Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species forest mint
Today’s Passage: Isaiah 27
At first read, it seems to me like Isaiah 27 is all over the place. We’ve got Leviathan, we’ve got a vineyard, then we’ve got judgment and forgiveness in the same breath and…women making a fire from the broken-off limbs of a calf? I’m not sure how to bring it all together, so I’m just gonna hit it point-by-point and see what we get.
Right out the gate we have Leviathan, the sea monster who also makes an appearance in Job and the Psalms. Isaiah states, “In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent…and He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea” (27:1). Based on Isaiah’s overall thrust, I’m inclined to infer that Leviathan represents a nation with substantial naval power, maybe a callback to Tyre in chapter 23.
Next, remember the banquet God held in chapter 25? Here we see the vineyard where he gets his wine. God protects his vineyard diligently and dispassionately, saying: “I have no wrath. Should someone give Me briars and thorns in battle, then I would step on them, I would burn them completely” (27:4). Stomping and burning an intruder who aims to ruin your vineyard might sound like wrath, but I take God’s statement to mean that he’s not taking vengeance out of emotion. He’s simply guarding the vineyard. And he offers an alternative to the prospective intruder: “Or let him rely on My protection, let him make peace with Me” (27:5). Back down from your plans to sow thorny weeds, says God, and the vineyard owner will spare you.
The vineyard is Israel, God’s chosen people. Isaiah says, “Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit” (27:6). God is nurturing his nation so that they can bring something good to the entire earth. Remember God’s promise to Abraham, “[I]n you all the families of the earth will be blessed?” (Genesis 12:3). Isaiah is giving us a metaphorical picture of the blessing, in which the children of Abraham are a vineyard producing fruit for everyone. I can’t help but think of Jesus Christ, who described the wine as his own blood at the Last Supper: “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28). The greatest gift that I can imagine for a world in danger of devouring itself through its own evil? Salvation. Freedom from the tyranny of its own darkness. And that’s what God is promising in this image of the vineyard.
I’m still not sure what’s going on with the women and that calf, though.