Six woes are listed in Isaiah 5:8-23 for the condition of the people of the nation of Judah in his day. At the conclusion of those woes is the expressed judgment of God: destruction. But even this declaration is not enough, see verse 25:
For all this His anger is not spent, but His hand is still stretched out.
He continues this decree of judgment and declares God will bring foreign people against Judah for the definite purpose of destroying them. History proves these judgments were accurate and carried out by Assyria.
Of importance is the reason for these judgments, six clearly spelled out woes (Isaiah 5:8-23).
A woe is a sorrowful cry expressing grief, calamity and affliction. I am suggesting American society is mirroring such woes presently, and the implications may be different than you think.
West Hollywood clambered over itself to award porn star Stormy Daniels the key to its city. The gushing faces of the men who encircled her revealed their glee at what they ignorantly promoted as honor. We really need to stop and think about this before we move on. An American city honored a porn star with a key to its city.
Isaiah 5:20 in the New American version:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
A woman who makes a hefty salary for selling sex (also known as a prostitute), has been awarded a societal award symbolizing access and authority over a city. … And they have called this event good.
The upper social echelons have applauded this. The heads of authority for the city have orchestrated this. Honor has been bestowed to a disgraceful and shameful occupational leader. People who are honored with keys to cities are supposed to be examples, role models, people we look up to and emulate. Are porn stars the new role models?
The history of Israel is for our education. It’s a playbook of sorts of the status of a nation under the rule of the law of God. We’re supposed to learn from it. What we should understand from the beginning is Israel was formed as a witness to the world. Israel’s witness was one of submission and obedience to God in a world that rebelled against God. God put Israel under the law to make a distinction between a people who followed God’s law(s) and a people who did not. Israel was a witness to the non-believing world.
We must understand this.
God established this in the days of Moses when He declared to the children of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, set apart from the other nations. God called them His “peculiar treasure”. This is reiterated in Deuteronomy 14:2, 26:18 and Psalm 135:4. In Exodus 9:4, God made the first distinction between Israel and the world (i.e. Egypt – the world power at the time). This distinction continued intermittently throughout Israel’s history.
When Israel ceased to follow God’s laws and be the witness to the world of a people who follow God’s law, Israel simply ceased to exist as a nation. [The people of Israel were scattered and the nation ceased to exist.] What we should understand is God is very concerned about the world. In fact, He is so concerned for the lostness of the world that He established a witness to the world of how to find Him, how to walk with Him, how to be known by Him. From Abraham to Christ, Israel was this witness. After the dispersion of Israel and Judah, they became witnesses as a people being disciplined by God, no longer in favor with Him or representative of Him.
Enter Christ. Christ came to God’s peculiar treasure, His Kingdom of priests, His holy nation, and brought the opportunity for their renewed position with God. Only this time, it wasn’t going to be as a separate nation. Some responded; some didn’t.
When Moses laid down the law, one of the laws of God laid out was that the “evidence of two witnesses” was necessary to establish the verity of wickedness. Two or three witnesses must be able to validate a crime of evil before the punishment is allowed, in God’s eyes. (See Deuteronomy 17:6)
Christ expanded this in Matthew 18:16 when He declared that every word must be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses. (in the context of sin or wickedness being accused) Paul attested to this again in 2 Corinthians 13:1.
This is reiterated in 1 Timothy 5:19 when Paul admonishes the church to not accept any accusations against an elder unless it is on the basis of two or three witnesses.
In Isaiah 8:2, God calls out two witnesses for Himself: Uriah and Zechariah. These witnesses would substantiate the coming judgment of Assyria.
In Isaiah 43 God demands the nations to produce their witnesses of ancient truths, and then declares that the children of Israel are His witnesses of His character.
The importance of witnesses unto critical matters cannot be overstated. God not only requires witnesses, but also provides witnesses in matters He wants firmly established (see Deut 30:19). It is a matter of law.
If you’ll keep in mind Israel was God’s witness to the world pre-Christ, please see who God calls the same today:
—Acts 1:8 NASU
“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
—Titus 2:13-14 NASU
“…Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
—1 Peter 2:9-10 NASU
“…But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
God told Israel they were to Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. God told the followers of Christ the same thing.
Let’s bring this full circle.
John tells us in Revelation 1:6 that we who follow Christ are this: “…and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father…”
The new song that was sung to Christ on the Throne in Revelation 5:10 says: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
The reason the woes of Isaiah 5 could be quite pivotal today is because God doesn’t deal with nations quite the same way He dealt with ancient Israel. Because the grace of Christ has enabled every follower of Christ to be His Kingdom and priests to God, His discipline for His children is individual, not necessarily national. (Don’t misunderstand me. God still deals with nations, but His treasured possession is now in the followers of Christ, so He deals with His possession differently than He did ancient Israel.)
The reason this is so important is because His children are His witnesses. Wherever they are. And evil is its own witness, but it has to be brought out in the open. By God’s own law, matters of wickedness (crime) must be established by witnesses.
Let me put it another way. Christ taught a parable about the wheat and the tares (recorded in Matthew 13). The wheat represents the righteous and the tares the wicked. The master gave the directive to allow them to grow together until the harvest, where they would be separated then. This is telling in that wheat and tares look alike or similar enough that it is difficult to discern until their maturation. When they fully mature their differences are evident. It is the maturity of righteousness that exposes the maturity of wickedness, but they are growing simultaneously. When both are fully evident, the harvest is at hand. The two are then separated and handled accordingly.
We have a nation, even a worldwide society, where wickedness no longer hides. It is being brought forth unashamedly, and in many cases as though it is “good”. The fruits of evil are mature. It’s not that pedophilia, sexual sins, government corruption and injustice haven’t existed on the earth before now. It’s that their works were still young and in large part hidden in past generations. Because we’re seeing an increase in prolific unrighteousness and wickedness is an indicator of the season we’re in. Revelation 14:14-20 tells of the harvest of the earth. An angel called aloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
When the tares (evil) and wheat (righteous) are fully mature, they are ripe. Their identity is no longer in question. When God’s children have been God’s witness to a world in opposition to God, the law can be implemented. Justice can occur. The harvest is at hand.
We can learn from the lessons recorded for national Israel. Six woes brought the final dismantling of Judah, (the last dispersion of the national witness). Look at them carefully, but when you do, look at this list with the wicked of the world in mind:
- Materialism and covetousness —Isaiah 8:8-10
Increasing material goods, avarice. This is the insatiable desire of gain, greed at its worse. (Think Rothschild, British royalty, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Soros, Bilderberg, politicians, oil industry, incessant wars, the billionaires of the world…)
- Debauchery on steroids —Isaiah 8:11-17
Excessive parties, drinking, music, entertainment, disregard for God, irreverent to God’s works. (Basically the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Here are the Eppstein Island retreats, the Lolita Express, Bohemian Grove, etc. These people party hard and immorally, accessorizing their activities with the entertainment stars. Entertainment is their god, indulgence in lust is their god. However they can satisfy the cravings of the flesh is their objective. They eat whatever they want, drink whatever they want, have sex with whoever or whatever they want. They have utterly no regard for God or the things of God.)
- Ever increasing sin, promoting sin deceitfully, mocking God. —Isaiah 8:18-19
I particularly like the Message’s version* of the third woe: Doom [woe] to you who use lies to sell evil, who haul sin to market by the truckload… Doesn’t this just reek of the media? The entertainment industry? The educational system’s indoctrination? (Consider how they promote their pet sins as natural and normal. They formulate programs and creeds to further their social progress. They attack any stands against them and declare the opposition is the error. They parade rebellion of authority to any standards of righteousness as though it’s a service to society and their duty to disregard, disrespect and disobey righteous authority. They are caught in lies but not held accountable. They mock the judgment of God. They mock those who adhere to God’s standards.)
- Perverting and confounding righteousness. —Isaiah 8:20
Calling what is evil good, and what is good evil. Perverting, twisting, contorting, and making righteousness an affront, mocking or criminalizing common sense and wisdom, elevating debased individuals (like porn stars) and putting down, criminalizing or abusing righteous individuals (like Christians or Christian-based principles). Praising darkness (sexual sins, debauchery), trying to shut down light (truth tellers and seekers).
- Pride, haughtiness, self-conceit. —Isaiah 8:21
Unwilling to be instructed. Inflated false opinion of own knowledge. These people think their “knowledge” is superior. It is often occult knowledge, satanic, Kabbalah, Talmud, etc. but also indoctrination and alternative teachings. (Think spirit cooking, Marina Abramovich, Madonnna/Beyonce/JayZ/Katy Perry new age and occult symbolisms in performances at the upper levels, but can also be professors, journalists, politicians, authors, entertainers, etc.) Godless theories, science, “higher learning”, etc. Completely unable and unwilling to be taught otherwise, to have their own beliefs challenged, to consider they could be deceived or in error. They believe they are “enlightened” and the common man is not.
- Champions at heavy drinking (repeated). Injustice in the court systems and public government. Unjust magistrates who can be bought and who deny justice to the righteous. —Isaiah 8:22-25
These are the corrupt police, the lawyers and judges, the court systems, the politicians, the parole officers, even the teachers and principals who are paid off to pervert justice. Who have their own ideals and stomp those with different ideals. They let the guilty go free and condemn the innocent. These are the child workers in the foster care system, the nonprofit organizers who steal and pervert the law, (think the Clinton Foundation, Haiti, the dead witnesses). The list goes on and on…
So when we take into account the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11, things should start to make more sense. The very best interpretation I’ve heard is the two witnesses are the Christian Church and the Jewish Church. (The real Torah keepers – not the pretend Jews.)
Without getting into theological debate, just understand that the Two Witnesses of Revelation are said to be the two olive trees and two lampstands that stand before the Lord in verse four. Israel (blood seed of Abraham) is depicted as the Olive Tree in Jeremiah 11 and Romans 11. The Church is depicted as an olive tree grafted in Romans 11. Lampstands (or candlesticks) are already deciphered as churches in Revelation 1:20.
The two witnesses are the two bodies of believers, sent to the world as a witness unto God. Remember Matthew 24:14? “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
The Gospel is simply the “good news”, and the good news of the kingdom is the witness to the nations. By God’s law, the wicked must have a witness unto their deeds. God ordained two witnesses which encompass the body of believers on the earth: true Christians and true Jews. These two witnesses have been growing alongside the tares until maturity. At their maturity, they will be known, identifiable. Then they will be harvested. Which is why Paul writes in Philippians 2:15, “… so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…” Lights are individual. (i.e. Believers) Lampstands are containers for light. (i.e. Church) Believers are in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (i.e. age) – in the midst of tares – and stand out as witnesses to that generation, but not fully recognizable until maturity (which happens over the age/generation).
I’m going to reiterate this for emphasis.
We’re witnessing the maturing of wickedness. The examples are abundant. When you see things like a porn star being honored with authority and recognition, the wheat and tares are being separated. They are almost mature, which means the harvest is at hand.
For two thousand years believers have been the lights in a crooked and perverse generation. The Christian and Jewish Church have been the vehicle for witness unto the nations. Up until now, the deeds of wickedness have remained mostly cloaked. A porn star may have been given public service honor in the past, but her identity and occupation would have been hidden or disguised. Child rapists, traffickers and murderers have existed in the past two thousand years, but today they are boldly depicting their actions in movies, music, at parties, in symbolism, and yes, in emails. Look at the woes of Isaiah 5 again. See if the elements of them can’t be found in the wicked of today.
The righteous and wicked deeds are maturing before us. For centuries the Church has built hospitals and orphanages and food banks and hospices and schools. The Church has bound the wounds of society, proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, and built the Kingdom right alongside the kingdom of darkness. The wheat and the tares have been growing alongside each other, but now the tares are becoming recognizable. The more stark the contrast between the wicked and the righteous, the closer we are to the harvest. May righteousness shine bright.
• (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
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