(Today's post by Chris Queen)
The first part of chapter 5 of Isaiah is a parable that uses an agricultural metaphor to describe both God’s high hopes for His people and Israel’s rebellion:
1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 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? 5 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. 6 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.”
7The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
God planted His nation of chosen people with the desire that they would bear the best possible fruit. Yet they let Him down and produced nothing but sour grapes. God would turn the beautiful vineyard into a plot unfit for anything else to grow there.
These verses are a neat parallel to Jesus’ words in John 15, which we read just a few days ago:
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Those who obey the God of Israel reap the benefits of closeness with Him – those benefits happen here on earth as well as in eternity. Those who choose not to obey Him suffer destruction (“I will make it a wasteland.” “…you are like a branch that is…thrown into the fire and burned.”)
The choice is up to you. Will your branch bear fragrant, pleasing fruit that bears the name of the Owner of the vineyard? Or will you produce nothing but sour grapes?