God compares his church to a choice vineyard. He does so in regards to both his Old and New Testament versions.
Isaiah writes, “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 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 … 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. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! (Isaiah 5:1-7)
God the Father carefully the place where his vineyard would be located. He carefully and fervently cleared the land and situated his vine in the well-prepared soil. He built walls and a watchtower to protect his vine from predators and thieves. Additionally, he constructed a wine vat where he would house his vintage for later enjoyment. However, he was greatly disappointed as his vine ultimately produced wild and bitter grapes. So what did he do? He destroyed the vine, the ground and the wall. He allowed barbarians to ravage and trample the land, and he moved elsewhere.
Later Isaiah prophesied, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)
Well, the story continues approximately 750 years later. God the Father planted a new vine. This time the results were quite different.
Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit … Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned … By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)
Abraham was the sacrificial father who pointed to the True Sacrificial Father. Isaac was the sacrificial son who pointed to the True Sacrificial Son. Canaan was the promised land that pointed to the True Promised Land. Moses was the prophet who pointed to the True Prophet. Aaron was the priest who pointed to the True Priest. David was the king who pointed to the True King. Israel was the redeemed assembly who pointed to the True Redeemed Assembly. Israel was the delightful vine who pointed to the True Delightful Vine.
There will be no disappointment this go around. The Master has planted a select vine, and it will bear the fruit He desires. Within the vineyard of Christ, there will be found some dead branches. At first glance these look quite attractive, but their fruitlessness outs them; they are detached and discarded. All the remaining fruitful branches are pruned so that they ultimately produce maximum fruitage. At the end of this season, the Father is very pleased with his fruit-filled vine.
So what is the take-home point? We should focus less on producing fruit and more on abiding in Christ. We can strive to keep God’s good Law, but if we are severed from the life-giving sap of Christ we are soon going to be fit only for the fire. However, if we stay tight with Christ and his Spirit, we will find ourselves producing quality fruit that pleases the Father. At least for today, I am going to focus less on discipline and duty, and more on devotion and doxology. I want to please the Vineyard Owner.