The Vine and The Vinyard
The Vine and The Vinyard
It is not often that we think about it, but in reality, God is in fact a gentle, loving, tender, pains-taking and caring gardener. After finishing the design and construction phases of the whole of creation, the Bible explicitly says that upon completing the great architectural-engineering-construction project that is the universe, that he next fashioned mankind from the dust of the earth. Upon breathing the breath of life into the first man, (Adam) the Bible next makes the following statement:
(Genesis 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.)
Everyone is very familiar with the opening line of Genesis that says, “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” But often we skip the next action of God and miss out on the fact that prior to the creation of man, God planted a garden. The garden that the Lord planted upon the new earth was to be the specific intended habitation for man.
Reading the Genesis account as a series of consecutive, sequential statements about God's work in creation, one can see that on the First Day of creation, God called into existence (1) space, (2) time, (3) matter and then (4) light/energy. Prior to this creative activity of God none of these entities existed. (God’s “bara” action means that he made everything “ex nihlo,” or out of nothing, completely without any building materials) The English word “beginning” as used in Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew beresheth, and the action word ”created” is the word “bara.” Initially, we are told in Genesis 1:1 that God's first action was to bring into existence the dual realms called "the heavens and the earth," all of which constitutes a house with a tent-covering. Indeed the very first Hebraic letter in the word Beresheth, bet, means house. (Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it (the earth) to be inhabited:)
God, who is Spirit, has always existed and His existence is independent of the created components of time, space, and matter. It was not necessary for God to create the universe, but for reasons known only to God, he created our vast house (universe) and the earth (mans dominion) for the sole purpose of planting a man and woman in a garden with all the necessary provisions already provided. Thus our entire universe is a God-designed house, a dwelling, having an "upper story" inhabited by God and the angels, and a "lower story" populated by animals, men and other creatures of the natural realm. We exist because of God’s love.
Colossians 1:16 For by him (the invisible God) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
God pre-planned and designed each and every single person that has ever dwelt upon this earth before He ever set about to form the building blocks of the created universe. Every single person that has ever lived or that is presently alive came into being because God wanted him to exist. God’s plan called for each individual to live according to God's purpose, and to cultivate a loving relationship with him. In truth, no man can live contentedly, happily, and fulfilled without a relationship with his maker. God's motive for creating an individual was His love for him. God in fact created this world especially for mankind, as we are the focus of His immense love. A detailed study of the universe should reveal to any observer the obvious evidence as to just how uniquely suited and custom-made it is for mankind to live in.
While God’s Edenic design for every person was for them to understand and live out the purpose God has provided for each person's life, he has also allowed for each and every person to return his love or to reject it. Man was created to have meaning in his life, which comes only when he has purpose in his life. And since God is our Creator-Father, only he can provide true purpose for anyone's life. Without God, man lives as an empty shell, groping around the world seeking purpose and meaning for his existence and a reason for enduring. People can find temporary solace of meaning and purpose in many things, but God has designed a love-relationship-vacuum in the soul of man that only God can fill. And the most excellent revelation of God's glory and his purpose for our lives, considering the fallen state of man from the Garden is demonstrated in His Son, Jesus Christ, the savior and restorer of our relationship to God.
Assuredly that is the reason that the prophetic book of The Revelation conveys the following statement as the events of human history accelerate towards their climax, as portrayed by John the Revelator as he was caught up into Heaven and shown the majestic scene around the throne of God.
Revelation 4: 1-2, After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, (rapture) and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. (11: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.)
Israel is the Vinyard of the Lord
In the beginning of time when God planted the first man Adam in the Garden of Eden, he also established him there with a mate in a sustainable and wonderful place with all the necessities of an abundantly rich and fulfilling life. There was absolutely nothing more that the Lord could have provided to perpetuate the eternal bliss of mankind in the garden. The garden of the Lord was a perfect environment for a full and loving relationship between God and the first Adam, and God himself pronounced it as good.
Unfortunately, Adam and Eve fell from grace before the Lord by consorting with and finally giving into the seducing enticements of the great cosmic Rebel, Lucifer. Yet, the failure of man in the garden and his recruitment into the rebellion of the heavenly host under Lucifer did not catch the Creator by surprise. The great Creator-Gardener was prepared for any contingency, and had foreordained before the foundation of the world that he would plant another Vinyard in the world that would become the tree (nation) that should produce a Vine (branch) that would become the salvation of the world. That branch would be the second Adam, (Jesus Christ) and Israel is the Vinyard of the Lord.
Isaiah 5:1-7 Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: (Zion) And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, (conquest of Canaan and the enemies of Israel) and planted it with the choicest vine, (lamb-deliverer-Messiah) and built a tower (temple) in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, (righteous) and it brought forth wild grapes. (harlotry) And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my (Gods) vineyard. 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? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: 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 his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
This passage from the prophet Isaiah reveals that the Lord has chosen Zion to be his fruitful hill, and of course Zion is the place where Jesus Christ shall reign one day very soon on this earth. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God, prefigured in history by the canceled sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham on Mt. Moriah, and later enacted by Jesus near Zion’s hill 2000 years ago laid the groundwork for the fruit that would be gleaned by the Lord from his Vin-yard.
Whereas God called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldees unto the land of the Canaanites, the land of Canaan became known as the land of God’s promise, because it would ultimately be in this particular place that God would plant his vinyard and send his vine. The calling of Abraham, the conveyance of the Decalogue and the subsequent formation of the nation of Israel were the essential components for the transformation of Canaan’s land into the Vinyard of the Lord. But even with all of the Lord’s blessings in the Promised Land, Israel, as with Adam and Eve in the paradise of Eden, failed to remain faithful to God.
Notice from Isaiah five-verse four that God pointedly asks a question. What more could have been done for my vinyard that I have not done in it? This question was directed specifically to historical Israel for verse seven explicitly verifies for everyone that Israel is indeed the Vinyard of the Lord! The prophetic analogy of the vinyard and the vine are thus established and confirmed in scripture. What else could the Lord have done in his vinyard to find fruit among its branches? Well, Israel’s fruitlessness in the Vinyard is evidence that they still needed the “Choicest Vine” planted in it.
Israel was Planted as a Noble Vine
By bestowing upon Israel his law, the priesthood and the prophets, God was naturally anticipating that Israel would be fruitful and produce an abundance of righteous branches or offspring. Unfortunately, everything God bestowed upon Israel became compromised. Israel’s prophets, priests, pastors and kings all led Israel down a path that would see the vinyard of the Lord overtaken by brambles, bushes and thorns.
Jeremiah 2:20-21 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
Psalms 80:4-8 O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbors: and our enemies laugh among themselves. Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
Israel Becomes an Empty Vine
By playing the wandering harlot, and ignoring its roots planted in the commandments and statutes of Jehovah, Israel became an empty vine. Thus the Lord was angered and moved towards a righteous indignation with his own people. (vinyard)
At this point in the classic analogy of the parable of the Vinyard, God chose to send his prophets unto Israel. Their first mission was to warn the house of Israel of the consequences of their national disobedience, and secondly they foretold of the historical judgements that would befall the nation of Israel after they were scattered from the glorious vinyard of the Lord.
Hosea 10:1Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
The Lord also delivered a strong condemnation of the spiritual shepherds of his vinyard, Israel. The case in point here should never be lost on modern Christian nations, for judgement always begins in the house of the Lord. Israel’s pastors-priests led the people astray, and compelled upon the sheep of Israel to follow vain teachings. The false teachings and perverted doctrines of the wolves-in-sheep’s clothing pastorate diluted the spiritual heritage of God’s vinyard, paving the way for Israel to become a back-slidden people retaining little knowledge of the Lord. (Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?) (see also passages concerning false pastors in the Lord’s Vinyard in these references; Jeremiah 3:11-15, 10:20-21, 14:14, 23:1-2, Ezekiel 34, Micah 3:11, Isaiah 30:9-13 and Hosea 4:6)
Jeremiah 12:10-12 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the Lord shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.
Jeremiah 23:1-2 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
The Vinyard is made Desolate
God called and sent many prophets to Israel, most notably among them Jeremiah, and each one fulfilled their mission of the Lord to warn Israel of its blasphemy and backsliding ways, and pleadingly beseeched Israel to repent. But despite the beseeching call to national repentance, Israel ignored the calls of the Lord and responded only with further self-serving interests. I can think of no verse in the Bible that better illustrates the fruitlessness of the Lord’s vinyard than the response that Israel conveyed back to the Lord’s call for repentance through Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 18:12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.)
Therefore the Lord sent forth unto Israel another group of prophets that forecast the impending desolation of the Vinyard. The prophets Isaiah, Joel and Ezekiel spelled out the impending drama of the desolation of the Lord’s vinyard better than anyone else.
Ezekiel 15:2-8 Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work? Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned? Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them. And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord God.
Here the Lord expresses through his prophet Ezekiel that Israel, although it was a chosen vine and had been the beneficiary of a special transplantation into the vinyard of the Lord, could not expect to avoid being cut down and cast into the fire if it was unfruitful. Isaiah 45:21, Zephaniah 3:5, Psalms 145:17-20, Ezekiel 5, I Peter1:17 and II Timothy 4:8 reveals that God is a god of justice and that he executes his righteous judgements fairly to all.
This analogy fits perfectly with the later parable of Jesus relative to the unfruitful tree. (Matthew 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.) It was also paradigm behind the prophetic analogous event when Jesus cursed the fig tree (symbol of Israel) on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem as he was eagerly expecting tasteful figs growing on it as he approached the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem just before Palm Sunday. (Matthew 21:19-20, Luke 13:6-9 and Mark 11:12-14)
The Judgments of the Vinyard Keeper
The world has consumed the land and the children of Israel much like a raging fire would consume dry leaves and twigs. The withdrawal of God’s hedge of protection has enabled the sinister forces of Satan to spoil and reproach the vinyard that was the house and land of Israel. As Isaiah foretold, the nations of the world have laid waste the Lord’s vine and barked his fig tree, leaving only a battered, scarred remnant shell of a trunk that remains an astonishment and a vile curse-like corpse to the whole world.
The soulful prayers of the Psalmist and the book of Lamentations are replete with appeals by Israel for forgiveness and pleading beseeches unto the Lord to be granted mercies, and mournful inquiries as to how long the Lord will not incline his ear to hear the prayer of his people. The solicitations contained in the book of Lamentations portrays the reality that the Lord had left his own vinyard wide open to utter desolation and allowed it to be subjected to the evil hand of Israel’s assemblage of adversaries.
Isaiah 5:5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
Isaiah 1:7-9 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
Joel 1:6-7 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
Ezekiel 36:16-19 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.)
A Promise From The Vinyard KeeperIn spite of the fact the Lord has cast out his chosen vine and allowed his vinyard to be plundered by the beasts of this world, the great vinyard keeper has made a pledge to the house of Israel. That promise is that he will replant his vinyard and replenish its capacity to be fruitful once again. In fact the Lord has providentially decreed that a remnant of the seed of Israel shall always be supernaturally preserved for the purpose of restoring the Vinyard of the Lord.
Zechariah 8:12-13 For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
Psalms 80:14-15 Return, we (Israel) beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch (Jesus) that thou madest strong for thyself.
Amos 9:15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.The Harvest is Great As the great Vinyard owner, the Lord God Jehovah of Israel incorporated the plan to strengthen Israel and to give her increase of fruitfulness by sending his one and only Son, Jesus the Christ, (the righteous branch) to prepare the way of salvation.
The analogy connected to the prophetic usage of the identity of Jesus as the branch comes from the Hebrew word “klema.” Klema refers to a limb or shoot that is broken off. Daniel’s prophecies concerning the 70 weeks of Israel depicts the Messiah as being cut-off. (Dan 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself,) Daniel reveals that the branch (Jesus) would be cut-off not for himself, but rather for the sake of the millions who would come to salvation because of the fact that he had been cut-off, and that he would one day return to the restored Vinyard of Israel.Isaiah 4:2 In that day (Day of the Lord) shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
The prophet Hosea prophesied of the great and glorious day when God would reap a great harvest in his Vinyard. That great harvest was slated to come only after the remnant had been replanted in the Promised Land and the Messiah returned unto Israel. (Hosea 6:11 Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.)
Having sent his son (the branch) to refurbish his Vinyard, the Lord has issued the call for laborers to go forth into the whole world because the harvest truly is great. (Matthew 9:36-38, Matthew 13:24-30, Luke 10:1-3) Thus the entire Church Age represents the challenge of the laborer-servants to take the good news of the Gospel to the world.Jesus Portrayed Himself as the True Vine
We have studied at some length herein about the vinyard and the branch, and how the Lord used these garden typologies to express his dramatic plan for Israel and the world. These analogies were well understood by ancient children of Israel. Together, they form a background for the reason why Jesus used a certain parable recorded in John. Imagine for a brief moment that you are among Christ’s disciples in the 1st century, and that you have just heard Jesus say that he is going away, and that he will be put to death. (John 14) Then Jesus begins to speak to you about vines and branches, and fruit. First he explains that he is a Vine. ” What would you think? Would you catch his meaning? Would you recall that Israel was planted as the Lord’s vinyard, and that it had become waste (like an old vine) and needed a new vine?John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Jesus, the very branch (son) of the Lord God uses this story to convey to all of his Disciples (past, present and future) that he was the True Vine, and that his Father was the husbandman of the vast Vinyard that is our world. Jesus eloquently expresses through this parable that he has come that he might give life to the vinyard. He further explains that we can only live and bear fruit by being grafted into the true vine and that by not abiding in the true vine we live in vain. And by abiding in the true vine, we become branches that enable much fruit to be harvested. Through this seeding, the Father, or as Jesus adeptly described him, the “Husbandman of the Vinyard,” is much glorified. (John 15:8) The term for husbandman in Hebrew is “georgos” and simply means gardener.
John 15:2-5 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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.Jesus Spoke of this world as a Vinyard Jesus shared a parable that tied the whole vinyard-vine prophetic analogy together perfectly. It is simple and very direct and needs little commentary. Read it now with the knowledge of understanding the symbolism that is used throughout the Bible by the great Husbandman of this worldly garden.
Mark 12:1-11 And he (Jesus) began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, (JESUS CHRIST) he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. (Satan’s conspiracy to supplant Jesus as the rightful heir) And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
It was asked of Pilate, “what then shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? I would ask you further, “What will you do with the True Vine? Where will you stand with the Husbandman of the Vinyard?
The Lord is coming the second time to reap a great harvest, but as the parable of the wheat and tares recorded in Matthew 13 so excellently explains, the harvest will also see a burning of the stubble that has grown alongside the wheat. Therefore, I would compel upon you to seek the true Vine while the Vinyard keeper tarries.
John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
The Prayer of the Vinyard
Hosea 14:1-7O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Psalms 92:12–14 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry