Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sweet Grapes or Stink Fruit

Isa 5:1  Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. Isa 5:2  He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. Isa 5:3  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. Isa 5:4  What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? Isa 5:5  And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.

In the above passage the Lord is explaining to Israel why their days are numbered before they go into captivity and why he will eventually break the covenant he made with them.  Basically they have never been faithful to its conditions so a new one is needed.  Thus all the prophets look forward to the time when the Messiah would come and institute a new and better one in which he keeps all the conditions for us as well as empowers us to serve him from the heart; both of which Israel never really lived up to.

But the thing of interest in this passage is found in vs. 4.  He tells them that there was a reason he chose them from among the nations and made a covenant with them in which he revealed himself to them.  It was to get something from them which was the worship with joy, from the heart of his glorious person.  Ok, some of that is implied but it is clear that his complaint is they aren’t living up to their end of the covenant.  The “wild grapes” have been translated “stink fruit” or “poisonous berries”.  Either way they were not fulfilling their intended purpose and God finds them offensive and ready to be discarded. 

What this makes clear is that the Lord doesn’t go to all the trouble of creating this world and predetermining a plan for it which includes dying for our sins all for just the “privilege” of keeping him company forever.  Just as he had a purpose for redeeming Israel from Egypt so he has a purpose for redeeming us from sin. 

The reason this needs to be emphasized in our day is because many seem to think that all that matters is winning souls from Hell; having your sins forgiven so that once your eternity is secured you can really start to enjoy life.  We add God to our life instead of finding our life in his life.  This can be worked out in a couple of ways.  I was raised in the fundamentalist mentality that all that mattered was saving souls from Hell but very little emphasis was put on what happened after one supposedly got saved.  Since you couldn’t lose your salvation, even though you might backslide into the life you once lived, it didn’t matter since at least you were saved. 

Perhaps more prevalent today is the idea that one gets saved in order to have their best life now.  Following God’s plan for you will enable you to live up to your full potential.  Of course, this is just as man centered as the first scenario and perhaps part of what Israel was guilty of. 

What both of these doctrinal slants fail to understand is that God saves us to be conformed to the image of his dear Son not just in outward obedience but in living to glorify the Father in all things.  This is why Isaiah keeps condemning Israel for lip service and religious observances that did not arise from a heart of love towards the Lord.

God is telling Israel and it applies to us as well that he saves us that we might honor him with our lives and thoughts; that we might glorify the Lord in all that we are and do and think which is merely the first and great commandment.  The great promise of the OT was that under the new covenant God would also supply the Spiritual power to transform those in the covenant.  That is the one thing lacking under the old covenant and without it Israel didn’t serve her purpose and without the Spirit we can’t either.  

So Paul tells us that it is God who works in us both to will and to do his good pleasure.  Every true saint has the Spirit, is transformed and loves the Lord and desires to honor him in the way they live.  We need to be careful of telling someone who professes to be saved that they are saved when they clearly have no use for the things of God.  It goes against everything the Bible says about why God saves us.  We need to always make our calling and election sure.  We are to be a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord, not stink fruit.


  1. Nathan,

    Back to: "I Am Second".

    I must admit, the Scott Hamilton testimony, while moving, didn't really have an A+ Christian message. Maybe it was about a C. Perhaps, ole Mr. Baldwin's testimony might be a D or F as to Christian message.

    But try one more. Try Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Its really a triple testimony of Phil, Jep, and Reed Robertson. Phil and Jep might score an A+.

    Whadaya think?

    Kenny Beck