By: Gary L. Hutchens
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). God is speaking specifically about the nation of Israel in this text. 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, His word. He taught them, guided them, fought their battles for them, blessed them richly and made them a great nation. But instead of Israel remaining the righteous people that God instructed them to be, they turned away from God and worshipped idols. They rejected His law and made up their own. Consequently, God allowed their enemies to conquer them and take them into captivity. Israel suffered disgrace as a nation.
A nation wherein evil is commonly called good, and good evil, is a nation in serious danger of self destruction. Israel reached that point. They came to accept wrong as being right. They were a people who saw darkness as light and light as darkness. The bitter of life became sweet to them and the sweet bitter. Israel was not just a nation where some wrong things were being done and gotten away with. Israel became a nation where evil was preferred over good.
“Light” is used to symbolically represent God and Godliness in 1 Jn. 1:5. Sin is represented as “darkness” in that context. John states, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Darkness is, literally, the absence of light. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Just so, sin cannot abide in the light of Godliness. Godliness exposes sin as 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 where light does not exist.
The above passage describes a nation wherein evil has become so totally embraced that it is now pronounced as being good, and good is seen as being evil! Things are turned upside down. Tragically, people living in that reality do not seem to recognize what has taken place. They have so totally accepted the abnormal, the subnormal, that it looks normal to them.
Our nation is more and more becoming a place that pretty well fits Isaiah’s description of things. We are steadily being told that evil is good and good is evil! Practices and lifestyles clearly condemned in God’s word are promoted as being righteous. All who identify such as being wrong are increasingly shouted down, their voices silenced. Standing firm on righteous principles is portrayed as extreme, eccentric, even hateful.
Unfortunately, many of the righteous among us could be seen as contributing to the problem by simply keeping silent as to what is happening. We sit on the sidelines, watching but doing little to stop the digression. If our attitude reflects an inward belief that we cannot do anything to stop what is happening, then we have already given up, and the devil has already won. Pray God that it will not be so in our land. Pray God that we wake up and speak up before what the prophet wrote of Israel can be rightfully said of us.
God brought Israel down because of her wickedness and unfaithfulness. Let us not be deluded into thinking He cannot do the same to us, if we continue to “call evil good, and good evil.”…
Gary L. Hutchens