October 4, 2020
Pastor John Hering
Let me sing for my loved one a song about my loved one’s vineyard.
My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile ridge. 2 He dug it up and gathered the stones out of it. He planted it with the best vines. He built a tower in the middle of it. He also cut a winepress into it. He expected it to produce clusters of sweet grapes, but it produced only sour grapes.
3 So now, you residents of Jerusalem and you men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more could have been done for my vineyard that I have not already done for it? When I expected it to produce clusters of sweet grapes, why did it produce sour grapes?
5 Now, let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge, and it will become a pasture. I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled down. 6 I will make it a wasteland. It will not be pruned or hoed. So briers and thorns will shoot up. I will also command the clouds not to pour rain on it.
7 Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of Armies is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the planting that was pleasing to him. He expected justice, but instead there was oppression. He expected righteousness, but there was an outcry.Isaiah 5:1-7
I’d like to give you a little quiz on gardening. How many of these statements do you think are true?
- Gardening improves your overall physical and mental state.
- Gardening 30 minutes several times a week improves high blood pressure.
- Children should garden because studies have proven that those exposed to dirt have lower incidences of asthma, eczema, and other allergies.
- A routine of gardening allows your brain to relax and release tension.
These are all true! (biggreenhouse.com). So why don’t all of you have gorgeous gardens at home? Because you can more easily buy your cucumbers, pick your green beans and tomatoes without pulling weeds or raising your watering bill to keep your garden moist! However, to understand today’s truth in this portion of God’s Word we have to go into the garden. The garden in Isaiah 5 isn’t filled with beans, carrots or radishes, but it’s a garden of grape vines—a vineyard! The time we spend in this garden today will be a great blessing because God wants us to produce fruits of faith. These fruits of faith will not happen by digging into the clay soil of Texas! No these fruits of faith are produce when God goes to work on the garden of our hearts. And when God’s finished working on you, you will
Be A Fine Vine!
With a Gorgeous Garden
Isaiah 5 is a song about a vine. The Hebrew is written in poetic form and while I can’t sing it for you, the lyrics are off the charts! “Let me sing for my loved one a song about my loved one’s vineyard. My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile ridge. 2 He dug it up and gathered the stones out of it. He planted it with the best vines. He built a tower in the middle of it. He also cut a winepress into it.” You catch the physical and mental state of the vineyard owner. He is so careful to plan, care for and expect the outcome of a gorgeous garden! Look! He picked the best spot for sunlight and moisture on a fertile hillside. He carefully dug up the soil and got his hands dirty as he picked up the stones and tossed them aside. Then he selected the choicest vines to plant. Built a watch tower to keep out the thieves, raccoons, deer and opossums. Then he carved a place in the rock where he could squish his grapes and gather the juice. In other words, the owner did everything he could to have a gorgeous garden where he could grow fine vines.
Now, you know this song in Isaiah 5 isn’t about real vines and grapes. God is using a story in order to share an important truth. The Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to write down this explanation for us, “7 Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of Armies is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the planting that was pleasing to him.” God created this special nation of Israel in order to keep his promise made to Adam and Eve to send a Savior. He called Abraham to be the father of this new nation from which the Messiah would be born. The vineyard is the nation of Israel and the fine vines are the Tribe of Judah. God picked the best spot for his special people to live with plenty of water, sunlight and natural resources. He “dug up” the surrounding nations that were a stumbling stone to his Promise and tossed them. Then he planted choice vines like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and erected watch towers like Samuel, King David and Solomon. The Lord provided prophets to continually bring his people the nourishment for their souls. Read the Old Testament accounts and recognize that you are not reading the story of a nation but the record of God’s sweet, saving love and tender compassion for the world to provide a Savior.
God completed that work and his tender love was extended beyond the Nation of Israel. Jesus went to work to build an even bigger garden to include every soul from the beginning of time to the end of time. Jesus’ garden wasn’t established with real estate transactions, but by offering his perfect life as payment for the sins of all people. Jesus’ gorgeous garden is planted wherever the Gospel in Word and Sacrament is planted in the hearts of people. He tossed out the stones of sin and protects us from the power of our enemies Satan and death. Then he surrounds us with vines of Christian parents and friends and builds a watchtower of pastors and teachers. How gracious God has been to provide this place of worship where we can come together and have the flow of his love and forgiveness enrich our hearts, souls and lives! God has indeed created a gorgeous garden where we get to be fine vines. Sing it with Isaiah! “Let me sing for my loved one a song about my loved one’s vineyard.” We are fine vines because the vineyard owner wants you and be fine vines in his gorgeous garden, where he lives
Without Vile Vines
One of the most discouraging things about gardening to me are the weeds! I think I would enjoy gardening a whole lot more if there weren’t any. But, you know, a garden and marriage are very similar in this way. If you’ve not working at your marriage, then it’s actually getting weaker. When a couple faces the challenges in their marriage with humility and honesty, then the issues they face can actually make their marriage stronger. The marriage is a combination of being friends and partners who are on the same side in order to face issues like vile vines in a garden.
Like weeds in a garden, the Lord sings discouraging words in his song about Israel and Judah that hurt our ears. “3 So now, you residents of Jerusalem and you men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more could have been done for my vineyard that I have not already done for it? When I expected it to produce clusters of sweet grapes, why did it produce sour grapes?” You know the sad history of God’s chosen people. God, the vineyard owner, did everything possible for them. He gave them his prophets, his holy law, and his promises. But, all they did was produce stinking, rotten, sour grapes. Finally, God justly said, “That’s enough!” “5 Now, let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge, and it will become a pasture. I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled down. 6 I will make it a wasteland. It will not be pruned or hoed. So briers and thorns will shoot up. I will also command the clouds not to pour rain on it.” The Lord God did so much for his people and all they did was reject it! Therefore God allowed surrounding enemy armies to come and destroy them. Why? Because God wants fine vines and he eliminates the vile vines!
That is scary for us today. The same thing happens to us! Our white lies, hidden lusts, critical comments, unloving words and actions, and smoldering grudges are still stinky in God’s nostril’s today! God has graciously provided the gospel for us, yet how easy for vile vines of political speech to cause us hatred for our neighbor instead of love? God has graciously provided the gospel for us at this house of worship, but how many are tempted to make God the God of convenience? Too often we climb into bed at night and must confess that we have produced rotten grapes and beg for God’s forgiveness.
But, here’s the wonder of the vineyard owner’s love. He designed his vineyard, now destroyed by unbelief, with a little patch of the old vineyard where a few fine vines like Zachariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, Mary and Joseph remained. From these vines sprang up on precious vine who served as the beginning of a whole new vineyard. That vine is Jesus Christ. And here’s the miracle of miracles—God graciously grafted us into him. Do you know what happens to vile vines like us when we’re graphed into Jesus Christ? Jesus said it, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him is the one who bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). There you are remaining with Jesus avoiding the pruning of the vile vines by the vineyard owner who wants fine vines. But, let’s be clear. He is a vineyard owner who expects his vines to
Produce Good Grapes
Producing Good Grapes does not mean a life without difficulties. The Lord worked to the point of death to bring us into his eternal vineyard. Now the song shares the Lord’s expectations: “3 So now, you residents of Jerusalem and you men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more could have been done for my vineyard that I have not already done for it? When I expected it to produce clusters of sweet grapes, why did it produce sour grapes?” After all the love the Lord poured into his garden and into his vines, he wasn’t expecting anything extra-ordinary. He expected his vines to be as he created them to be—fine vines. And fine vines produce good grapes. Indeed, the devotion of God’s people throughout the ages has done nothing to earn the Lord’s favor, but has demonstrated thankful love.
We know what that looks like! God’s people devote their attention to him, regularly worship him, pray to him, and strive to bring their lives in line with his holy will. Then their care and fellowship with each other would be good grapes growing from grateful hearts. These are good grapes even when facing challenges.
I’ve been wrestling with this whole Covid-19 thing. Who do it trust? Who do I listen to? I want to be smart and careful about my health. Lord, help me to trust in you and be careful with my blessing of good health. Help me be wise about balancing my daily life with my worship life. Such an attitude would be a good grape.
When I consider all the blessings I have in my house, in my bank account, in my life and realize how blessed I really am by the Lord. Then let me put God first with my thankful offering and trust that God will take care of the rest. That’s a good grape.
When you and your fiancé make the commitment to abstain from physical intimacy until after marriage. That’s a good grape.
When your co-worker is having a bad day and takes it out on you, and you smile and say, “I recognize your rough day. What can I do to help you?” That’s a good grape.
You see, even though our worship habits may have become sloppy, my offerings unthoughtful, my heart corrupt, having a bad day or even a scratchy throat from a cold, flu, or Covid-19—God’s love for us in Christ Jesus will never run low. God’s forgiveness for us will never run out because we are planted in his gorgeous garden, set free from vile vines and set up to produce good grapes.
So, who wants to go plant a garden!? Oh, I might be interested in planting a raised garden with a few beans, okra or tomato plants—because it’s a hobby that is good for me. But, if I want fruits and veggies I think I just go to Sprouts and buy some. Aren’t you so glad that you don’t have to go to Jesus and buy your good fruits from him? Your fruits are graciously created by God for you to produce. God puts you in his gorgeous garden where in Christ he comforted your physical and mental state, lowers your blood pressure and makes you immune to the power of Satan, the curse of sin and the power of death. You, dear Christian friends, are already planted in a gorgeous garden, free from vile vines and all set up to produce good grapes. So, go. Be A Fine Vine! Amen!