Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is 5 (1)

Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalemand men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?

And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judahare his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! (Is. 5:1-7)

Isaiah continues with a metaphorical song depicting the relation between God and Israel, with God as the Lord of the vineyard and Israel, the OT Church, being the vineyard. And the song of tragedy unfolds.

The Lord of the vineyard has given His time and effort to tending the vineyard. It was situated on fertile soil, which symbolizes the many spiritual covenant blessings which the children of God have as being part of the Covenant. God Himself toiled and tended it lovingly, removing the stones (which symbolizes obstructions for growth) and planted it with choice vines. Not just vines, but choice vines, the best that are available; the good and abundant blessings of the Lord of Covenant children that are supposed to bear much fruit. God provided protection in the form of the watchtower to protect it from the enemy, and a wine vat in it so that He could harvest the good fruits which were expected of it (v. 2). Yet despite all that effort, the vineyard yielded wild, bitter grapes, not the good grapes that should have been there.

And now God invites the people of Israel into this story (v. 3). He implores them to consider what more should he do to His vineyard, which was richly blessed with all the best fertilizers, protection and tender care. (v. 4) He invites them into the story to see it from His viewpoint and thus consider that they as depicted here have all the Covenant blessings that God has given to them which should rightly have led them to Him, yet they persist in their rebellion. Therefore their ingratitude and rebelliousness is exposed as what is it, and the utter despicability of it all.

God then pronounces graphically His judgment upon this unfruitful vineyard. In horrible graphic language, God states His destructive intent and activities upon the vineyard which He has fomerly tenderly cared for. God will remove the hedges and break down the walls which once protected the vineyard from those that desired to destroy it; to destroy Israel (v. 5). Even more than that, God will actively turn Himself against His vineyard, making it into a wasteland of briers and thorns (signifying pain and suffering) where formally they were vines. Plants also require water to live, and God's next judgment would be to withhold rain by commanding the clouds not to rain on the vineyard (v. 6), thus causing them to die and wither off.

Such judgments are worked out in Israel in various ways. God has removed whatever protection they have against both the spiritual force of darkness and the military might of the pagan nations. The fountain of blessing which was formerly available to them would dry up, and pain and suffering would thereafter cling unto them. Similar to the development in Rom. 1:18-32, sin begets abandonment by God which begets worse and worse sins.

Verse 7 caps this entire passage by showing the terrifying contrast between what God expects and the sinful reality of what exists in Israel. It first shows forth what the figures in the story represent and then states the contrast between the expected fruit of justice and righteousness, and the yielded fruit of bloodshed and an outcry. The sinfulness of Israel was exceedingly great, and the Lord will not accept such evil fruits from them.

So dear beloved of the Lord, are you like such a vineyard and the vines therein, and continue to harden your heart against the Lord despite all the kindness and blessings He has poured forth on you? Do not do so any more, for can't you see the utter ingratitude you show towards God, who is so merciful towards you? For we rightfully deserve judgment and hellfire, but God still treats you kindly, that you may if possible repent and turn to Him. So repent now of your sins and turn to Christ for salvation, while there is time to do so in a day called Today (Heb. 3:7-9), for when God's patience has run its course, there will be utter destruction meted on those who reject Him despite the blessings they have received. And for those who have Christian influences, and most definitely Covenant children, with all the abundant spirtual blessings you have experienced, have you repented of your sins and received Jesus as your Lord and Savior? For you are the choicest vines and been given the most blessings, and to spurn it all in rebellion against God is the most deplorable thing in the world. Do not do so but submit yourelf to your King who loves you and gave Himself for you. Amen.

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