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 winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit. (Is 5:1-2)
Here is what I am getting out of this passage.
First, I love that this is a love song to God. Songs can express a story in such a moving way. The fact that the prophet wrote a song means he wanted to convey an emotional connection. He felt so deeply about the subject that he wanted to sing it, like a mournful ballad.
And that means that these are verses we should listen to with our heart.
Second, knowing that God is the loved one, and the vineyard is his people. we can see from the wording how much God takes deliberate and tender care of his people.
- He locates the vineyard on a fertile hillside. There is plenty of nourishment. This is also true for us today. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (II Cor 9:8)
- He clears out the rocks. This is a theme we see all through the Bible, that God takes away the things that can make us stumble. “For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Ps 56:13)
- He builds a watchtower so the field is protected. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4)
Third, we can see that just as the vineyard was planted to yield fruit, God intends for his people to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. Like the vines, we were intended to grow and produce.
- “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
- “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
Lastly, the passage tells us that the husbandman of the vineyard cut out a winepress. He intended to do something with the fruit so that it would be useful. Isn’t this how God works with us? We do our good deeds, and he multiplies them!
- “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
- “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt 17:20
- “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. . . For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. Matt 25:23, 29
- Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously . . . And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work II Cor 9
So that brings us to the question of the day. If we are designed for a purpose, to do good things, and if God can multiply, can we not have even the smallest bit of faith or make the smallest of efforts? It is exciting to think what God will do if we step out!!
Today I went to a doctor appointment. I prayed beforehand, knowing that God is amazing and we should expect him to work in amazing ways. And then I knew I needed to act in order to give God something to work with. So I was friendly with the nurse and doctor. In the course of our conversation I got to share with the doctor that I go to church with one of her former interns. She asked me what church I go to so I got to tell her. And then I handed scripture cards to the nurse and her co-worker before I left and they really appreciated them.
It doesn’t feel like much. I was struggling with feeling emotional and gloomy this morning. But I got centered on the good things, remembering God’s love and joy, and that I am a child of the light. (I Thes. 5:5) And when I did that, I could smile at the nurse and reach out of the little ball I wanted to curl myself into.
It reminds me of the parable of the talents. One person was given ten talents, another five, and another got just one. God still expected the person with one talent to use what he had. It would have been easy for that man to think, “I just have one talent. It’s not going to make much of a difference. I don’t need to do anything with it.” Or he might have thought, “What if I try to invest it, and lose it? I’ll feel like a failure. The master will be mad. Let me save myself the emotional pain and just do the safe thing and hide it in the ground.”
So that is our challenge. Let’s practice faith, even if we only have a tiny bit to practice. Let’s do something, even if it doesn’t feel like very much. It’s our job to have faith and do good works. It’s God’s job to make these into something of consequence.
Last night we had house church. A family was there as a result of an invitation I gave out when I was voting. Another woman was there because I had followed up on her after I met her at church. There are so many times I’ve made efforts and nothing has seemed to happen. But we keep on trying, because sometimes we can see how God is making wine out of our fruit!!
(The woman on the left is the one who came to house church when I invited her. She is shown here with the amazing Kenonia!)