The vintager sings of the vineyard as a place that is dearly loved. He has done everything possible to produce a sweet crop, but the vineyard produces only wild grapes.
God speaks to the people in referring to “my” vineyard. Imagine them in the marketplace listening to Isaiah as he speaks for God. The vintager needs their help—what more could he have done? Surely now they will pay attention.
The hedge and the wall come as a surprise. Planting a hedge, plant by plant, and building a wall, stone by stone, represent a labor of love to protect the vines and the crop, but God states that the hedge will be removed and the wall torn down. These acts of love and care on behalf of the vineyard will vanish and the vineyard given over to briars and thorns.
Not only will the vintager expose the land completely, he plans to stop working it altogether. Even the clouds will not rain on it! Water, the essence of life, will be withheld. What tender life can survive in such circumstances? The vineyard will become a desert land without hope of fruitfulness.
Suddenly, the listeners realize that God’s vineyard is Israel, and they are the vines. They have been cared for and protected; but they have disappointed God, producing a sour, shriveled crop instead of the plump fruit that the vintager had nurtured and expected. They find themselves outside God’s tender, loving care and protection. Does this shock them? How do they react?
What is your reaction as you consider that you too are part of God’s vineyard? How does God’s love and protection encourage your growth?
Lord, forgive me for not appreciating and valuing your care and cultivation. I submit myself again to your loving care. May I be a fruitful vine. Amen.
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-19 employ simi- lar images to represent the people of God—a vine or a vineyard. The image clearly communicates the careful commitment of God to God’s people. Unfortunately, the people do not respond in kind, so God must destroy the vineyard. The people plead for restoration, and their future life will depend not on their repen- tance but on God’s repentance! Jesus issues a radical call for human repentance in Luke. God will bear the burden of human disobedience, and God’s gracious turning to humankind makes life possible. Hebrews shows that the story of God’s people does contain outstanding episodes and exemplars of faith and sug- gests that God never gives up on calling us to follow, to run the dif cult race that leads to life.
• Read Isaiah 5:1-7. What fruit are you growing—wild grapes or sweet ones? How can God redeem you?
• Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How do you recognize God’s love and presence?
• Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Think of a cirumstance when your faith in God was all you could rely on.
• Read Luke 12:49-56. Where do you recognize the urgency of the kingdom of God? How does this awareness affect your daily actions?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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