Isaiah 5 includes 6 woes and seven sins. You see the words, “woe to those” repeated six times matching each sin until the sixth woe which includes the six and seventh sin. And you will see that the “woe to those” can be very rightly applied in principle – woe to us.
Seven Sins of Judah
3. Cynical Unbelief
4. Perversion of Morality
5. Intellectual Pride
7. Corrupt Judges
Cynical Unbelief – “Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, who say: ‘Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!’” Isaiah 5:18-19
This is a very strange set of verse and without a close look may appear to be about materialism. Upon close inspection, it is far worse than that. Adam Clarke in his commentary notes about these verses:
sin added to sin, and one sin drawing on another, till the whole comes to an enormous length and magnitude; compared to the work of a rope-maker still increasing and lengthening his rope, with the continued addition of new materials. . . By a long progression in iniquity, and a continued accumulation of sin, men arrive at length to the highest degree of wickedness; bidding open defiance to God, and scoffing at his threatened judgments.
We are talking about people who draw sin to themselves as one would draw a rope. A continual drawing of sin that never stops. But not only that, we see as Clarke notes their defiance toward God. The wording of the verse does not make this clear at first. The “him” mentioned (let him be quick, let him speed his work) is actually referring to God. The “Holy One” is not mentioned until the second part of the verse, so it makes the interpretation a little more difficult. To drive home the point of what the prophet is saying, consider what Merrill Unger says in his commentary regarding verse 19:
They defied God to make speed, and hasten his work of vengeance . . . In their God-defying unholiness they taunted the Holy One of Israel to let His purpose draw near and come (to pass), that we may know it, denying all knowledge that comes by faith, and in their crass unbelief relying only on what their natural senses could demonstrate to them.
And I think this truly matches cultural norms today. We deny all faith except that which comes from our natural senses. Not only do we pile sin upon sin, we defy God with our cynical unbelief. It has become the norm in our society to have TV personalities poke fun at religion. These entertainers are actually very serious about religion. They are anti-religion and certainly anti-Christian, and they will call anyone who believes that the Bible is true, stupid. The idea is that we must be “rationalists”, and that the Bible is a fairy tale. Jokes are made about Santa Clause and Jesus being the same guy and on it goes. The danger here is that this is entertainment. While jokes are being made there actually is a very serious message – the message that the future of America should be about the rationalist, not Bible believing Christians. These entertainers are quite outspoken, but they demonstrate a part of our culture that are cynical unbelievers. This type of attitude is sin, plain and simple. Is this attitude irreverent and offensive – yes. But the real problem is that it defies God and defames his name. Sin cloaked in comedy is still sin, and woe to us as a nation for producing such attitudes toward God.