Passage: I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 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 wine press as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
"Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and the men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 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 well be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 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."
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Journal: Our God is a patient God. Yet, there is a limitation on His patience in the midst of His diligent toil for His people. ("He dug it [His vineyard] up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a wine press as well.") The inherent sinfulness of His fallen creation is a nematode in the soil and a blight in the fruit. ("Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.") His rightful expectation in the land He cleared for His people is fruitfulness.
What is His rightful expectation for our fruitfulness? The rightful expectation of our God is for His people to be holy. The holiness of His people is always tied to their fruitfulness. Jill and I recently have been having some sweet talks with our daughter Anna (age 7) about the work God is doing in her heart. I mentioned yesterday to her that an indication of whether God has completed the work He has started in her heart is whether she lives her life differently than before. She responded, "You mean I have to prove that I am a Christian?" Well, the answer is that God will complete that which He has started within her in His perfect timing and that she can "prove" nothing before Him. Yet, the further answer is that her salvation will have an ultimate proving ground in that a dead faith, a faith that bears no fruit, is no salvation at all. This is God's message to His chosen people in Judah -- you believe that you merit God's favor and yet you live in rebellion toward God. Thus, His people have succumbed to the bacteria in the soil and the fungus on the vine, and the vineyard is about to be destroyed.
What are the indicators of whether holiness is being pursued? First is whether there is concern for, and kindness toward, the helpless and needy. ("And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.") Next, He wants a people that are not just externally acknowledging Him, but also are internally seeking Him. A grape that looks sweet but tastes sour is worthless. Finally, he wants our sanctification; a progression that indicates that our life is set apart for His glory. A grape rotting on the vine will be thrown out as worthless. There will be no opportunity to explain, and there will be no new vineyard planted. ("What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?")