Isaiah 26:20-27:13 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In Isaiah 27:2 (printed below), what imagery does the Lord use? What is His ultimate purpose for His people? In other words, what does “the wine” represent?

On that day there shall be a vineyard that produces wine—sing about it! (Isaiah 27:2)

In Isaiah 27:2, using the imagery of a vineyard, the Lord reveals His final purpose for His people, namely, that we should become “a vineyard that produces wine.” Just as a well-cultivated vineyard finally produces a bountiful harvest of grapes from which is made an abundance of quality wine, so the Lord shall cause our lives to be finally and eternally filled with the good fruit of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Hebrew text literally reads: “On that day, a vineyard of wine—sing of it!” The terse language conveys a sudden, surprising and delightful final result: Christ’s careful, painstaking work of sanctifying His church shall finally produce the blessed result of presenting to Himself a beautiful bride.

2. How does the Lord describe His relationship to His people who are portrayed as His “vineyard?” See Isaiah 27:3-4a (printed below)

I, Jehovah, am its caretaker; I will water it continually. I will guard it day and night so that no one can harm it. (4) I am not angry. (Isaiah 27:3-4a)

In verse 3 the Lord publicly pledges His protective care and provision for His vineyard (i.e.; His people): “I, Jehovah, am its caretaker; I will water it continually. I will guard it day and night so that no one can harm it.” As a Christian, you can have confidence in the Lord’s promises of His watchful care and faithfulness. In verse 4a the Lord publicly proclaims the state of peace that exists between Himself and His vineyard (i.e.; His people): “I am not angry.” The Lord has no wrath against His people, note Romans 8:1, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

3. Isaiah 27:8 (printed below) is speaking about the Lord’s chastening (disciplining) work carried out in the lives of His people. What are some of the characteristics of this work?

With carefully measured blows you drive them away, and so you contend with them—with his fierce blast he drives them out, like a day when the east wind blows. (Isaiah 27:8)

Verse 8a indicates that the Lord’s chastening of His people is carefully measured out (literally, “in measure by measure”): nothing less than what is needed, but nothing more than what is required. Verse 8b indicates that at times the Lord may, indeed, find it necessary to administer a severe measure of chastening/discipline: “you drive them away, and so you contend with them—with his fierce blast he drives them out, like a day when the east wind blows.” The imagery is that of the Lord bringing a severe and devastating storm against His people, one that sweeps them away from their present state of complacency and commitment to their sins. These severe measures are required on those occasions when a child of God knows he is doing wrong, knows that God is calling him to repent, and yet he continues to stubbornly persist in his sin. Verse 8 indicates that the Lord’s chastening/disciplining is a form of contending with us: “you contend with them.” It is a very real striving against us as we clutch tightly to our sins and thus set ourselves in opposition to God (cp. James 4:4). But at the same time the Lord’s chastening is also a very real striving for us with the intention of pulling us out of our sinful actions and pulling such attitudes out of us (note Psalm 32:4a,5).

4. What result does the Lord’s chastening, or disciplining, produce in the lives of His people? See Isaiah 27:9b (printed below) Note: In verse 9b Jacob (i.e.; Israel) is portrayed as pulverizing the stones of his idolatrous altars.

…he will make all the stones of the altar to become like chalk stones that have been crushed to pieces. No Asherah poles or sun images will be left standing. (Isaiah 27:9b)

Verse 9b indicates how we may tell when the chastening work of the Lord has accomplished its intended purpose. As indicated, Jacob is portrayed as pulverizing the stones of his idolatrous altars, reducing them to powder. Consequently, “No Asherah poles or sun images will be left standing.” That is to say, there is a true and total forsaking of his sins, a total forsaking of those things that provoke the Lord to anger. The evidence that the Lord’s chastening work has achieved its desired result is when there is repentance and reformation in the lives of His people. Note: after the initial work of “pulverizing” our sins, there is a lot of “debris” to be cleaned up—i.e.; the work of sanctification, the repentance of sin and conformity to the image of Christ, is an ongoing, lifelong activity, an activity that requires our dependence upon the Holy Spirit (note Romans 8:13).

5. Contrast the Lord’s chastening (disciplining) work carried on in the lives of His people with the measures He finally takes against the world. See Isaiah 27:10-11 (printed below) Note: The world of sinful mankind is portrayed here as a “once fortified city.”

The once fortified city now stands empty, a dwelling place that is now desolate and forsaken, like the wilderness. The calves will graze there; they will lie down there and feed on its branches. (11) When its limbs become dry, they will be broken off; women will come and use them for firewood. This will be their fate because they are a people who have no understanding. Therefore, he who made them will have no compassion on them, and he who formed them will show them no favor. (Isaiah 27:10-11)

Verses 10-11 contrast the chastening of the Lord’s people with the final punishment of the unrepentant sinner. The Lord’s chastening ultimately produces the response of repentance and change in the lives of His people (see verse 9b). But upon “a people who have no understanding” (verse 11) the Lord finally executes judgment, total and devastating. Verse 10 again employs the imagery of a fortified city that has been conquered and left as desolate as a wilderness: the cattle now come and eat the foliage of this wilderness, causing the boughs of the trees to wither and break off; then the women come and gather up the dry sticks for firewood—so total and devastating is the final judgment of God upon sinful mankind. Verse 11 gives the reason for this devastating judgment: “because they are a people who have no understanding.” Note: the Hebrew word that has the meaning of “to understand,” also has the meaning “to discern,” “to mark,” “to heed/to pay attention.” The point is that God’s judgment is falling upon a people who are incorrigible and undiscerning, they refuse to recognize that the temporal judgments of God are intended to lead them to repentance, they stubbornly persist in their sins until they are finally consigned by God to final judgment (note Romans 2:4-5).