And 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.
Isaiah 5:5 (NRSV)
One of the more fascinating aspects of our recent vacation on the island of Kauai was being introduced to the wild chickens that roam the entire island. Feral chickens are literally everywhere on the island. It’s a rather humorous thing to see, though it’s not so funny when they all start crowing together in the wee hours before dawn!
As Wendy and I walked along the ocean to the coffee shop in Kapa’a we noticed one property which we regularly passed. It was surrounded by a chain-link fence, which was a rather rare sight in those neighborhoods. We both assumed that it was, in part, to reduce the wild chickens from running free on the property, but the numerous “No Trespassing” signs made it clear that the fence was also about keeping tourists from cutting through the yard on their way to town.
In today’s chapter, the prophet Isaiah gives a word picture in which the people of God were a beloved vineyard intended to provide God with ripe fruit for his good pleasure. Around the vineyard was a hedge, the ancient version of a fence, which provided protection to vineyard. When the the vineyard produced wild grape, the hedge was removed. Protection was lifted and the vineyard was exposed to be raided. It was a prophetic warning. Jerusalem was eventually ransacked by the Babylonians.
Wendy and I often debate our present day concerns between government surveillance protecting our safety and infringing on our right to privacy. Wendy’s argument is always, “If I’m not doing anything wrong I have nothing to worry about.” That’s similar to what Isaiah was getting at. Consistently doing the right thing is like having a fence of protection around myself. I have less worries and anxieties. It’s when I willfully do the wrong things that I expose myself to all sorts of chaos.
featured image: walkingf via flickr