Friday, December 16, 2011

Israel the vineyard: of the Lord.

The application of the vine goes back to the time the nation of Israel left Egypt. David. Speaking of God, said, “You brought a vine out of Egypt: you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish.” (Psalms 80:8-9, 16)

Isaiah later continues this figurative language about the house of Israel to which he says; Isaiah 5:1-7 I will sing for the One I love a song about His vineyard: My Loved One had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2He 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. 3Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. 4What more could have been done for My vineyard than what I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? 5Now I will tell you what I am going to do with My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed. I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 6 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned, nor cultivated, and briars and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it. 7The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight. And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. What did God want to communicate to the people of Judah in the Song of the Vineyard? It’s obvious that the Song is actually a true story. In the story God planted a vineyard and it’s clear it. He chose fertile soil on a hillside where there would be plenty of sunshine and rainfall. He cleared away the stones—which is no small task in the land of Israel!

The Lord planted His “choicest vine” of Abrahams descendants in the vineyard. For protection and security, He planted a hedge and built a wall around the vineyard, and built a watchtower in the center. In addition, He made a winepress in anticipation of a bountiful harvest. Then He looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

God gave His people every advantage and opportunity to produce good fruit. However, Israel produced nothing but the worthless fruit of wild grapes. In sorrow and disappointment, the vineyard keeper decided to turn away from His vineyard and allow it to go to waste. He would no longer cultivate and protect it, and it would become overgrown with briars and thorns. God would remove His hand of protection from the nation, and would literally allow it to be destroyed verse 5.

There are several other “vineyard passages” in the Old Testament. Israel is likened to a vine or vineyard in Jeremiah 2:21 and 12:10, Ezekiel 15 and Hosea 10:1. In every one of these passages God’s people were expected to produce fruit. In fact, Ezekiel belabors the point that producing fruit is the only purpose for a vine! It’s good only for producing fruit—and it’s expected to bear good fruit!

The good fruit here is related to the fact that Israel was to be the light of God unto the gentiles. However Jesus said when they win one over they made him twice as much a son of hell as themselves ( Matthew 23:15)

What more can the Lord do for them? In Isaiah’s Song, God’s vineyard willfully produced only wild, worthless, unusable fruit—in spite of the fact that God did everything that could possibly be done to assist it to produce a glorious harvest.

John’s original Jewish audience knows these metaphors were drawing no the spiritual truths and historical realities of the nation of Israel. The language had a specific purpose to remind Israel of her long history.

As a result John writes in Revelation14 about the subject of God’s divine wrath poured out upon the vine. This is done by way of the picture of a harvest by which God reaps the earth. Revelation 14:14-20 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the “vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe." So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

One may note some key elements in these verses: (a) The Reapers are. The Son of Man (is the Lord Jesus Christ) with His holy angels (vss. 14-14-20) This stresses the source. It is an act of God.

The “vine of the earth, are fully ripe." The words “are ripe” represent the Greek akmazw which means “to be in its prime, be at its peak of ripeness.” A peak of ripeness THEN not over 2.000 years later.

Israel is the only nation in the Bible call the vine. Jeremiah 2: 20 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of the highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?

Then to this, John adds the word “grapes.” John’s original Jewish audience knows these metaphors were drawing no Isaiah. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. (Isaiah 5:2)

The vine of the earth, in the land of Israel, is thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Isaiah 5:2 63:3 "I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come.

The term “earth” is often used in our translations of the book of Revelation. The Greek word ym would often be better translated “land.” Its definition is given by various Greek Lexicons as land, earth, soil, or dirt. Our modern definition of the word “earth” makes many passages appear to be world-wide when the context indicates a localized action or condition. Note how it is normally translated “land” as in Matthew 10:15 and Mark 11:24.

The Results of the Reaping, a harvest would be bloody carnage occurring particularly in Palestine. This will result in the bloodiest battle and carnage of human flesh that Israel has ever known. From this battle blood will flow up to the horse’s bridle. Revelation 14:20 . And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

The blood flowing as high as the horses’ would portray the gravity of this judgment. The distance of 1600 stadia (about 180 miles) just happens to be the approximate length of the land of Palestine.