Isaiah 5:1-7 (NRSV)
5Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
“What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?” In this question we hear God’s anguish over the breach that has come between God and God’s chosen people Israel. Despite God’s steadfast faithfulness, Israel has not responded as they ought. Where God expects justice, Israel produces bloodshed. Where God expects righteousness, there is only an outcry.
The accusations in God’s indictment still apply today. Still today justice is perverted, as those who have little are exploited by the powerful. Still today victims of oppression cry out for relief. And still today we whom God chose in baptism fail to produce the justice and righteousness that God expects.
However, God’s faithfulness is not overcome by our unfaithfulness. Though God accuses and condemns us in our sin, God remains faithful to the promise of forgiveness given in our baptisms. We need not hide our guilt, for we know that God’s final word to us will not be one of wrath, but of mercy.
God of justice, open my eyes to the ways I fail to love you and my neighbor, and strengthen my heart to trust in your mercy, through Jesus Christ. Amen.