Woe to the Wicked

Text: Isaiah 5:8-23

Isaiah prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem, warning them to turn from their sin. In this chapter, he delivered God’s message of “woe” to the wicked. There are some important lessons in this chapter for us to learn as well.

Woe to Those Who Are Greedy (v. 8, 23)

  • Adding house to house and joining field to field is about acquiring property – not necessarily wrong, but the law provided for perpetual fairness in the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:10); however, this “woe” was about greed (cheating others, forcing them out of their land); God would punish them for this (v. 9-10)
  • We are not to be greedy (Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:10) – instead, we are to do good with our wealth (1 Timothy 6:18; Ephesians 4:28); recognize what is most important (Matthew 16:26)

Woe to Those Who Lack Self-Control (v. 11, 22)

  • The Bible condemns the destructive and casual use of alcohol (1 Peter 4:3), but this is something more – this is about being addicted to it (v. 11); they were known for their consumption of alcohol (v. 22); in following this course, they paid no attention to God (v. 12)
  • God’s people are not to be controlled by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12) – we are to bring our bodies into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27); exercise self-control in serving God (1 Corinthians 6:17-20)

Woe to Those Who Multiply Sin (v. 18)

  • Dragging iniquity / sin as if with cart ropes is an illustration of someone dragging sin along with them – the idea of multiplying sin; cords of falsehood / vanity (KJV) indicate that one is deceived into following worthless behavior
  • The Scriptures warn that sin is progressive (2 Timothy 3:13) and deceptive (Hebrews 3:13) – Satan deceives us into thinking that sin is inconsequential (Genesis 3:1-4); this leads to a hard heart (Hebrews 3:13; 1 Timothy 4:2); this will only lead to an increase in sin

Woe to Those Who Call Evil Good (v. 20)

  • When one begins down the path of sin, he knows what he is doing is wrong but continues anyway – this leads to a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2); eventually leads to a hatred of God’s law
  • God’s word is the standard of what is good (Psalm 119:160) – anything contrary to it is sin (1 John 3:4); following God’s word is for our good (Matthew 6:33; Revelation 22:14); following sin is bad for us (Proverbs 13:15; Revelation 21:8); yet many have reached the point in which they call evil good (ex: homosexuality, abortion, etc.)

Woe to Those Who Are Wise in Their Own Eyes (v. 21)

  • Those are the ones who think they have everything figured out and do not need God – this comes from an attitude of arrogance (Proverbs 14:12, 16)
  • We need to remember that God is the source of true wisdom (Proverbs 8:22) – following worldly wisdom will not lead us to what is good and right (1 Corinthians 1:21); we can gain wisdom from God (James 1:5), but we must be humble and willing to listen (James 1:19, 21); trust in God rather than trusting in ourselves (Proverbs 3:5-7)


  • The root cause behind all of these sins was their rejection of God’s law (Isaiah 5:12-13, 20, 24)
  • When people reject God and His word, it leads to punishment (Isaiah 5:13-16, 25)
  • We will be punished if we reject God and His word (Matthew 7:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
  • Rather than following after sin, we must be obedient to the Lord (Romans 6:12-13; Hebrews 5:9)

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