by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:4)
In Scripture we find many references to vines and vineyards, but there are three major passages that together reveal three aspects concerning the character of God and His love for His people.
The first, Isaiah 5:1-7, includes our text. Here we find that God, the owner, planter, and caretaker of the vineyard, cannot contain His disappointment, for despite the loving care showered upon the vine, it has brought forth improper, worthless fruit. In this parable, “the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant” (v. 7), the chosen people who had seen more clearly than anyone else His abundant provision, but who had chosen to reject Him and not bear Him fruit. To them, and to those of us who reject His cultivating grace, He says: “I will lay it waste” (v. 6).
Psalm 80:8-19 gives us a picture of the abject desolation of the unfruitful vineyard once it is abandoned by the vinedresser. It is ravaged by enemies, wild animals, and fire, utterly helpless. The “vine” (Israel) may cry for help and restoration, but there are consequences to be paid. What a graphic picture this is, and what a reminder to believers today that we cannot for long ignore His will for our lives.
The last and most precious passage is found in John 15:1-16 and concerns fruitbearing. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (v. 5). Here are found the secrets of the believer’s growth and fertility in glorious union with Christ.
“Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (v. 8). JDM