the same subject, different things are said about the vineyard. For example, in Isaiah, chapter 5, verses 1-7, we hear the singer singing not a responsive song this time, but a solo:

Isaiah 5

1Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
2And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
3And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant…

We stop our reading there, emphasizing verse 7 by noticing that this verse tells us that the vineyard about which Isaiah was singing in chapter 5 is the nation of Israel. When we turn back over to chapter 27, we realize that the vineyard about which the soloist is singing as the choir responds to the words of the soloist is the nation of Israel. But, oh what a difference. In Isaiah, chapter 5, the soloist had to sing about a vineyard that brought forth wild grapes, even though it was very carefully tended and cared for. When the keeper of the vineyard went to find fruit, all he found was wild grapes. The song in Isaiah, chapter 27, is not going to be a song about a vineyard that produces wild grapes; it is going to be a song about a vineyard of red wine.

A Productive Vineyard

If you will notice that phrase, red wine , and keep in mind what is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy in relation to the promise of God in connection with the nation of Israel and the land of Canaan, you will find this same phrase in the Hebrew used over and over again, and it is always translated “the pure blood of the grapes” or “grapes that produce good wine.” So you see, there is quite a difference—a very striking contrast. The vineyard about which the singer sings in Isaiah, chapter 27, is a vineyard that produces good grapes and good wine. We notice as well that the Lord is exceedingly pleased with its condition at this particular time. In Isaiah, chapter 5, He was so displeased with what He found that He broke down the walls, let the briers take over, and He commanded that the clouds should not rain upon it. He said, “I am through with it. I am not going to spend any more time with it.”

Vineyard Kept By God Himself

A change has occurred now, and in verse 3, He said:

Isaiah 27

3I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.

In Isaiah, chapter 5, it was the ordinary hired hands, so to speak, that kept the vineyard, but in this vineyard was no hired hand; God Himself will keep the vineyard, and He will keep it night and day.

I would like for you to look at verse 4, as I say something that I don't want you to misunderstand. There are more poor translations in this chapter of the book of Isaiah in the King James version than perhaps any other one chapter in the Bible. Some of these translations are almost unintelligible as far as meaning is concerned, if you read them the way they are recorded here. Now, don't misunderstand that. Don't go out of here and say that I said the Bible wasn't inspired. Don't go out of here and say that I said the Bible wasn't true. Recognize that we have a problem in some areas of the King James version. Notice the way verse 4 reads:

Isaiah 27

4Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.

What does that mean? Does it have any real meaning to you in the light of the context that we have been thinking about? It has very little, at least until I have suggested to you what the translation actually is. Of course, I am presenting it to you in a very broad way, even paraphrasing it in some instances so that you will be able to get the meaning.

What is God saying? God is saying, “I don't have an ounce of fury left in Me.” Oh, how angry He was in Isaiah, chapter 5. How angry He was when He went to that vineyard and found no fruit, but now, He said, “I don't have an ounce of fury left in Me. I plan not to use My wrath against My people any more. If any briers and thorns come up in this battle, I will burn them up at once.” That is exactly what He is talking about. Remember, He said in Isaiah, chapter 5, “I am through with this vineyard. Let the briers and the thorns take it.” But here in Isaiah, chapter 27, He said, “You let one of those briers or thorns come up here, and I will burn it up just like that.” Briers and thorns speak of the enemies of Israel and hence the enemies of God and the enemies of righteousness, so He said in verse 5:

Isaiah 27

5Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.

Here, He is actually saying, “I will burn him up like that, unless He is willing to recognize My authority and make peace with Me.” Then He adds, “And He will make peace with Me.”

Of course, in this age of grace in which we live, man may make peace with God or not make peace with God, as the case may be. They can go on their merry way leaving God out of their lives and doing as they please, but in this period of time that we are singing about in this lesson, described in that phrase, “in that day, the reign of righteousness upon the earth,” nobody will do as they please. They will do as God pleases. God says, “In that day, they will make peace with Me.”

The Restoration of Israel

This is the part of the soloist, the choir has been listening closely to everything that has been said. In the paragraph which begins in verse 6, the choir responds:

Isaiah 27

6He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
7Hath he [Thou] smitten him, as he [Thou] smote those that smote him? or is he [hast Thou] slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?
8In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he [Thou] stayeth his [Thou] rough wind in the day of the east wind.
9By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.

In this portion which we have read as being the response of the choir, you will notice I made some changes. We are going to have to make some more in the translation in order for us to fully understand what we are talking about. The changes that I made were in relation to the pronouns, because the pronouns are mixed in this paragraph the way this translation reads. Actually the pronoun should be Thou all the way through, as it is down in verse 8, for what is happening here is that God has been singing in verses 2-5, “I will do thus and so,” and the choir responds and says, “Yes, you will.”

One of the first things that the choir says that God will do is found in verse 6:

Isaiah 27

6He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.

“The reason that Thou art so happy, God, with this vineyard,” the choir said, “is Thou wilt cause Israel to blossom and to bud, and to fill the face of the world with fruit.”

What in the world does that mean? You will have to understand several passages of Scripture that we are barely going to have time to mention if you want to know what that verse actually means. In Genesis, chapter 12, and in Genesis, chapter 15, and elaborated upon in Romans, chapters 9, 10, and 11, God said that He was going to give the nation of Israel the privilege of preaching the knowledge of God to the entire world. When the Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, chapter 4, was speaking to the Jewish nation about their crucifixion of Jesus Christ, they said, “What good does it do to be a Jew? The way that you are talking, it doesn't do any good to be a Jew.” Paul said, “It doesn't really in your present condition, except that to you were committed the oracles of God, and it was through you the Lord Jesus Christ came to the world. To you was given the responsibility of getting the knowledge of God out to the whole world.”

You know the story as well as I do. The nation of Israel became so inverted and so introspective that they looked upon everybody else as dogs; and instead of getting the knowledge of God out, they held it close to themselves until God said, “I have had enough. I will take this responsibility from you and I will give it to another.” To whom did He give it? The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ would have the responsibility of getting the knowledge of Jesus Christ out to the whole world.

God, in His omniscience, knowing everything that was going to happen before it happened, wrote down in this book that the Church would fail even more miserably than did the Jewish nation, and God would find it necessary to take the privilege away from the Church and give it back to the Jewish nation, and that is what He means here in verse 6, when He says, “One day God is going to cause the nation of Israel to blossom and bud, and the nation of Israel will fill the face of the world with the knowledge of God.”

Gospel Preached In the Tribulation

When are they going to do it? Right now? No, they are too interested in holding on to what they have over there in the land of Palestine to do it right now, but in the Tribulation, according to chapter 7 of the book of Revelation, as you compare it with Revelation, chapter 14, you will discover that the Jewish nation is going to preach the Gospel to every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue, so that when we stand around the Throne of God, there will not be one nation that has not heard the Gospel.

In Matthew, chapter 24, the Lord Jesus said, “It is necessary that the Gospel be preached throughout the whole world before the end comes.” He said that—listen carefully to what I am going to say—to the Jews, not the Church. The Church thinks that He said it to them, and the Church is trying to do the impossible. They are trying to reach the entire world with the Gospel. Now, I have no objection to that. We take offerings here all the time to aid people who are engaged in that effort. Some of our own people have gone to do it, but Beloved, I want to remind you that if you are waiting for the Church to do this, you are going to be waiting a long time, and if you are expecting the Church to do it, you are going to be sorely disappointed. God said that He is going to cause Jacob to take root, Israel to blossom and bud, and He is going to fill the face of the world with fruit through the nation of Israel.

Purpose In God's Judgment

Look at verse 7. It looked pretty hopeless to Isaiah, because as he wrote these words all that he could see was the nation striken, a nation with great numbers of them slain. What he saw as he looked down through the corridors of time has become increasingly true, because the nation of Israel has been smitten again and again, and millions upon millions of them have been slain. But what does the choir say in verse 7? It is not very clear as it is written here, but what it actually says is this. “He has not smitten Israel nearly so severely as He has smitten the enemies of Israel, nor has He slain men of Israel in as nearly a great number as the enemies of Israel.”

Of course, when we are recipients of the chastening, we feel like we are getting it all. When we are the ones who are being smitten, we feel like we are being smitten more than anyone else, and the nation of Israel said that. But God said, “No. I haven't smitten you nearly as thoroughly as I have smitten the nations that have opposed the nation of Israel.”

Notice verse 8. Here again, it is not a happy translation. What He said is this: “I have smitten you really in a very small measure, for when I exiled you from the land of Canaan, I did it in order to bring you to your senses. I even stayed the rough wind in the days of the east winds; when the east wind [which in the Old Testament was always typical of terrible judgment] would have literally swept you away, I put My hand out, and I said for it not to blow too roughly, leave a few.” There has been and always will be a remnant of the nation of Israel, for the chastisements of God upon the nation of Israel are always remedial, never destructive.

May I digress long enough to drive home a lesson for all of us? A child of God, as the nation of Israel, is under the chastening hand of God, and the sinner of Isaiah's day as the sinner of this day is under the chastening hand of God, but with the same difference. When God's judgment falls upon the Christian of today, it is never for destruction—remember that—it is always remedial in its purpose. It is to cause the child of God to awaken to his sense of responsibility and repent and turn back to God and go in the direction that God would have him go. But when an individual denies God and is without Him, judgment is destructive, for it is final.

The Chastening of Nations

What we have said about individuals today, we can say about nations as well. I have no hope for Russia, because she has denied God. She represents the briers and the thorns, and God said, “In My fury I will devour them.”

I have hope for the United States of America. No, not because I am naive enough to think that everybody in America is a Christian, but because the United States of America is still the recipient of the promise that God made to Abraham that, “I will bless them that bless you, and I will curse them that curse you.” Regardless of what individuals in the country may have done, the nation that bears the United States for its name has been kind to the nation of Israel, and Israel is in her homeland today because of America. The only reason in the world that the United Arabic Republic does not push those few million Jews off that little strip of land they occupy today is that our government has said, “If you do, you will have to deal with us. If you do, you will be in trouble with us.” God has said, “I will bless them that bless you.”

Listen carefully to what I am saying. I said that I have no hope for Russia. I have hope for the United States, but mark what I am saying to you. I believe that the United States of America is under the chastening hand of God this very hour, and I believe that the purpose of the chastening is remedial, and I believe that if we do not straighten up and repent and show proof of our repentance we can even expect worse things at the hand of God, for such was true of Israel.

The Fruit of Repentance

Will you look at verse 9:

Isaiah 27

9By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged…

Jacob and Israel are terms that are used interchangeably. What is the choir singing? They are singing, “By this chastening that God is giving by the hand of God upon this nation, iniquity will be purged.” How will it be purged? The rest of this verse is not very clear. What it actually says is, “They will bear the fruit of real repentance, for they will take all the stones of the altar that have been built to the sun gods, they will take the pillars that have been built to the moon gods, and they will grind them up like chalkstone and scatter them across the face of the ground.” There is one proof that you mean what you say. Follow it up by your actions.

Israel was to say, “You will be our God and our God alone.” God said, “All right, prove it. Get rid of all these other gods you've got.” The fruit must be evident if we are to believe.

Now, will you look at the next paragraph, which represents the part of the soloist again, when God is singing the part. He said in verse 10:

Isaiah 27

10Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.

You will recognize what God is singing about. He is singing in a rather sad note about one city who does not yield to His power—the city of Babylon, the capital of the Antichrist. That city will be left like a wilderness; the calves will feed there. In verse 11, the women will take boughs that fall off the trees, because there is no life in them, and shall use them for firewood. Notice in verse 11:

Isaiah 27

11…therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.

God will show these people no favor. He will have no mercy upon them, even though He created them, because they are a people of no understanding.

This ought to settle once and for all—certainly not the only passage of Scripture, but this is enough—the question whether or not because God created men, they all belong to Him. God said, “I created them, but I'm turning my face against them, and there is nothing left for them but judgment, because they are men of no understanding.” The word understanding here is a word that refers to an understanding of spiritual things.

This song closes with the response of the choir in verses 12-13. The choir says, “Even though this is going to be true of the city of Babylon and the city that has bowed its neck against you, it will not be true of your beloved people,” for we read here in verses 12-13:

Isaiah 27

12And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.

That is not very clear, is it? You read that verse and you wonder what exactly it is that God is going to beat off. You think He might be beating off part of a river, or part of a sea, but what the verse actually says is, “In that day from the river Euphrates to the brook of Egypt [the Nile River] the LORD will thrash out the grain and you will be gathered one by one O people of Israel.” Look at verse 13:

Isaiah 27

13And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

You have a choice. You can accept this literally, as I have presented it to you, and believe that someday God is going to gather the nation of Israel from the far corners of the world and cause them to worship once more again in Mt Zion in a temple, which according to Ezekiel will be rebuilt according to specifications; or you can say, “Oh well, it shouldn't be interpreted literally. The mountain that is referred to here is the Mount from which the Lord Jesus Christ ascended when the Holy Spirit came. All of this has been fulfilled—not in the nation of Israel but by Christians who recognize that their Bible is a Jewish book and that their Savior is of Jewish origin, and the kingdom of which Isaiah and his choir sang is already in operation in our midst.”

Conclusion

I say that you have a choice today. I have already made mine. I believe that this is a reference to the future, and I believe that as we look at the world history passing by, we can see one thing after another falling into place that makes us know that it will not be long until the trumpet will be sounded and they will be gathered one by one.


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