Boris Grisenko: What does the prophet Isaiah say about the situation in Ukraine?

When I prayed the other day and asked the Lord to give me a word for that time, He showed me the fifth chapter of the book of Isaiah. It begins with the prophet singing a song to the Lord from His vineyard. It is a song to Mashiach who saved Israel, separated them, brought Israel to the promised land and circumcised them. He sings this song, thereby turning the face of the Beloved Lord toward Israel.

I think that when these words were sung, they felt the love and the pain as well as the frustration and jealousy of the Holy One of Israel for His people. Remember how the book of James says that the Lord loves to the point of jealousy, not to mention the Song of Songs where God’s love and jealousy are not separate from each other.

God’s protection, which men themselves refused

What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.” (Isaiah 5:4-5).

The Lord warns that His protection will disappear because His people overwhelmingly despised the Word of the Lord, relied on the blessings they received from God’s grace, relied on themselves, became greedy, selfish, cunning, cruel and indifferent to the suffering of others. When God says that the walls will fall, He is simply confirming the fact that Israel herself has already done so.

Israel had already turned away and broken down the wall from within, but God continued to protect Him for some time in spite of Himself. It is not because God no longer loves His people. If the Lord had protected Israel endlessly from the consequences of their sins, unfaithfulness, and contempt for God’s great and holy love, Israel would have perished forever. To prevent this, the Lord begins to remove the protection.

How did people turn away from the Lord?

The Lord goes on to explain why this happened:

Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.Woe to those who rise early in the morning  to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
pipes and timbrels and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands.” (Isaiah 5:8-12).

This is clear when it comes to bloodshed and robbery. But where are the holidays and joy? What is the fault of the lyre and the harp, the pipes and the timbrels? Why does the Lord show all this in one line? Because everything that leads away from God closes itself off from His love. Any joy in which God is not central brings the domination of the prince of this world. Anything that brings joy to people, contrary to the Lord, becomes a cult and a false addiction.

We are all called to participate in God’s works, to see them, to praise and thank Him for it. We are called to see the Lord’s hand in all that is good and to see the Lord’s hand in punishment and, filled with the fear of God, open ourselves to His love and act with Him.

Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, “Let God hurry; let him hasten his work so we may see it. The plan of the Holy One of Israel— let it approach, let it come into view, so we may know it.”‘” (Isaiah 5:18 -19).

These are the ones who were to be the leaders of God’s miracles, the implementers of God’s plans, the ones who were called to show Israel the holiness of the God of Israel. And they stood in the observer’s pose and mocked, laughed and said: “Nothing can be seen. Where is he? Where is the fulfillment of His promises? Where are His great works? Where is His mighty right hand?”

We are responsible for our land

“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. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:20-21)

Yes, we can talk a lot about Russia being the obvious tough aggressor. All this is so. But why is Ukraine suffering? Why do we not see a just revenge for the aggressor now, but we see grief and suffering above all in Ukraine? I think it just shows that God is paying special attention to the Ukrainian people. Not because Ukrainian people are special. But because it has a special place in the Lord’s plans and the Lord wants to eradicate evil from our land.

We, the believers of Ukraine, are responsible for what is happening to our people. We are not responsible for what happens in Russia. Many of these exhortations in Isaiah 5 are directly related to what happened before the war and sadly continues to happen. Because corruption, robbery, theft and evil continues. The rich are trying to get richer in this difficult time of war. How important it is to pray that the roots of this corrupt system will be uprooted from the people of Ukraine and that our famously corrupt courts will finally be replaced by fair ones.

What is happening now is on the one hand the Lord’s punishment and on the other hand the Lord’s correction. And if we look from the third side, we see many miracles. We see how the Lord did not allow the clearly overwhelming enemy forces to capture Kiev and several Ukrainian cities. We know of at least three absolutely wonderful events: the retreat from Kiev, the counteroffensive near Kharkov and the liberation of Kherson. Of course, the Ukrainian authorities and commanders, as well as the heroism of the soldiers, played a huge role in this. But it was still against any military division. It is a miracle of God.

The Lord will circumcise Ukraine, but he will circumcise her with love. All honest people of Ukraine, especially believers, must raise their voices, pray and believe and accept God’s jealousy, which moves Him to cleanse our country. Because if the war suddenly ends and what corroded the country from within continues to poison the spiritual atmosphere, then after a while the war will return and it will be even worse.

Some people may not like my words. But when the Lord showed me this, I believe that He wants us to take it upon ourselves, our people, so that we do not take comfort in the fact that the aggressor is getting worse and more immoral. He wants us to believe that Ukraine is indeed chosen for the Great Awakening to begin here. But it cannot begin, and the people of Ukraine cannot do their part until we take this rebuke seriously and allow Yeshua to deeply and seriously, albeit painfully, prune our great vineyard and small vineyards. Otherwise, the words, “Woe to those who …” still resonate with many of us.

The unity and jealousy that the Lord expects from us

Finally, I want to turn to the Gospel of John:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2).

Remember the words, “But the works of the Lord they do not notice” (Isaiah 5:12). They talk about the root causes of all sins – not participating in worship or imitating serving God, which remains fruitless. Then Yeshua says to the apostles and to all who gave their lives for Him:

“You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I will abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it remains attached to the vine, so neither can you unless you stick to me I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:3-5).

Even if you are already cleansed, the Lord says, “Don’t stop there.” Do not be satisfied with what the Lord has accomplished in you or through you. We must all abide in Him and immerse ourselves in Him. When I first read or heard these words, I thought: “How so? I do so many things without Him!” But all works done apart from Him, even if they look good, lead us away from our Vine. They separate us from His love and our true selves.

“He that abideth not in me shall be cast out like a branch, and shall wither. And they are gathered together and thrown into the fire and they burn up. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you desire and it will be done for you.” (John 15:6-7).

I think God’s children in Ukraine have yet to unite in Yeshua and His Word unites us all. And then our common prayer will have full effect. All the events that preceded Hanukkah, all the tragedies that happened to the Jewish people, everything that is happening now in Ukraine, are all illustrations of what is written in Isaiah 5. And the way out is in John 15. When the Hasmonean family rose up, they abandoned themselves for the glory of God and for the love of God, regardless of their own well-being and even their lives. And then God’s love was poured out and filled them with supernatural power and zeal for the God of Israel. This love and zeal gathered around the holy remnant of the chosen people and the Great Awakening began.

A prayer

God, raise up and strengthen the holy remnant in the land of Ukraine. All who do not accept and compromise with the malice, darkness, sin and crimes of this world, who accept Your rebuke and are ready to do true teshuvah (repentance) and spread it around, may they unite as one family fighting for Your glory.

God, bring forth a spiritual revival of the Maccabees in Ukraine. We urgently need Your intervention, so that any interference of the enemy can be stopped and pushed back. Fill us with a thirst for Your glory despite our own, a thirst for Your holiness despite all the abominations the enemy tries to inflict on us. Fill us with the fire of zeal to save ourselves, our people and many. God, raise up the remnant of Hanukkah in the land of Ukraine and perform a Hanukkah miracle that will revive our land, save the Ukrainian people and spread the radiance of Your glory around.

Boris Grisenko, Rabbi of KEMO /