The poor crops (Hag 2:16-2:17)

“‘How did you fare?

When one came

To a heap

Of twenty measures,

There were but ten.

When one came

To the wine vat

To draw fifty measures,

There were but twenty.

I struck you!

I struck all the products

Of your toil

With blight,

With mildew,

With hail!

Yet you did not return

To me!’

Says Yahweh.”

Haggai has this oracle of Yahweh about their poor crops.  When they were expecting 20 measures of a crop, they only got 10 measures.  When they were expecting 50 measures for the wine vat, they only got 20.  Thus, even when they had some crops in the fields, they were below expectations.  Yahweh had struck them and all their products.  Despite their hard labor, their crops were hit with blight, mildew, and hail.  Why did this happen?  They had not returned to Yahweh, pure and simple.

The day of reckoning (Ezek 39:8-39:8)

“‘It has come!

It has happened.’

Says Yahweh God!

‘This is the day

Of which

I have spoken.’”

This day of reckoning represents a prime example of apocalyptic literature. The day that they were expecting has come. This is the day that Yahweh had been talking about. The future is now.

The useless Pharaoh cannot help (Ezek 17:17-17:18)

“Pharaoh,

With his mighty army,

With his great company,

Will not help him

In war.

When ramps are cast up

With siege walls built

To cut off many lives,

It is difficult.

Because he despised

The oath.

He broke the covenant.

Because he gave

His hand.

Yet he did

All these things.

He shall not escape.”

If the King of Judah, King Zedekiah, was expecting big things from the Egyptian Pharaoh, he was going to be disappointed. Even Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company would not be able to help him in a war, where there were so many ramps and siege walls. The king of Judah had despised his oath and broken his covenant with the King of Babylon. He had given his hand. Yet he did all these things. Thus he was not going to escape.

The great gathering (Jer 31:7-31:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Sing aloud with gladness

For Jacob!

Raise shouts

For the chief of the nations!

Proclaim!

Give praise!

Say!

‘Save!

O Yahweh!

Your people!

The remnant of Israel!’

See!

I am going to bring them

From the north country.

I am going to gather them

From the farthest parts of the earth.

Among them will be

The blind,

The lame,

Those with child,

Those in labor,

Together,

A great company.

They shall return here.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wants everyone to sing out loud and be glad for Jacob. They should shout out with joy as they proclaim and praise Yahweh. The people should ask Yahweh to save the remnant of its people. Yahweh was going to return all his people from the lands of the north, as well as from all over the earth, wherever they were. This would include the blind and the lame, women with children and those expecting. Everyone would come together in a great gathering of people as they returned home.

Yahweh’s vineyard (Isa 5:7-5:7)

“The vineyard of Yahweh of hosts

Is the house of Israel.

The people of Judah

Are his pleasant planting.

He expected justice.

But he saw bloodshed!

He expected righteousness.

But he heard a cry!”

Isaiah is clear about explaining this song of the vineyard. This vineyard is the house of Israel, and in particular the people of Judah. Yahweh was expecting justice and righteousness from his pleasant planting in the vineyard. However, all he saw and heard was bloodshed and crying. These wild grapes were very disconcerting.

The song of the vineyard (Isa 5:1-5:2)

“Let me sing

For my beloved.

My love song

Concerns his vineyard.

My beloved had

A vineyard

On a very fertile hill.

He dug it out.

He cleared it of stones.

He planted it

With choice vines.

He built a watchtower

In the midst of it.

He hewed out

A wine vat in it.

He expected it

To yield grapes.

But it yielded wild grapes.”

The allegory about a vineyard can be found among many other biblical prophets and even Jesus Christ himself. Either this was at the beginning of Isaiah’s prophetic career, or it was part of the festival of booths. Certainly it was a song about a friend’s vineyard, a common biblical theme. Isaiah was singing for his beloved friend, who had a vineyard on a fertile hill. This friend of Isaiah’s took great care to get this vineyard ready. He dug out stones and planted choice vines. He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also. He was expecting good grapes, but he only got wild grapes. Clearly, he did not get what he expected.

The importance of words (Prov 25:11-25:13)

“A word fitly spoken

Is like apples of gold

In a setting of silver.

Like a gold ring,

Like an ornament of gold,

Is a wise rebuke to a listening ear.

Like the cold of snow,

In the time of harvest,

Are faithful messengers

To those who send them.

They refresh the spirit of their masters.”

A fit correct word spoken at the right time is like a golden setting in silver, like a golden ring, or an ornament of gold. In other words, to say the right word at the right time is important. This can be like a wise rebuke to someone who will take it to heart, if they are listening. The right word sent at the right time is like a cold snow at harvest time or like a faithful messenger. Both refresh the spirit of the one working in the field or the one expecting some news.