In chapter 15 we are given a parable. I love when the Savior teaches us through a parable.
Vs. 1 The "well-beloved" is Jesus Christ. He has a great love for His vineyard (us). The very fruitful hill is latter-day Israel, or the chosen land named America.
Vs. 2 Consider "vine" to represent our ancestors coming to America. The Lord says, "I wanted sweet grapes, but I got bitter ones...." The tower He built is the prophets He provides to teach, guide, direct, and protect us. The wine-press refers to the working of the atonement.
Vs. 4 The Lord says, "What more could I have done? I gave you freedom and resources to do good things, but you have used it to do filthy and evil things!" Hello!
Vs. 5 "I will stop protecting you, and you will see what is going to happen to you (latter-day Israel) because of it..." AH!!!! Scary!
Vs. 6-7 The Lord looks for a righteous Israel, but sadly, she is out partying. He has given her so many good things, but she is using them as an excuse for the worst kinds of sin. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we never learn? IO worry about that sometimes.
In the next portion of this chapter, we are given six "wo's"... six things that Israel is doing. How do they apply to US?
WO #1... vs. 8 Maybe this “wo” is referring to the greed that exists in business… large businesses snapping up smaller one in an effort to “own it all.” They wanted EVERYTHING! Drive the little guys out! Gain has come through oppression.
Vs. 9- At that time a bath was just six gallons (not talking about Calgon take me away here) ... Not a very good harvest. The ephah was said to be equivalent to a bath; one-tenth of a homer, a homer was said to be ten ephahs (in American terms... about six-and- a-half bushels.) Again, not a very good harvest... oops. There will be very few righteous hearts to harvest. I want in that bushel.
WO #2... vs.11-12 Maybe this is the “Party” wo. No spiritual life is there in Israel. She (Israel) is just worried about having a good time. "It doesn't get better than this!"
Vs. 13 This scripture suggests what this kind of lifestyle leads to... captivity! Duh! Addiction anyone? Also, this scripture is saying that although they are feasting on this lifestyle, in reality they are famished and starving.
Vs. 14 This is what all the commercials are missing… the after story. They just don't show it on television because it shows what's awaiting those who don't heed this wo. In this verse Isaiah is being poetic again... he compares hell to a snake. Funny… I couldn’t agree more! LOL! What can a snake do when it opens up it's jaws? It can enlarge itself by devouring her prey. Those who do not heed this wo are dancing and singing and drinking themselves right into hell. Sadly, they often drag their friends with them.
Vs. 15 Remember that the "mean man" is the average man.
WO #3... vs. 18 Those who wish to eat, drink, and be merry don't want to worry about God. They are depicted in this verse as being an ass or ox, hooked up to a cart which is loaded with sin, and they are pulling it along. I’m tired just thinking about it. Sin is so much work!
Vs. 19 There is a flippant criticism about sin coming from Isaiah here. The rope mentioned in v18 is vanity. Israel thinks she's a know-it- all. "I'm going to hold on to my sins until you, God, can prove to me that I should let go of them. The sarcasm here is that even an ox and ass is desirous to be unhooked from the harness so that they can stop pulling their load. Man is dumber than an animal because he doesn't want to be unhooked until God comes and shows him the error of his ways. Why do we do that to ourselves? Sometimes I have to wonder about myself and my instance on having “proof.”
WO #4... vs 20 This flippant attitude makes it hard to discern what good is. Continue on living like this and pretty soon you won't be able to tell the difference between darkness and light, good and evil, bitter and sweet! Our spiritual nerves become numb. Maybe this is that spiritual hardening of the heart until the heart fails. Israel doesn't have a clue! She really thinks that evil is good! Isaiah would say, "How can you think that darkness is light, that sweet is bitter, that evil is right?" Simple questions… yet we often deceive ourselves because we want our cake and to eat it too.
WO #5... vs. 21 They want to impose their own standards and realities. "We don't NEED prophets... we don't NEED commandments! We know it all already!”
Vs. 22 "Wo to those who associate drink with masculinity!" Actually, I can’t think of anyone more childish than a drunk.
WO #6... vs. 23 Isaiah says, "Israel, you want to establish your own moral code so that you can condemn the righteous..."
Vs. 24 Israel casts away the law of the Lord of Hosts and says, "We just don't LIKE the ten commandments, Lord, and we want to write our own commandments... and we don't want to write them on slabs of stone... we want to use erasers so that we can change them whenever we feel the need… whenever it is convenient to meet our needs. And the first commandment we will write is, "THOU SHALT BE TOLERANT!" Thou shalt be tolerant of immorality, greed, dishonesty, etc...
Vs. 25 As a church, what are we going to do when faced with such a world as this? We are given the answer in v26...
Vs. 26 An ensign is a battle flag. We are going to ATTACK!!! If we are going to read chapter 15 as a warning from Isaiah, we will hear him saying, "Israel is doing all of these things, so God is going to call a foreign army that is unstoppable. Babylon and Assyria won't stand a chance because this army is coming to take such sin away. What is that foreign military army which is coming? It is the entire restoration of the Church in the latter-days... We can apply all of this to today. The world is doing all of these wicked things, so the Lord is going to send an army against them... an army of young men and women and old couples who go about spreading the word of the gospel! An army of member missionaries sharing the church with their friends. When ancient Israel was destroyed, what happened to the soldiers? Some were killed, some were taken captive, some were lost, some were scattered, some retreated. If you are lost and all of a sudden you hear the trumpet call and look toward it, you will find the battle flag and will gather there. When the Lord sounds His battle call, do we hear Him?
"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” (Joseph Smith, "History of the Church," 4:540.)
In vs. 26 the Lord says, "I'm going to raise the standard of truth and My army will come! They will come swift and they won't get tired!"
Vs. 27 The girding the loins is like making a little diaper out of one's robes while wearing them. They would grab the back of their robes and pull it forward between their legs. Then they would tuck this part which was brought forward into their belts. Thus they were prepared to get to work and not let their clothing get in the way. These be working clothes.
Vs. 28 "Bent" means strong and ready ... in other words, these young missionaries who are going out to battle are ready!
Vs. 29-30 Regarding "roaring"... When an army went out to attack, what did they do? They roared! It is the same for the missionaries... as they go out to attack the wickedness of the world, they sound the war-cry! They are coming and they are NOT going to be stopped!