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, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
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? Isaiah 5:1-4 ESV
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. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. John 15:5-9 ESV
In 1862 the United States passed the Homestead Act, which meant that if a person settled on 160 acres of land and developed it and built a house there, he would own the land after five years. Many people settled in the western United States because of the Homestead Act. There was another act first passed in 1873, called the Timber Culture Act. This act gave more land to people if they would plant trees and keep them alive on their tree claim. The United States wanted there to be groves of trees in the plains for building and timber, and they also believed the trees would help the environment. But one of the big problems with the Timber Culture Act was that in many areas where tree claims were started, the soil and the weather weren’t good for trees, and many tree claims failed. Almanzo Wilder planted a tree claim in the early years after he married Laura Ingalls, but the claim failed. He wasn’t able to keep his trees alive, and he had to give up on this claim.
The prophet Isaiah talked about a vineyard God had planted. Like Almanzo, God had done everything possible to make this vineyard grow and flourish. Unlike Almanzo, he had planted his grape vines in very fertile ground in the right climate for them. He cleared the vineyard of stones and built a watchtower in the middle so he could watch out for foxes and other predators. But even with all the love and care God gave his vineyard, it only produced sour wild grapes. Isaiah used this picture to show the people of Judah, the southern kingdom, how disappointed God was in their behavior. He had made them his people and loved and cared for them, but they had not loved him back or followed his ways.
When Jesus came into the world to be our Savior, he said that he was the true vine. He loved and served God the way the people of Israel and Judah had not done. Jesus said that the only way to give God good fruit is to stay in him. He is the vine, and we are his branches. We can’t make good fruit for God by ourselves. By ourselves all we can make are horrible sour wild grapes, but Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and failures, and he brought us to God and made us his own. Jesus is the one who make good fruit, and he keeps us close to him and works in us to do good things for God.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming for us and for bringing us back to our heavenly Father. Please keep us close to you and work in us. Amen.