Isaiah: Woe Upon Woe!

Peter Barnes: Isaiah 5:8-20

(16 September 2018)


– 5:8-20 will look at the first four of six woes, before Isaiah sees himself as under a woe in the next chapter – 6:5.

1. Woe to greedy land-grabbers.

– 5:8-10. Israel was not set up as a paradise for land speculators – Lev.25:23-28. Chrysostom: ‘covetous men, if they could, would willingly take the sun from the poor’. So they will build beautiful houses but nobody will live in them.
2. Woe to drunken revellers.

– 5:11-12. Heroes of the bottle!

– the result is as woeful as the sins – 5:13-14 – exile, hunger, and death. Hence 5:15-16. Spurgeon: ‘They go to hell in droves.’

3. Woe to those who sin defiantly.

– 5:18-19. This is not as clear as it might have been, but seems to be referring to those who encourage sin ‘with a high hand’. They do fall into sin through weakness; they are defiant. Calvin: ‘Men were not born to eat and drink, and wallow in luxury, but to obey God, to worship him devoutly, to acknowledge his goodness, and to endeavour to do what is pleasing in his sight.’
4. Woe to those who reverse good and evil.

– 5:20. See John 12:1-7. Judas covers his stealing with a pretence of compassion for the poor. Leana Wen took over as president of Planned Parenthood. Unbelievably, she praised what she called the ‘lifesaving work’ of the organisation.

There will be desolation (5:9), exile, hunger and thirst (5:13), and humiliation (5:15), even death (5:14). Spurgeon: ‘God’s woes are better than the devil’s welcomes.’ Turn the woes into blessings – Rom.4:7-8.