Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson.
1. What do human traffickers, serial killers, crooked judges, and absolute dictators have in common?
2. How are we different from the people listed above?
Read Isaiah 5:18-23
1. The word woe was used not only by prophets in the Old Testament, but also by Jesus in the Gospels, written about in Jude, and recorded many times by John in Revelation. Woe means to have great distress, misery, or sorrow. It implies a curse. Here in Isaiah it’s used four times as an exclamation in reference to people who were doing wrong. Discuss and analyze the kind of person the prophet is targeting. Do you personally know or have you heard of people like this in the news?
2. Talk about and list several practical ways to distinguish good from evil. Read Hebrews 5:14.
3. Do you consider yourself clever and wise, or know someone who does? Read 1 Corinthians 3:18-20. Discuss by what standards we should measure “wisdom.”
4. Are there any “woes” where the Holy Spirit is convicting you personally? List them, praying and asking God to help you determine an action plan for overcoming your sin.
Read Isaiah 5:24, 25
5. Power and corruption may seem overwhelming in the present, but God’s eventual judgment will prevail. Consider the imagery of straw, dry grass, and flowers in verse 24. What is the eventual fate of those who reject and have contempt for the Lord Almighty?
6. Note the collateral damage incurred by people who live under the authority of leaders who have no respect for God. Discuss how they are punished alongside their rulers.
Read Isaiah 5:26-28
7. Isaiah warned of the imminent demise of Israel and Judah, something the nation experienced within 100 years of the end of his ministry. In no uncertain terms, the prophet explained what would happen if the people did not return to God and renounce and repent of their destructive behavior. In these verses, Isaiah described the nations from the north that God would use as an instrument to invade and destroy the land and kidnap or annihilate the people living there. Do you see potential parallels to modern times or governments that turn away from God? Brainstorm what we can do and what our responsibility is as Christians to keep this from happening wherever we live.
8. Praise God there is hope! Read 2 Peter 1:10-14. How do you know if you are saved? Talk about what the apostle says are the basics of making your calling and election sure.
Conclude your group time with prayer, using the following as a guide.
Judgment is real and it is scary, but Lord, thank you for Jesus Christ! Father, praise you for your Word and for an ancient warning and exhortation that we can heed even today.