I love the first part of this chapter where Isaiah refers to the church as God’s vineyard:
2 “In that day we will sing of the pleasant vineyard. 3 I, the LORD, will watch over it and tend its fruitful vines. Each day I will water them; day and night I will watch to keep enemies away. 4 My anger against Israel will be gone. If I find briers and thorns bothering her, I will burn them up. 5 These enemies will be spared only if they surrender and beg for peace and protection.” 6 The time is coming when my people will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with her fruit!
I found it interesting how the church’s enemies (Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus, Pharoah) are referred to as Leviathan (or dragon):
1 In that day the LORD will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent, the dragon of the sea.
The explanation of God’s redemption of His church in the remainder of this chapter makes so much sense. He has punished Israel (church) for her rebellion, but “just a little” compared to how He will deal with those who have persecuted her:
7 Has the LORD punished Israel in the same way he has punished her enemies? No, for he devastated her enemies, 8 but he has punished Israel only a little. He has exiled her from her land as though blown away in a storm from the east. 9 The LORD did this to purge away Israel’s sin. When he has finished, all the pagan altars will be crushed to dust. There won’t be an Asherah pole or incense altar left standing.
It just goes to show His love for His people – you and me. There are consequences for our choices. Sin cannot go unpunished. However, God’s judgement towards His beloved is for the purpose of redemption and restoration (mercy and grace). His judgement towards those who tear down the church is devestating and complete for the purpose of punishment and justice.
When I think about how this applies to my own life, I can only cry out to God with thanksgiving and praise. Where would I be without His love and grace? His correction is sweet and His judgement is merciful towards those who love Him.
The really good news in light of all this, is that He will crush our enemies. He will fight for us. We only need to trust and obey. There will be no dragons in our garden!