I marvel at the way my daughters-in-love give to their families, particularly to my grandchildren. Both young women have the privilege of staying home with their littles, so they are up to their fetlocks every single day in feeding and clothing and cleaning up after the most adorable children on the planet (ahem).
Naturally, being children, they don’t give their amazing mothers a second thought. All their lives, they have accepted breast milk and clean diapers, attention at all hours of the day and night, homemade baby food, and amazing themed birthday parties with piles of presents. I’m grateful that they have, so far, been an appreciative bunch, but if one of them should have the audacity to complain about their living conditions, the response would be obvious:
“What more could your mothers do for you?”
The prophet Isaiah echoes a parallel sentiment as we come to the end of our first two days, reading Isaiah 1-5. The story of God’s disappointing vineyard casts God in the role of a conscientious keeper, having made every provision for the productivity of his grapevines, only to be rewarded with sour fruit, good for nothing (5:2).
“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?”
What more could he have done for his chosen people? Rescued from Egypt, blanketed in protection, fenced in by loving laws, and then forgiven when they failed, how could there still be no fruit of righteousness–or at least of repentance?
As we continue our reading through Isaiah, we’ll see that God intends to make good on his promise to “take away the hedge” (5:5) of protection surrounding his people, and Isaiah has the unpleasant task of describing the upheaval in Israel’s future. The six woes that follow in verses 8-23 are just a foretaste, but readers in 2020 are blessed to have the entire Bible in which the solid realities that correspond to Old Testament shadows are revealed.
Jesus, the True Vine
Jesus describes himself as the True Vine in John 15, bringing the vineyard imagery from the Old Testament vividly into the New. Steeped in Torah, Jesus’s hearers would have put their finger on the message carried in Jesus’s metaphor: He was saying that he was the Messiah, God’s Chosen One, and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and covenants.
This True Vine, in sharp contrast with Old Testament Israel, bore the good fruit of redemption, but a vineyard is no safe place for the good fruit of the vine. Certainly, they are cultured, cared for, and nurtured at the outset, but a grape’s purpose is clear:
Grapes are grown to be crushed.
Whenever you observe communion with fellow believers, you are celebrating the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s vineyard metaphor in Christ’s spilled blood.
“What more could he have done…?”
Our Advent journey through Isaiah will land us at the foot of the cross, dispelling any notion of a glittery, sanitized celebration of Christmas. Christ’s Incarnation happened in response to deep need and widespread desperation.
All thanks and praise to God who has done it all!
Our Advent journey through Isaiah will land us at the foot of the cross, dispelling any notion of a glittery, sanitized celebration of Christmas. Christ’s Incarnation happened in response to deep need and widespread desperation.Tweet
It’s not too late to join us in our journey through Isaiah.
Download the reading schedule here, and be saturated in truth from Isaiah’s pen during this Advent season!
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