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We’re heading into six “woes,” proclaiming great sorrow or distress.

“ 8 Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field,
Until there is no more room,
So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
9 In my ears the Lord of hosts has sworn, “Surely, many houses shall become desolate,
Even great and fine ones, without occupants.
10 For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine,
And a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain.”
Isaiah 5:8-10

Are we seeking the furtherance of God’s Kingdom or our own?  This passage likely has to do with the disease of greed and disobedience. The sinful desire for more, more, more can land us in want, want, want. God had allotted, through Joshua, land for each tribe and family. In His wisdom, He instituted the Year of Jubilee. Every 50 years, debts were cleared and land was returned to the one to whom it was originally assigned!

This was NOT a socialist move to gather wealth to be spread through a government, or a mandate against wealth. This was NOT a call to cease being wise with one’s finances.  I think we CAN see:

• mercy, forgiveness, and prospering God’s Kingdom rather than their own.

• preventing a growing gap between the rich and poor that could cause cultural and social problems through oppression.

• avoiding inevitable desolation and lack.

• using one’s blessings to bless others and advance God’s Kingdom, rather than seeking to build and grow for one’s own glory.

Whether it’s wealth, time, talent, etc. let’s use our resources for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom, rather than adding to our own desires for our own glory. In that we will not find ourselves desolate or alone, because He is with us!

good or evil

“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.”
Isaiah 5:7

The well cared for vine was the people of Judah who were God’s delight. He, the Lord of armies who is powerful and mighty and merciful and just, gave them everything they needed to bear fruit for their good and His glory. They could have been a nation bearing and proclaiming His saving nature; His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23.) What a wonderful place to raise children!

But instead of justice, there was bloodshed! Instead of righteousness, there was a cry of distress! Something went terribly wrong. Rather than humbly relying on God, they were doing whatever seemed good to them; they wanted to be like the other nations. I think a footnote in the ESV Bible is so poignant, “…sin does not simply fail to reach a standard; it distorts good into evil.”

That theme can be seen today.

In third world countries some are hearing of Christ and receiving Him with open arms – actually asking why someone didn’t tell them about Him sooner. In first world countries, where God has given us everything we need to enjoy His ways and His wisdom, some are wanting to go their own way and give humans the glory for all that is good. Rather than asking why they haven’t heard the good news before now, they are asking to not be told again. They think they are gaining freedom, but they are creating a snare.

Lord, please give us revival that Your name would be known and honored in all nations.

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I’ve enjoyed gazing at our True Vine, and our loving and faithful Vinedresser. Now, because of the sacrifice of Christ, the Vinedresser will receive a good harvest. It’s through salvation in Christ that we abide in Him as one, receiving from Him the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the fruit bearing God has planned for our lives. Let’s see what God does with the worthless vine in Isaiah 5.

“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
Isaiah 5:5-6

The vine in Isaiah 5 had to be removed.

The True Vine, Christ, will never be uprooted.

The world exalts man’s way above God’s and it is crumbling; unstable; provides fear and insecurity. Those who remain attached to evil by refusing the free gift of salvation in Christ, will be uprooted and trampled down when Christ returns to destroy evil forever. Rather than rejoicing in having a wall, a strong tower, a provider, and One working to grow them and care for them, they reject it all.

The ultimate harvest is drawing near. The Vinedresser is perfect, and now He has a perfect Vine bearing eternal fruit. Those who come to Christ for salvation are the branches abiding in that secure and steadfast Vine. Abiding in Him gives us peace and security. God desires to reveal His glory by bearing much fruit through the redeemed, and they will never be uprooted.

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Today let’s honor God, the Vinedresser:

“My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it…”
Isaiah 5:1b-2a

We’ve learned that unredeemed humans can’t produce good fruit for God’s glory. We’ve rejoiced that Jesus is the True Vine through whom we may now be branches that bear much fruit for God’s glory!  God always trumps evil, and Jesus is the answer.

God, the Vinedresser, does the work. He cultivates the soil of our hearts to remove the hard places and plant good seed. He protects. He is patient. He uses the things that come into our lives to conform us into the image of Christ for more fruit bearing. He isn’t a wild man with a set of pruning sheers running willy nilly through the vineyard. He is a gracious and loving Father who prunes us perfectly for great reason. It means He is near. It means you are His.

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away;
and every branch that bears fruit,
He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:2

I love the picture above. Look at the fruit! It’s coming from the branches, but you can’t tell which branch is bearing what. All praise goes to the Vine and the Vinedresser. And that, dear friend, is why we were created!

So rest today, knowing that your well-beloved Vinedresser loves you and is working. Stop striving and enjoy resting in Jesus, obeying His instruction. Much fruit means much glory for God. May all the ends of the earth stand in awe of Him.

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Let’s look back at the vine in Isaiah 5:1b-2,

“My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.”

This choicest vine represented Judah. With all God had done for and through His people, they still did not have it in themselves to produce the fruit needed to glorify who God really is. The Vinedresser was not the problem. The vine was. Sinful man just cannot bear good fruit. So what is the answer? Jesus! He said in John 15:1,

“I am the true vine,
and My Father is the vinedresser.”

Judah ceased to bear the wondrous fruit of God and declare His glory when she walked in her own ways, wandered from His commands, and worshipped things other than Him. So God sent His Son to be that perfect Vine – the perfect Man – through whom perfect fruit could be born. When the True Vine was planted on the cross of calvary, he made a way for much good fruit to be born. Through salvation in Christ, we find life, cleansing, and oneness with Him. We are now the branches abiding in Him to bear much fruit for God’s glory.

“Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine,
so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
John 15:4

And that is the absolute truth.

 

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“Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.”
Isaiah 5:1

This well-beloved Vinedresser is ours, too; God our Father. For God’s part, this would be a song of joy. Because of the sinful nature of people, it will turn to sadness. Yet as we saw in Isaiah 4, God has an ultimate plan of victory through Christ. The Vinedresser chose a fertile hill. Let’s look at the work He puts in from Isaiah 5:2,

“He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.”

How could this be? Isaiah 5:3 goes on to say,

“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.”

Plants can’t be obstinate, but the people represented by this vineyard can.

So can we.

If we’re judging between God and anything, we can already know that God is in the right.

“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?”
Isaiah 5:4

Why, indeed. The excellent fruit would have made His name known, causing other nations to see that He is the Lord. But Judah misrepresented His care for them by their choices. For the next couple of days, we will spend time here to learn more about our Vinedresser and how this visual can apply to us. Think about the work God did. Lord, let us be a blessing to You and not a blight!

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Continuing in Isaiah 4:5,

“then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion
and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke,
and the brightness of a flaming fire by night;
for over all the glory will be a canopy.”

This provides much to look forward to. It also helps us understand our relationship with Christ right now as He provides all we need for our Kingdom assignments. And it brings back precious memories of Israel’s birth from Egypt. Exodus 13:21 describes what it was like after God delivered them with great power and an outstretched arm,

“The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day
to lead them on the way,
and in a pillar of fire by night
to give them light,
that they might travel by day and by night.”

He provides us with light, direction, and protection, so that we can continue to move forward with Him no matter what comes our way. Isaiah 4:6 goes on to say,

“There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day,
and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

This sounds like Revelation 7:16-17,

“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore;
nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and will guide them to springs of the water of life;
and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

I can’t wait. Our eternal home will be beyond our wildest dreams. Yet even today God is our shelter. He is our refuge and protection. When we obey the teachings of Christ, no storm can move us from our strong foundation.

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