“What could have been done more to my vineyard, That I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes,Isaiah 5:4
Brought it forth wild grapes?”
Several years ago, our house in England had a large allotment (communal space for growing fruits and vegetables) behind it. As a family project, we took up two overgrown plots of lands and proceeded to try to grow some plants. After several weeks of back-breaking work, we managed to get one plot plowed and planted. But that was just the beginning. Several nights a week, we had to pull weeds, water the plants, watch out for pesky bugs and rodents, all in hopes that the harvest would be worth it.
As the weeks went by, we began to wonder if our efforts were worth it. Most of our crops did not do so well, but we did have a huge harvest of courgettes (cucumbers). And so my wife learned to make everything from courgette soup to courgette muffins! Needless to say, we talked ourselves out of taking on the allotments the next year!
This experience helps me to understand a bit more of God’s frustration with Israel. Isaiah 5 opens with a song in which God describes Judah like a vineyard that He fenced, cleared, planted and tended, yet it produced bad fruit instead of good. Instead of the fruits of obedience, love, worship, and praise, they were involved in sorts of sinful behaviour. And so God pronounces woes (warnings of judgment) on them for the following bad fruits:
- Oppression and Mistreatment of Others (v.7)
- Covetousness (v.8-9) – wanting larger and larger houses and more and more land
- Drunkenness and self-indulgence (v.11-12) – drinking and partying from morning to night without any consideration for the Lord or for others
- Testing God (v.18-19) – tied to great carts of sin and still expecting God to work
- Distorting the Truth (v.20) – saying that what God calls evil is good and vice versa
- Pride and Conceit (v.21) – feeling very smug about their own wisdom
- Corruption (v.22-23) – more concerned about drinking and personal gain and justice
No wonder God planned to bring the judgments described in verses 10,13-17,24-30. God’s precious vineyard was only producing bad fruit!
I wonder if we are doing the same with all God’s care and love? Do we take all the blessings of life, love, and care and use them for behaviours that dishonour the Lord? It is easy to see evidence of the sins listed above in our world today. God will eventually judge sinners and chasten His people who produce such fruit. May we repent of our pride, our rebellion, and may we through Christ produce the fruit of the Spirit for which we have been created.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:8-10