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Devotion: Woe to the Vineyard

Devotion: Woe to the Vineyard

July 4th, 2018 | Isaiah 5

“Lift every voice and sing, / Till earth and heaven ring, / Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; … / Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, / Let us march on till victory is won.” The lyrics of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” convey a hope for justice. Former enslaved Americans and their descendants have sung these words for decades to express hope that God would heal the deep rifts in American society. The song asks our just God to act in accordance with His own character.

Isaiah 5 presents another song of justice, only this time the singer is the Lord Himself. The lyrics sing of His failure to find the fruit for which He has labored in the fertile soil of the vineyard of His beloved. From the opening allegory in which God portrays Israel as a vine, it is evident that the fruit He seeks is justice and righteousness rather than bloodshed of the weak.

Israel’s disregard for the words of the Holy One of Israel brings woe. The Lord prepares a merciless nation to devour them into the darkness of exile. With great poetic justice, Israel will taste the disregard it has had for the most fragile members of society.

Justice is tied to the just and righteous character of the Lord. Bloodshed and violence against the poor came from a disregard for the word of the Holy One. In Isaiah’s vision, God’s people need repentance that leads to obedience to the word of the Lord. As James reminds the church, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5).


The people had failed to see the Lord’s holiness in Isaiah 5, but Isaiah sees His glory and holiness in Isaiah 6. The classic hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” is inspired by verses from this chapter. Take some time as part of your personal worship to sing or listen to renditions of both “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.”


Radical Islam has spilled over the border from neighboring Somalia, leaving Christians vulnerable, particularly in rural areas. Pray that the Lord will continue to draw people to Himself in these realities.

Today in the Word’s Devotion is a production of Moody Global Ministries

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