Tucked into the hills of North Carolina is a campground that has been under the watchful, squinty eye and command of an 88 year-old lady. Abigail (not her real name) is laid back and nice, but she has her rules, runs her place by what she reads in the Bible and doesn’t put up with anybody who doesn’t like that. We spent a night there, along with maybe 200 other campers. It was a little slice of heaven, nothing like inner, what-used-to-be-a-city, Detroit. You don’t want to set up your tent there. I know I’m painting with too wide a brush, and there are exceptions for sure, but the big difference between Abigail’s place and inner-city Detroit is that Abby respects the ways of God and the gangs on the streets of Detroit do not.
It might seem that the old-fashioned, Southern, campground lady, bound up with her Bible principles isn’t as free as the folks who go ahead and do whatever they feel like doing in Detroit. But in reality, the opposite is true. Abigail’s respect for God’s operating instructions for His garden allows her to breathe free. I know, I know: there are a whole bunch of “yeah-buts” with which you could poke holes in that comparison, but the point I’m trying to make is true. God isn’t trying to restrict us with His rules and principles, but set us free to make the most out of life. Those who don’t pay attention, or who deliberately thumb their noses at God will ultimately be hurt by what they do. That is the point of Isaiah 5 (This topic begins here.).
The next four “Woe’s,” next four things that make God mad, from Isaiah 5, sound like they are critiques of our current culture. I won’t quote them here; read them for yourself and see how close they fit. God is angered by:
Verse 18-19 – People who put real effort into doing things God forbids and by their actions ridicule God
Verse 20 – People who say that evil is good, and vice versa.
Verse 21 – People who think they are smarter than God and that they know better
Verse 22 – Corrupt officials who peddle influence and deny justice to those who are not connected
Sound familiar? Our culture is shot through with all of them! The people who do these things think they are being smart, squeezing the most out of life. Fact is, they are missing out, lurking about in Detroit when they could be having lemonade at Abigail’s place. Here’s what God says lies in store:
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. (Isaiah 5:24-25)