The prophet wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20). These are actually God’s words. He is talking specifically about the nation of Israel. Earlier in the chapter He refers to them as a vineyard that He planted and cultivated, only to have it produce “wild grapes” instead of “good grapes” (vs. 1-7). The allusion is clear. God raised up Israel to be His own people, the people through whom the Savior would come into the world. He gave them His law, taught them, guided them, fought their battles for them, blessed them richly, made them a great nation. Instead of Israel remaining the righteous, faithful people of God, they turned away from God and worshipped idols. They rejected His law and made up their own, followed their own will instead of submitting to His. Ultimately, God allowed their enemies to conquer them and take them into captivity. As a result of their sin they suffered disgrace as a nation.
The key is the profound truth in the warning above. A nation wherein evil is commonly called good, and good evil, is a nation in serious danger of self destruction. Israel had reached that point. They accepted wrong as being right. They saw darkness as light and light as darkness. The bitter of life became sweet to them and the sweet bitter. Israel was not a nation where some people did some wrong things. She became a nation where evil was preferred over good.
“Light” is used by the apostle John to symbolically represent God and godliness (1 Jn. 1:5). Sin is represented by the figure “darkness” in that context. John states, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Darkness is literally the absence of light. Where there is light darkness cannot abide. Just so, sin cannot abide in the light of godliness. Godliness exposes sin to be sin. Godliness is such a contrast to sinfulness that it is like a brilliant spot light being turned on in a dark room. The darkness flees. Darkness can only prevail by expelling all light.
Isa. 5:20 describes a nation where the darkness of evil became victorious, a nation in which evil became so totally victorious that it was pronounced as being good. Good was seen as being evil. Such a scenario means total victory for evil. It is a situation where things are turned absolutely on their heads, everything is upside down!
But the tragic truth is that people in that kind of situation often do not recognize what has taken place. Everything looks normal to them. They do not see things as being out of kilter. They have so totally accepted the abnormal, the subnormal, that it looks normal to them.
Our nation is coming to pretty well fits Isaiah’s description of things. Increasingly our society is accepting the message they are steadily being told- that evil is good, and good is evil! Any who call attention to wrong are shouted into submission, their voices are silenced. Standing firm on righteous principles is portrayed as extreme, even eccentric. And most of the righteous among us seem to contribute to the problem by simply saying nothing in opposition to what is happening. We sit on the sidelines watching, but doing nothing to stop the digression. When we believe we can do nothing to stop what is happening, we’ve already given up, and we’ve already been beaten by our sworn enemy, the devil. Pray God it will not be so in our land. Pray God that we wake up and speak up before what the prophet wrote of Israel totally becomes our reality…
Gary L. Hutchens