While there are certainly times when scriptural references to a “day” is obviously a literal sun-to-sun cycle, many times as in this case it is referring to a period or phase of activity. We most often seem to employ the phrase “The Last Days” which Jesus calls “the end of the age” to capture all the parallel events taking place both from the perspective of those who are in a right relationship with Christ, those upon whom such events might be drawing many to Christ, and those who are steadfastly rejecting Him even to the very end. This is but one of many passages in Isaiah which reveal that God’s overall plan cannot be understood solely by New Testament references to the End Times alone, but that those references are actually built on what was originally provided in the Old Testament. Although presented in a different format, there is not much presented in Revelation or the Olivet Discourse which is entirely new and that cannot be confirmed by many supporting Old Testament Scriptures.
Q: What is being expressed by the term “indignation”?
A: It is another expression for God’s wrath.
Q: Has there ever been an example of this literally occurring, where God’s people went inside “until indignation runs its course”?
A: This is what took place in the Exodus Narrative during the last plague of the angel of death. It also describes Noah and company in the ark.
Q: Whom did the angel of death pass over in that instance?
A: Those protected by the blood of the Passover lamb.
Q: So what parallel event is this speaking of? When did this historically take place?
A: It has not yet taken place and therefore speaks of a future event yet to come.
Point: The Rapture of the Church will recapitulate the Exodus Narrative when by the blood of Christ the Lamb of God they will be exempted from the final outpouring of the wrath of God by their removal, returning with Him afterward in the Millennial Kingdom.
Q: How do we know that v.21 is speaking of “the day of the Lord”, that time when the earth experiences the final wrath of God?
A: First by the designation, “the Lord is about to come out from His place”, and then by the result so devastating that “the earth…will no longer cover her slain”, a scriptural description of complete and total destruction.
Application: God’s people will not experience the wrath to come upon “the inhabitants of the earth” in that day.
Read verse 1
Q: What are the two creatures mentioned here?
A: Although a serpent and a dragon are mentioned, they are actually referring to one and the same creature.
Q: To whom are they referring?
A: These are the repeated scriptural descriptions of Satan.
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
— Revelation 12:9
Q: But because in Revelation it is specified, “the dragon who lives in the sea”, to what else is the referring to?
A: The Antichrist.
And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”
— Revelation 13:1-4
Application: Satan will be finally and permanently dealt with in that day.
Q: Why should this instance of a message about a vineyard given through Isaiah stand out to us?
A: Because of the previous message of a vineyard given through Isaiah in 5:1-7, when God was deeply disappointed with His vineyard, which He called both Israel and Judah.
Q: What seems to be the overall difference between that situation and this one?
A: In Isaiah 5 the issue is what man has done to bring it to ruin; here is the working of the Lord to restore and establish it.
Q: What is common to each instance?
A: God is sovereign in His working in both cases whether for discipline and punishment or for restoration and blessing.
Q: Why would a vineyard need to be guarded “night and day”? (v.3)
A: To keep wild beasts from trampling the vines or stealing the fruit.
Q: How is God invested differently in this vineyard this time around?
A: Whereas last time He sought discussion of what to do with such an abused and useless thing, here He encourages singing for a fruitful vineyard of which He is “keeper” and waters it, an oft-used scriptural metaphor for the Word.
Q: What is most likely the difference between these two situations? What has changed?
A: There has been a change in the hearts of those who have been responsive to God’s discipline and have chosen to pursue a right and obedient relationship with the Lord as opposed to rebellion of His Word and ways.
Q: What is the reference to “briars and thorns” mean?
A: As in the previous instance, they refer to the people who, like weeds, attempt to take over a garden or vineyard.
Q: What is the only protection which the vineyard of Israel can obtain?
A: One which comes about by making peace with God, something only possible by a right relationship with Him.
Read Matthew 21:33-46
Q: From where is v.33 taking this Old Testament quote?
A: From Isaiah 5.
Q: What has happened to the vineyard since we last saw it in Isaiah?
A: God has sent many slaves in the form of His Prophets, who have been repeatedly rejected.
Q: What has He ultimately done in response to that?
A: Sent His Son, whom they are in the process of not just rejecting, but about to kill.
Q: What will then take place?
A: The mainly Gentile Church will take possession.
Q: What is ironic about both the people’s response and that of the Pharisees’?
A: They are not acting out of complete ignorance; they understand the meaning exactly as well as the consequences.
Q: How is the dual aspect of God’s judgment expressed in this teaching?
A: Either one will fall on Christ the stone and be broken—a way of describing someone yielding themselves to Christ, or they will be irrecoverably crushed by Christ the stone.
Q: So how will it be possible, as stated in Isaiah 27:6, for Jacob to “take root”, for Israel to “blossom and sprout” and go on to “fill the whole world with fruit”?
A: They will have to be reconciled to Jesus the Messiah.
Point: The same cycle of the vineyards of Isaiah 5 and 27 was recapitulated in the First Coming, and continues to be replayed in Israel to the very end.
Application: In that day, there will be the spiritual restoration of Israel to Christ the Messiah.
Q: What are v.7-8 describing historically?
A: This is a very poetic and dramatic way of saying that Israel’s punishment, although coming at the hand of God, was not as severe as it could have been. Rather than being a complete and total end of the nation, the result was “banishing them…driving them away” into temporary exile.
Point: God did not strike down Israel in the same way He dealt with their enemies, the difference between discipline aimed at restoration and judgment intended for destruction.
Q: What is required for “the full price of the pardoning of sin”? (v.9) How might this stand out to a people living according to Old Covenant?
A: The Law required sacrifices to cover sin. In this case, the requirements of the Law are not even mentioned but rather a complete forsaking of the worship of other gods.
Point: Unless there is a sincere change of the heart, the rituals of the Law are useless.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise
— Psalm 51:16-17
Q: What is the statement v.10-11 is trying to make?
A: That such severe consequences had to be experienced by a people lacking the discernment to respond to anything less than the severest of punishments. Their rejection of His repeated lesser efforts warranted an extreme situation absent His “compassion” and graciousness.
Application: How is this replayed again in the previous study of the Parable of the Vineyard in Matthew 21?
Q: What do the people need?
A: The motivation to repent of their sins in the course of rejecting every idol in their life so as to sincerely return to Him alone.
Application: God will take every step necessary to ensure His people are spiritually ready and equipped for that day.
Q: What is particularly interesting about the dual description of those who will be gathered to the Lord?
A: It is not just ethnic Israel—that is, “sons of Israel”, but the Gentiles described as “those who are perishing” outside Israel.
Q: How would the original listeners of Isaiah’s message understood the reference to the trumpet?
A: One of the primary uses of the trumpet in the Mosaic Law was to sound an assembly of God’s people, to gather them all before God.
Q: What is this a greater picture of?
A: The Millennial Reign of Christ when He will return with the Raptured—those referred to at the outset in 26:20-21, and join Israel and those remaining from the judgment of the nations described in the Olivet Discourse as the separation of the sheep and the goats.
Application: God has a plan to bring all His people from every nation into direct worship of Him in that day.
Here we have been provided a basic outline of the major events involved in “the end of the age”:
The Rapture to exempt the Church from God’s wrath;
The final disposition of Satan and Antichrist;
The spiritual restoration of ethnic Israel;
The threshing of God’s people in preparation of the Last Days;
The Millennial Reign of Christ.
That which is provided in New Testament Scripture is not brand new, but confirming what was previously revealed in Old Testament instances such as this.