He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!
My friend, John, has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemo treatments. My wife and I are praying for John and his wife each night during our devotions and I invite you to do the same.
This devotion is not about that, really. But John was the man who introduced me to both good wine and good single malt scotch.
And this devotion is not about single malt scotch. Nor is it really about wine, either. But Isaiah 5 is typically titled “Love Song of the Lord’s Vineyard.”
Because John educated me about good wine, I developed an interest in the process of making wine and visiting vineyards.
I haven’t visited that many vineyards – raising three sons kind of hindered my wife and I taking vineyard trips (but not so much in tasting the fruit of the vineyard!).
Another friend of mine, Frank, does take quite a few trips to various vineyards. He’s a bit older than I. His kids are all grown up and out of the house. And he lives in Northern California and has easier access to some of the greatest vineyards in the country (if not the world, sorry France!).
Frank posts pictures of the adventures he and his wife, Debbie, take to these vineyards and they look like they are wonderful trips.
God uses the picture of a vineyard several times in his story about his relationship with us. Jesus told several parables that featured vineyards, as well as one main teaching about vines in John 15.
Like a vineyard, you and I will produce fruit no matter what. It is the kind of fruit that we produce that is the key.
The Love Song of the Lord’s Vineyard makes it clear that bearing fruit is not the question. It is the kind of fruit that is produced that becomes the key.
Left to our own devices, you and I will bear fruit, but it will be – in the words of Isaiah 5 – wild grapes.
If you’ve ever tasted wild grapes, you know they are nasty. There are some varieties that are also poisonous.
That’s us, in our sinful human natural state. We are nasty and poisonous in that we tend to gravitate towards bloodshed, cause outcries, and in general not be the men and women God intended for us to be.
This brings pain and suffering in this world – of which we see the fruit of each day in the “Breaking News” on all the major networks.
We need to realize – and share the Good News – that God has been cultivating us to produce good fruit, not wild, nasty, fruit.
He is methodical about it, deliberate about it. He clears the soil of our lives of stones, provides safety and resources for our lives – the Holy Christian Church and especially the local congregation!
As we take part in these resources – worship, the Sacraments, Bible study, small groups, other groups (men’s, ladies’, seniors, couples, etc.), God continues to cultivate us to produce good, nutritious, and tasty grapes!
But if we do not use these resources, God will not sit idly by. He warns us that if we reject his resources, he’ll let us go our way and give the resources to others.
God doesn’t hate us when he does this. It is actually out of his great love for us that he does this. Because love is a two-way street. It is a choice that we both must make. God chooses to love us (even when we are at our most unlovable) and proved it by sending his only Son to be our Savior and Redeemer. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave is the ultimate picture of God’s love for us.
And by the power of the Holy Spirit – sent by our Redeemer Jesus – we can now choose to love God! And through the power of the Holy Spirit we produce good fruit.
But for love to be love, it must always have the possibility to choose. We can choose to not love God back. We can choose to reject God.
The warning of Isaiah 5 pictures what happens when we reject God and his cultivation of us.
When we choose to love God – produce good fruit (again, by the power of the Holy Spirit) – the benefits in this world are justice and righteousness.
And this world needs God’s vintage of justice and righteousness right about now!
Heavenly Father, strengthen your Church so that we produce your kind of fruit in this world, that they may know your love and peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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