Summary: From the moment that he discovered that Adam and Eve were hiding in their nakedness to the moment that he hung on his cross, God has been disappointed in our choosing death over life. This magnifies his grace, even as it challenges our discipleship.
I came one day to this vineyard of mine;
hoping, expecting that it would all be fine.
The soil was rich, the corner... divine;
I loved it, for sure- this vineyard of mine.
The water was plenty, the sun warm and bright;
I worked it by day and watched it by night.
The hedge was protective, the tower sublime;
I invested so much... in this vineyard of mine.
I came to visit in the course of time;
Expecting a yield in this vineyard of mine.
Looking for truth, I found nothing but lies;
Looking for justice... I heard nothing but cries.
I came to bask in it's righteousness;
but there's blood on the soil and it smells of distress.
My disappointment's so deep- who will pay for the crime?
What more could I have done, for this vineyard of mine?
Down with the hedge, the watchtower too;
My disappointment's real- I was counting on you.
I gave you a garden with a world of potential;
I filled it with love and all that's essential.
I did all I could, but there will be no wine
for my people never loved... this vineyard of mine.
There you have it: the first draft of a love song that I'm writing about our disappointed God. We've all experienced the sting of disappointment. It's led to a hundred little deaths in our lives. Love is disappointing, especially love based on fairy tales. Friends disappoint us. Work disappoints us, especially if we expect it to be more than it ever can be. To mention that politics is disappointing is too easy, but church is disappointing too. What ought to be a labor of love becomes just a labor for many, and people who are expecting to experience the grace and joy of Christ... are likely to be disappointed.
We all know disappointment well... but it may surprise us to see that God knows it too. According to Scripture, God has experienced moments of extreme disappointment, and he experienced them from the time he walked in the garden to the moment he hung on his cross. After God created Adam and Eve, He said it was "very good," and He delighted in His evening walks with them... until the day came when they were hiding... in their nakedness and in their sin. They were punished, of course, but as He made clothing for them, I can't help but think that God was extremely disappointed... in and for them. They had had it all and just threw it away. Later, in Noah's day, when he could no longer watch his people sin, God's heart filled with a grief that we will never know, He said it plainly: "I am sorry I made humankind." How disappointing to know that no one, save Noah, gave any thought to pleasing or obeying him. So, with emotion that our Bible doesn't try to hide, God started over with Noah. Then came his call to Moses, and his law, which was an act of grace, showing his people how to practice mishpat (justice) and sedeqah (righteousness), but they continued to chase idols and go their own way. Prophet after prophet came to teach, warn, cajole, and plead with them. God tried ... but his people would not listen, which brings us to our passage today- Isaiah's wonderful love song. It is much better than my song, and it calls for a moment of our time. Imagine the emotions- the disappointment- that underlies this song of a love gone wrong.
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines
(the ones that were sure to bear fruit)
He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well
(believing that it would soon produce wonderful wine)
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit
(called "wild grapes" by other translators, the fruit also had a displeasing odor)
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.
(take stock in yourselves. I'm listening-tell me...)
What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?
(Sunlight, gentle rain, the best of soil, alot of care, preparation and maintenance-I've done all of this and more)
When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?
Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
(Animals will eat what is left and trample on what they don't eat)